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Thailand forum

Travel with DSLR camera?

Posted by fleet114 on 4/12/2017 at 11:53

Hi -

I'm about to leave from the US on a 3 week solo-backpacking trip to Thailand. My itinerary will look like this:

Bangkok>Krabi>Railay>Koh Lanta>Khao Sok>Chiang Mai>Bangkok

I plan to stay in flashpacker style hotels and guest houses for most of the trip. Should I plan to travel with my DSLR camera or should I live with taking pictures from my iPhone? I plan to do a good bit of hiking and adventuring on my trip.

I'm not concerned bringing the camera hiking with me as I have a day backpack I can use to stick it in if it rains or gets treacherous. I'm worried about leaving it in a hotel or in a bag on the beach on days when water activities will be involved since its not water proof and I don't want to spend every waking hour keeping an eye on it.

Would love any and all advice on the topic.


#1 fleet114 has been a member since 10/10/2017. Posts: 1

Posted by somtam2000 on 4/12/2017 at 13:34 admin

Ahh down to personal preference really. I always travel with one, though do find am using the iPhone more and more.

I wouldn't be fussed about leaving it in the room—I use a safe (if the room has one) else hide it so it can't be seen/reached from a window (in the case of beach bungalows) though I would be cautious about leaving it on the beach.

There isn't really much one can do—I'll sometimes ask other people on the beach if they can keep an eye on my bag when I take a quick swim, or if there is a beach bar or cafe or something, I'll buy a drink and ask if I can leave a small bag behind the bar, that kinda thing.


#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,089

Posted by gecktrek on 4/12/2017 at 15:30

hey, alternatively you could just take a cheaper p&s camera, as i do, or ensure you have insurance to cover the cost of a stolen dslr... depends what you need to photos for?

#3 gecktrek has been a member since 24/3/2013. Location: Australia. Posts: 178

Posted by DavidBaggins on 11/12/2017 at 21:18


I am not a fan of spending hours on the beach so it was easy to answer the question for myself.

I have been traveling in Thailand for more than a year and I had a DSLR camera all that time. I have never had any problem with stealing things from my room including the cheapest ones. At hostels, I avoid leaving valuable things on the bed - things can disappear (due to some travelers, for example) - I keep valuables in safety boxes.

Where to keep the camera on the beach while swimming ... This is a problem... Sometimes, I just watch while swimming (if a beach is peaceful and not so crowded) ... Sometimes I just don't swim if I am having a camera with me (all crowded touristy beaches). I mean, you can swim on the nearest beach and, if you go far for exploring, don't swim over there (or just bathe few meters away from the sand). If I have a scooter, it is even easier to come back to the room for the camera (and shower, of course) after swimming. And sometimes I meet another traveler to go to a beach together.

If you are in Ao Nang (Krabi), you can go to Pai Plong (Centara) beach (at the end of Ao Nang Monkey trail). This is a private resort area and there was a booth with guards https://goo.gl/maps/qaNj23ZtEg82 I asked them to keep my camera.

If you are on the small islands nearest to Ao Nang (Koh Poda, for example), then just watch the camera... The waters are deep there so you don't need to go 500 meters to swim. And nobody will pay for the boat trip to steal cameras on the tiny island without ways to disappear.

Railay is a small place ... Swim and, then, take the camera from the room for hiking... For example.

Of course, there are some micro risks... But hiking with or without a camera even in the safest places means taking risks like '127 Hours' movie stuff... (And avoiding risks connected to swimming, for example). So... This is your decision.

I talked about having DSLR in travel in Thailand... But I can't give advice about what to choose DSLR or Iphone ... Maybe, you should not bring the big camera... why ...

#4 DavidBaggins has been a member since 22/4/2017. Posts: 2

Posted by phuketrick on 13/12/2017 at 03:54

I live in Thailand ( 32+ years) and travel frequently around SE asia including; Burma, Cambodia,Lao, Nepal and Malaysia
always carry 2 dslr's with me;
Up to you if you want take urs or not but there is only so much a phone can do :-)
PS I NEVER stay in any hostel or share a room with anyone i dont know. Most thefts are from other backpackers not the locals or staff.
nor do i leave my camera on the beach an have a swim.If i do have it with me, i ask someone at a restaurant to watch it for me behind the counter.

#5 phuketrick has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by wanderer143 on 13/12/2017 at 20:50

Yes, I also personally recommend bringing a DSLR cam.

#6 wanderer143 has been a member since 2/11/2014. Posts: 136

Posted by davelliot on 9/1/2018 at 22:11

In my experience theft from hostels and shared rooms hasn't been that common in Asia. I know of a group who stayed in a German managed up market hotel in Bangkok and had cameras and computer equipment stolen in a room break in . Its not necessarily true that cheaper accommodation means more risk of theft. In simple family run guesthouses there are people around all the time. Its possible to leave a camera on the beach so long as you keep an eye on it and don't go too far out.

As an alternative to DLSR take a more compact camera such as Sony RX100 (older models have come down in price) which has one inch sensor and good quality lens. Another good one would have been Olympus Stylus XZ 2 , but these have been discontinued . Although they had smaller size sensor they had hi quality fast 4X zoom lens and were quite sturdy . Not sure if they can still be found. As for the advice about having 2 cameras , that can be a good idea. The only time in my life I got to visit Afghanistan my good camera had broken down and I only had another cheap one which took poor quality snaps. I regret that very much.

#7 davelliot has been a member since 6/9/2017. Posts: 55

Posted by Tennouji on 17/1/2018 at 04:14

I guess for others wondering the same, if you enjoy photography enough to have a DSLR, I think you'd really miss it in Thailand.

If I am alone and staying near the beach, I might go to the beach early to take pictures and then go back to my room to leave the camera before going back to swim.

You can ask people to keep an eye on your belongings but be mindful of how long you are gone. Once I left someone's bag on the beach as they had been gone over an hour which I thought was taking the piss.

If I leave my bag on the beach, I usually leave it where I can see it from the sea and swim along the shore rather than out and back. Of course, there is not a lot you can do save shout should you see someone running off with it.

I sometimes carry my valuables in a supermarket plastic bag so it just looks like I may have a drink and snacks in the bag.

My partner had his camera and iPhone stolen from a deserted Klong Muang beach in Krabi whilst he was swimming out away from the shore. He had a hell of a time trying to get the police report what with the police officer translating Thai into Japanese on his phone but he managed to find a kind local who spoke English.

He had hired a motorbike - the keys were also stolen, so that compounded the hassle - so why he didn't just take photos and then lock his bag under the bike seat, only he knows!

#8 Tennouji has been a member since 22/9/2007. Location: Japan. Posts: 139

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