Like the movies…
When it comes to travel inspiration, Hollywood is right up there on the list of influencers. It’s easy to understand why. Who wouldn’t want to make fantasy come to life with a visit to destinations from their favourite movie? Film locations around the world have become tourist hotspots, including some well known destinations on our home turf. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider raised the profile of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat even further, while The Hangover Part II confirmed just how crazy Bangkok can get. To assist with your planning, the travel and film enthusiasts at KAYAK.com.hk have put together a list of some of the best movie-inspired travel spots in- and outside of Asia.
Skiathos, Greece – Mamma Mia
You don’t need much of an excuse to visit the Greek islands, but fans of the classic, Mamma Mia, have more reason than most. Much of the movie was set on Skiathos, where crystal clear waters, golden beaches and lush pine forests are just part of the charm. Skiathos, while beautiful, is even better known for its buzzing, hip nightlife. Outdoor bars can be found on the beaches and sidewalks, with plenty of good vibes and cocktails on offer. In the sunlight hours, a boat tour around the island will ensure you cover the sights inaccessible by land, such as idyllic Lalária beach and the island’s striking sea caves. Go for a round of scuba diving and swimming, then take a stroll via some of the spots made famous in the film, including the Old Port and the St. Nikolaos Bell Tower. True fans will be delighted by the opportunity to relive the best of Mamma Mia, with the film playing three times per week at the local Open Air Cinema, accompanied by enthusiastic audience participation of course.
Hamakua Coast, Hawaii – Avatar
Hawaii is famous for its beaches and picturesque scenery, but it was the lush tropical forests that truly held the spotlight in James Cameron’s Avatar. Scenes from the movie were shot in Kaua’i, O’ahu, and along the Hamakua Coast. If you’re up for a road trip, rent a car and drive along the scenic coast, taking in Akaka Falls, the Waipio Valley Lookout, seaside panoramas and culturally rich local villages. From the Lookout, make your way down to the valley floor and stretch your legs along the coal-black beach, then catch a glimpse of nearby Hi’ilawe, one of the highest free-falling waterfalls worldwide. Feel the energy of forests with a hike away from civilisation – people here have lived the same way for more than 100 years. Referred to as the Hilo-Hamakua Heritage Coast, a trip through Hamakua is an opportunity to see the real Hawaii, with townspeople sharing their traditions in cosy gift shops, cafes and galleries. Pack your swimsuit to take a dip in the many swimming holes, and if you have time, pick a beach and join a surf lesson or two.
Agra & Mumbai, India – Slumdog Millionaire
The 2008 movie, Slumdog Millionaire, may have thrust a group of unknown actors into the limelight, but it also drew international attention to Juhu Beach and the Dharavi slum in Mumbai, and Agra in Uttar Pradesh. Agra has long been celebrated as the home to the iconic Taj Mahal, but the area is worth so much more than a day trip. Agra is perched on a bend of the holy Yamuna River and lives up to the hype in every respect. Boasting a majestic fort, intriguing mausoleums and of course, the breathtaking Taj Mahal and its tranquil, reflective pools, Agra is a magnet for intrepid tourists. Make a detour to the nearby ruined city of stunning Fatehpur Sikri. When time allows, a short flight will find you in Mumbai, the sprawling metropolis on the west coast of India, to pick out notable locations around Juhu Beach. Relaxation, fitness and street food are the main activities here. A tour through the workshops of the Dharavi slum, where much of Slumdog Millionaire was set, makes for an eye-opening experience.
How to get there: Flights Hong to Kong to Mumbai from $3,391*
Where to stay: Ramada Plaza Agra from $476* per night, double occupancy, or The Fern Residency Mumbai from $790* per night, double occupancy
Kyoto, Japan – Memoirs of a Geisha
Many film crews have found their way to Japan. Lost in Translation made Tokyo’s Park Hyatt Hotel a tourist must-see. Inception gave a new generation a deep appreciation of Nijō Castle and Memoirs of a Geisha transported us to a time of tradition and serene beauty in Kyoto. Kyoto is bursting at the seams with Buddhist temples, imperial palaces and tranquil gardens, and be sure to add Nijō Castle to your list. Widely known for the fabulous Ninomaru and Homaru palaces, the castle is surrounded by imposing stone walls and a deep moat. Outside the castle walls, pay a visit to the Gion district, where authentic Geishas can still be found making their way to evening social engagements. The Gion district is also a popular shopping hub, with many historical streets filled with stores selling crafts, local dishes and souvenirs.
Petra, Jordan – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
We’ve all felt the thrill of adventure, thanks to Indiana Jones. While the locations captured in this trilogy often seem too far-fetched to be real, some are much more accessible than you’d think. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade tantalised us with an ancient world of cities carved in stone. Perhaps the most fascinating of all is Petra, the mind-blowing archaeological site in the southwest desert of Jordan. A series of temples and tombs hand-hewn into pink sandstone cliffs, the sheer scale of this ancient city will render you speechless. Enter the city through the narrow Siq gorge, once inside, a ride on a camel or donkey will lead you past the Roman-style amphitheatre, colonnaded streets, obelisks and the superb Ad-Deir Monastery. Find authentic handmade mementos at stalls set up by local Bedouin tribes, and learn more about this mesmerising city at the two on-site museums. Amman is much more than the gateway to Petra. The city itself offers endless activities; create your own perfume, ride an Arabian horse, visit the citadel, shop for traditional spices and join a cooking class, or simply relax at a Turkish bath.
Next time you settle in to re-watch your favourite film, don’t just imagine yourself there, take note of the spectacular destinations then jump online and make it a reality, by booking your own movie-worthy experience.
Top Tip: Use Trips to organise all your booking confirmations into an interactive travel itinerary that’s accessible from home, office, or on the go.
*Prices displayed are based on searches conducted on 15 March, 2016. Flight prices are based on a round trip economy fare for travel from 7-14 July, 2016. Hotel prices are for double occupancy per room per night. Prices are subject to change, availability may be limited or offers may no longer be available.