Last September, we announced with the Tourism Authority of Thailand that we would collect street-level imagery of Thailand via our Street View cars. Just as we started driving, however, 65 of the country’s 77 provinces experienced heavy flooding — resulting in one of the worst humanitarian and economic crises in the country’s long history.
While flood waters affected our original driving schedule, the team was determined to keep the cars on the roads by driving up-country and focusing on un-affected areas. And if the weather wasn’t enough of a challenge, how about carefully maneuvering Street View cars around curious elephants!
After six short months, it is with great pleasure that imagery of greater Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket is now available on Google Maps. We hope that locals in these areas find the panoramic views helpful for finding their way around their cities, discovering new restaurants and shops, and promoting their businesses online. Tourists can also get a preview of Thailand when planning vacations, figuring out travel logistics about the exact places to visit, or simply looking for more examples of the country’s hidden beauty.
Below you can see Bangkok’s Grand Palace, one of Thailand’s great national treasures. The 360-degree imagery in Google Maps provides an immersive sense of what this spot is like in ways that a single, still photo wouldn’t be able to encompass. For example, scroll around the panorama and you’ll see Bangkok’s bustling roads littered with brightly-painted tuk tuk auto rickshaws and hot pink taxis cruising down the streets.
The new imagery also includes breathtaking views from northern and southern Thailand, from sunny Laem Phrom Thep and Phang Nga Bay in Phuket, to famous temples like Wat Chiang Man or the mountain top monastery of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. We will continue driving in Thailand throughout the year, so stay tuned for more imagery updates in the future.
In addition to today’s announcement about adding Thailand imagery to Google Maps’ Street View feature, we’re also thrilled that the Google Trike has arrived in Thailand. Using this unique vehicle, sometimes mistaken for an ice cream vendor, we will begin collecting imagery of new spots that the Street View car cannot reach. Together with our local partner, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, a poll has been opened at www.tourismthailand.org/mymiracle for Thais to decide where the Trike should go. Visit the site and let us know through photo, video, or text the Thai landmark you want to people all around the world to be able to virtually experience.
Despite the floods, Thailand had the highest-ever number of visitors in 2011 with 19 million guests. We hope that this new Street View imagery shows the world that Thailand is back — and ready for even more guests in 2012.
To check out a few Street View in Thailand and more collections around the world, including the Amazon Basin in Brazil, go to our new Street View gallery here.