There have been plenty of movies shot in Phuket and its nearby areas due to the fact that Thailand is always eager to attract Hollywood and the international cinema industry as a way to promote tourism in the country. The Thai cinema industry has been producing some excellent movies in the past few years, most of them only popular in Thailand, before getting internationally recognised when Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives obtained the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

    There are a lot of professional technicians who can be hired for the production of international movies and a wide choice of superb and exotic locations. Here are 10 popular movies which have been shot in and around Phuket since the ‘70s – lights, camera, action!


    The Beach

    Shot in 2000 and directed by Danny Boyle, The Beach is based on the eponymous Alex Garland novel. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this movie made a small cove on the western side of Koh Phi Phi Leh world-famous: Maya Bay. Funnily enough, the island mentioned in the novel is located in the Gulf of Thailand near Koh Samui, whereas the island featured in the movie is in the Andaman Sea, on the other side of the isthmus.

    The hotel at which Leonardo DiCaprio stays in the early part of the movie is the On On Hotel in Phuket Old Town.

    Location: Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi Leh

    Shot in 1974, The Man with the Golden Gun was the 9th James Bond movie. Featuring Roger Moore as the iconic British spy and Christopher Lee as the villain, Francisco Scaramanga, the film was predominantly shot in Asia: Hong Kong, Macau, and Thailand.

    One of Scaramanga’s secret bases is hidden in Koh Ping Khan in magnificent Phang Nga Bay. The islet has since been renamed James Bond Island and is a popular landmark, visited by hundreds of tourists every day.

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    Location: Phang Nga Bay


    Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

    Shot in 2004 and directed by Beeban Kidron, this sequel to the successful Bridget Jones’s Diary reunites the same cast members: Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones, Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, and Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver.

    This time, the movie’s plot takes them to Bangkok (some scenes were shot along the infamous Soi Cowboy), to Phuket Island (Phuket International Airport and Nai Yang Beach appear in the movie), and Phang Nga Bay (the romantic cruise scenes were shot off Panyee Island).

    Location: Phuket International Airport and Phang Nga Bay

    photo by Roma Neus (CC BY 3.0) modified

    Shot in 1993, Heaven & Earth is a superb film by Oliver Stone about the Vietnam War and its consequences. Based on a true story written by Le Ly Hayslip (played by Hiep Thi Le in the movie), the plot relates the life of a young Vietnamese woman and her march through the horrors of history, from Vietnam to America and back.

    The Sino-Portuguese house featured in the movie is Baan Chinpracha which is open to visitors and located in Phuket Old Town. Scenes of Vietnamese rural life were shot in the beautiful province of Krabi, only a 2-hour drive from Phuket.

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    Location: Phuket Town and Krabi


    Cutthroat Island

    Shot in 1995, Cutthroat Island is a romantic/comedy/action/pirate movie starring Geena Davis. The film was a big flop, credited for ending production of any pirate-themed Hollywood movies until the Pirates of the Carribean series. Its plot relates the quest of Morgan Adams (Matthew Moddine) for the missing parts of a treasure map in 1668 Jamaica.

    The superb setting of Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi Leh was used for a good deal of the exterior views, which is probably the highlight of the movie and makes it worth watching.

    Location: Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi Leh

    Shot in 1997 and directed by Roger Spottiswoode, Tomorrow Never Dies was the 18th James Bond movie of the series, and the second using Thai locations to represent other Asian countries: The Ho Chi Minh City scenes were shot in Bangkok, and Koh Ping Khan – in Phang Nga Bay – was used for the second time in a James Bond movie for a scene.

    One Phuket-based junk was also used in the movie: June Bahtra. This junk is still available for day and sunset cruises in Phang Nga Bay.

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    Location: Phang Nga Bay


    Around the World in 80 Days

    Directed by Frank Coraci, Around the World in 80 Days is the American blockbuster version of Jules Verne’s novel published in 1873. It's one of Verne’s most acclaimed works and relates to the race around the world by Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan) and his valourous valet Passepartout (Jackie Chan) after being challenged by friends for a £20,000 wager to circumnavigate the globe in less than 80 days.

    The scenes depicting a Chinese rural village were shot in Krabi Province.

    Location: Krabi


    Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

    Shot in 2005 and directed by George Lucas, the 3rd episode of the world-famous Star Wars movies saga has a few scenes filmed in southern Thailand. The tall limestone cliffs and lush vegetation of Krabi Province were used to represent Kaashyyk, the home planet of the Wookiees, [spoiler warning!] during the battle in which Yoda escapes from the Republican Commandos’ treason. Of course, the heavy use of computer-enhanced images makes the Krabi landscapes a bit difficult to recognise.

    Location: Krabi



    Shot in 2005 and directed by Rob Cohen, Stealth is an action movie in which Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx are 3 US Navy pilots selected to test a brand-new jet equipped with an artificial intelligence prototype – the EDI that needs to learn how to manoeuvre by itself from the most talented pilots. Things don’t go as planned, however, when the EDI starts to think for itself.

    The pilots’ rest and recuperation scenes were shot in Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi Leh.

    Location: Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi Leh


    The Impossible

    Shot in 2012 and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, The Impossible is based on the true story of a British family that was staying in a Khao Lak beachfront resort for Christmas 2004, when the tsunami occurred. The Impossible has been praised by critics and described as "beautifully accurate" by Simon Jenkins (a British survivor of the disaster).

    The tsunami sequence took a year of work, combining on-location shots, the use of a giant water tank in Spain, and a sprawling miniature of the beach resort.

    Location: Khao Lak

    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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