Best spots for photography in Bangkok, from sunrise to sunset, with rooftops
Bangkok is one of my favourite city to visit and stop-by whenever I fly from Australia to Europe, or vice versa.
Photography in Bangkok is so inspiring, from the markets to the streets, from the river life to the amazing sunsets on the rooftops.
During the last 15 years, I have explored this city far and wide and in this guide you will discover my best spots for photography in Bangkok.
Every photo in this article has been tagged on the map (see the end of the post) for easy city navigation
In this guide you will see
- 1 Best spots for Bangkok photography organised by type
- 2 Travel Photography in Bangkok – how to move around
- 3 Photography gear used in Bangkok
- 4 Shopping photography gear in Bangkok
- 5 Where did I stay
- 6 Don’t miss these guides for Thailand
- 7 Map of the photography spots
You can read also
- Where to stay in Bangkok (the best areas and what to avoid)
- Best places to stay in Thailand for beaches, islands, family and couples
- Thailand Photo Gallery
- Top 6 sites to take a sunset picture in Koh Chang
The fun that you can have in this city with your camera is just incredible. The subjects are behind every corner of Bangkok. I am a fan of the water and I love the Khlong (water canals) that are all around the city, always a great place to take pictures of the Thai life
And if you need new gear or just to fix your camera look at the full list of areas and shops. I have no affiliation with any of them.
Finally, if you are wondering which area to stay or visit, based on how long you will be there, have a look here for more tips and info.
Best spots for Bangkok photography organised by type
Photographing the water in Bangkok
The Khlong (water canals) network is extensive, have a look at the Official Site to have an idea.
Making photos of the water traffic is not as complicated, many opportunities along the day.
You just need the right moment and time.
Wake up early, take a boat and go outside the city, it does not matter where.
Have a walk around.
You will not find any tourist there, that’s for sure, only locals and the real Thai lifestyle.
I jumped on the boat at the Hua Chang Station, direction Ramkhamhaeng University. I stopped almost at the last station.
I thought it would be interesting to visit an area outside the city centre and close to the University.
Once disembarked, I walked back on the side of the canal and experienced the local life, a unique adventure.
The sooner you are the better light you will experience, sunrise is the best time. As you see above, I was already too late although the light was still ok
For the sunset go to Witthayu station and look at the other side of the bridge, where all the boats are queuing up to start the service.
You will have the sun reflected on the building which will work as a gigantic light reflector.
At that time of the day, the river is buzzing with the commuting time. Not to be missed
I suggest also a visit to the end station of Phan Fa Lilat. The best time is at night when the public service is almost closing.
The lights have a nice reflection on the canal and you will feel will like in a village, not anymore in the crazy traffic of Bangkok.
Navigating the big Chao Phraya River is an experience by itself.
So many things going on.
If you are not close to the river in Bangkok, take the metro till Central Pier station.
From here jump on one of the many public ferry services. Just wander around.
For a photo, you have two possibilities. On sunrise, stay on the east side of the river. On sunset time stay on the west side.
There are many locations, any ferry station is good, you do not need to adventure further.
If you can, include a longboat, so characteristic of Bangkok
I titled the above photo Windows with a view.
It was done in one of my favourite guest houses in Bangkok, the Loy La Long. A unique experience straight over the river.
The view from the bedroom is unique.
The access to this guest house is through a Buddhist temple, very quiet and a thousand miles away from the traffic you have been experiencing along the day
Photographing the Bangkok street
The streets of Bangkok have evolved in the last 20 years in a maze of raised pedestrian areas, busy roads and small back streets.
Traffic is of course everywhere, does not matter the time of the day
The most characteristic photos are from one of the many pedestrian bridges on Sukhumvit Road, the local car traffic, almost static, through the day and the night and the day……..and forever
Head to the Democracy Monument for a night shot on the tripod.
You will get that nice mix of car lights strips and the monument on the background
The Piaggio scooter is not really a typical Thai icon, however, if you find one, stop and have a shot.
You will not find a new version, that’s for sure, and, to be honest, the oldest it is the more you will feel you are in Asia.
The one in the above photo has been hand-painted, old school 😀
And yes, do not miss the tuk-tuk.
This is a must-have photo, together with the longboat on the river.
I was so lucky to find a tuk-tuk depot, I could not get it better than that 😀 (see below map for the exact location)
Photographing the Bangkok temples
I had a fantastic very long stay in Bangkok a few years back.
I took some great photos in the few months there.
It was all amazing. I was so happy I built a Bangkok photo catalogue I was really proud of…..till somebody broke into my room and all gone in a matter of few minutes.
That was the time I moved to Nikon. As a result, I need to source these photos from Flickr (I added also these locations in the map of course)
The first temple I definitely suggest is Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), marvellous and mysterious.
Located on the other side of the Chao Phraya River (assuming you are staying in the city centre), it is a 5-10 minutes ferry ride from any of the central stations.
The Grand Palace is also another must-visit place.
It is one of the most popular attractions in Bangkok.
This means expect to have lots of tourists around you.
Yes, you can try to get some unique corners however this area has been photographed hundreds of thousands of times.
My suggestion here is to try to include some of the monks that walk around to have also that nice contrast of colours between the orange of the clothes and the gold of the temples.
Photographer Darrell Goldliman has done a remarkable job here
Another temple I like to suggest is Wat Suthat.
This is a Buddhist temple with an amazing set of statues, a great subject for your photography.
Markets to make photos in Bangkok
There are three markets that you should not miss when in Bangkok
- The Pak Klong Talad. This is the main flower market open in the early hours of the day. Amazing colours. I have been again a few months ago and I can just say it should be in any photographer’s list.
- The Chatuchak Market. This is a remarkable size market. So easy to get lost. They sell everything. Get to the animal section to take some unusual shots. They close at 6pm, however, a night market with food and clothes start straight after that. Easily reachable by metro (see below the map)
- The Bang Nam Pheung floating market. This is a small scale version of the famous Damnerm Saduak (100 km out of the city) and maybe for this reason not that crowded with tourists. It is unfortunately not a secret corner anymore
Rooftops and high viewpoint in Bangkok for photography
There are a few famous bars that should not be missed, either for a drink or for a photo, or possibly for both 😀
- The Sofitel So Rooftop Bar
- The Dome at Skybar
- The Baiyoke Tower II – Visit the Observation deck at sunset or night time (84th floor). Tickets at 400 Baht. Please note that I was said that the deck is now revolving continuously making impossible any kind of night/sunset photography. You may have to approach the restaurant for that.
My next trip will include a visit to the Odeon Building.
This interesting location is in a car park, the Odeon Carparking.
Take the elevator and go to the top floor. It can be busy with other photographers on sunset and blue hour
Travel Photography in Bangkok – how to move around
I always thought that the easiest way to move around was just to jump on a tuk-tuk
Nowadays it’s even easier because you can check on Google map your GPS position and be sure the driver is actually going where you asked for.
However, sometimes, the street traffic is really unbearable, even for a quick tuk-tuk
Another possibility is, of course, renting a motorbike, although it is an option I would suggest only to the brave rider. This is not a place for any newbie.
People drive fast and sometimes careless. Having spent 4 years in Rome I had enough riding training to drive here, but I am not sure I would do it again.
The public transportation includes a metro, fantastic, and an extensive bus system.
Meanwhile the metro is an easy system to move around, the bus system can be a challenging one if you are not familiar with some basic Thai words.
Last and best option is the water.
There is a big network of canals (Khlong), all ending in the big Chao Phraya River.
It’s quick, mostly used by locals and you can easily navigate outside the city centre
I usually use a local website called Transit Bangkok.
It’s a great source.
Photography gear used in Bangkok
I usually take with me a few lenses to cover most of the circumstances. See the free Travel Photography Gear Guide for more information.
I love to visit at least two local markets and the low light could be a problem (I do not like to use flashes in public environments).
And of course, I do plenty of photos on sunset/sunrise along the coast and a zoom lens is in several cases a lifesaver.
For my pictures of Bangkok I took:
- Sony A7R II/A7 III in the last 5 years and a Nikon D600 in the years back
Both Sony A7 are great cameras, I really love them. Great dynamic range and I can shoot at a very high level of ISO, essential for street photography in the night
- Sony lens 24-105mm f/4
it covers most of the photo opportunities although the lens below does a better job in some cases
- Sony 35mm f/2.8
a Bangkok photos gallery must include images of the local life, especially the local markets.
It is mandatory to have a quick lens in these cases.
I like the Sony 35mm also because it is a small one and people are actually less worried about the photographer
In the last few years, I have been also reviewing photography gear, so my gear may actually be different in a few occasions.
Shopping photography gear in Bangkok
If you are looking to buy a new camera or some new gear, and you are wondering if you can find better prices compared to your country, be sure you are not the only one with this question mark.
I did a bit of investigation myself and I checked a few camera shops in the Thai capital.
The first thing you should make sure is that you don’t buy from the street (or dodgy shops).
There is not much point to buying a fake camera just because of the brand name.
Yes, you can buy it half price but the quality of the component is probably a 10th of the original one.
As a result, you will be disappointed by the outcome of your photos.
The second important point is that the warranty should be international, and not only covering Thailand.
If you live in Thailand that’s fine, however, if you plan to go back to your country and you start experiencing problems with your gear, basically you are left on your own, and you would have to pay for any repair.
I personally decided not to buy in Bangkok any gear, that’s just because the difference in price was minimal and not worth the risk in case of issues.
I am not saying that you should not buy, I am just saying that it is important to evaluate the pros and cons; price is not the only factor.
These are a few shopping malls and shops you may be interested in. They are good also in case you need to repair your camera gear
- MBK Shopping Mall: there are an authorized Nikon reseller and few other camera shops on the top floor. They have cheaper prices than in most countries, however not real super deals. Fotofile, one of the big Thai camera chain, is on the 5th floor
- Central World Plaza: Foto Friend (pro-market) and World Camera on the 4th floor
- Central Rama 3: other shops (check the Shopping Center map once you enter)
- Try one of the shops of Fotofile or AvCamera (both websites are in English). You can select the shop location closer to your needs
The MBK shopping mall is probably the best bet. My advice is to go to the big shops and not the small stalls, especially if you are not based in Bangkok.
Buying SD Cards in small stalls is not a good idea. There are so many fake products around.
I have even seen 1T SD Card at $10. How can you expect they are actually 1TB 😮
I hope this guide helps to improve your photographic experience in the city 😉
Where did I stay
I wrote a full guide to the best areas to stay (and avoid) in Bangkok which you should read.
One of my favourite places is Loy La Long. This is like stepping back in time to the Siam empire.
There are few rooms, just make sure to book one facing the river because they do have a great view.
The breakfast, included, is in the lounge area, again facing the water. I could literally spend hours there watching the Thai river life passing by
The entrance is through a monastery. It is indeed a blessed choice 😀
Don’t miss these guides for Thailand
- Discover where to stay in Bangkok and for how long
- Top 6 sites to take a sunset picture in Koh Chang
- Interesting facts about Thailand