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Sometimes, a movie (or book) can put a place on the map and inspire travellers to visit. The movie can be a true representation of the place and be about the destination – or it could just be a set location not actually depicting the truth but perhaps a fantasy locale, such as the hobbit village set in New Zealand.
We’re highlighting a few movies here that have inspired travellers to SE Asia. We’re not giving any spoilers in case you’ve not seen these iconic movies, and we’re pleased to say that our Destination TEFL locations make the list.
The Beach (2000, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, based on the book by Alex Garland)
Most scenes in the film was actually shot on Thailand’s western coast. The Andaman Sea, in Phi Phi Islands and Maya Beach. The book is set around a hidden beach. Ang Thong National Marine Park off the island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. The movie starts off in the infamous Khao San Road in Bangkok, which is where many backpackers to Asia start their trips. After this movie came out, backpacker numbers to Thailand soared…
Lara Croft – Tomb Raider (2001, starring Angelina Jolie and Daniel Craig)
Our Destination TEFL Siem Reap training centre is just 6km from the iconic scenes where Lara Croft battles in root-entwined temples of Angkor Wat! Lara Croft perhaps started the trend for powerful female lead roles, a welcome change from the stereotypical ‘damsel in distress’. The movie put Cambodia on the map as a new location from the regular package holidays. It appealed to the adventurer in all.
Eat, Pray, Love (2010, starring Julia Roberts, based on the book by Melissa Gilbert)
The story evolves as a newly divorced woman tries to find herself through travels to Italy (eat), India (pray) and Bali (love). A ‘feel good’ movie, many a 30-to-40 something woman could relate to the lead character, and journeyed to the locations, with Bali high on the list.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011, starring Judy Dench)
The Beach and Lara Croft generally inspired younger travelers. Eat, Pray, Love the 30-40 something traveler. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel got the mature traveler off the couch and down to their local travel agent. They realised that life begins at 60 and booked their ticket to India. This is another feel-good movie, a tear-jerker at times. You can smell, taste and feel the essence of India in this film.
Anna and the King (1999, starring Jodie Foster)
The story of the romance between the King of Siam and widowed British school teacher, Anna Leonowens, during the 1860s. While most period films are set in Europe or America, it’s fascinating being taken back in time to Asia of yesteryears. A love story between two most unlikely partners, worlds apart.
There are many more films worthy of a mention that portray SE Asia, some in reality, others not. Such as: Bridge over the River Kwai, The Killing Fields, Seven Years in Tibet, The Hangover Part II, Crazy Rich Asians, to name but a few.
Which movies or books have inspired you to visit Asia? We’d love to hear which films or books about SE Asia you have loved or hated and why.
If you dreamt of visiting any of these destinations, why not do it through meaningful travel. Complete your TEFL certificate in one of our three amazing destinations. You can choose between Bangkok – Thailand, Siem Reap – Cambodia or Bali – Indonesia