Home Editor's Choice Thai film locations from Chiang Mai to Phuket

Thai film locations from Chiang Mai to Phuket

Thai film locations from Chiang Mai to Phuket

For those who are templed out or not up to trekking around wats and museums, location spotting is the latest trend in Thai sightseeing. The movie buff as tourist is the newest phenomenon as Japanese, European, Indian, Hong Kong and USA movies, documentaries and commercials flood out of the country.

What is Thailand’s Attraction for Filmmakers

The most obvious attraction for film makers is Thailand’s topographical variety. From white, sandy beaches in the south of the country where velvety green off-shore islands sit in a turquoise sea broken by massive limestone outcrops, through the paddi fields of the Central Plains, right up to the forests and jungles of the North, the locations are ideal for whatever the studios wants it to stand in for. Malaysia has a somewhat similar topography but there are social and religious restrictions in that country that prohibits a really dynamic film industry from taking off.

Vietnam War Made Thailand the Preferred Location for Films

The Vietnam war made Thailand the preferred location for many film makers when, in the 1980’s, war movies became popular, as many of the directors and actors had actually served in Vietnam and had spent R. & R. time in Thailand.

What Countries does Thailand Stand in For

Vietnam and Cambodia are two obvious countries. Think of Platoon, Good Morning Vietnam, Casualties of War, Heaven on Earth, and The Killing Fields.But Thailand can also stand in for the unsafe Caribbean. The pirate film, Cutthroat Island, was shot in the southern resort of Krabi, and superspy James Bond, in the person of Roger Moore, hunted The Man with the Golden Gun at Phang Nga Bay, in the marine national park, also in the south. This latter film turned the bay into a major tourist attraction almost overnight and boat rides to the little outcrop known as James Bond Island are a regular day trip from nearby Phuket.

The Deer Hunter Shot in Thailand

At the Jungle Rafts Floatel, deep in the steamy jungle up-country on the River Kwai near the Burmese border, the rafts with their rickety-looking bamboo huts had stood in for the Vietnamese prison cages where Jon Voight was incarcerated in the Academy Award-winning film The Deer Hunter. Re-enacting some of the scenes from that movie is popular with students, who spin empty beer bottles in a crazy re-enactment of the Russian roulette scene in that film as the noise of the cicadas and the screeching of the monkeys shatter the hot, steamy nights.

Good Morning Vietnam and The Killing Fields Shot in Thailand

Way up in the mountain fastness of Mae Hong Son (so remote that until 40 years ago it was only accessible by elephant), Robin Williams filmed Good Morning, Vietnam, while at the opposite end of the country, on the island of Phuket The Killing Fields used some of the old Chinese mansions as settings for the 1970’s embassies of Phnom Penh. In Hua Hin, 80 miles from Bangkok, the Sofitel, once the old colonial-style Railway became the French embassy in the same film.

Is location the only reason for Thailand’s success, or is there more

The comfort of the million-dollar stars has to be considered. While they may suffer the inconveniences of location shooting during the day, they like their creature comforts at night. No country takes pampering to such lengths as Thailand with its deluxe hotels and spas in just about every major town. Bangkok boasts the worlds favourite hotel, The Oriental, and with the Amanpuri and the Banyan Tree in Phuket, the Dusit Thani Resort Hotel and The Asara in Hua Hin, and the Regent in Chiang Mai and the Dusit Thani in Chiang Rai, the stars are assured of all their creature comforts.

And when the cameras have stopped rolling, Thailand is relaxing and fun, probably more so than any other exotic spot in the world today, the food is fabulous, and the ever-smiling people make everyone feel so welcome.

Chiang Mai, Part of the Ancient Lanna Kingdom

Chiang Mai lies more than 400 miles north of Bangkok and because it has some of the highest mountains in the country it is a Mecca for many Bangkokians who flock to its cooler climes in the heat of the summer. Chiang Mai is also the most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand, part of the distinctive Lanna Kingdom that spanned 600 years of Thai history from 1250-1860.

Once a quiet country town, Chiang Mai is now a city to rival Bangkok. It provides accommodation from 5-star hotels to budget accommodation with food outlets in keeping. There are shopping malls and markets selling handcrafted good such as silver work, woodcarvings, umbrellas, silk and jade – all good buys in Chiang Mai.

Attractions in Chiang Mai

There are opportunities to ride elephants, take a night safari, and browse the famous night market for food, souvenirs and tee-shirts, as well as sight-seeing in and around the city. The Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River runs through Chiang Mai and there are numerous temples to visit.

One of the most popular attractions in Chiang Mai is the Patara Elephant Farm where visitors can spend a day learning all about elephants. Visitors to the Farm get the opportunity to clean and ride an elephant. The price is $180 which includes pick-up from hotels and a photo CD documenting the day and the money raised is used to support the elephants, all of whom have been rescued from unsuitable situations.

Hotels in Chiang Mai

Dusit D2: This is the new-style boutique hotel from the Thai Dusit Chain (Dusit Thani, Dusit Princess etc.) located in the heart of downtown Chiang Mai. The famous Night Bazaar is just outside the hotel which makes it ideal for that late night snack or last minute shopping. The décor is modern Asian, brushed steel and glass and with liberal use of vivid colours. The 131 rooms are well furnished and include very spacious bathrooms with upmarket amenities. The restaurant is popular with locals as well as visitors and there is an outdoor pool, an excellent spa and a fitness centre.

Just north of the city is the smaller Muang Gudi Lodge (26 rooms) which makes an ideal location for those wishing to visit the Butterfly Farm, the Elephant Camp and the Botanical Garden. Those in search of a game of golf need look no further than the nearby Green Valley Country Club. The restaurants serve Northern Thai food as well as international dishes. The rooms are furnished in ancient Sukothai style, and the tropical landscaping outside surrounds an outdoor pool. Taxis into town are reasonable and cycles can be hired.

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi: One of the all-time favourites with regular guests to Chiang Mai, the Mandarin Oriental stands as a homage to the Lanna Kingdom. Set in 60 acres of lush landscape through which the hotel offers daily tours, it also offers a cooking school, a 5,000 volume library and a white water buffalo! The accommodation can best be described as British colonial-style room and there are a few 2-storey villas overlooking paddi fields. No one should miss the Inner Flow Therapy at the Spa which is said to offer the deepest relaxation this side of Nirvana where the therapist stretches the client and dances on the body to free the mind and body of all stress.

Galare Guest House: A Thai-style guest house on the Ping River the 35-roomed guest house has wide, covered verandas overlooking a garden and courtyard. Thai and Western dishes are served for all meals taken on a covered deck overlooking the river. In a quiet section of the city but within walking distance of the Night Market area.