Welcome to Sukhothai.
Sukhothai is one of Thailand’s ancient capitals. Most people transit through here, on their way North to Chiang Mai. It is typically a two night stop for most. But I live here, and I think this is one of the most underrated destinations in Thailand. I am a photographer and I would like to take you through a tour of this wonderful province. Note, this is not a historical guide to Sukhothai. There are many of those you can find in print and online. For succint but well-written historical context head over to Ben Williams’ Paths Unwritten site here.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people come to visit the roughly 4 square kilometres within which the main temple ruins reside. In these pages (that I will update as I collect additional images) I show you what you can shoot in the main Historical Park, but will also take you beyond that, in to the immediate park surroundings, the areas around the Kao Luang Mountains that form a backdrop to the park (and are a also a National Park in themselves), and the areas that can be reached with an easy day trip from Sukhothai.
About these pages.
The menus on the to top right and the bottom of each page (and below here) will link you to areas of interest in the province.
As I keep shooting, I will add descriptions and pages to the blog entry pages.
When to shoot.
A few things will make a difference between a ho-hum photo and a reasonably interesting one. Obviously, the time of day that you shoot has a huge impact. You want to catch the best light, the Golden Hour. The Park opens at 6:30am most days, early enough to catch the sunrise, and closes well after sunset. The temples are built so that the Buddha statues face the rising sun, but an evening Golden Hour makes for interesting backlit compositions. I cannot emphasise the next point enough: a photographer’s best season is the wet, monsoon one. The dry season is bad for photography for two main reasons: the constantly boring, featureless sky, and most importantly because the farming businesses burn rice and sugarcane fields for months (it’s cheaper than reploughing) causing a thick, brown haze to be ever present in the sky, flattening light and making landscape photography a true challenge. Instead, the monsoon season adds a great dimension to photography: the ever-changing skies, with dark clouds, light shafts, sudden storms and sudden rain showers that look like atomic bomb explosions from afar, and condensation that makes all flowers and trees look very vibrant. Fear not, the rainy season does not mean it rains 24/7. Rain comes in huge bursts and then stops. There are always good gaps in the storms that allow you to go out and shoot, and you won’t be disappointed: from vast cloudscapes to detailed flower shots, you will find an ever-changing pattern of great compositions. And puddles make great reflection pools, if you shoot low enough.
I have a truck that allows me to go further afield than most short-term visitors would, so I recommend anyone wanting to follow in my footsteps around the province to rent a car when they arrive. Some places can be reached by (a longish) bicycle ride, but some do require a car, and public transportation is not available to reach many of the places I shoot. I would discourage tourists from renting motorbikes, for many reasons, the main one being that following driving rules and laws is an optional pursuit in Thailand, followed by few, especially in the countryside. Also, and maybe most importantly, even if you have a foreign motorbike license (and many don’t) you will not be covered by any insurance, foreign or local, if you have an accident. The only insurance that will cover local bike rental accidents is a Thai insurance, and to get that you need a Thai motorbike driving license. You have been warned… Where I think they are needed, I have included maps and GPS coordinates (you can find your own way around the park and it’s immediate surroundings).
Who am I?
My name is Marco Capriz. I am a dual British/Italian national, who lives in Thailand. I have a home in Sukhothai, even though my day job is in Bangkok. I have been photographing for many years, all over the world, but I find Sukhothai one of the most relaxing and inspiring places to shoot.
I use mainly two zoom lenses to shoot landscapes. A 12-24mm and a 24-105mm. In the park itself, I usually am shooting with the 12-24mm. A 16-35mm would also be quite suitable. Both my lenses are G-series lenses from Sony with a maximum aperture of f4. I shoot RAW and process with a combination of Lightroom, Photoshop, Nik Collection and Luminar 4. Sometimes I use a tripod, mostly I shoot handheld, unless I am using an ND filter. More on my gear here.