Do you remember these iconic scenes: Roger Moore as James Bond making a great escape via a speedboat on a canal in The Man with the Golden Gun; Leonardo DiCaprio conquering a hostile shark with his bare hands in a sun-kissed paradise in The Beach; and Bradley Cooper and his peeps grappling with the consequences of a debauched, booze-fuelled night on an expansive rooftop bar in The Hangover Part II.
These recognizable scenes are all from blockbuster hits that were filmed in Thailand. Magnificent scenery and stunning landmarks across the country, from beaches, to waterfalls, to mountains, to sprawling cityscapes, have made the Land of Smiles one of the world’s best holiday destinations, but have also placed it as a sought-after setting for many filmmakers.
This reputation can be traced back to the year 1923 when Miss Suwanna of Siam came out. Directed by Canadian director Henry MacRae, the film was one of the very first international feature films shot in Thailand. Set in the Siam era during the reign of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), it tells the story of young female protagonist Suwanna as she searches for her one true love.
Miss Suwanna of Siam generated controversy for a death penalty scene when it was released, resulting in a smear to Thailand’s reputation and the film being banned from further screening. Negatives and existing copies are nowhere to be found, although some promotional materials on the film are on display at the Thailand National Film Archive.
Despite the scandal and the mystery surrounding its lost existence, Miss Suwanna of Siam is always brought up by film historians and researchers for how it showcased Bangkok’s (or Siam at the time) breathtaking natural scenery and rich culture.
These are the same reasons why many directors and production outlets still continue to come to Thailand to shoot their films. There are around a hundred international motion pictures that credit Thailand as a film location, and each one manages to capture the development of the country while presenting certain historic moments. Walk down memory lane with us and take a look at all the best movies, from the past to present, that will remind you of how beautiful our country truly is.
Little note here: this list is as wide-reaching as the capacity of a writer who is categorized as a millenial, so if your favorite film doesn’t appear on this list, a big apology in advance.