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A Tourist’s Guide to Love: Netflix movie prompts exploration of Vietnam
Linh Pham 10:13, 2023/04/27
The movie depicts Vietnam’s stunning landscape and reflects its culture and people in harmonious reflection.

A week after being released on Netflix, “A Ttourist’s Guide to Love” has maintained Top Movies and received positive rates on the world’s most popular video streaming service platform.

 Amanda in My Son Sanctuary in “A Ttourist’s Guide to Love”. Photos: Netflix

The romantic comedy streamed on Netflix on April 21, 2023, features a journey of healing the broken heart of American travel executive Amanda (starred by Rachael Leigh Cook) who met Vietnamese guide Sinh who introduced her to a new world of adventure and love.

Following the couple’s steps, typical tourist hotspots of Vietnam appeared through scenes in Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Hoi An, Ha Giang, and Hanoi. As they explore the hidden gems of Vietnam, Amanda discovers the beauty of the country and beyond – her journey to find herself and love thanks to the accompany of Sinh who is open, adventurous, smart, and has great love to travel.

“A Ttourist’s Guide to Love” is the first US film that was entirely shot in Vietnam. Every frame captures the vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality of the Southeast Asian country, embarking on an unforgettable adventure following in the footsteps of the movie characters.  

 Two main characters: Vietnamese guy Sinh and US girl Amanda. 

Charm of Vietnam


Not all typical tourist attractions in Vietnam appeared in the movie but it captures Vietnam as a Southeast Asian country known for its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant culture. Its diverse landscape ranges from towering mountains in the north to pristine beaches in the south.

In the past, Vietnam has served as the filming location for a number of international movies, including Kong: Skull Island (2017), Da 5 Bloods (2020), The Protégé (2021), among others. When the Vietnamese context is included, the most recent Korean film Taxi Driver 2 garners interest. A Tourist's Guide to Love, on the other hand, is the only film that truly brings viewers to exclamation with its portrayal of the beauty of Vietnam.

One of the scenes that stands out is when Sinh brings a tour group to Da Nang. As planned, they will go to the Golden Bridge, which Time magazine named one of the world's top 100 places to visit in 2018. The image of the lengthy bridge being supported by enormous hands greatly impresses our international friends.

However, the author chose to add a twist by allowing the characters to travel to a totally different location. The sanctuary Sinh described as "more beautiful than the Golden Bridge" is called My Son Sanctuary.

There is no need to demonstrate to viewers the sacredness and age of the location recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing in the midst of the forest, mountains, and land with a millennia-old history, Amanda appeared to regain her composure and all her problems seemed to vanish.

 Breathtaking scene in Hoi An.

Ho Chi Minh City appears to be a bustling and modern city with Ben Thanh Market, Con Rua Lake, Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Hoc Lac Street, and Cho Lon Market. There people enjoyed local food like com tam (broken rice) and goi cuon (spring roll) and tasted durian. In this busy city, Sinh taught Amanda how to cross the street without traffic lights.

Hoi An is seen in the panorama of the old quarter with yellow walls and red tile roofs seen from above. The next is a society’s premise located on Tran Phu Street, where the guests watched the lion dance. Hoi An at night makes the heroine overwhelmed by the colorful lantern district and shimmering Thu Bon River with lanterns. Visiting the old town, and visiting a local tailor to order ao dai (Vietnamese long dress) for the day is one of the activities that many foreigners love when coming to Hoi An.

Some of the highlights of Danang are the image of My Khe beach, where riding a basket boat is a very interesting experience and the Dragon Bridge over the Han River.

My Son Sanctuary, a historical site recognized by UNESCO, is a striking representation of the journey. The location, which is a complex with numerous Champa temples surrounded by hills, is about 70 km from central Danang. Amanda feels as though she is lost in a different location due to the scenery and architecture's antiquated atmosphere. “This is an experience, not just a typical tourist destination,” she said.

The team's next destination does not proceed as planned. Sinh took the group to Chang village, where his grandmother lived with relatives. Ha Giang served as the backdrop for the village scene, which is filmed with rolling mountains, terraced rice fields, winding roads, and corn-filled stilted homes.

In Ha Giang, local culture takes center stage over the natural landscape. It’s interesting that the group visited Chang village a few days prior to Tet (the Lunar New Year). There family tradition for Tet remains maintained, including cleaning home, creating altars, scrubbing copper incense burners, paying respects at graves of loved ones, burning votive papers, and wrapping banh chung (sticky rice cake), Gac sticky rice, and enjoying fish stock. When helping with Tet preparations, visitors from abroad dress in their native attire. Amanda likes to dress in ao dai.

Many other customs are also introduced in the movie, including breaking ground at the start of the year, eating a traditional Tet meal while seated on sedge mats, and visiting a local market.

Hanoi: The capital is both modern and ancient appearing with Nhat Tan Bridge, Long Bien Bridge, and the crowded Old Quarter. Two tourist activities in Hanoi are watching water puppet shows and eating at night on the street.

The night scene takes place on a street in the old town. The delegation complimented the grilled meat on skewers, comfortably sitting on plastic chairs, surrounded by the bustling atmosphere of all kinds of shops and cars passing by. The millennium-long Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam, also appears in several scenes.

 Bustling Hanoi.

Inspiring drama

“This movie is comparable to a love letter I wrote to Vietnam. Therefore, this is the only place it can be carried out,” Eirene Tran Donohue, a Vietnamese-Irish writer, said.

“I wanted to make a movie about Vietnam's beauty, modernity, and love because most American films about the country focus on the war. Vietnam, which I want to depict in the movie, is a stunning country with hospitable people who lead active lives,” Eirene Tran Donohue added.

She said that “A Tourist’s Guide to Love” is inspired by her own story. Twenty-two years ago, she went to Vietnam – her mother’s homeland, after a love affair ended. She found the love of her life during the trip to Hanoi.

“To portray Vietnam in an accurate manner, we have worked incredibly hard. I'm hoping that the audience will get a clear understanding of the emotions in this drama,” she noted.

Hollywood star Rachael Leigh Cook (starred Amanda) said she’s happy to work with the writer and Scott Ly (starred Sinh). She said Scott Ly is a real movie actor and without him, she does know if this movie would have gone this far.

“The majority of the global audience will, in my opinion, visit Vietnam. Audiences from Vietnam, in particular, will feel proud because the movie showcased the beauty of their culture and people,” she said.

Scott Ly, a Vietnamese American actor, said it’s a great chance to join the film as “A Tourist’s Guide to Love” is the first movie bringing Vietnam’s tourist hotspots to the world through a romantic love story.  

“I wish everyone could appreciate A Tourist's Guide to Love as a charming love story and romantic comedy. Above all, I want Vietnamese viewers to enjoy the footage of their country in this movie so they can feel proud of their heritage and country. In addition, I also hope that the global audience will be able to view Vietnam differently rather than only recalling the war when it comes to this country,” Scott Ly shared.

 Inside Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City.

A domestic travel expert said that Netflix cleverly incorporated many stunning scenes from Vietnam into the movie. Perhaps ever, this movie has contributed the most to tourism in Vietnam, he said. He went on to say that many locations, cultural aspects, and historical sites in Vietnam have not been made known to audiences outside of its borders.

Sharing with local media, Eirene Tran Donohue said she thinks that more foreign filmmakers would visit Vietnam because Netflix was successful in funding a movie's production there, demonstrating that it is possible to complete international projects in this country.

Ambassador Knapper attended the premiere of the Netflix film A Tourist’s Guide to Love. In his speech, he shared that the film is an example of what can be achieved when a pioneering US company combines with talented Vietnamese artists to feature the natural beauty of Vietnam on the world stage. “With this solid foundation of cooperation, we will continue to see more world-class projects from Netflix and other international companies that bring Vietnamese stories to the world and showcase all the talent and natural beauty that the country of Vietnam has to offer.”

 Tradition ahead of Tet (Lunar New Year).
TAG: Vietnam news A Tourist’s Guide to Love netflix movie vietnam Vietnam tourism
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