If you’re looking to get a glimpse into the lives of people in a new city or nation, movies are an excellent way to do so. In addition to learning about a country’s culture and language, films can also provide us a sense of its geography and religious beliefs. Even if you don’t have time to learn all you can about Thailand before boarding your red-eye flight, there’s no need to worry. Grab some popcorn instead and wrap up while watching one of these epic films, set in cities across Thailand.
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Watch the Thai horror flick Shutter with a companion by closing the curtains. There is a significant benefit to watching a Thai-language film with English subtitles, as your eyes move back and forth between action and captions. This happened after an evening of drinking at a friend’s house with his lover, Jane (Natthaweeranuch Thongmee). The two panic and leave her for dead instead of helping. When Tun’s images are processed, he begins to notice strange things in them after the tragic accident. This Thai horror thriller has a succession of story twists that keep you on your toes until the very end of the film.
2. The Railway Man
The Railway Man is a must-see film if you’re planning a trip to Kanchanaburi while in Thailand. This tearjerker, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, is a must-see for anyone who enjoys shedding a few tears. The Railway Guy tells the story of a shattered man who can’t seem to move forward in his life due of his awful experiences during the Second World War. Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) and Patti Wallace (Nicole Kidman) are just married, but Patti discovers that her husband isn’t acting like himself because of the trauma he suffered as a POW in Kanchanaburi, Thailand during World War II. This film provides an insight into the hardships of working on the Death Railway at the height of World War II. You won’t be able to stop watching until the end credits roll because the film is both visually stunning and educational. If you’re going to watch any movie before coming to Thailand, it should be The Railway Man.
3. Tropical Malady
Tropical Malady is sweet and dramatic, with unexpected turns throughout. This 2004 film is separated into two sections. Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee) and Keng (Banlop Lomnoi) are a village lad and a soldier who fall in love in the Thai countryside. Between the first and second parts of the film, there is a long pause that leaves the audience perplexed for a moment or two. During the second half of the film, a soldier gets lost in the jungles of Thailand and encounters a spirit that is nothing but trouble for him. Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, this film won the Jury Prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
4. The Hangover Part II
You may have already seen this famous movie, but we suggest watching it again before arriving in Thailand. Once again, three buddies in The Hangover: Part II find themselves unable to recall the events of the night before. This comedy about three men navigating Bangkok, starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, and more, will keep you laughing for the entire one hour and 42 minutes it runs. From ladyboy strip joints to shady tattoo parlors, this video captures the seedier side of Bangkok in a way that’s both amusing and engrossing.
5. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
This is a must-see for everyone who enjoys a good ghost story. Uncle Boonmee’s kidneys are failing, and he sees the ghosts of his wife and children as he weakens. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives got the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival in 2010. Buddhism, reincarnation, and Thailand’s treatment and repression of communist insurgents are among topics that are addressed in the film.
6. Only God Forgives
One of two things could happen when you see this film. The first reason is that you can’t wait to experience Bangkok’s utter mayhem. As a second consideration, you’ll want to avoid as much of the city as possible when on vacation. It was released in 2013 and depicts a gloomy, violent, and prostitute-ridden Bangkok in Only God Forgives See how cocaine smuggler Julian (Ryan Gosling) succeeds in the City of Angels. If you thought his situation couldn’t get any worse, you’d be wrong. Julian’s mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) travels to Bangkok to avenge her son’s death, while also expressing her severe disgust in Julian for not taking action himself in the wake of his brother’s murder. It was a fun movie to watch before travelling to the City of Angels, even though we’re hoping it’s not too accurate because most of the actors wander around with swords in hand, slicing up Bangkokians everywhere.
7. The Beach
Anyone visiting southern Thailand should not miss this book-to-film adventure tale. Danny Boyle, best known for his efforts on Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, and Steve Jobs, directed The Beach. Adapted from Alex Garland’s novel, The Beach recounts one young man’s voyage to Thailand in search of thrills and spills. Bangkok’s tuk-tuks and congested streets wonderfully portray the city’s frantic atmosphere in the opening scenes of the film. To discover a secluded island, he decides to travel to the southern part of Thailand, where he follows a map. Tourists have been flocking to Thailand’s islands ever since they watched Leonardo DiCaprio swimming in some of the film’s most stunning locations. The Beach is a must-see if you plan on relaxing on some of Thailand’s most gorgeous islands, including Koh Phi Phi.