Do you ever feel like life is exhausting and your mind just subconsciously slips into fantasy where you just want to sip tea in the café of your favourite movie accompanied by famous fictional friends? Turn your fantasy into reality by heading to these 7 places to experience the ‘reel’ deal where life imitates art, or in this case, movie!
1. Be Spirited Away at Jiufen, Taiwan
An old town once renowned for its gold rush in the 1900s is now a booming tourist attraction due to the award-winning Studio Ghibli animated film, Spirited Away. This quaint village made of infinite alleyways and crowded houses transport you to the cursed city where the lead character Chihiro found herself trapped. So, be Chihiro for a day and wander through the narrow stairways and enchanting red paper lanterns! Do visit the village’s beautiful centrepiece called Ah Mei Tea House, which supposedly inspired Yubaba the antagonist’s spirits bathhouse. Oh, and make sure you remember your name by the end of the trip or you’ll never get to leave!
Find out more at Tourism Bureau, Republic of China (Taiwan) official website.
2. Keep your precious ring safe at Matamata, New Zealand
Go bare feet and run through the pastures and meadows like a Hobbit! The Lords of the Rings was filmed at this very place called Hobbiton at Matamata. Whether you’re a fan or not, a photo in front of Frodo and Bilbo’s house door is a must! The Shire is a serene and stunning place where all your problems (like safekeeping a catastrophic ring) just seem to melt away. It is as beautiful as how we watched it in the film trilogy – no wonder Frodo only longs for the Shire when he was away!
Find out more at Hobbiton Movie Set official website.
3. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Mendl’s sweetness at Pfunds Molkerei in Dresden, Germany
There’s only one way to define the filmmaker Wes Anderson: genius. If you’re a fan of this eccentric director, his play on hues, symmetrical angles and props would be no stranger to you. Make a stop at Pfunds Molkerei if you’re ever in Germany and walk into a film portal to Mendl’s confectionary store from one of Anderson’s most popular movies, The Grand Budapest Hotel! As you step into this store, be ready to marvel the gorgeous hand-painted tiles and beautifully arranged selection of cheese specialities. Though you wouldn’t find Agatha making Mendl’s famous Courtesan au Chocolat behind the counter, your inner Wes Anderson geek will surely rejoice nonetheless!
Find out more at Dresden official website.
4. Buy your first wand at Leadenhall Market, London
The Wizarding World is an intricate realm so you’ve got to start somewhere and there is no better place to start than at Diagon Alley – or in muggle speak, Leadenhall Market. The market was a pivotal location in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. Potterheads would definitely recognise this market in a heartbeat! Shop for souvenirs (read: Hogwarts necessities) in this covered market with stunning ornate coloured roofs. Walk amongst wizards and witches and stop over a few important stores like Ollivander’s to get your first wand! And if you’re lucky, you might even bump into a famous young wizard!
Find out more at Leadenhall Market official Facebook.
5. Experience a romantic date at Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
Mia and Sebastian’s romance in La La Land swerved our hearts left and right. Though they enjoyed many dates in the city of angels, the most memorable one was when they waltzed with the stars at Griffith Observatory, which stands high at 1,134 feet above sea level on Mount Hollywood, giving you a spectacular view of the city, especially at night! The Observatory has many activities for you to enjoy a romantic date with your other half (or yourself) in the city of stars.
Find out more at Griffith Observatory official website.
6. Be a Disney princess for a day at Riquewihr, France
“There must be more than this provincial life~” sings Belle, but you really must experience the provincial life at this charming medieval village that inspired the iconic Disney animation, Beauty and the Beast. Much like its film counterpart, this French town is bursting with vibrant colours painted on their half-timbered structures that have persevered since the 13th century! Its cobblestone streets, countless alleys and the array of shops selling pastries and novelties are sure to excite you – treat yourself to a classic croissant and wander off; you might even find your own Beast.
Find out more at Tourisme Alsace official website.
7. Bring your mahjong prowess at Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang
Dress your Rachel best and make your way to this beautiful UNESCO boutique hotel to have the ultimate mahjong showdown with your future mother-in-law. Located in Penang, it is also fondly dubbed the Blue Mansion. Its bright blue colour welcomes you with beautiful tiled-flooring and antique fittings. Book a stay at this mansion to revel in its 19th-century design and leave feeling like a crazy rich Asian!
Find out more at Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion official website.