With rugged mountains in the north, jungle-covered hills in the middle, the glittering lights of the capital city and then the sandy beaches of the islands towards the south, there’s something for nearly any breed of landscape photographer to enjoy in Thailand. We’ve picked out a selection of the very best, with each providing jaw-dropping vistas from elevated viewpoints.
At the heart of the 482 sq km Doi Inthanon National Park to the west of Chiang Mai, the titular peak is Thailand’s highest, rising to 2,565 metres (8,415 ft) above sea level. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a mountaineer to enjoy the stunning view as there is a tarmac road right to the top, where you will find a beautiful little garden and a couple of pagodas.
How to shoot: While the endless tracts of verdant hills make a breathtaking view at any time of the day, it is particularly striking at sunset, with the two pagodas silhouetted in the dying light and the rugged landscape beyond turning blue with distance and looking like ripples on a pond.
Samet Nangshe Viewpoint
Samet Nangshe Viewpoint has very quickly gone from being practically unheard of to one of the most popular panoramas in Phang Nga. Located on a hilltop just a 30-minute drive from Phuket, it provides stunning views over the limestone islets of Phang Nga Bay and, being far enough away from civilisation to avoid light pollution, the Milky Way is even visible at certain times.
How to shoot: Make sure you check online for when and if the Milky Way will be visible. After a couple of hours enjoying the beauty of the galaxy, the rising sun peeking between the tiny islands makes for further astounding pictures.
Khao Ngon Nak Viewpoint
The trail to the summit of the Dragon Crest Mountain (Khao Ngon Nak in Thai) is approximately 4 km long and takes about two and a half hours to reach the highest viewpoint, situated 565 metres above sea level. The climb is not that difficult, but we recommend that only those in a decent physical condition attempt it. Along the way, hikers encounter a stream, two viewpoints, a waterfall and, last but not least, the panoramic summit.
How to shoot: There is a famous jutting rock at the summit, from which you can enjoy a fantastic landscape of sheer rocky outcrops on the otherwise flat land. It is also the place you should sit for the iconic “living life on the edge” picture, though you do so at your own risk.
Baiyoke Tower II
Baiyoke Tower has been a prominent feature of the Bangkok skyline since its completion in 1998, rising 309 metres above the Pratunam area. It lost the title of being Thailand’s tallest building in 2016 to the MahaNakhon Building, but it still offers excellent views of the surrounding city, which stretches out to the horizon in every direction.
How to shoot: The night shot from here, looking out east over the tangle of expressways, is a classic, while those with a video camera setting or GoPro might consider a time lapse video. While the natural instinct is to go straight for the revolving observation deck on the 84th floor, you get equally great views from the skywalk on the 77th.
Nang Yuan Viewpoint
Just off the northwest coast of Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan is actually a collection of three tiny islets linked by a sandbank. The white sandy beach is one of the best in Thailand, but is also one of the busiest, thanks to its immense popularity and small size. The southernmost of the three islets is where you get the best view, requiring a fairly easy 10-15 minute hike to get up to the rocky overlook.
How to shoot: Try to go either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to stand more of a chance of seeing a deserted beach beneath you.
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