Filming Vietnam: Dramatic cities and landscapes
The production team for Kong: Skull Island spent around a month filming on location in Vietnam, using the country’s rural landscapes as a double for the mysterious island of the title. Kong was the biggest Hollywood film ever to shoot in the country and there is much more on offer for producers.
Halong Bay and Ninh Binh – known as the inland Halong bay – offer thousands of rocky sugarloaf-like formations and were the main filming locations for the Kong producers.
“Outside the major city centre of Hanoi, and possibly Hai Phong (near Ha Long Bay) – most of northern Vietnam is still quite pristine and untouched,” says Othello Khanh, founder and managing director of The CreaTV Company, in comments to KFTV.
“Recently, in addition to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, places such as Ninh Binh, Ba Vi and Sa Pa have become popular filming locations for local and international films.”
Producers will find the imperial city of Hue, which has been used as a location for US TV shows The Bachelor and Cities of the Underworld, as well as the ancient town of Hoi An.
Phong Nha offers some of the largest caves in the world. In 2015, the recently-discovered Son Doong Cave hosted episodes of the US TV show Good Morning America, which boosted the region’s international profile.
“Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are two of the most popular filming destinations,” says Khanh. “Most of the support infrastructure can be found in Ho Chi Minh City, though Hanoi does have a growing film industry.
“On a production of the scale of Kong, for example, the crew and gear were driven from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi to facilitate their needs, since crew are more experienced.”
The Mekong Delta is one of the most iconic natural landscapes in Vietnam. Situated west of Ho Chi Minh City, its vast flood plains spans some 15,600 square miles.
“The Mekong Delta makes an appearance on almost every cooking show – it is a very popular destination,” says Khanh. “We shot an episode of The Amazing Race (Canada) in the Mekong Delta for their recent season.”
Beach resort Mui Ne offers red and white-sand visuals and is yet to be properly discovered by producers.
“For most places, we can fly if there is a domestic airport and, if not, Vietnam's train and highway system are convenient ways to see the country,” Khanh says.
Vietnam faces stiff regional competition from Thailand, which is still considered by many location professionals to be the primary production hub in south-east Asia. However, Vietnam is now firmly on Hollywood’s radar and offers an exotic and enticing alternative for adventurous producers.
Vietnam image: The Creatv Company. Kong Skull Island images: Warner Bros. Entertainment