Bangkok is a very vibrant and intimidating city. It’s also very beautiful with the Grand Palace, many old temples, skyscrapers, a river, markets, and so much more. There is lots to photograph and I’ll provide a few suggestions for places to visit depending on how many days you plan to spend in this city that never sleeps.
I’ll start by saying that I only spent 5 days in Bangkok during the rainy season. The weather was good in the morning. I usually had 4-6 hours of possible good weather before the heavy afternoon rain showers started. At that point I had to hide inside my hotel room, a market, or restaurant for a few hours. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to shoot at night as I had other obligations. I’ll pass on some ideas and notes that I took before I left. Ok, let’s take a look at some sweet areas to photograph.
The Grand Palace and Wat Pho
The Grand Palace and Wat Pho have to be the busiest places I visited in Bangkok. The Grand Palace was packed to the point that it was hard to move around the compound. Unfortunately you cannot use DSLR or any other type of cameras other than your phone. It looked like they were enforcing this policy as well… So if you can beat the crowd early in the morning and have a decent phone, you can probably photograph the Grand Palace in all of it’s glory.
Wat Pho on the other hand was a hundred times more pleasant. I was allowed to take images with my Canon camera and there were way less people to dodge. Wat Pho is a complex of beautiful temples and the home of the Reclining Buddha. Take your time and enjoy this great place.
Be aware that there are some pick-pocketers around this area of town. Be careful as you walk outside to and from the place. I got told to hold my sling bag in front of me…
The Chao Phraya River and Other River System
The Chao Phraya River is the river surrounding the area near the Grand Palace. There is a ferry system that will take you to a variety of great destinations. Some of the stops includes the Grand Palace, China Town, and others on both side of the river. The trip is photogenic in itself. There are temples, old Thai buildings and many Thai boats to photograph.
There are a lot of other branching waterways to explore from the Chao Phraya but you will need to take another type of boat to get there. Lots of people are trying to sell you a trip on the river or to the market. Make sure to choose a good one and don’t settle on the first offer. Keep in mind that some of the floating markets are only open on certain days of the week. Be sure to photograph and try the delicious food!
The Lumphini Park is one of my favorite parks that I visited in the city. It is easy to access by either the Silom MRT Sky Train Station or the Lumphini Metro Station. It is a nice green park with a few trails and an artificial lake. There are a number of monitor lizards to photograph. It’s a great place to catch a few images of sky scrapers as well.
Benjakitti Park is designed around an oval lake. There are a few walking trails going around the lake with sitting areas along the way. The great thing about this park is that it’s location is near the financial district. The park closes at 2100, so it is a great destination for anyone looking to shoot sky scrapers at night. I should also mention the birds, butterflies, and flowers as there are plenty to photograph. The park is a close walking distance from the Sky Walk BTS and Asoke MRT.
The Multiple Over Passes
There is only one fast way to get around Bangkok and it’s by transiting either under or above ground. The sky train and metro system are time savers and will bring you close to most destinations. With that in mind, they designed overpasses for pedestrians who want to safely cross the busy streets to get to their MRT or BTS stations. It is the perfect location to photograph overhead images of the city streets. Take advantage of those overpasses at night and capture light trails, illuminated buildings, and shopping malls.
Sky Bars and Roof Tops
There are a lot of sky bars and roof tops to visit. I had a sky pool and bar at the hotel we stayed in the financial district. Some of them have specific dress codes so expect to look out of place if you show up with a tripod… Some establishments are photographer friendly. Unfortunately I did not have time to explore the roof tops myself but these are some of the famous ones: The Roof @ 38th Bar, Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant at Pullman Hotel G, Vertigo & Moon Bar, Red Sky, Centara Grand at CentralWorld, Baiyok Tower, Char Rooftop Bar.
The Final Word
Bangkok is a very busy city and most people only stay for a few days before heading to other destinations. I would recommend writing down a few locations to photograph because you’ll more likely run out of time. There is just too much to photograph… Try the public sky train and metro, it will save you tons of time. Be careful for pick-pocketers and expensive boat, touktouk, and cab rides. Always ask at your hotel for an average rate and directions written in Thai to show your driver. Other than that, enjoy your stay and I hope you get some great photos!