These are our top picks for the films you can stream to get a sense of some of the countries we won’t be able to visit for a while. We know it’s not the same as collecting a couple of fresh new stamps in the passport. But if you have to be stuck on the couch with nothing to do but stream movies to pass the time, you may as well feed the travel bug while you’re at it!
China – The Farewell
This powerful movie about the Chinese-American experience, the importance of levity in the face of grief. Billi leaves her home in New York City to visit her terminally ill grandmother in Changchun. She struggles to adjust to mainland Chinese life as her Western values clash, faithfully portraying the story of all those away from home, whether it’s travelling or actually living in a country with a completely different culture. Overall, the movie takes a heartfelt look at Chinese traditions, culture, and identity. You will vicariously live your memories of culture shock through Billie as she tries to deal with it herself.
India – Lion
Lion will not only provide you a beautiful virtual trip to India, but also a good cry – so don’t forget your tissues. Based on a true story, the movie follows a 5-year-old boy who accidentally boards a train and subsequently ends up in a home for abandoned children. As he grows older his memories return and he becomes desperate to find his family. He sets out on the hard and long journey to be reunited once and for all, this movie will tug on all your heartstrings and emotions. Nonetheless, this movie does a brilliant job of capturing the essence of India, emerging you in the culture and picturesque landscapes.
Japan – Memoirs of a Geisha
Follow this slowly brewing forbidden love story between a geisha and one of her loyal patrons as they beat the odds by defying tradition and the last great war to be together. Memoirs of a Geisha is worth watching for the breathtaking visuals alone, perfectly portraying the ancient Japanese culture along with it. Take in the different aspects of Japanese culture from the different styles of fashion to the range of local foods, right down to the different beliefs, traditions, and the history that make up Japan today.
Jordan – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
In Indiana’s third adventure he is on the hunt for that ultimate treasure, the Holy Grail. Along the way, he must contend with Nazis, a secret brotherhood, and, of course, snakes. But best of all, the final act is dominated by the imposing rose-coloured ruins of Petra. Let this archaeologist guide you from your couch through the real-life route of the Siq and discover the awe-striking structures carved into the rocks. These beautiful panoramic scenes will make you feel like this is a fictional place and provide you with true wanderlust for Jordan.
Singapore – Crazy Rich Asians
The story of Crazy Rich Asians follows Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American professor, her and her fiance travel to Singapore to meet his family. However, she’s more unprepared than she first believed when she comes to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his family. Between all the extravagance of yacht parties and royal weddings for Singapore’s elite, the movie provides a glimpse of the city staples: Gardens by the Bay, the infinity pool of Marina Bay Sands, Chinatown’s pastel-colored shophouses, and the street food of hawker centers. If you saw the movie and immediately started praying for the return of international travel so you can plan your first/next trip to Singapore, you’re not alone. If only a trip to Singapore could include spending the night in the Young family mansion…
South Korea – Parasite
Explore South Korea through its sights and smells as Parasite tells the story of a suffocating class. The tale follows two Korean families from the different divides, the poor Kims and the wealthy Parks, as the Kims pave the way for an ingeniously insidious scheme. The movie will take you through both the socio-economic sides of South Korea and its culture. Contrasting the lavish streets of South Korea’s Beverly Hills, Seongbuk-dong, which are clear of rubbish and almost silent, with most homes hidden behind high walls, spiked fences, and security cameras, and then depicting the dirty and bustling narrow streets of Ahyeon-dong. Throughout this movie you will bask in South Korean culture, from both ends of the socio-economic spectrum, from architecture to food, to the overall lifestyle each family endures.
Thailand – The Beach
Ever hopped from hostel to hostel and just wish you were on a remote beach with white sands and clear waters? Then dream no further and live vicariously through Richard as he finds a map left by his strange hotel neighbour, and journeys to the legendary and ultimate paradise; a desolate beach on a hard-to-reach island. Although the movie depicts the true beauty of Maya Beach and Phi Phi Leh at the time, post-release of this film the beach drastically suffered from over-tourism and has since been trashed, forcing its closure. So let the beauty sink in as you can now only visit this beach in its prime through this film.
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, & Venezuela – The Motorcycle Diaries
Follow Alberto and Ernesto’s journey to find real America as they travel through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela! This film is based on the memoirs of Ernesto Guevara, before becoming an iconic Latin American revolutionary, and follows the story of him and his friend, Alberto, as they take their motorcycles and ride over 14,000 kilometers for eight months across South America. Virtually travel through South America and admire the gorgeous scenery of each country they travel through. This film will truly inspire you to learn more about this beautiful continent.
Canada – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Delve into the unassuming hipness of Toronto. Rather than highlighting the city’s landmarks, the film beautifully portrays Canada in its full glory by emphasizing places regularly visited by the locals. So virtually travel like a local through Toronto as Scott Pilgrim attempts to win his dream girl’s affection by defeating her seven exes. You’ll visit some popular spots, including Casa Loma, Pizza Pizza, the Toronto Public Library, and Second Cup, along with the different non-touristy neighbourhoods.
Mexico – Roma
Netflix’s Roma follows the story of Cleo, an indigenous woman working as a maid in 1970s Mexico City, and a seemingly ordinary business trip to Quebec paves the way for a bitter heartbreak. The sweeping black-and-white masterpiece provides glimpses of Colonia Roma, complete with shuttered house-fronts and laundry fluttering on clotheslines across the rooftops. While Colonia Roma is a tad more gentrified today thanks to lots of coffee shops, Airbnb’s, and of course, technology, the film perfectly captures the neighborhood 50 years ago.
United States – Into The Wild
This movie follows the true story of Christopher McCandless, a college graduate who hitchhikes across-country from Georgia to Alaska. Along this journey, his travel encompasses a ton of new experiences, both good and bad, whilst also taking in the magnificent scenery of the United States, everything you could possibly imagine when travelling through the States. However, you most likely won’t want to go in over your head like Christopher with his disappearance and demise into the Alaskan wilderness, even with the essential sense of beauty and desolation. Truly a movie to feed the wanderlust for adventure without creature comforts.
Did you enjoy this post? Check out part one of the series here.