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Sunset with palm tree on Mae Haad on Koh Tao
Sunset with palm tree on Mae Haad on Koh Tao


In ‘In the Picture’ photographers from all over the world share their 10 most favorite pictures of Thailand. See Thailand through the lens and read the story behind those pictures. This time we welcome Jan-Jaap Top. Great to have you here Jan-Jaap!

Hello, please introduce yourself.

Hey hey! My name is Jan-Jaap Top, I live in Groningen, a city in the north of the Netherlands, the country where I was born and raised. I honestly can’t remember the first time I had a camera in my hand. During our holidays I always took some pictures with a small camera of my parents. At one point I got a disposable camera from my parents for the holidays. After a while I stopped taking pictures and stepped into the music. About four years ago I rediscovered my passion for photography during a school assignment where I made a photo reportage about Amsterdam Light Festival with a rented camera.

Six months later I bought my own camera and brought it with me on a trip to Sweden and I started to appreciate the idea of travelling with my camera. I brought my camera with me to a number of Dutch festivals and during my studies abroad in Bali and Qatar. I started to get some great feedback on my photos. I staged it and started making some videos with my camera. Last year, during my studies, I decided to turn my passion into something professional and registered my own company. At the moment I have my own company (ToPRoductions) and I am still going to university.


Khao San Road in Bangkok at dusk

Bangkok, July 2019
I think everyone who has visited Bangkok knows this place. After a long flight, I was picked up at the airport by my brother who arrived a day earlier. We brought everything to our hotel and went out for dinner in Khao San Road. Honestly a great welcome to Thailand!


View from Wat Saket (Phu Khao Thong) in Bangkok

Bangkok, July 2019
This picture was taken from the Wat Saket (Phu Khao Thong), one of the many temples we visited in Bangkok. We had a long day when we arrived at the temple. My brother and I were arguing to reach the top of the temple, because we were already tired. Because I like a good view, I persuaded my brother to climb to the top of the temple with me. We hung around a bit to see the sunset.

What is your favorite destination in Thailand?

I haven’t travelled around Thailand; I actually flew to Thailand to get my IDD (diving licence). That was always a dream for me. So I only stayed a few days in Bangkok and 8 days in Koh Tao.
If I have to choose it is definitely Koh Tao because I am not a big fan of busy cities and I loved diving there. Honestly I would like to explore many more destinations in Thailand, but that will have to wait now.

Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?

100% Chiang Mai, I have heard so many great stories about this place and the nature there.


Last boat with divers entering the Mae Haad port of Koh Tao

Koh Tao, July 2019
I think this is one of the more iconic pictures I took in Koh Tao, the last boat with a group of divers entering the harbour.

Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?

Well if you want to learn how to dive, I can certainly recommend Koh Tao. There are many dive sites around the island and the water is very clear. As a Dutch tourist it was very easy to find Impian Divers, a Dutch diving school. So, if your English is not the best, this is a great opportunity to learn all the ins and outs of diving in Dutch while you are in Thailand. They also gave us all the information we need about travelling to the island, our stay and what we need.

Furthermore, the island itself is very beautiful, I would recommend that you take a look at the viewpoints during the sunset. But I think the most important activity on Koh Tao is diving.

Where do you like to eat?

Pranees Kitchen; the staff was very nice, the food was AMAZING! They have a wide range of different Thai dishes. The location is also very good, close to the beach, the Mae Haad Pier and close to all the diving schools.


A temple in Bangkok

Bangkok, July 2019
I have no idea where this place is or what it is called. We came across this temple while walking through Bangkok, looking for a local place to eat. Honestly one of the nice things to do when you are in Bangkok, just walk around and see where you end up.


Bike tour with Co van Kessel in Bangkok

Bangkok, Juli 2019
The iconic bikes of the Co van Kessel Bike Tour on an even more iconic longtail boat through the waters of Bangkok. As a Dutchman it was a must to do a big bike tour through Bangkok. Honestly it is definitely worth it. You see so much more and you learn a lot from what you see.

Name a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.

To be honest, I did not have time for this on my first trip to Thailand.

What is your favorite Thai dish?

I really like the Red Curry with chicken! I would say that in general I am a big fan of Thai cuisine anyway. The dishes have so many different and strong flavours.


A road on Koh Tao in Thailand

Koh Tao, juli 2019
One of the beautiful palm roads on Koh Tao. My brother and I came to Koh Tao to dive, in between our dives we tried to explore the island. So we came across this road, I just fell in love with the view. This was on its way to one of the viewpoints in the south of the island. The John Suwan Viewpoint if I am not mistaken.


Sunset with palm tree on Mae Haad on Koh Tao

Koh Tao, July 2019
Sunset on Sairee Beach. I think this Palm is one of the more iconic photo spots on this beach. When I saw some pictures on Instagram I wanted to take a picture of this palm, but I came back very disappointed because the palm is wrapped in barbed wire which damaged this unique looking palm. I think so that nobody can sit on it. So then I decided to photograph the stars at a later date and photoshopped the photos together.

What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?

Ananda Villa, it’s right next to Sairee Beach and close to Mae Haad harbour and many diving centres. So, in terms of location it is really already good. Not only that, the staff was also very nice and helpful.

Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?

Book in advance! If you go to another place you have to book the boat, train or bus tickets in advance, at 12GoAsia for example. We found out that it is quite difficult to book a ticket and travel the same day. Moreover, Thailand is very easy to travel and there is a lot to see. So, if you have the time to do more than just diving, do it 😉

Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?



Chalok Viewpoint on Koh Tao

Koh Tao, juli 2019
This picture was taken after my brother and I got our second diving licence, the advanced open water. We rented a spot in the south of the island so we could see some more of Koh Tao. I saw that there was a viewpoint (near Chalok Baan Kao Bay) on Google Maps, but there was no road to it. After a 20 minute walk I found a small off-road footpath near the main road leading to this point. We were just in time for the sunset. See the result here.


Green lights on fishing boats off Koh Tao coast in Thailand

Koh Tao, July 2019
This picture was taken later that evening. After the photo of the sunset from the vantage point (picture #9) we found a place to eat when we saw some lightning on the horizon. The thunderstorm came in quite calm so we ran to our spot higher up on the island. I still love this picture with the combination of the thunderclouds and the stars. For those who wonder: The green lights on the horizon are fishing boats. They often fish for squid lured by the green LED light.


Diving on Koh Tao in Thailand

Koh Tao, July 2019
I wasn’t sure to share it because the quality is not great. This was our second dive at Koh Tao with Impian Divers. I was still blown away by the amount of fish passing by.

What type / brand of camera do you use?

A Panasonic Lumix GH5 and a GoPro Hero 6.

Where can people find your work / photos?

On my Instagram page and on my own site www.topproductions.nl. I also have a YouTube channel and a site on which I need to work more on, named www.topontour.com.

Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?

I have a few tips for you, all Dutch haha:
Dive Instructor Iris, she is/was dive instructor on Koh Tao, and did a lot of underwater photography there.
Ellen Marshal, lived on Koh Phangan for 6 months.
Olivier Amersfoort, also lived on Koh Phangan for 6 months, same moment as Ellen I just found out.
Dream with Lo, has been to Thailand for 3 weeks.
Eline Nijeboer, studied in Thailand for 2.5 months at a via NHL-Stenden (Dutch school with a branch in Bangkok). In the meantime she has travelled around a lot and can tell a lot about it.

#11 (extra)

Koh Tao Walking Street between Mae Haad and Sairee Beach

Koh Tao, July 2019
Koh Tao Walking Street. After two dives my brother and I wanted to find a more local market to grab some food when we came across this cozy ally near a beach resort.

#12 (extra)

Beach on Koh Tao in Thailand with a nice dog

Koh Tao, July 2019
This shot was also at Koh Tao. I was sitting at the beach waiting for the sunset when it started to get crowded. I decided to get up and find a spot with less people, I noticed that one of the dogs on the beach started following me. We made quit a big walk and I couldn’t help to get a picture together. When I walked back at the camera the dog heard the noise from the camera and he looked perfectly in the lens.


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