My Favourite Film Locations Around the World

Avenu of the stars Hong Kong

I am not such a movie buff, though I have my favourites. Coincidentally I married a huge film enthusiast; thus going to the movies has become something to often do together.

Admittedly my film knowledge has dramatically improved in the last 4 years as part of fulfilling my marital duties, not a bad trade if you ask me.

More than watching Hollywood blockbusters, I enjoy visiting the locations where they were filmed. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m the kind of woman who likes to channel her inner Bond girl persona around the world. It often leads to interesting food and shopping discoveries, which is really important!

I also believe that film locations are (almost always) scenic and iconic, that’s how they ended up in the movie in the first place, right?

Inspired by the great pictures that earned the golden trophies at the 86th Academy Awards last week; I’ve put together this post to highlight some of my favourite film locations around the world.

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Ko Phi Phi Thailand

The 1998 hit starring Leonardo DiCaprio “The Beach” turned its filming location (Maya Bay in Phi Phi Islands) into one of the most popular and most photographed beaches in Thailand. While I’m quite sure that beach looked even better with Leonardo running up and down it, it has certainly taken my breath away both times that I have visited it.

There’s some serious fun to be had in those waters. You’ll find marine life rich and vivid if you’re into snorkeling or diving. Reef sharks and beautiful corals can be seen nearby. It can be done as a day trip from Phuket.

Lebua at State Tower Hotel, Bangkok – Thailand

Lebua at state tower Bangkok

Whether you’re a fan of “The Hangover 2” or you just like to party (and sleep) like a rock star, staying at the Lebua at State Tower Hotel in Bangkok will make you feel very special.

We had no use for the 3 bedroom “Hangover Suite” where scenes from the movie were actually filmed, so we settled for a smaller one which still had one of the most tantalizing views of the Chao Phraya River cutting through the city.

At night we enjoyed a premium seat to the best night skyline view in the City of Angels from the hotel’s dome and Sky Bar.

And guess which movie we couldn’t rent from the hotel’s movie library?

The Vatican City

Vatican City

From The Godfather 3, to Angels and Demons, to Mission Impossible 3, and a bunch of other in demand titles have been filmed in the Vatican City. Stereotyped as the world’s capital of dark mystery, it has been shaped as the perfect location for such action quests. It sure did tickle my curiosity when I visited.
There’s something for everyone here; Spirituality, art, panoramic views, history, architecture, and even few good eating and shopping spots if you venture a couple of streets away from the popular attractions.
Wicklow National Park, Ireland

Wicklow Maountains Ireland

“PS I Love You” is my favourite love story ever. The book stirs heavy emotions in me every time I read it, and the movie puts tears of joy in my eyes with its gorgeous scenery.

Many scenes of the movie were filmed in the Irish countryside. The first meeting scene at the Wicklow National Park always gets me bad. Now that I have actually visited the place, no other first kiss scene in any movie seems more perfect.

Once you’re there, there’s a great chance that you’ll forget all about the movie and let the place just bewitch you. I arrived there on an extremely foggy day, didn’t see half of what I was supposed to see,  and was still dazzled by the gorgeous nature.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai – UAE

Burj Khalifa Dubai

The significance of the tallest building in the world to me measures beyond its height. It featured in my wedding album, we started a couple of years watching it light up in tremendous amounts of fireworks, and I have seen hypnotizing views of Dubai from its viewing deck at the 124th floor.

Tom Cruise fans probably remember the action star running across Burj Khalifa’s glass exterior hanging from a suspension cable a mile and a half above the ground in the “Ghost Protocol”. I still can’t believe that actually happened!

Hotel Degli Orafi, Florence – Italy

Degli Orafi Hotel Florence Italy

The mother of all ironies happened to us when we stayed where the Hollywood classic “A Room with a View” was filmed in Florence, Hotel Degli Orafi. We neglected to request a room with a view, instead our window faced a rather tall and worn out wall. Fortunately the hotel’s rooftop terrace had a magnificent one that glowed in a thousand shades of orange at sunset. It truly saved the day. The service, food and décor of the hotel weren’t too bad neither.

The Canals of Venice, Italy

Venice at night

Venice is one of those places that reflect your state of mind; it can be whatever you make of it. I hated it when it rained all the time, it was just too much water for me. As soon as the sun came out, it turned into the most romantic city that I have ever been in.

Its canals are dramatic enough to fit any movie type. They made the perfect set to romantic comedies like “The Tourist” (irrespective of the redundant plot) as well as action thrillers like the “The Italian Job” and number of James Bond movies.

On a good day, a short Gondola ride in the Canals of Venice will feel like major role in your own Romantic Adventure feature.

Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Emirates Place Hotel Abu Dhabi

“Sex and the City part 2” was supposed to be filmed in Abu Dhabi, but the producers ran short of a permission from the authorities due to the explicit content of the movie, starting with its title!

The actual filming took place in Morocco, though the movie was clearly set at the Emirates Palace Hotel  in Abu Dhabi. I was fortunate to sample a truly luxurious stay at the palace few months ago. Honestly, you don’t need to be movie star to get treated like one there. No wonder the producer stuck to their original location choice, or what looked pretty close.

Jaipur, India

Jaipur India

Director John Madden probably chose Rajasthan to set his hilarious British comedy drama “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, because it’s vibrant, animated, and authentic. It’s India in your face.

Jaipur, the region’s capital, is one part of India that can change you forever if you get too close. Haven just returned from there I am still working through my impressions of the place, but I know for sure that I want to go back for more one day.

What about you, have you ever seen a location in a movie that sent you packing so quick to visit it? Where was it?

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