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Chiang Mai Street Photography

monochrome tuk uk in chiang mai

with Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8

Chiang Mai, Thailand, is a fantastic city for a lot of reasons.

It’s currently the de facto digital nomad capital of the world, but there’s plenty more for you to see than a load of people chained to their MacBook Airs in co-working spaces.

As with much of Thailand, a lot of what draws people to Chiang Mai is dripping with colour. So why would anyone want to shoot Chiang Mai street photography in monochrome?

The only answer I really have for this is because street photography.

Regardless, whether you shoot in colour or monochrome, Chiang Mai has a fair few places you can head to for your street photography.

With enough time, each part of the city would really offer something different.

To keep this sensible though, and to no more than a single day’s shooting, here are two places I suggest in particular.

Chiang Mai street photography at Warorot market

A good place to start your day of street photography in Chiang Mai is in and around Chinatown’s Warorot market, which sits out to the east of the old city.

It’s particularly good if you’re looking for activity. Both inside and out, there’s always human traffic, and plenty of architecture for you to incorporate in your shots too.

Climb a bridge for a better vantage point, or find some natural frames within the bowels of the huge old building.

There’s also a lot of static objects in the non-tourist backstreets to add some flavour to your set.

chiang-mai-street-scene

chiang mai street photography

chiang-mai-motorbike-street-scene

monochrome shot of work clothes drying

Chiang Mai’s songthaews

The easiest way to get around Chiang Mai while shooting your street photography is by renting a scooter. If you’re not too confident with doing that, a bicycle is almost as good.

However, should you wish to try out some local public transport, the songthaews are what you’ll be dealing with.

These red tucks are everywhere, and for the most part follow set routes.

Catching one is simple. Simply flag it down as it passes, and climb into the back.

You can ask if it’s going to where you want to be, just to make sure, but never ask how much it costs.

Doing so immediately shows you up as the naive tourist you are, and the price you’re quoted will reflect that.

chiang-mai-songthaew

Chiang Mai street photography in the temple

My second recommendation for shooting some street photography in Chiang Mai is at some of the city’s many, many temples.

This might sound counter-intuitive but, so long as you don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve with your photography, you can find plenty of opportunity there.

Just ignore the usual temple shots seen in travel blogs, concentrate on the people and the details, and remember to tell your stories.

chiang mai temple

monochrome buddhist figurine chiang mai

monochrome elephant wat chedi luang chiang mai

broken buddhist statues monochrome chiang mai

chiang mai temple dog

Your Chiang Mai street photography

Chiang Mai has far more locations for your street photography than just the Warorot market and the temples.

The old town is good for capturing scenes of tourists and backpackers, and has the weekly Sunday market too. The Nimman area is a hotspot for the digital nomad types, while neighbourhoods like Santitham will reveal a more local flavour.

Each will allow you to tell a completely different story with your Chiang Mai street photography.

Just don’t try to do them all in one day.

chiang mai street photography

dead-mannequin

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Shooting monochrome street photography in a place as colourful as Chiang Mai might seem a waste, but it can help give a different feel to the images you get during your time there. The question is, where in Chiang Mai should you go and shoot? I could suggest the entire city if you have the time to cover it, as every area offers something different, but that would be impractical to most. Instead, here's a couple of suggestions that can be covered in one day, with plenty of time left for that amazing Thai food.

 

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