By Maia Fletcher
Do you often catch yourself watching a movie and wishing you could visit some of the incredible places the characters are exploring? If so, why not make your next holiday to the Asia-Pacific region extra-special by picking your favourite silver screen destination?
Consider the following ideas:
Spirited Away – Japan
One of Japan’s most well-known movies, Spirited Away, was directed by the unrivaled Hayao Miyazaki and focuses on a ten-year-old girl who finds herself in the spirit world. While Spirited Away is animated, the movie took inspiration from plenty of real-life locations. Try staying in a ryokan – a traditional Japanese inn – like the one in the film, where you can bathe and relax. If you visit Tokyo, you’ll also be able to visit the Ghibli Museum, which was founded by Miyazaki himself and where you can learn all about the studio’s many works.
Crazy Rich Asians – Singapore
Crazy Rich Asians gave viewers a glimpse into the lives of the ultra-rich in Singapore, and in doing so inspired cinema-goers to visit the tiny country. Try visiting a hawker centre or taking a stroll in the Gardens by the Bay - you could even book a room in the swanky Raffles Hotel if you’ve got the cash and want to follow in Nick and Rachel’s footsteps!
Mulan – China
While the China of today offers less in the way of ancient rituals and more in the way of glitzy cities, there’s still plenty of culture and history to take in. You could even visit the town where, according to Chinese legend, the real-life Mulan lived.
The Beach – Thailand
The Beach, which was filmed on the picturesque Thai islands of Koh Phi Phi and in the capital city of Bangkok, has long attracted visitors to Thailand. While Maya Bay has been closed indefinitely to tourists, you might like to visit Bangkok as Leonardo DiCaprio’s character did, where you can try all sorts of local foods and visit historical temples.
Eat Pray Love – Bali, Indonesia
You might not be able to swing a holiday in Italy for months on end like Liz did in Eat Pray Love, but you can certainly visit some of the movie’s filming locations. Since the film was released, Bali has become a hotspot for tourists looking for their own ‘love’ experience (see our guide to Bali here), but if you’re more of a nature lover, you’ll find plenty to satisfy you on this idyllic Indonesian island.
Moana – Samoa
If you enjoyed listening to ‘How Far I’ll Go’ on repeat for weeks after the release of the movie Moana, you’ll love visiting an island that brings to mind the balmy paradise of Motunui. While Moana’s home island is fictional, it was inspired by real places in Polynesia – try Samoa for a down-to-earth cultural experience and the chance to see and explore an incredible natural environment.
Whale Rider – Tonga
One of New Zealand’s most critically-acclaimed films follows the story of Kahu, a young Maori girl who, while challenging local traditions, helps to save her local whales. If you’re a fan of the movie, why not travel to a destination where you can channel your inner Kahu and spend time with whales? Try the island nation of Tonga, which is one of the only places on earth where swimming with whales (with operators committed to sustainable practices) is possible – it’ll make for the trip of a lifetime.
Train to Busan – South Korea
While your trip to South Korea will surely be a little more peaceful than the events in Train to Busan, the country is the perfect place to explore for fans of the zombie thriller. South Korea is also the ideal destination for anyone who loves K-dramas, many of which are filmed in the dazzling capital city of Seoul.
Planning your next trip to the Asia-Pacific region? What are you watching, listening to, or reading to get ready?
Maia Fletcher is a Gisborne-based freelance writer who has penned articles for various blogs, sites and local businesses including Poynters. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually on her feet, exploring another movie-inspired holiday destination from her bucket list. Find out more about Maia by visiting her blog right here.