If you are planning a trip to China here is a list of five movies shot in China which may inspire you to visit certain parts of the country.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) – directed by Oscar winning director Ang Le, and was shot at the Yellow Mountain and nearby UNESCO village Hongcuan. The village was built around nine centuries ago with every house having water freely flowing in accordance with Ying and Yang. Locals are proud to point out that the village is shaped like an ox but that is difficult to prove. You can get to the village by air from Beijing or Shanghai.
Another location used as a background in the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon movie is in the Gobi Desert, a part which is very close to the border between China and Kazakhstan. The famous rock formations shown in the movie are known as Ghost City where spirts gather, according to locals. If you decide to visit this part of China you must be very adventurous as tourism is still undeveloped. The best way to get there is to fly to Urumqi, the capital of the region, where you can book a tour. You need a special permit to visit this region and I would suggest you travel as a part of a group tour.
It’s worth mentioning another interesting location used in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – the Mountain Resort in Chengde, a small city easily accessible by train or car from Beijing. The Mountain Resort was a summer palace built for the emperor and it represents a complex of imperial palaces and gardens.
By the way did you know that Ang Li was in charge of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games?
Mission Impossible 3 (2006) – Xitang Water Town If you are looking to spend some peaceful time away from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai then a visit to Xitang Ancient Water Town is perfect. The characterful gateway with its distinctive female dragon and baby under her feet on the left and the male dragon with the earth under his feet on the right, have been greeting visitors for centuries. The town is well known for its highly decorated bridges and nine interlocking rivers. The famous local food is river crab.
The town was hardly known until Tom Cruise appeared on the roof of a local restaurant and since then the town has become relatively overcrowded, but still is well worth a visit.
Xitang is easily accessible on a day tour from Shanghai, Suzhou or Hangzhou.
The Painted Veil (2006) – The biggest joy of this movie are the carst peaks around Hunagyao Village which is located on the Li River. The name of the village derives from the villagers whose surname is either Huang or Yao. The village is full of houses built in the well preserved Ming and Qing Dynasties style, with paved narrow streets. As it lies on the river and because of its easy accessibility to water transportation the village was very prosperous.
The best way to visit Huangyao Village is on a day trip from Yanghsuo, by car it’s around 2 hours each way.
The Kite Runner (2007 ) is an epic movie about Afghanistan shot in…er… China. Most of movie buffs would complain about the setting but I agree with thedirector Marc Forster’s choice of location. Not because of any resemblance to Afghanistan but because of the obsession with kites! Did you know that China hasa Kite Festival which takes place every year in April at the Kite Capital of the World – Kaifeng in Shandong Province?
Most of the scenes are shot at Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region at its capital city – Kashgar. When the main character, Amir, discovers his best friend has run away he, out of desperation, goes to the mosque to pray. The mosque shown in the Kite Runner movie supposed to be located in Peshwar but it’s actually the Open Mosque in Kashgar. Also t he famous ruined Stone Fort of Tashkurgan in China can be seen in the background while Amir reads stories to his faithful friend Hassan. The most remarkable scene is when Amir is entering Kashgar city with his father to buy a kite and the beautiful Pamir Mountains can be seen in the background.
To experience The Kite Runner film locations you need to get to Urumqi by plane from Beijing (4 hours) or by overnight train (32 hours) then flight to Kashgar. ( 2 hours) If you can, try to time your stay in Kashgar with a Sunday visit to the market when the surrounding tribes gather to sell, buy and exchange goods and the vivid colours of the market bring the whole place to life.
The Nightingale (2013) – this charming movie is about an old man and his granddaughter who walk through beautiful countryside with a bird cage. The movie is shot in and around Yanghsuo and Xinping Fishing Village. A few years ago Yangshuo was a little-known village visited on a day tour from Guilin. Then tourists came and Yangshuo become over-commercialised with bars, restaurants serving western food and loud night clubs. To experience the realYangshuo you need to get out on a bike or boat and visit the surrounding villages, one them being Xinping Fishing Village, famous for its well preserved Ming Dynasty architecture and wood carvings which decorate the houses. It’s surrounded by seven kasrt peaks and two village guardians carved in stone at the entrance of the village to keep evil spriits away.
To visit Yanghsuo take a Li River cruise from Guilin and book the Mt Retreat Resort for few nights. Explore the surrounding area on foot, on a bike or boat. Don’t stay still as there is so much to see and experience.