Thailand and Around: A Cinematic Exploration

Thailand and Around A Cinematic Exploration
Camera Filmset, Thailand by Matt Wilson

Thailand is not only a prime location for vacations, but for filming movies as well; and this time in Inspirock travel planner, we’re exploring these sites. Several foreign language movies have been shot in this vibrant country, given its gorgeous landscape, its exotic natural beauty, and the comparatively low production budget needed to film scenes. While some films are set in Thailand itself, other films have been shot using Thailand as an understudy location to depict neighbouring countries like Vietnam or Cambodia. Game to add one of these to your Thailand trip planner?

Phang Nga Bay – Bond movies

Thailand and Around A Cinematic Exploration
James Bond Island, Thailand by Carrie Kellenberger

Two movies of one of the most legendary film series in Hollywood history regarding a certain spy in Her Majesty’s Service was incidentally shot around Bangkok and Phuket, in Phang Nga Bay.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974): In this movie – starring Roger Moore – James Bond visits the Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium in the district of Prom Prap Sattru Phai. One of the primary locations used for filming was the island of Ko Khao Tapoo, known as the “Nail Island” or “James Bond Island” in popular parlance. The latter location was quite affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Both these sites, however, remain quite popular with tourists.

Tomorrow Never Dies: Another Bond film shot at Phang Nga Bay (which was a stand-in for Halong Bay, Vietnam) was Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), starring Pierce Brosnan. Bangkok was used as a filming location to substitute for Ho Chi Minh City. Although initially meant to be shot in Vietnam, visa issues and production equipment complications led the shoot to be relocated to Bangkok.

Bangkok – ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ and others

Thailand and Around A Cinematic Exploration
Good Morning, Bangkok, Thailand by shankar s

One of Robin Williams’ most well-known roles was as Adrian Cronauer, a radio DJ sent overseas to host a morning show called Good Morning, Vietnam (movie of the same name, 1987) for the Armed Forces Radio Service. Williams won a Golden Globe for his role, with the film becoming a critical and commercial success. The film was shot entirely in Bangkok, Thailand, which was used as a stand-in for Vietnam.
Similar films centred around the same theme include The Deer Hunter, The Killing Fields, Heaven and Earth, and Casualties of War, all of which were shot in Thailand.

Ko Phi Phi Lee – The Beach

Thailand and Around A Cinematic Exploration
Ko Phi Phi Lee Beach, Thailand by Roberto Faccenda

Danny Boyle’s film The Beach (2000) was embroiled in environmental and legal complications regarding the island used as the location for the film. The “paradise” island used for the shoot was Ko Phi Phi Lee. The actual beach utilised in the film was physically altered by the film crew, which flattened it with a tractor, leaving the locals unhappy. Legal tussles followed, and the production company was held partially culpable. The tsunami in 2004, however, seems to have restored the beach to its former, natural shape. The Haew Suwat waterfall in Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand was another location used in the film.

Bangkok and Siem Reap – In the Mood for Love

Thailand and Around A Cinematic Exploration
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia by Davidlohr Bueso

Wong Kar-Wai’s cinematic love story, In the Mood for Love (2000) had the exterior scenes filmed in Bangkok, although set in Hong Kong. The final scene of the movie, where Tony Leung’s character whispers into a hollow in a wall and then covers it up with mud, is considered one of the most beautifully shot endings for a film. It was shot on location at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Mekong River – Alexander

Thailand and Around A Cinematic Exploration
Mekong River, Thailand by ZephyThor

Colin Farrell starred as Alexander the Great in the Oliver Stone epic titled after the great emperor (Alexander, 2004). It was shot along the Mekong River in north-eastern Ubon Ratchathani Province and the Saraburi Province, and the cast included Thai actors as well.

Krabi – Star Wars: Episode III

Thailand and Around A Cinematic Exploration
Krabi, Thailand by BORShop Computing

This might come as a surprise, but a Star Wars film was also shot in Thailand. The scenes with the approach to the Wookiee home world, Kashyyyk, in Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith (2005), was shot in the Krabi Province.

Bangkok (again) – The Hangover Part II

Thailand and Around A Cinematic Exploration
Sunset in Bangkok, Thailand by Joe Le Merou

And finally, we cannot complete this list without a mention of The Hangover Part II (2011), which was filmed and set entirely in Bangkok, Thailand, and is one of the most famous films in recent years to have been filmed there.

There you have it – a list of locations that have been the basis for some memorable cinematic moments in history, and it would be a shame to miss any of these sites in your next Thailand itinerary planner, and we highly recommend that you don’t! So which one will you be visiting on your holiday to Thailand, we wonder?

This is a contribution from one of our contributing writers.


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