I spent one month in Thailand, traversing the islands and beaches of the south, all the way up to the jungles of the north. Due to the relative ease of access (Bangkok has two major international airports), cheap prices and delicious food, Thailand has become a hotspot for tourism. It's host to some of the world's most gorgeous beaches, unique jungle and diverse wildlife.
I took more than 1,200 photos in those 30 days, but these are 20 of my favorite photos of Thailand which I think represent the country and its culture in the most comprehensive and stunning light.
Which one is your favorite?
1) Koh Phangan
It was our first day on the island and we had just rented motorbikes for the week. As we slowly conquered a slight incline, we rolled to the top of the hill, overlooking Haad Yao, and an adjacent bar and restaurant on a small peninsula jutting out from the beach. We stopped in for a curry and a beer and went on our way.
2) Pai Canyon
Pai Canyon (or Kong Lan, in Thai), is set outside the small hippy town of Pai in northern Thailand. This particularly picturesque valley, just a few hours outside of Chang Mai, is said to have the best sunset in town, and locals and tourists alike will gather here each evening to watch the sun go down. The more adventurous can hike the thin wall down into the valley, assuming they have balance on their side.
3) Tiger Cave Temple, Krabi
It's 1,237 steps to the top, but it's totally worth it. The views from the top of this Buddhist temple are some of the best in the country, overlooking the mountains and jungles of the Kiriwong Valley. The Tiger Cave Temple, or Wat Tham Suea, is rumored to have been inhabited by a huge tiger at one point in time, as evidenced by the paw prints on the cave walls. Read more about The Tiger Cave Temple!
4) Sunset on Koh Tao
Koh Tao is a small island off the eastern coast in the Gulf of Thailand. It's a part of the famous trio of islands which also include Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Most notably, Koh Tao is renowned for scuba diving and all-night beach parties which happen most nights of the week!
5) Children in Chang Mai
Climbing the stairs to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chang Mai, these children were dressed in traditional garb and charging the tourists to take photos with them. I kept a good distance and snapped one for free, while my travel partner was accosted by these unassuming two. In keeping my distance, I cried with laughter as they essentially pillaged his pockets, and forcefully denied his requests to take their photo for free.
6) Haad Yao, Koh Phangan
Haad Yao is known to be the most beautiful beach on Koh Phangan. Often used as a jump off point for snorkeling and scuba diving, this is a beach well worth spending a day.
7) Khao Soi
Khao Soi is a northern Thai favorite which literally translates to “cut rice.” It is a coconut milk, curry-based dish made from rice noodles, with pickled cabbage, shallots, lime, spicy chili and deep-fried crispy egg noodles on top. I must have eaten this twice a day for an entire week!
Tonsai is home to huge karst mountains which jut directly out of the water. It's small hippy island which only barely has WiFi and electricity. Just before taking this photo, I watched people base jump onto the beach, over the water, from the top of those very mountains.
9) White Buddha at Temple on the Hill, Pai
Also known as Wat Phra That Mae Yen, the Buddha here was still under construction when I visited. The path still wasn't complete, so I had to hike through the woods to get there. It was definitely worth it, though, because the views over Pai were incredible.
10) Krabi Sunset
The beach on Ao Nang, Krabi, was host to some of the most glorious and colorful sunsets I've ever seen in my life. Every night produced some iteration of a sunset like this. Simply remarkable.
11) Longtail Boat on Koh Tao
Longtail boats are a regular form of transportation in Thailand and they have become an iconic symbol for this stunning region. I probably traveled on 30 boats in 30 days of travel in Thailand. This photo was taken from a beach on the southern coast of Koh Tao.
12) Waterfront Jungle, Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is host to a very diverse set of environments, mostly dense jungle, beautiful sandy beaches and gorgeous, opulent coastline. I snapped this just behind a beach on the northeastern part of the island.
13) Jungle Trekking in Northern Thailand
I spent three days trekking through the jungles of northern Thailand. We spent most of our time hiking through forests and along vast green rice paddies like this one.
14) Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chang Mai
A sample of traditional Thai architecture at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a Buddhist temple in Chang Mai.
15) Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi Islands, popularized by the film The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, are a group of islands off the southwestern coast of Thailand. I took this just off Koh Phi Phi Le, on a snorkeling trip to Maya Bay, the beach where the movie's hedonistic utopia is said to exist.
16) Deep Water Solo Rock Climbing in Railay
The mountainous scarps of Railay are perfect for rock climbing. Here, you can go Deep Water Solo Diving, or rock climbing without ropes! If you fall, the turquoise waters will catch you…just don't land on your back or belly!
17) Ao Nang Beach, Krabi
Southern Thailand is a beach lover's paradise! The beach at Ao Nang provides some pretty spectacular vistas like this one. It also has mischievous monkeys who like to steal things right out of your hands!
18) Buddhist Prayer, Chang Mai
Buddhism is the official religion of Thailand, and temples can be found everywhere throughout the country. Here, two women pray at a temple in Chang Mai.
19) Pai Jungle
More stunning green jungle in Pai in Northern Thailand.
20) Sunset on Koh Phangan
Just another standard sunset at Chaloklum Bay on the northern edge of Koh Phangan. This country truly is beautiful and unique, and the sunsets here are some of the most memorable that I've ever experienced in my life.
Thailand holds a truly special place in my heart, and I anxiously await the day when I'll be able to return to one of my favorite places in the world.