Friday, Apr 16

WOW! These Top-5 High Rating Films Were Shot in Penang, Malaysia

By Max Tan

Oh! Mom, look, isn’t that place familiar...”

You are right! As kids, we used to be very detailed on things we saw on the movie screen. The excitement became more animated when the shooting locations involved the venue we know, a destination we’ve visited many times, a place we called home.

Penang is always a popular travel option for tourists to explore wonderful attractions, scrumptious food, beautiful heritage sites, bustling factory zones, and unique multiracial values. This state of Malaysia, or also known as The Pearl of The Orient, has once again, been recognized as the third-place under the list of ‘15 Best Islands In The World To Retire On In 2021’.

With the characteristics and the international recognition, it’s no surprise that local and foreign entertainment productions perceive Penang as one of their best shooting spots. There are so many films taken in Penang, these are the top-5 films we’d like to recommend to you today.

Indochine (1992)

Here’s a French colonial film set in the 1930s to 1950s with the story of Camille, the adoptee of the Vietnamese parents, and her father, Eliane Devries, a French plantation owner.

While several areas in Malaysia such as Penang, Ipoh, and Shah Alam were included in the film, some famous places in Penang have made their appearance throughout the show. For instance, Butterworth, Cheong Fatt Tze- Penang’s Blue Mansion, and Crag Hotel (the current abandoned hotel in Penang Hill).

Anna and The King (1999)

Another 90s movie that was set in the 1860s colonial era and had been to Penang for shooting is Anna and The King. Based on the novel ‘Anna and The King of Siam’, this American movie narrates the love story between the Siamese King and Anna Leonowens, a widowed British school teacher.

Initially, the production crew wanted to go to Thailand for their shooting, but decided to come to Malaysia instead due to the disapproval of historical inaccuracy from the Thai Film Board. While most of the shooting locations were in Ipoh, Perak, there are many scenes involving Penang as the setting such as Armenian Street, Penang City Hall, Esplanade (Padang Kota Lama), Swettenham Pier, Khoo Kongsi, and Penang Islamic Museum.

Road To Dawn (2007)

Ever wonder about the story of Dr. Sun Yat Sen? This Chinese movie successfully delivered the story of him being a revolutionary of Penang. What takes great pride is that the movie was filmed in Penang island within the timeframe of August and September 2006, and it premiered in Beijing on 28th June 2008, wherein later led them to numerous film awards on the international level.

Some of the famous places in Penang that were filmed included Sun Yat-sen Museum Penang, Eastern &Oriental Hotel (E&O), Lone Pine Hotel Penang, Penang Peranakan Museum, Penang Botanical Garden, and more.

Lust, Caution (2007)

Another Chinese-related film with the involvement of Penang as one of its shooting locations is Lust, Caution, an espionage thrilling story of Wang Jiazhi, a young woman who’s involved in a dangerous encounter with Mr. Yee, a renowned political figure.

This Oscar-winning Ang Lee’s adapted film from the book of Eileen Chang had also made its scene in Penang for a day. Places such as Penang Road and Wisma Yeap Chor Ee were chosen as part of their shooting areas, apart from their production destinations in Zhejiang, Hong Kong, and Ipoh.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Last but not least, here’s a Hollywood film that everybody knows as it’s a box-office smash in 2018. Based on the book by Kevin Kwan, this romantic comedy movie portrayed a great cross-cultural mash-up throughout its storyline. The story narrates about Rachel Chu, a new yorker who’s in love with a Singaporean rich man, Nick Young, and was in her hardship to gain Nick’s family’s approval on their relationship. Not only that they recruited famous actors and actresses for the show such as Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Michelle Yeo, Carmen Soo, Lisa Lu, Ken Jeong, and more, but the film has also won 13 awards and 62 nominations.

Despite being identified as a story that took place in Singapore, some of the scenes were shot in Penang too. For instance, Cheong Fatt Tze- Penang’s Blue Mansion and Eastern &Oriental Hotel (E&O). Penang’s popular rugs collector, Nasim Furnishings, was even the carpet supplier for the show and their rugs were featured in the film too. This movie is by far the most iconic result that makes Penangites proud.


As stunning as it is, Penang has become one of the top selections for films of modern glamorous lifestyle to the world war era. Certainly, there are many other movies with Penang scenes that we can’t include in this article, but they are all good and worth watching too. So maybe it’s time for all of us to get a packet of popcorns and start binging all the list mentioned and without being mentioned above. Enjoy your movie marathon!



Tourplus is an online travel platform that helps travellers connect directly with their own driver-guide. With professional and certified local driver-guides, tourists do not need to worry about safety issues and language barriers.