5 Famous Film Locations in China You Can’t Miss

It’s always a thrilling experience to be standing in a spot where you know one of your favourite movies has actually taken place. You can imagine the scene in your mind, and think about the fact that the actors and actresses themselves stood right where you’re standing! Visiting a film location while travelling is a great way to really get involved in your favourite movies, and get to know the background of the scenes themselves. Here you will find 5 famous filming locations in China you should not miss!

The Last Emperor

This fantastic film detailing the life of Pu Yi, the last emperor who ruled in China, is a great film to watch to understand Chinese culture and history. Of course, most of the important scenes of the palace itself were filmed at Beijing’s Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace. This movie sheds light on what it was like to live in this grand palace, capturing this location with all its splendour.

Forbidden city

The Forbidden City is a fantastic highlight of any trip to China, and seeing this movie will add depth to your experience when visiting the country.  In modern times the palace houses a museum, and its many walls, pavilions, grand gates and surrounding waterways, making it a beautiful as well as historical place to visit.

Also check out this video for the 5 things to do in Beijing!

Mission Impossible III

The Shanghai Bank of China Tower is a 53-story building in the Pudong District of Shanghai. This building was featured in Mission Impossible III, as we watched Tom Cruise do a bungee jump from it.


Towards the end of the film, we see Tom Cruise running through the narrow streets of one of the many quaint water towns in China. This was filmed in Xitang, a small town built on water canals which serves as a beautiful escape from the modernity of nearby Shanghai. The town of Xitang is a lovely place to visit to see the calmer side of life. Walk around the town and seeing how the local people live in this water town.

Also check out this video for the 5 things to do in Shanghai!

The Kite Runner

Funnily enough, this book-based movie was not filmed in Afghanistan, where it is written to have taken place, but instead was filmed in Kashgar in the far western part of China. Due to the criticism received from the Afghan government and other safety issues, the set location was changed to a place where the streets and alleys reflected what was needed to portray the scenes.

Kashgar’s Old Town is a lovely place to visit, a stark contrast to eastern China.  The town homes are mud-thatched and the place is very densely populated. Each home has a courtyard filled with lovely trees and flowers, such as fig, almond, grape, and rose.

The Karate Kid

The story of Dre and his mother’s relocation to Beijing was of course set mostly in China. Ironically, even the filming of the scene with their ‘Detroit’ apartment was done at Beijing Forest University.


Mr. Han takes Dre on a trip to discover more about kung fu, which takes place in the Wudang Mountains in Hubei Province.  This deeply spiritual area is filled with Taoist monasteries, and many people come to learn meditation, medicine, and martial arts.  It is a lush, green area with beautiful scenery.

Also featured in this movie is the Great Wall of China. The locations in this movie are well known and incredible places to see during a trip to China.


Although the fictional planet of Pandora is not a real place and this movie was very digitalised, the scene of the ‘Hallelujah Mountains’ was inspired by the ZhangJiaJie National Park, and it is easy to see why.  This location actually was used in filming, and in post-production the mountains were edited to look as if they were floating.


The Zhanjiajie National Park is an incredible place to see in person. There really is no way to describe the beauty of this area except to say that it feels as if Pandora is coming alive right in front of you. The incredible mountains covered in lush greenery and the beautiful lake all boast stunning views, and the area is populated by a tribe with a very unique culture. This National Park is a treasure that cannot be missed.

All in all, seeing film locations is a great experience, and hitting all five of these will give you a well-rounded tour of some of the best sites in China.

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Cez Krol

Travel blogger at eTramping
Cez lives in China like a local for the past 4 years. Apart from speaking the language, he loves to discover more about this unique country of extreme contrasts. He shares his China experiences here at Sublime China and on his blog eTramping, so go and check out what's out there for you in China.
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