Looking for the best picture-perfect photo shots in Chiang Mai, Thailand? Then, look no further!
From lively night markets and cultural centers to historic temples and spectacular seasonal festivals, there’s no shortage of portfolio-worthy spots to capture memories in this vibrant city.
In this guide, we’ll show you some of the best photo spots in Chiang Mai, plus two must-see festivals.
So, let’s get started!
The Best Photography Gear to Bring to Chiang Mai
When first planning your trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, be sure to bring the necessary gear. This includes:
- your camera of choice
- the holy trinity of lenses
- square or circular ND filters to create long exposure shots.
In addition, you can also bring the following:
- a remote trigger shutter release,
- a tripod for steady shots,
- extra battery packs/chargers
- and flashes.
Drones can provide an additional perspective with aerial shots – however, they require a fair bit of paperwork beforehand (as well as extra baggage).
With all this equipment ready, you will have no problem shooting stunning photos in any condition or light.
Photo Spots Inside the City
Visiting this vibrant bazaar is like killing two birds with one stone. While offering an array of colors, textures, and smells that will captivate your senses, the bazaar also provides some great opportunities for photography!
The night bazaar has several levels filled with pop-up stalls selling everything from food to clothing to souvenirs. At the top level, more shops offer jewelry, artwork, antiques, light fixtures, and even handmade goods like clothes and bags.
You can spend hours exploring this lively venue lit by neon lights and street vendors hawking their wares at you at every turn. Photographing in the right places within the market will help bring out its chaotic but colorful character.
For example, if you make your way down each floor of this bustling marketplace, unique opportunities will pop up from the back-and-forth haggling to the day-to-day life of shoppers and merchants, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled!
Chiang Mai Arts & Cultural Center
Located right in the middle of the old city of Chiang Mai, this museum and art gallery will give you an insider’s glimpse into the history of this amazing destination.
Dive deep into the culture, tradition, kingship, and way of life of the ancient Lan Na dynasty with various visual media, including models and digital video presentations that’ll make you feel like you just stepped back in time.
Its permanent exhibitions are divided thematically into different periods, so keep your eyes peeled as each room provides information on everything from Chiang Mai’s prehistory to its modern-day developments.
Plus, with red arrows guiding visitors through these displays, getting lost isn’t really an option!
The entrance fee is 90 baht for foreigners (which is likely $2.50), and it’s worth every penny if you factor in the potential addition to your Instagram profile or travel portfolio.
With such knowledge under your belt (or camera strap), returning home with great shots and interesting tales wouldn’t be a problem at all. So swing by today – who knows what kind of adventure awaits?
Talat Warorot (Warorot Market)
Located in the bustling Chang Khlan area of Chiang Mai’s old city, this traditional market has been around since 1898. Also, it is one of Chiang Mai’s oldest markets and stands as a deep-rooted icon in Thai culture.
The best time to visit Talat Warorot if you’re a photographer is during the early morning when it opens at 4 am (Be sure to take your camera in full manual mode to adjust settings quickly depending on how light conditions change throughout the day.)
You’ll find vendors setting up shop packed with colorful local foods, hand-crafted wares, clothing, and more. You can also stumble upon locals grabbing their favorite breakfast snacks before heading off to work or school. This specific timeframe makes for some very interesting capture-worthy shots.
With plenty of space between the narrow pathways in the market, photographers will also have ample opportunity to capture interesting shots without disturbing the atmosphere. The Wat Phra Singh Temple is even visible at the market, which makes for a fantastic backdrop!
Photo Spots Outside the City
Wat Chedi Luang Temple
Dating over 700 years ago and standing nearly 90 meters tall, this longstanding temple will surely add a sense of grandeur to your travel portfolio.
You won’t find any shortage of angles, either. This sacred site is home to a temple complex with intricate stonework- surrounded by beautiful garden courtyards, from its ancient stupas (burial ground) that are adorned in flowers- to its distinct architecture with ornate details.
There’s even more fun if you explore very early in the morning, where you might catch monks praying inside (while maintaining your distance) or during nighttime as they light up lamps for their ceremonies.
However, no matter what time of day you arrive, make sure you don’t forget to bring your tripod along; there will be plenty of good opportunities here while exploring one of Chiang Mai’s oldest temples!
Royal Park Rajapruek
When it comes to finding the best photo spots in Chiang Mai, Royal Park Rajapruek should be at the top of your list. This gorgeous park is located very near the Wat Chedi Luang Temple and promises an array of breathtaking views that will capture your heart and your camera’s lens.
To get started, you can explore its many walkways lined with colorful flowerbeds (like the picture above) and towering trees as you make your way up to the grand palace complex atop the hill, which is the crown jewel of this majestic attraction.
As you wander through the grounds, keep your eyes peeled for unique monuments like the Golden Buddha Statue or the Musical Fountains area—these can turn into some really incredible shots!
When you’ve had enough exploring, you can head on over to the lake area, where you’ll find lots of beautiful water lilies that can make for some capture-worthy shots. However, be sure to stay until dusk, when everything glows golden in a warm light; the lake turns into an absolute oasis where locals come to relax.
Wat Ron Khun (White Temple)
Ever fancy yourself as a fan of fairytale-like architecture? Wat Ron Khun is the place for you.
Nestled among northern Thailand’s mountains, this Buddhist temple complex in Chiang Mai stands out from the rest and offers unique, seriously breath-taking shots. Built by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat as his personal homage to traditional Thai artistry and imagination.
From every angle, its intricate architecture and ornate designs loudly shout about the culturally-rich history of Thai architecture. The white façade stands out against its natural backdrop and creates a stunning contrast between earthy tones and bright whites.
This makes Wat Ron Khun one of the best photo shots in Chiang Mai for capturing beautiful photos with vibrant colors or different perspectives– and don’t forget to look up; even the ceiling art adds a distinct touch to the temple!
Doi Inthanon National Park
Located just 60 kilometers southwest of Chiang Mai city center, It is considered one of the best photo spots in Chiang Mai because of its lush jungle forests, impressive waterfalls cascading down rocky ravines, and clusters of ancient pagodas that have stood the test of time.
For panoramic shots, make sure to head up to the summit viewpoint – it offers an almost 360 degrees of stunning vistas surrounded by patches of mist in all directions.
During certain times of year (in particular February and April), you’ll also find vibrant wildflowers blooming on the forest floor, which make for some gorgeous photographs.
Don’t forget to explore the Ang Ka Nature Trail either; its sheer cliffs offer some awe-inspiring sunsets that can create some breathtaking shots. And if you’re particularly interested in photographing the wildlife around the park, keep your eye open during your exploration, as plenty of birds, monkeys, and deer can inhabit these forests.
I Love Flower Farm
Just 10 kilometers from Chiang Mai’s Old Town, this picturesque farm is bursting with beautiful daisies and marguerites – perfect for macro and landscape photoshoots.
And the best part? The staff onsite will give you a helping hand, offering both props and decorations that are great for getting those picture-perfect shots. And they even offer some snacks if you get hungry while exploring the grounds!
You won’t want to miss out on visiting their gift shop either – it has all sorts of in-house products crafted with flowers or plants (which you can add to your shots!)
Here’s the catch, though: as popular as this place is to be one of the recent best photo spots in Chiang Mai (especially among Thai tourists), they only allow 200 tourists each day, so make sure to book ahead on their Facebook page before swinging by.
Seasonal Photo Spots
San Kamphaeng Umbrella Festival
Held every January for the past few decades, the Bo Sang Umbrella Festival is one of Chiang Mai’s most charming events. However, It’s no ordinary umbrella festival. Each umbrella used is intricately crafted using bamboo, paper, and silk to create colorful parasols that will turn any of your shots into intricate artwork.
These parasols line the streets with live bands playing traditional music throughout the San Kamphaeng district, with colorful markets setting up shop offering tonnes of photogenic opportunities.
You can take advantage of the natural lighting present here while weaving through beautiful rows of multicolored umbrellas and surrounded by melodious music from local musicians.- or you can take a break and enjoy some delicious snacks as you meet new people.
Don’t forget that patience goes hand-in-hand with photography here, as it can get rather crowded at times but don’t let that stop you from making memories alongside lively scenes like these!
Loy Krathong Festival
If you’re looking for a culturally unique experience, the Loy Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai (and other provinces) is definitely one to add to your list.
Held annually on the 12th full moon of the Thai lunar calendar (which is usually November), this festival celebrates gratitude by letting off miniature boats (krathongs) or floating lanterns downriver as an offering to Mae Phra Khongkha (the Goddess of Water) and Lord Buddha.
The best time to go is at night when the golden glow of the krathongs and the lanterns are fully visible to the camera. Capturing the excitement of participants who light up lanterns before releasing them into the sky is another great moment worth photographing.
You should also consider arriving earlier to avoid congestion in your photos since there will be more as the festival goes on.
A pro tip: if you want to participate in the festival, avoid buying styrofoam krathongs and instead buy krathongs made of bread.
That’s because, after the festival, styrofoam krathongs can stay in the river indefinitely, polluting Thailand’s waters. I suggest buying their bread counterparts– not only are they healthy for the environment, but you’re also indirectly feeding the fish– Talk a bout a win-win!
Ready to Visit Chiang Mai?
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