8 film destinations you can visit in real life
1. Doctor Strange – Kathmandu
Mystical and immersive, Doctor Strange follows the Marvel superhero, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), on a mystical journey of healing, leading him to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Here, he discovers a hidden world of magic, explores alternate dimensions and fights off some bad guys (and gals).
In Nepal, you’ll find something fascinating around every corner, with the snow-tipped Himalayas towering above you. We can’t promise time travel, teleportation or Benedict Cumberbatch, but the country is magical.
Cumberbatch said that shooting in Nepal was “absolutely vital to this film…it’s important to a film like this—which has a profound gearshift into a spiritual and otherworldly dimension—that the portal for that be in a place that actually happens in itself to be incredibly spiritual and marvellous.”
Why not follow in Dr Strange’s footsteps with our trips to Thamel in Kathmandu, or Patan Durbar Square in Patan?
2. Batman: The Dark Knight – Hong Kong
The Dark Knight is the second instalment in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, set mainly in Chicago, the UK and Hong Kong. Batman heads to Hong Kong to hunt down a villain and bring him to justice, which leads him to dramatically swoop down amongst the Hong Kong skyscrapers, giving a sweeping view of the skyline.
Sadly this was created digitally (Batman can’t really fly…sorry), but a lot of filming took place in Hong Kong’s tallest building, the International Finance Centre. You may have also spotted the famous covered escalators in the film – Hong Kong boasts the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, connecting the Central and Mid-Levels districts on the island. Granted, that doesn’t sound very impressive – but it makes for a unique journey up through the streets and gives a birds-eye view of the city.
With its thriving traditional culture, Hong Kong is packed with endless possibility. Gaze down upon silver skyscrapers from Victoria Peak, wander around bird markets and socialise over steaming dim sum. Just don’t try to leap off any buildings.
3. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Angkor Wat, Cambodia
You’ll probably remember Tomb Raider from the nineties, and your old PlayStation 1.
Well, in the movie, Lara Croft (now less pixelated and played by Angelina Jolie) heads to Cambodia to find a missing, powerful artefact. In order to find this ancient object, she enters Angkor Wat and has to solve the temple’s puzzles along the way.
Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, having been gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple.
Get lost among the overgrown temples and giant carved relics in one of the man-made wonders of the world.
During one of our trips, you’ll spend three days exploring the temples with Siem Reap as your base. The city is a traveller hub with a big heart, packed with market stalls, Khmer restaurants and lively bars.
4. Slumdog Millionaire – Mumbai
The British drama Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of an 18-year-old boy living in the slums of Mumbai, who appears on the show ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, with a chance to change his life overnight. You can head to Dharavi Slum where the movie was filmed and you’ll see a different side of Mumbai with your guide. He’ll tell you about the issues affecting the poorer members of society, the street children, pavement dwellers and the history of the slums.
Mumbai is a city with some of the world’s richest, yet also some of the poorest people. Feel the buzz of activity surrounding Minara Masjid, observe vendors cooking up all sorts of meats sizzling away on their tavas and stroll through the lanes of Bhendi Bazaar.
5. The Revenant – Canada
The Revenant is a thriller set in the Canadian wilderness. Whilst exploring uncharted land in the 1800s, Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is attacked by a bear and left with life-threatening injuries. We won’t give much more away, but most of the film is him navigating through the beautiful, snowy scenery on his quest for vengeance and survival.
The film is set in some of Canada’s most recognised national parks in Calgary and Alberta. These are a picture-perfect natural playground high up in the Rockies and are filled with jagged peaks, lush forests and impossibly blue lakes. Just keep an eye out for bears!
6. Eat, Pray, Love – Bali
After divorcing her husband, Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) faced a turning point in her life. The film follows Liz as she steps out of her comfort zone and embarks on a quest of self-discovery, taking her on adventures from Italy to India and Indonesia.
Ubud – which is the heart of Bali – was made famous by the book. And since then, it’s been a hub for yogis and travellers looking to follow in Liz’s footsteps and disconnect from real-life pressures. It’s located in the very middle of Bali, surrounded by lush green rice fields and mountains. Ambling amongst rice paddies that flow down the hills and into the valleys, Ubud is a peaceful place to watch daily life unfold in authentic villages.
Another beautiful location that was used in the film includes Padang-Padang Beach. Weirdly, the real beach is way prettier than the washed-out version seen in the film. But if you fancy dropping in at the beach bar you saw on screen, you won’t have much luck – it was part of a set, created for the movie.
7. The Fast and the Furious – Tokyo
Tokyo Drift is the third instalment of the Fast and the Furious franchise, set in the fast-paced city of Tokyo. Sean Boswell moves to Japan to live with his father, and once there learns about an exciting, yet dangerous new style of sport; street racing.
The film showcases Japan’s stunning capital, Tokyo, which mixes the past and future, from neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples. You’ll still find beautiful remnants of Japan’s shogun past waiting to be explored. With some of the world’s best food, unique pop-culture, and nightlife which occasionally defies explanation, Tokyo is an intoxicating place like nowhere else.
8. Avatar – China
Avatar is considered to be up there with one of the best films in the world. An epic animated sci-fi film located on the lush alien world of Pandora, Jake Sully becomes an Avatar and joins the battle for the survival of their world. Now you may be thinking, ‘a lush alien world of Pandora? Well, that doesn’t exist’. But actually, the location of the film was based on a lot of real-life destinations in China.
In fact, Zhangjiajie is now known as the Avatar mountains, it’s a place of awe and humility and holds the title of being China’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at the views at Yellow Mountain (Guangshan), and visit the city of Guilin.
Well, there you go. Maybe next time you’re watching a movie you’ll be able to say, “I’ve been there!”