For those who need a little reminder about how beautiful Malaysia can be, here are 7 Malaysian-made films you can count on to fuel your wanderlust.
1. The Journey (2014)
Film Locations: Cameron Highlands (Pahang), Chew Jetty (Penang), Aur Island (Johor), Kuala Lumpur, Baling (Kedah), Melaka, Ipoh (Perak), and Sabah
The Journey is a heartwarming story about family and tradition. Conservative father Uncle Chuan (Frankie Lee) has to set aside his difference with his daughter, Bee (Joanne Yew), who returns after years abroad with her British fiancé, Benji (Ben Pfeiffer). He reluctantly agrees to the marriage but with the condition that the wedding ceremony must be held the traditional way. Despite the cultural and language barriers, Uncle Chuan and Benji embark on cross-country adventure to hand-deliver these wedding invitations, and learn to accept each other.
Most of the film is set against picturesque backdrops in Malaysia. Uncle Chuan’s home is located in the hills of Cameron Highlands. Along their journey, the duo stops by places in Penang, Johor, Melaka, Kedah, and Perak. There’s even a scene of the unique Chingay Festival in Johor Bahru, as well as the breathtaking Manukan Island in Sabah.
2. Sepet (2005)
Film Location: Ipoh, Perak
Sepet is a romantic comedy about the love between a Malay girl and a Chinese boy. The late director Yasmin Ahmad had always had a soft spot for Ipoh, and it is no wonder that many of her films capture the real and raw essence of Perak’s capital city.
From the pasar malam where the couple met, to the old-world streets and the majestic Tasik Cermin, the settings within Sepet look like they came straight out of a time capsule. More importantly, it is not far from the truth. Ipoh is a beautiful heritage city on its own, with pre-war architecture, cave temples and an old-town atmosphere you can’t find elsewhere.
3. Paint My Love (2015)
Film Location: Sungai Lima, Selangor
Paint My Love depicts a love story between a girl who loves to sing and a boy who loves to paint, who both struggle to choose between chasing their dreams, or give in to expectations.
The fishing village of Sungai Lima gives the film its rustic scenery and rural vibes, while bringing out its traditional trades, quirks and colours. Located next to Pulau Ketam in Selangor, Sungai Lima is known for its production of dried shrimps, something that is heavily featured in the film. You can spot murals painted by the locals on many of the wooden buildings.
4. Puteri Gunung Ledang (2004)
Film Locations: Mount Ledang and Sungai Kesang (Johor), Tasik Kenyir (Terengganu), Cameron Highlands (Pahang), Lata Kinjang Waterfall (Perak), Pulau Indah (Selangor)
The legend of the mysterious Puteri Gunung Ledang comes to life in the 2004 epic fantasy film starring Tiara Jacquelina and M. Nasir as the titular princess and local warrior Hang Tuah. The story is a loose adaptation of the legend, in which the princess gives seven impossible tasks to the Sultan of Melaka before agreeing to marriage.
As the country’s first big-budget production, Puteri Gunung Ledang casts its mystical charm in several locations across Malaysia, all of which are beautiful natural attractions worth a visit. Among them are Mount Ledang and Sungai Kesang in Johor, Cameron Highlands in Pahang, and Lata Kinjang Waterfall in Perak. The 15th century village is built on Pulau Indah in Selangor. Then there is the Tasik Kenyir, a lake in Terengganu with an equally fascinating lore of a sea monster.
5. Mukhsin (2006)
Film Locations: Kuala Selangor, Selangor
Mukhsin is part of Yasmin Ahmad’s “Orked” triology, revolving around a young romance between two best friends. It takes place in 1993 against the rustic backdrop of Sekinchan and Sabak Bernam at Kuala Selangor.
Apart from the paddy fields and nostalgic village homes, Mukhsin also captures the family dynamics of a traditional Malaysian kampung lifestyle. Something about its innocence and simplicity give us a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. It’s no surprise that the film won an award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2007.
6. Ice Kacang Puppy Love
Film Location: Tronoh, Perak
Ice Kacang Puppy Love is a coming-of-age film that tells the story of first love and crushes between high school friends, with Botak (Ah Niu) and Fighting Fish (Angelica Lee Sin Jie) as the central characters.
The box office hit is set in the 1980s at a small town of Perak called Tronoh. Despite its relatively small size, it captures the laidback vibes of the old streets, pre-war shophouses and friendly townsfolk. Choon Fatt Coffeeshop, which took the name of Nan Yang Coffeeshop in the film started garnering more attention from visitors after Ice Kacang Puppy Love was released.
7. The Garden of Evening Mists
Film Locations: Cameron Highlands Tea Plantation & Mossy Forest (Pahang), Carey Island (Selangor), Temoh Resort (Perak), Sungai Lembing (Pahang)
Based on the bittersweet novel of the same name, The Garden of Evening Mists takes you to the lush beauty and wilderness of Cameron Highlands. The story follows that of Teoh Yun Ling, who had survived the Japanese during WW2. She becomes an apprentice at a Japanese garden and develops feelings for the owner, Nakamura Aritomo.
Apart from the tea plantation, the enchanting Mossy Forest was where the hiking scene took place, where Yun Ling confided in Aritomo. The latter’s Japanese Garden is actually a redesigned house at Temoh Resort in Perak. The production team even built a Japanese labour camp at the old mining town of Sungai Lembing for certain scenes.
Travel to local destinations in Malaysia with LokaLocal
LokaLocal connects you to local activities and hidden gems across Malaysia and Southeast Asia. You can discover a Mossy Forest Adventure in Cameron Highlands, workshops in Ipoh, village escapades and more, all hosted by the passionate local community eager to share their hometowns, skills and stories.