I love being able to combine my two passions – film and travel – as often as I possibly can. A holiday isn’t a holiday if I can’t watch a film abroad or check out a super famous (or super obscure) filming location. And wow, the things to do in Thailand for film lovers are next level.
Thailand is a huge country with so many things for film fans to do in Thailand. They have amazing luxury cinemas, film tours and of course excursions to two of the most famous and popular filming locations of all time. Here is everything there is in Thailand for film lovers to take part in!
Thailand for Film Lovers
1. Scout out your favourite filming locations
No joke, Thailand has some of the most exciting, bucket list filming locations in the world. I don’t know if it’s because I’m from the UK so going to Thailand is a huge deal for me, or what. But I loved visiting The Hangover Part II (2011) filming locations in Bangkok, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) filming locations in Phuket… There are tonnes of fantastic filming locations to visit in Thailand for film lovers!
Read more filming locations posts here:
2. Relax in air-conditioned comfort in a Bangkok Cinema
The cinemas in Thailand, particularly big cities like Bangkok, are almost too good. They are on par with the USA in terms of scale and comfort, but the luxury cinemas are extra AF. Some have a huge choice of flavoured popcorn, others have actual sofabeds… It’s crazy! I would almost say the extravagance of the cinemas in Bangkok has gone too far if they weren’t so bloody beautiful (and comfortable).
3. Attend one of Thailand’s many film festivals
A country as big as Thailand deserves a film festival calendar to match. The biggest has got to be the World Film Festival of Bangkok. Running annually since 2003, this film festival is extremely international and screens films from all over the world.
Another alternative is the Thai Short Film and Video Festival in Bangkok that was set up in 1997 by the Thai Film Foundation. This film festival celebrates short, indie and student film and animation. The film festival runs every September.
4. Book on a James Bond Island Tour excursion
I know, I know… James Bond Island is *technically* a filming location. But it’s so much more than a filming location, you know? You don’t have to be a geeky cinephile to love visiting James Bond Island.
James Bond Island was featured in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) starring Roger Moore as James Bond. It’s not my favourite James Bond film, but even I have to admit I was giddy with excitement when I saw the island in real life. The island is in Phang Nga Bay, just a short distance from Phuket. You need to sign up to a boat trip/excursion to see the island, and I personally went with Andaman Leisure Phuket. You can read my review and my experience with them here (spoiler alert, they were great).
5. Check out Maya Bay, the location of The Beach (2000)
One of the most popular beaches in Thailand for film lovers and regular travellers alike was closed recently due to over-tourism. The beach used as the titular location in Danny Boyle’s The Beach (2000) and was hugely popular with tourists. Too popular, unfortunately.
Having visited Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi after it’s closure, I wrote all about how you can still see and appreciate the beach as a filming location here. It might not be the same for those who wanted to feel the same sand between their toes that caressed Leonardo DiCaprio’s feet, but it’s something. Considering it’s such a mecca in Thailand for film lovers, I’m glad Maya bay itself is still open to visitors. But it might be a bit of a wasted journey for those who just like a good beach.
I visited Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Lei via a boat excursion day trip, and you can check out a choice of excursions to the Phi Phi Islands from Phuket here.
6. The Hangover Themed Bar Crawl in Bangkok
Not really my thing, but if you want to check out Bangkok’s nightlife then what better way than to join a ‘The Hangover’ themed nightlife tour?!
The Bangkok Hangover Tour covers three areas of popular Bangkok nightlife: Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza and Pat Pong. The tour takes you to bars featured in the film and you can enjoy a ladyboy show as well as some Muay Thai.
Apparently, the tour is popular with women which makes total sense because a lot of Go-Go bars don’t allow entry to women, but it’s fine if you’re a part of the tour. You’ll also be taken around Bangkok nightlife with a local guide, who will make sure you aren’t pestered and will make you feel more relaxed if this is your first trip to Bangkok. Soi Cowboy is a notorious red light district that I wouldn’t like to visit on my own as a first-time solo female traveller!
And you can also get your own Mike Tyson transfer tattoo if you want. I mean, don’t tell me that’s not secretly your dream.
7. Drink a ‘Hangovertini’ at the Sky Bar from The Hangover Part II
There’s no question that the most iconic filming location from The Hangover Part II was the Sky Bar at the Lebua Hotel in Bangkok. And, even though the movie was released almost ten years ago, the bar still serves a drink called ‘The Hangovertini’ which was apparently invented and served to the cast and crew during production. Just don’t drink too many because you don’t want an actual hangover.
Top tip: The Sky Bar at the Lebua Hotel is a bit pricey, so save accordingly. Also, since it’s a fancy bar, there is a strict dress code. Leave your sleeveless vests, shorts and flipflops at the hostel and exchange them for dresses, button-down shirts and heels.
8. Visit the real-life Bridge on the River Kwai
And finally, what better way is there for film fans to experience the film history of Thailand than visiting the real-life Bridge on the River Kwai?
Truthfully, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) film crew never set foot in Thailand. The whole film was shot in Sri Lanka with replicas. However, Casualties of War (1989) and The Railway Man (2013) and several other films have all used the Bridge on the River Kwai as a filming location. So, even though the bridge wasn’t featured in the most famous film about its existence, it’s still a prolific filming location regardless.
The Bridge on the River Kwai is a three-hour train ride or two-hour car journey from Bangkok, so perfect for a day trip!
And those are all the best things to do in Thailand for film lovers! Have you visited any of the places I recommended or taken one of the tours? Let me know in the comments below!