Exotic Travel Destinations Inspired by Your Favorite Films -

Exotic locations around the world are ideal travel destinations for lovers of cinema.

Pantelleria, Italy
A Bigger Splash (2015)


Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino’s sun-drenched 2015 film A Bigger Splash finds its location in an isolated Italian island called Pantelleria, right off the Sicilian coast. The movie stars Tilda Swinton as a rock star recovering from throat surgey, whose relaxing holiday with her boyfriend comes to an end when an unexpected friend and his troublemaking daughter show up at their doorstep. Despite the unsettling plot twists, the beauty of Pantelleria island is undisturbed and showcased quite well.

Places to Visit Featured in the Film
– Tenuta Borgia resort – a private resort with sprawling lava stone villas and hectares of olive trees.
– Venus’ Mirror – a thermal spring lake with mud and hot water good for the skin
– Laghetto della Ordine – a natural swimming pool carved out of hardened lava.
– Scauri – a seaside village with groceries, bars, and artisan cheesemakers who might teach you show to make ricotta fi you’re lucky.

Casablanca, Morocco
Casablanca (1943)

Warren Beatty, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Brad Pitt, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor and the stars of the ÒHarry PotterÓ films are but a few of the subjects featured in the 165 photographs that will next grace the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesÕ Grand Lobby Gallery. Opening to the public on Thursday, September 16, ÒUp from the Vault: 85 Years of Treasures from the Warner Bros. Photo LabÓ will run through December 12. Pictured: Cinematographer Arthur Edeson, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, CASABLANCA (1943) This posed behind the scenes still shows cinematographer Arthur Edeson lining up a shot for Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman's airport farewell in CASABLANCA (1943), directed by Michael Curtiz. (TM & © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
Pictured: Cinematographer Arthur Edeson, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, CASABLANCA (1943)

Although many film fans are disappointed to discover that much of the Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman film Casablanca was shot inside the Warner Brother’s Studio in Hollywood, the spirit of the film still lays in the exotic world of Morocco. Set during World War II, the movie follows an American bar owner named Rick, who faces a tough challenge when asked to help a famous rebel named Victor Laszlo escape the axis-power controlled nation. Rick’s problem: Victor’s new wife is the woman who broke his heart, who left him pining alone in Paris. Visitors of Morocco will still feel the film’s magic upon arriving. The street markets and sandy exteriors may have been minimized due to the innovations of modern technology, but the timeless elegance of the film still exists.

Places to Visit Featured in the Film
– Rick’s Café Americain – an exact replica of Humphrey Bogart’s bar in the film is functional and serves food and drinks.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Dr. No (1962)

Dr. No

Sean Connery debuted as 007 in the first James Bond film, Dr. No back in 1962. As the years go by, the locations in which international espionage happen only get grander and grander, but it all started with this exotic Jamaican location. Who can forget Ursula Andress as the vivacious Honey Rider walking out of the ocean ready to fight alongside England’s favorite secret agent? It is an iconic image in 1960s pop culture.

Places to Visit Featured in the Film
– Ocho Rios beach – the famous Jamaican beach was used as a stand in for the fictional Crab Island in the movie.
– James Bond Beach – a beach renamed in honor of the secret agent, ten miles away from Ocho Rios. The hidden resort features 1960s-inspired bars and dressing room and is said to be a sanctuary for many Hollywood stars.

Petra, Jordan
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The last installment of the original Indiana Jones franchise found Harrison Ford’s lead character searching for the Holy Grail. The gripping finale found viewers at the famous Al-Khazneh located in Petra, Jordan. Throughout the film, Indy is sent trotting around the world in such locations like the ancient canals of Italy to the mountains of Germany. But rightfully so, the fictional location of his hunted treasure finds him at the holy land of Joradan.

Places to Visit Featured in the Film
– Al Khazneh (or “The Treasury” in English) – the location of the Holy Grail in the film is actually an Arabic, sandstone temple built as a crypt for Aretas IV Philpatris, the King of Nabataens (the ancient Kingdom in which Petra is located).

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Lara Croft Tomb Raider

Academy Award winning actress Angelina Jolie has a connection with Cambodia. Last year, she produced and directed First They Killed My Father, which tells the tale of a five-year-old boy in 1975 who experience the reign of the rebellious Khmer Rogue group. However, her first brush with the national happened in 2001, when she was casted as Lara Croft in the adaptation of the famous video game. As the young, British tomb raider, she finds herself in the mystical world of Angkor Wat looking for clues. She is on an adventure to save the world from a terrorist organization looking for an ancient relic that has the power to stop time. The film was one of the first major Hollywood productions to put Cambodia in a positive light, showcasing its mystique beauty and ancient folklore rather than focusing primarily on the infamous Killing Fields and Vietnam War.

Places to Visit Featured in the Film
– Angkor Wat – the temples in and around Cambodia’s Anchient City plays a large role in the film.
– Red Piano Bar – frequented by Jolie during her 2001 stay, the bar located at the infamous Pub Street has a cocktail named after her. It has become of the city’s biggest tourist novelties.

Beijing, China
The Last Emperor (1987)

The Last Emperor

Bernardo Bertolucci 1987 masterpiece The Last Emperor was an Academy Award juggernaut, winning nine Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for the Italian auteur. The film stars John Lone as Puyi, the last emperor of China. Puya was declared emperor as early as a toddler. The film chronicles his personal and political turmoil, using the grand Forbidden City as the film’s main backdrop. Viewers are transported back to his golden years ruling as king as a child, the successful Xinhai revolution that forced him to abdicate, his years as a spoiled teenager, all the way to his dreary days as a war prisoner. The film is a visual spectacle. Golden lantern light, striking silks and fabrics, and opium smoke add to the mystique of the cinematography.

Places to Visit Featured in Film
– The Palace Museum – the museum was once the actual Forbidden City of China, which served as the home to all emperors between the years 1420 to 1912. The palatial complex carries the oldest collection of ancient wood structures in the world, numerous temples, 980 buildings, 8,886 rooms, and imperial gardens surrounding the sprawling grounds.

Kyoto, Japan
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Memoirs of a Geisha

When Arthur Golden’s best-selling novel Memoirs of a Geisha was adapted for the big screen by director Rob Marshall, filmgoers were in awe by the intricate and historical costume and set design. It was a shock for many to discover that the filmmakers had constructed the entire Gion District of Kyoto on the backlot of a California studio. Rightfully so, the film went on to win Oscars for its craftsmanship. Watching the tale of Chiyo transform into one of Japan’s most sought after geisha Sayuri was more than a visual treat, but had many longing to experience the old world charm of Japan in the 1920s and 1930s. The film does not only pay homage to the forgotten Geisha culture, but also stands as an important statement on the overlooked sacrifices of strong women during this period of time.

Places to Visit Featured in Film:
Kyoto’s Gion District – preserving old world culture, Kyoto’s Gion District (through modernized) is still the city’s geisha district. It is still filled with restaurants, shops, and teahouses.
– The Fushimi Inari Shrine – the iconic orange gates are a staple of Japanese culture, and is a famous spot to be visited by tourist

Paris, France
Midnight in Paris (2011)

Midnight in Paris

Although a trip to Paris may not seem so exotic or new, Woody Allen’s 2011 hit Midnight in Paris reminds us that the City of Lights have more to offer than art museums, fashion, and the promise of romance. Following an American novelist seeking inspiration, he walks the streets of Paris during the witching hour to look for something that might strike an artistic chord within him. One not-so-special night, he is transported back to the 1920s and has an opportunity to talk to his literary idols. Paris has never been as picturesque than in this nostalgic piece by the controversial Woody Allen. We look beyond fashion and romance, and remember that the city was once the hub for the great writers of the Lost Generation. It was once home to Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and many others. Paris can be viewed in an entirely different way when imagining the great masterpieces dreamt up there. There may be a Great Gatsby hiding inside you on your next visit.

Places to Visit Featured in Film:
– Most the famous Paris spots are featured in the film including the Water Bridge that inspired Monet to paint the water lilies, the Palace of Versailles, Rodin Museum, and Polidor on the Left Bank. But dear reader, we implore you to experience it differently on your next visit!

Nairobi, Africa
Out of Africa (1985)

Out of Africa

Today, Out of Africa is not remembered as a well-received Best Picture winner after beating the likes of The Color Purple and Back to the Future during its competitive Oscar year. However, there are still worthy memorable moments in the overlong romance epic. Apart from the central love story between Robert Redford and Meryl Streep (which features one famous scene involving shampoo and a wet bucket), the film romanticizes the African plains that gives viewers a deep appreciation of this hot, new world. Steep plays Karen Blixen, a wealthy Danish woman married off to a Swedish baron. He plans to establish a new business, a cattle dairy farm in Nairobi. On route to her new home, Karen sees the true beauty of Africa. She finds romance along the trail as well, when she meets Robert Redford’s Denys Finch Hatton, an established big-game hunter who loves the land. Viewers are treated to sweeping plains, picturesque skies, the complex culture of Kikuyu tribe, and wild animals. It would tempt anybody to book a ticket to safari on your next big holiday.

Places to Visit Featured in the Film:
– Shaba National Game Reserve – here you will see a lot of endangered animals including the elusive Grevy’s zebra
– The Ngong Hills – Once the famous farming region of the country, Ngong Hills is the picturesque address of Meryl Streep’s character
– The Karen Blixen Musuem – the house that the real Karen Blixen lived in is not open to the public as a museum

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Sex and the City Part 2 (2010)

Sex and the City 2

Although the second film installment of Sex and the City was frowned upon by United Arab Emirates for some of its controversial subject matter, it ultimately helped boost the country’s tourism, as reported by Ian Michael, a professor teaching Marketing at Zayed University in Dubai. In fact, Abu Dhabi banned the film’s producers and cast to film there. The desert and market scenes in which Carrie Bradshaw and her girlfriends Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda are walking through the sand dunes in haute couture was all shot in Morocco in Turkey. Still, the producers were inclined on replicating the glamourous world of the modern day Abu Dhabi.

Places to Visit in the Film:
– Most of Sex and the City 2’s locations are fictional as most was shot in Morocco. Although the producers admit that they wish they could capture the glamour of Abu Dhabi. Still, a visit there today will be nothing short of a fashion adventure with the lastest garbs from top fashion houses, exotic cuisine and spices, private butlers, luxury villas and five-star accommodations similar to that offered at the Mandarin Oriental Jnan Rahma in Marrakesh, in which the movie found its home for the shoot.

Salzburg, Austria
 The Sound of Music (1965)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents a new print of the 1965 musical classic "The Sound of Music" as the fourth film in its series "The Last 70mm Film Festival" on Monday, July 30, at 7 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Pictured: The cast of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, 1965. From left: Kym Karath, Debbie Turner, Angela Cartwright, Duane Chase, Heather Menzies, Nicholas Hammond, Charmian Carr, Julie Andrews, and Christopher Plummer.

One cannot think of Salzburg without thinking of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. The city runs on the glorious score of the Best Picture winner from 1965. The famous tale follows Julie Andrews as a struggling nun sent to be the governess to the seven children of a widowed naval captain. As Maria brings music back into their home, the Captain von Trapp and his children realize what they’ve been missing all these years: the love of a mother. The town of Salzburg has embraced the classic with open arms. It is their biggest contributor to their yearly income as a hot tourist destination. The American film may at times be more popular than Salzburg’s first son, the trouble composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Places to Visit in the Film:
Almost the entirety of Salzburg’s most beautiful locations were featured in the classic. Look out for, Leopoldskron, Mirabell Palace and Gardens, Residenzplatz Squire & Residence Fountain, Karajan Square and the “horse pond”, and the St. Peter’s Monastery & Cemetery & Catacombs.


To Catch a Thief

  1. The combination of the elegant French countryside and luxe casinos in Alfred Hitchcock’s jewel-thief drama To Catch a Thief (1955) set in Cannes, France 

  2. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck riding Vespas and being adventurous around the Italian Capital in Roman Holiday (1954)

  3. The Greek Island of Skopeleos where Amanda Seyfried and Meryl Streep worked on some mother-daughter issues while performing ABBA songs during Mama Mia! (2008)

  4. Peter Jackson’s man made Hobbit city on the New Zealand country side for his Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003) 

  5. The modernized version of Romeo + Juliet (1995) brought viewers to the neon world of upper class business rivals in Miami 

By Chino R. Hernandez

Shop for LIFESTYLE ASIA’S magazines through these platforms.
Download LIFESTYLE ASIA’s digital magazines from:
Subscribe via [email protected]