Do you like movies? Yes!
Do you like to travel? Obviously.
For the past 100 years, Hollywood filmmakers have been exploring Southeast Asia’s beautiful islands, steamy jungles, and twisting rivers…searching for the perfect backdrop to frame their tropical stories. But what you may not know is that for various reasons, your favorite dramas, mysteries, love stories and action movies are not actually filmed in the locations where they are set.
We have uncovered 10 popular movies which were actually filmed in ICS destinations in Southeast Asia. If you’d like, we can even take you to them. . .
One of our favorite destinations in Thailand is the northern city of Chiang Mai, where we find tough-guy Rambo living peacefully in his fourth movie. Unfortunately, some ill-prepared missionaries are kidnapped when they hike into Myanmar. The kidnapping greatly irritates Rambo, who proceeds to rescue them while unleashing destruction and chaos on some bad guys.
2. The Man With the Golden Gun
Even today, the island paradise/hideout of Scaramanga and his miniature sidekick “Knick Knack” is known as “James Bond Island.” In the movie, the unusually-shaped island of Koh Tapu housed a diabolical satellite laser dish. However, it is only a short trip by long-tail boat from Ao Nang, Krabi in southern Thailand. Some scenes from the movie were also filmed in Bangkok and Phuket.
3. Tomorrow Never Dies
Pierce Brosnan’s second Bond movie saw him fighting a corrupt media mogul in the South China Sea. The movie was supposed to be filmed in Vietnam, but some issues necessitated a move to Bangkok. In the helicopter scenes you can still see clues such as landmarks and signs in Thai. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
4. Air America
Although the plot of this movie takes place during the Vietnam War, the movie was actually filmed around the Chaing Mai Airport, as well as Hae Hong and Mae Hong Son, Thailand. To film the crazy airplane maneuvers, the producers had to hire actual war veterans who were the only people to have actually flown those planes in such a manner.
5. The Beach
One of the most well-known Southeast Asian settings is Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach. The recent record-breaking success of Titanic had made DiCaprio a huge star and his presence brought a lot of attention whenever they filmed in locations like Bangkok’s Khao San Road, Khao Yai National Park, Krabi, Phuket and Ko Phi Phi Leh, which was the setting for the hidden slice of paradise.
6. Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider was the first film allowed at Angkor Wat in more than 30 years. Swinging from the Cambodian temple’s iconic banyan-tree vines, Angelina Jolie runs and raids her way around Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Phrom.
7. Good Morning Vietnam
As you might expect, this Robin William’s film (which was based on a true story) took place during the Vietnam War around 1965. However, the producers deemed it easier to film in Thailand, so as a substitute for Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) they used Bangkok and Phuket.
8. The Hangover, Part 2
The highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time, The Hangover 2 got massive press coverage when it filmed in Krabi and in Bangkok’s famous Chinatown. The incredible city view from Lebua at State Tower is still visited by many fans. Even former U.S. president Bill Clinton and the Thai Prime Minister visited the set!
9. The Killing Fields
This incredible movie won 29 awards, including 3 Oscars, and was nominated for a further 20 awards. Although it was actually filmed in Bangkok, Phuket and Hua Hin, Thailand, the film tells the story of an American journalist and a local Cambodian who were friends, but were separated during the Khmer Rouge invasion of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
10. Eat Pray Love
A mid-life crisis leads a woman on a year-long journey to Italy, Indonesia and India in hopes of finding herself. Some say this movie is worth watching just for the incredible scenery in Bali, Indonesia and Delhi, India. See if you can spot Pataudi Palace in Haryana, India.
There you go. . . our list of the Top Ten Movies Filmed in Southeast Asia. Are there any other movies you believe should have been included on the list? Let us know.