The movie locations you can actually visit on holiday
Put yourself in the picture when you take a trip to where epic films and famous movie scenes were shot. Just don't get 'Lost in Translation'!
Cinema tourism, where travellers head to places made famous by films, is on the rise, benefiting local communities and the box office alike. Here are some spots where you too can have a movie moment – BYO entourage.
Ta Prohm, Siem Riep, Cambodia
Most come to Siem Reap for the splendour of Angkor Wat but another of the stunning wonders of Angkor Archaeological Park is Ta Prohm. This ancient temple, whose stone courtyards and passageways are engulfed by intricate jungle root systems, became a tourist drawcard after starring with Angelina Jolie in 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Interestingly, the scenes at Ta Prohm were first envisioned for the Great Wall of China.
Hobbiton Movie Set, New Zealand
Step into magical Middle-earth two hours’ drive south of Auckland, near Matamata, where Peter Jackson has created a fantasy township in enchanting detail. Featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, the Hobbiton Movie Set has quaint hobbit holes set into sprawling hillsides on part of a sheep and cattle farm. The pine “Party Tree” towers over it all, including Bilbo Baggins’ home, one of 44, on a nearby rising hill. After the Ring trilogy wrapped, the set was mostly dismantled. But permanent materials were used when it was rebuilt for The Hobbit films, leaving behind the fully realised tourist attraction.
Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii, USA
Described as “Hawaii’s Backlot”, the 1600-hectare Kualoa Ranch, just 37 kilometres from Waikiki in Oahu, Hawaii, has been a movie-making wonderland for some 65 years. Take an ATV tour to Jurassic Park’s famous fallen tree, marvel at Godzilla’s colossal footprints (which had to be filled in a bit as the ranch’s cows were falling in) or pretend to flee from the Jumanji reboot’s jungle baddies. There are multitudes of other fun activities, from horseriding to kayaking to zip-lining, too.
Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, Japan
The must-visit scramble intersection depicted in director Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation is west of central Tokyo, outside the Hachiko exit of Shibuya Station. You could battle through the organised chaos like the film’s star Scarlett Johansson but the perfect spot to watch the bustle is actually the second floor of the nearby Starbucks. In fact, Sofia and a small crew sneakily shot footage of the crossing for the film through the window of Starbucks.
The harbour city is the star attraction of Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible II with the movie filmed almost entirely at Sydney locations, including Royal Randwick racecourse and The Rocks. But it’s the thrilling motorcycle chase in and around heritage-listed Bare Island Fort in La Perouse and across its 130-year-old wooden bridge that fans remember. Originally, the producers approached authorities to see if they could actually blow up the bridge. As the answer was no – any damage you see is digital.
Gold Coast, Australia
A sub-tropical climate and varied landscapes provide a steady supply of picturesque settings, so it’s little wonder Hollywood flocks to Queensland’s Gold Coast for big-budget productions. The Spit in Southport doubled as a fishing village in Aquaman and may again, with – according to star Jason Momoa – an Aquaman sequel in the works set to film in Queensland again. While Palm Beach Currumbin State High became an American school in Dora the Explorer’s live-action Dora and the Lost City of Gold adventure.