It's "Skull Island", but let's be honest, it's mostly Vietnam. Rocky islands soaring out of the ocean? Steep-sided mountains and thick jungles? Let’s find out where the movie was filmed. Allow your adventurous side to flourish, you can follow in the footsteps of Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston.
We all know that no site, no matter how splendid, can afford to show up raw on the silver screen. But even the most doubtful eyes will have to change their mind once exposed to the splendor of Vietnam and at the same time, the vivid archetype for the unreal "Skull Island" - home of King Kong.
Some of the key filming locations include the famous and stunning Ha Long Bay, the caves located in Quang Binh, Trang An - Tam Coc and some mountains and rivers in the northern province of Ninh Binh. (All of the three chosen main locations are recognized UNESCO sites.) Now, let's see why they are perfect setting for a Holywood blockbuster.
Rising from the shallows of the Gulf of Tonkin are thousands of limestone islands.
Obviously, it’s not the first time that this legendary bay is ranked high internationally. Popular travel guide Lonely Planet has recently included Halong Bay on its list of the "Best places to visit in 2017". This is one of the most popular attractions of the country, located in the northern province of Quang Ninh. Being the UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay promises to create the impeccable film segments that wow every audience who appreciates the emerald sea, enigmatic caves, natural beaches and uninhabited islands… Nature in the majestic Halong Bay goes beyond expectation of any one, and in some aspects, the “Bay of the Descending Dragon” is supernatural and fairy. Dotted with over 1600 islands, we couldn’t imagine anywhere better for a giant gorilla to hide.
The stunning scenery of sheer cliffs is the perfect backdrop for water-based activities. Halong Bay offers travelers a comprehensive experience: staying on a junk-style boat for one or two nights, trying tai chi, swimming, kayaking, cooking classes and squid fishing, fresh seafood and gourmet cuisine... (Read more about Things to do in Halong Bay) Halong Bay is also an ideal destination for couples on their honeymoon or celebrating a wedding anniversary or family gatherings. Sailing into Halong Bay, it's easy to understand the hallucinatory effect these strange shapes can have.
Ninh Binh, just 2 hours south of Hanoi, is just as dramatically beautiful as Halong Bay.
As it’s only three hours outside of Hanoi, it’s easy to make a short trip. Ninh Binh is surrounded by picturesque scenery, from lush green paddy fields and striking limestone outcrops, to empty protected national parks, long twisting rivers, phenomenal caves, imperial historical sites. The selected background includes a two-hectare valley belonging Trang An landscape complex and Van Long nature reserve. The scenery here is made up of winding rivers running through limestone mountains, which forms numerous natural fanciful, mysterious caves offer the impeccable zone to film the cave where King Kong lives. So a journey along the tranquil river, through the caves, with the layer-cake mountains silhouetted against a peachy sky and sleepy buffalo huddled on the banks is a must. Out of nowhere, the soft mellow sound of a flute cut through the warm crepuscular air growing richer and richer as we passed through a bearded curtain of banyan tree roots.
Kong Studio in Trang An
While Tam Coc and Trang An are quite popular to domestic tourists, Van Long is much less touristy. Coming here, you're also able to board a traditional wooden boat and travel through the freshwater wetland to the limestone karst, with many chances to watch wild animals. The world’s largest remaining wild population of Delacour’s langur is in Van Long Nature Reserve. It is “one of the few safe havens”, with some 100 of these cliff-dwelling monkeys around, tourists are almost guaranteed to see one. You will find out that water surface is calm like a giant mirror, and as the water is so clear, you can see every thing under water.
Quang Binh province, known as a place full of history during decades of the long and fierce war, is fortunate to be endowed with such majestic limestone mountains and magnificent cave systems.
Deep in the heart of Quang Binh, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasts some of the longest underground rivers and dry cavern systems in the world, not to mention the largest cave on this planet (Son Doong Cave). Not only incredible size, caves are filled with spectacular ancient stalactites and stalagmites of various shapes, sizes and colours. Phong Nha is also a fossil-rich site and a location where new caves are still being discovered. There is no gurantee that Son Doong will hold on to its title for long. Recently, 57 new cave entrances including a five-million-year-old underwater cave have been discovered by the British Cave Research Association. The explorer also noted that several caves are suitable for adventure tours, for example, Hoa Huong, Bang, Cay Sanh, Ma Rinh and Tu Lu. Together with new caves, many vertical sinkholes, a number of rare and strange creatures were also found.
Ken Cave of Tu Lan Cave System.
There are lots of trekking, kayaking and swimming opportunities too. Be sure to lookout for a multitude of beautiful butterflies if you are there in March, April or May. Far from the tourist crowds, much of this region has been closed to outsiders for decades and partly because much of the landscape is still peppered with unexploded ordnance leftover from the war. These jungles and mountains have almost completely safe from the encroachment of either development of modern life or mass tourism. This area could be particularly effective as a film set due to its dramatic scenery. The caves and grottoes are of such superlative size King Kong could hardly look out of place, it is easy to imagine King Kong towering over the diminutive villages.
Could more caves be discovered in Quang Binh?
Not for long, Kong: Skull Island will come out in theatres in March 2017. Moviegoers now feel eager to be on the wait, and some have plans to travel to Vietnam to discover why the film crew chose Vietnam as the location for "Kong: Skull Island." Halong Bay, Ninh Binh and Quang Binh, do you realize how beautiful they are? It might be a good idea to book your flight soon, before they build a themed park and your tour stays forever a dream too expensive to come true.
Image Sources: Internet