With its twisting waterways, verdant nature and exotic atmosphere, it’s easy to see why filmmakers travel halfway across the world to shoot in this fascinating part of the globe. Whether it’s a bad guy’s hideout, unspoiled beaches housing backpackers or a chase scene backed by its bustling streets, Southeast Asia’s many-splendored locations have provided many an iconic scene.
Thinking of visiting this enchanting part of the globe? Get the wanderlust going with these six films that are sure to make you want to explore Southeast Asia’s incomparable idyll.
The Man with the Golden Gun
What better way to kick off a list of iconic films than with arguably the king of cinematic cool, James Bond? And The Man with the Golden Gun features its fair share of memorable moments, from the golden gun itself, an incredible corkscrew car jump over a river, and of course, the villain Scaramanga and his hideout in Khao Phing Kan, Thailand.
The site of their final showdown, the island came to be so popular it’s now known as James Bond Island, even locals rarely use its original name. Remembered for its shimmering surrounding waters and jutting outcrops, it’s a short boat journey from Ao Nang, Krabi if you fancy visiting it.
Good Morning Vietnam
The name of Robin Williams’ much-loved wartime comedy is something of a misnomer really. Filmed in Thailand rather than its titular Vietnam, with Bangkok and Phuket filling in for Saigon.
Nevertheless, Williams’ mile-a-minute delivery suits the busy, fast-paced streets of Thailand to a tee. As rebellious radio DJ Adrian Cronauer, Williams is dedicated to cheering up his fellow GIs and ruffling the feathers of his superiors with his manic, madcap broadcasts.
Along the way, the film takes in Southeast Asia’s jungle foliage, rustic towns and vibrant urban areas, wrapped up with Williams’ beloved humour.
Many point to Danny Boyle’s adventure film as the one that kicked off the backpacking boom in this part of the world. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a young American seeking the sights and sounds of Bangkok, he is told of an uninhabited island on the Gulf of Thailand.
Filmed in Bangkok and Phuket, DiCaprio’s profile was huge after the success of Titanic, so his presence caused quite the stir amongst locals. The beach of the title was Hat Maya, turning what was meant to be an unspoiled and idyllic stretch of sand into an instant tourist hotspot as soon as it was released.
That said, the area it occupies is still an impressively authentic slice of Thailand, capturing the beauty seen in the film that’s well worth seeing for yourself.
Eat Pray Love
A desire to break out of routine is often why many people get the travel bug. In Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts’ character is at a crossroads, but a tour across the world soon unlocks a journey of self-discovery.
Southeast Asia isn’t the only far-flung area Roberts visits, but the spectacular scenery of Bali and Indonesia sticks out as an undoubted highlight. In particular, the Bali scenes were filmed in its Ubud area, well known for its paddy fields and lively art market packed with colourful scarves, clothing, statues and a variety of hand-crafted goods.
Meanwhile, the beach scene was filmed at Padang Padang Beach, a famous surf spot with lush forestry nearby, cresting waves breaking over blue waters and a horizon that seems to stretch for miles.
Starring Michelle Yeoh (who you may recognise from another James Bond outing), The Lady tells the story of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi. Filmed mostly in Bangkok, director Luc Besson had to do some incognito filming in Myanmar too due to stringent restrictions on entry visas at the time.
With both the filming and the story politically charged, it gives an insight into the decades-long turmoil Myanmar has been beset by, but the visuals on display are undeniably spectacular.
The Bourne Legacy
Making impressive use of Manila’s sprawling hustle and bustle, this hi-octane thriller may lack Matt Damon, but more than makes up for it with a series of pulse-racing set pieces. Starring Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz as a Black Ops agent and research scientist respectively, they see the sights by way of a long car chase through Manila’s streets and markets, as well as on-foot run from assassins and police across rooftops and through alleys.
From Remedios Circle and Marikina Public Market to Navotas Fish Port, there is plenty of Manila to see here, while the ending boat scene was filmed in the Palawan province, often lauded as featuring some of the world’s most beautiful islands, including El Nido, whose long list of plaudits and ‘Heaven on Earth’ nickname make it a must-visit slice of sand.
From the silver screen to your bucket list, these Asian locations are begging to be visited. For our full list of Southeast Asian cruises, head over to Cruise1st Australia’s homepage right here, or give our friendly team a call on 1300 803 734.