While we all know you should watch Leonardo DiCaprio starring in The Beach before visiting Thailand, and swoon over the former beauty of Koh Phi Phi, or perhaps watch The Hangover Part II for a few laughs, there are a number of great Thai films that you should also watch before going on your adventure. These films will give you an insight into the language, culture, and landscape of the country you so long to explore. With a few subtitles and a whole heap of popcorn, you can enjoy hours of entertainment and hopefully get excited about visiting the Land of Smiles!
Thai films cover all sorts of crazy topics and genres and while they may not be to everyone’s taste, they do let you in on the quirks and chaos of Bangkok and the surrounding towns and villages. If you don’t fancy watching Thai language films you can stock up on classics like The Railway Man, The Man With The Golden Gun, The Bridge on the River Kwai and Rambo: First Blood Part II to get your fix of Thailand in the movies.
Citizen Dog is a cutesy Thai romance film that is full of colour and is often referred to as the Thai Amélie! The film follows the story of Pod and Jin as their lives begin to intertwine in the city of Bangkok. With a peculiar premise of finger-swapping and grandma-to-gecko reincarnation (you’ll have to watch it to find out!), interesting characters and fun direction, you’ll be entertained and enthralled before wanting to discover this dreamy destination!
The two-part film, Tropical Malady, is a romantic psychological drama that was critically acclaimed at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. The film gives viewers an intriguing insight into Thailand and its life and landscapes, weaving together myth and reality in a truly original way. While the style and scenes that skip around certainly aren’t for everyone, Tropical Malady is a film for movie buffs who want to witness director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s weird and wonderful ways.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Another quirky Apichatpong Weerasethakul film is Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. The movie covers the Buddhist topic of reincarnation in a sensitive manner and has aspects of thriller, drama and independent art styling. This Thai film won the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival so you know it is an impressive cinematic creation. If you want to learn more about life, death and reincarnation before you travel to Thailand, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is well worth a watch.
Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior is perhaps the original and best martial arts film to come out of Thailand and watching it will make you want to practice Muay Thai or Taekwondo when you visit! Every move you see on screen was acted out by Tony Jaa (no stunt doubles here) and you’ll be astounded by his kicks, flips and fights as he tackles the underworld. The film gives you an action-packed view of the big, bad city of Bangkok and will make you want to visit (albeit to discover a safer side the city!).
While Shutter is perhaps best to visit after you return from Thailand (so you don’t have any crazy flashbacks to this while traveling), this horror film will draw you in despite being in Thai the whole way through. The premise follows the lives of couple Tun and Jane after they hit a woman while driving home from a night out and leave her for dead! What follows is a whole host of creepy occurrences and terrifying twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat.