The spine-tingling musical scores, the sheer talent from your favourite actors and the mesmerising cinematography are all ingredients that make a film a success. But, think about it – what’s a film without its recognisable backdrop? What’s King Kong without the Empire State Building scene, The Godfather without the Sicilian atmosphere, Slumdog Millionaire without the bustling streets of Mumbai?
Sitting in the cinema is all well and good, but there’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in the movie magic by being front and centre where the action took place. That’s where we come in – keep reading, and we’re positive you’ll spot your favourite flick amongst our list of must-see movie destinations.
The Beach, 2000 – Thailand
Another Danny Boyle masterpiece came to our screens at the turn of the century to expose us to the multi-faceted world of Thailand through the eyes of adventurous backpackers. The Beach opens with Leonardo Di Caprio roaming the vibrant streets of Bangkok, and after a somewhat frightening encounter with a fellow traveller in a hostel, is provided a map to an unknown island in the Gulf of Thailand. To those in the know, it was the gorgeous Phi Phi archipelago.
Despite Di Caprio being cast, the real star of the film is the stunning Thailand settings. Maya Bay, where film production happened directly on location, is nothing short of a tropical bliss that can be reached by boat from major regions including Phuket and Krabi, showcasing aquamarine waters as clear as glass and golden sands that feel like you’re walking on clouds – yes, they’re that soft.
However, all good things must come to an end – much like the message of the movie. The popularity of the film meant that the masses of tourists arriving daily to admire the serene beach by boat and leaving their rubbish behind resulted in the closing of Maya Beach to help preserve the damaged coral reefs. Never fear as all is not lost. There is still an abundance of daily tours that journey from the Thai mainland to the Phi Phi archipelago and the surrounding areas of Maya Beach, which are equally as beautiful. This popular excursion is almost a rite of passage for everyone who visits Thailand, as guests can enjoy fresh seafood on the main island of Phi Phi Don, snorkel in the waters of the Andaman Sea and take snaps of the wildlife at Monkey Beach. A word of warning: don’t feed the monkeys – they bite! We learned that the hard way…
The Dark Knight, 2008 – Hong Kong
The film that gave us the spine-tingling “why so serious?” and an incredible last performance by Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight was primarily filmed in Chicago for a likeness to Gotham City. But, there is one scene that we just can’t get out of our minds.
Swapping the streets of Chicago for the sparkling skyscrapers of Hong Kong, this incredible scene saw the black-costumed superhero leap from the roof of an adjacent building and crash through a window of the International Finance Centre – in true Batman style, of course. Known as the Pearl of the Orient, Hong Kong is nothing short of a metropolitan masterpiece and is truly limitless in all its possibilities. An incomparable hybrid of urban life and a natural paradise, this city is exciting, thrilling and exceedingly memorable – exactly like The Dark Knight!
Take a leaf out of Bruce Wayne’s book and take to the rooftop of a Hong Kong building but instead of committing property damage, we recommend heading to Wooloomooloo, a rooftop cocktail lounge that is as funky as its name, to watch the majestic sunset. Admire the natural illumination show as it displays a cascade of reds, purples, blues and whites that glisten mesmerizingly across the incredible Victoria Harbour with a cocktail in hand – not your phone, because no camera will ever do this justice.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, 1992 – New York City
When it comes to iconic film sets, nothing beats New York. A thriving metropolis of eclectic trendsetting restaurants, neck-craning skyscrapers that kiss the clouds, landmarks made famous by their appearance on the big screen and so much glitz and glamour that you should permanently wear sunglasses. One of our favourite blockbusters for showcasing the highlights of the Big Apple is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, because there’s truly nothing like the City That Never Sleeps when it’s illuminated by the magic of Christmas time.
Alongside features of the stunning lobby of The Plaza hotel, one of the most cinematically glorious scenes are filmed at the infamous Rockerfeller Center with the striking Christmas tree in the centre. The Norwegian Spruce ranges in height from 60 to 100 feet, and is adorned with five miles of multi-coloured LED lights and sparkling ornaments. Other festive landmarks include Central Park for a spot of ice-skating – or maybe to see if you can see a woman covered in pigeons…
Funny Face, 1957 – Paris
Ah, Paris. The City of Love and the City of Lights, the French capital is a dream come true and full of iconic landmarks that are recognisable all over the world. Funny Face, the 1957 smash film starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, saw the brilliant Golden Age pair dance their way through the city that we all know and love, saying “bonjour” to Paris’ monument-lined boulevards . Why not follow in their footsteps – or should we say dancing shoes? Cruise along the River Seine and wave to the picnicking locals, wander in awe underneath the Arc de Triomphe, and – saving the best ‘til last – take a selfie underneath the Eiffel Tower during its magical evening light show. If all that sightseeing has worked up an appetite, it goes without saying that Paris’ culinary scene will cater for every craving under the sun. From Michelin-starred eateries and cosy neighbourhood bistros to mouth-watering patisseries and fragrant fromageries, indulgence of the highest order is promised in every arrondissement.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989 – Jordan
The third film in the exciting Indiana Jones series released in 1989 saw aspiring intrepid explorers watch in intrigue as he searched for his missing, estranged father. Filming locations for the movie included Spain, Italy, West Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States – but our favourite scenes are the ones shot in Jordan. A Middle Eastern gem that offers an otherworldly experience from the likes of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we encourage everyone to visit the beautiful city of Petra at least once in their lifetime. Also known as the ‘Rose City’ due to the beautiful colouring of the stone, Petra has been named as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and is a majestic location full of temples, caves and buildings made of blushing pink sandstone that has to be seen to be believed.
Lucky for you, you can see it. Courtesy of yours truly, we have a fantastic Wonders of Jordan Tour package that escorts you through the highlights of this Middle Eastern beauty for a duration of seven nights. Click here to find out more.
Mamma Mia!, 2008 – Greece
Here we go again! The much-loved flick starring Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried was filmed on the beautiful island of Skopelos, just off the coast of mainland Greece. Surrounded by incredible vistas of the sparkling Aegean Sea, for purposes of the movie, the island was called the made-up name of Kalokairi, which translates from Greek to “summer”. Most of the outdoor scenes in the film were shot directly on location at a variety of beaches and towns scattered throughout the island while some were also filmed in Skiathos, which is the gateway to Skopelos via ferry. As one of the greenest islands in the Aegean Sea, Skopelos is a vision of natural beauty and a foodie’s dream come true thanks to the abundance of seafood restaurants scattered along the coast – they’re so good, you’ll say Mamma Mia!
Harry Potter, 2001 - 2011 – London
Come on, we certainly couldn’t conclude this list without an honourable Harry mention! A magical franchise that had everyone wishing they could perform the Patronus charm (yes, even you), Harry Potter makes us proud to be Londoners thanks to the incredible on-site locations featured throughout the film. A majority of the filming was, of course, completed in the Warner Brothers Studio for the ultimate movie magic, but the real enchantment were the scenes that displayed a crossover between the wizarding world and the Muggle world. Flying through the brick walls at the imaginary nine-and-three-quarters platform at King’s Cross Station, apparating into the middle of Piccadilly Circus to escape the mob of Death Eaters, and speaking Parseltongue to snakes in London Zoo’s Reptile House are all things that we all wished we could partake in – admit it.