If you do an image search for “Thailand” on the Internet, there are certain photos that inevitably come up again and again. Seemingly, there are some photographs of the Land of Smiles that people just cannot help but take. To be fair, they are stunning shots – many of our own photographers have fallen victim to the same impulse.

    If you’ve visited Thailand before, we’re willing to bet that you’ve got at least 1 of the shots in our list of iconic photos you can’t help but take in Thailand. Being such a picturesque country, it doesn’t even require the skills of an expert photographer with expensive gear to get amazing results. You just need a smartphone and a vacation in Thailand.


    Long-tail boats on the beach

    Thailand's traditional water transportation gets its name from the long pole sticking out of the back, with a propeller at 1 end and an old truck engine at the other. It's common to see long-tail boats beached close together in a row, making an irresistible target for passing photographers. You get bonus points if you take the picture on 'The Beach' in Maya Bay, where the popular 2000 movie of the same name (starring Leonardo Di Caprio) was filmed.


    A selfie in a tuk tuk

    The tuk tuk is an iconic 3-wheeled city transportation that's commonly photographed in Bangkok. Riding in one is an unmissable experience and few can resist whipping out their camera for a selfie while doing so. Given its unstable design, lack of seatbelts, and the driver's infamously aggressive driving techniques, this usually results in some rather candid expressions.

    It's remarkable that one of the more mediocre Bond films – The Man with the Golden Gun from 1974, starring Roger Moore – still attracts floods of visitors to see Koh Tapu (commonly known as James Bond Island). It's undoubtedly a beautiful spot, as is the rest of Phang Nga Bay, though you'll have to get creative with your framing to crop out the crowds.

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    The colorful extravaganza of a ladyboy cabaret show remains one of the major attractions of Thailand, which is why almost every tourist destination has at least a couple of them (including Phuket, Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Hua Hin). The talented and astonishingly beautiful performers often gather outside the front doors after each show, posing in their remarkable costumes with members of the audience, many of whom are still gobsmacked by the beauty of these transwomen.

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    The hustle and bustle of a crowded market is one thing, but adding water to the equation certainly makes for some fantastic photos (as well as more opportunities to accidentally waterlog your camera). Photos of floating markets are commonly used as cover images for travel guidebooks of Thailand, so it’s hardly surprising that everyone wants to try to capture the image themselves.

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    Buddhism is taken very seriously in Thailand, with huge gilded statues of Lord Buddha dotting the scenery throughout the country, usually with lines of tourists sat in front of them, mimicking the pose and facial expression. Rows of Buddha statues at the major temples in Bangkok and Ayutthaya also make popular vacation snaps.

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    Wai-ing Ronald McDonald

    It’s quite odd to see something very familiar doing something very unfamiliar, which is why you'll often find travelers having a bit of a giggle outside McDonald's in Thailand. The traditional statue of Ronald McDonald is, in a lot of cases, localised for the Land of Smiles by having him giving a wai – a prayer-like gesture meant as a show of respect. Naturally, you’ll also find tourists returning or mimicking the gesture for the camera.

    With hilly terrain throughout the country, elevated viewpoints are some of the most photographed spots in Thailand. You'll find breathtaking views of rolling, verdant countryside, along with a queue of tourists waiting for their chance to take their 'staring into the distance' or 'embracing the world' shot. On viewpoints with a sheer cliff, brave travelers attempt the slightly risky 'living on the edge' shot. Just be sure to mind your footing.

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    Tribal people

    Northern Thailand is home to small tribal groups, often historical refugees from neighboring countries. Some are noted for their unusual cultural practices – the most iconic being the long-necked women of the Karen hill tribes, who fled Myanmar to reside around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. If you’re going to check it out and take photos (which we would certainly recommend), just try to remember that they’re still people, not just a tourist attraction. Be respectful.

    The massive sprawl of Bangkok is best enjoyed from a high vantage point to better allow you to appreciate the jaw-dropping scale of it. Fortunately, practically every tall building has a rooftop bar – and there’s no shortage of tall buildings in the capital. Come sunset, you'll see many people taking pictures of the last of the day’s light gleaming off the surrounding structures.

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    Leg 'sausages' on the beach

    The POV (point of view) shot of your legs while lazing on one of Thailand's best beaches is a classic shot to send to your friends back home. This trend is extremely common among travelers and locals alike. In cases of unsightly knees, fresh coconut or a bottle of local beer make for popular substitutes.

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveler

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