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5 Movies To Help You Plan For Your Southeast Asia Backpacking Trip

Written by: Frances Nito

Does being cooped up at home make you wonder when you’ll get to travel again? In light of the world’s current situation, traveling does seem like it will become a foreign concept for the time being. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up planning for your next trip! In this blog, we’ve compiled five movies that will not only entertain you, but also give you a serious case of wanderlust and help you plan for your next Southeast Asia backpacking trip!

5. Explore Cambodia with Lara Croft,

the Tomb Raider

Movie: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Directed by: Simon West, Jan de Bont

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig, Iain Glen

Plot: Lara Croft, a treasure hunter, races against a secret society in search of an artefact that can control time and solve the mystery behind her father’s death.

Our Take: Though this movie is essentially an action movie rather than a travel movie, it gave an interesting glimpse into the mysterious ruins and ancient temples abundant in Cambodia. As evident from the movie, Cambodia is a land of mystery and history, the perfect country for history and archeology buffs and definitely not for the faint of heart and week in the knees!

Serious Case of Wanderlust: 3/5

Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom Angkor Archeological Park, Siem Reap Cambodia

More about the featured temple: The Bayon Temple complex, situated in the north of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, was said to be once positioned at the very heart of the ancient city of Angkor Thom and is easily accessible from various directions by a hired tuk-tuk or bicycle on a tour which can also take you to the Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm. Be sure to pack comfortable clothes, walking shoes, and light bags for this trip!

Learn more about Cambodia here: https://www.tourismcambodia.com/

4. Time Flies By As If It Is Already Tomorrow

in Hong Kong

Movie: Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong

Directed by: Emily Ting

Starring: Jamie Chung, Bryan Greenberg

Plot: A budding romance develops between a first time visitor and an expat banker as they walk and talk in the bustling night streets of Hong Kong.

Our Take: Out of all the countries in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong falls into the category of one time, big time countries to visit. Nonetheless, making every trip count is what traveling is really all about and this movie offers the perfect reference for what to look forward to in Hong Kong: the bustling, teeming, colorful nightlife. This movie, featuring the budding romance between two strangers in a new city, definitely gave off the impression that Hong Kong never sleeps at night.

Serious Case of Wanderlust: 3.5/5

Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong

More about the nightlife in Hong Kong: One of the nightlife hot spots featured is Lan Kwai Fong, which is probably one of the most famous streets in Hong Kong, housing over 90 restaurants and bars. Another place to get a heavy dose of the Hong Kong nightlife is The Temple Street night market, a famous street bazaar is filled with trinkets, opera singers, fortune tellers, and of course, street food. Nightlife in Hong Kong definitely calls for hip and casual attire!

Learn more about Hong Kong here: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/index.jsp

3. Travel to Indonesia to Eat Pray Love

Movie: Eat Pray Love

Directed by: Ryan Murphy

Starring: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, James Franco

Plot: In an attempt to rediscover herself after her failed marriage, Elizabeth Gilbert travelled around the world in search of food, faith, and new love.

Our Take: Though not solely focused on Southeast Asia alone, this movie had one of the best portrayals of solo traveling and one of the most beautiful features of Indonesia. After feeding herself in Rome and looking for faith in India, Liz travels to Indonesia to meditate, further seek understanding of her life and open herself up to love again. In this movie, Bali is featured as an enchanting laid back country travelers go to to seek healing and respite, be it physical, mental, or spiritual.

Serious Case of Wanderlust: 4/5

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

More about Ubud in Bali: The book and movie adaptation of Eat Pray Love made Ubud one of the most famous tourist attractions in Indonesia. The main highlight, the beautiful and untouched rice terraces, is only a short walking distance away from the main streets of the province and offers unlimited access to nature, serenity, and peace of mind.The main streets itself of Ubud also offers a variety of genuine Balinese activities to do. Coupled with a big straw hat, sunglasses, and a perfect novel, this healing trip in Bali will be definitely one for the books.

Learn more about Indonesia here: https://www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/home

2. Party in Singapore with the Crazy Rich Asians

Movie: Crazy Rich Asians

Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh

Plot: Rachel was only supposed to have a simple getting-to-know with Nick’s family when he invited her to his best friend’s wedding. However, things are not what she expected it to be when she found out that her boyfriend was the only son of one of the richest family in Singapore.

Our Take: Rich is a complete understatement of this movie. A complete fusion of Chinese culture, food, tradition, and filial piety, this movie handsomely featured the glorious lifestyle of the blue blood, old money, and elegantly rich families in the backdrop of modern Singapore. In addition to all that, it also showcased some of the most notable and beautiful places the most advanced country in Asia has to offer. A definite must for food, culture, and party lovers!

Serious Case of Wanderlust: 4/5

Marina Bay Sands, Bayfront Avenue, Singapore

More about Singapore: The first two places featured in the movie is the Singapore Changi Airport, the top international airport in the world and the hawker Newton Food Center which offers some of the best Asian food in town and where the world’s cheapest Michelin-star is served. The main highlight of the movie featured the two must-stop itinerary in Singapore such as the Gardens by the Bay and the famous Marina Bay Sands. Make sure to be prepared with a cocktail dress when you come to Singapore in case you might get invited to a party or to some fancy restaurant!

Learn more about Singapore here: https://www.visitsingapore.com/en/

1. Search for the perfect paradise, The Beach,

in Thailand

Movie: The Beach

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Starring: Leonardo DiCarpio, Tilda Swinton

Plot: In search of a perfect paradise, Richard travels to Thailand and sets out with newly acquainted friends only to find out that there is a heavy price to pay for what he is looking for.

Our Take: “In the perfect beach resort, nothing is allowed to interrupt the pursuit of pleasure.” Nothing screams forbidden paradise more than this movie. A perfect beach resort and a secret community nobody can join and nobody can leave sounds like the perfect recipe for a mind boggling travel film and this one did not disappoint. In a way, just like Richard, we are all lone travelers in search of our own little untainted perfect paradise. The question is, how much are we willing to pay to keep that paradise hidden? As depicted in this movie, the Southeast Asia region is rich with myths and legends as well as the home to some of the most pristine white sand beaches in the world, a definite must for your backpacking itinerary!

Serious Case of Wanderlust: 4/5

Hat Maya, Phi Phi Leh Island, Thailand

More about the island: The setting of this movie took place in Hat Maya or Maya Bay, the main tourist attraction of the Phi Phi Leh Island near Phuket, Thailand. It is approximately one and half an hour away from the Krabi and Phuket Pier and accessible by a daily ferry/speedboat. The best time to visit the Maya Bay is between November and April. Make sure to pack a lot of sunscreen for this trip, take nothing and leave nothing behind in the island!

Learn more about Thailand here: https://www.tourismthailand.org/

Nothing really compares to Southeast Asia when it comes to traveling. The ball game is completely different per country no matter how close it is to our home country, geographically and culturally speaking. All the same, that is the very essence of traveling! We hope these movies helped you visualize and plan that Southeast Asia backpacking dream trip, and together with Team Aisela let’s turn it into a reality someday!

On the other hand, If you’re looking for ideas for Europe, you might want to check out our previous blog:


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