Top Ten Thai Films To See

What movies to watch in Thailand

Why Thai Films?

Life in Thailand can be exhilarating and constantly on-the-go, causing downtime to be ever so delightful. When the weather in Thailand is wet and rainy, you made be forced to cozy in your accommodation. Thanks to the compelling Thai movie industry, those moments of relaxation can be as entertaining as the rest of your experience. Thailand’s film industry is one flavored with quirkiness, wit, history, comedy, unconventionality and romance. Below is a list of ten must-see Thai films for you to indulge during your spare time.

One might ask why these films are important for the working expat to watch. These films (and other Thai films in general) can be a great tool when learning about various aspects of Thai society. Depending on the genre and target audience of a particular movie, we can gain valuable insight into the respective Thai history or contemporary art/music and how they play out within daily life. Certain movies also have plot lines based in schools and universities which help give a better understanding as to how Thai schools function in general.


Description: R | 1h 45m | Action, Crime, Thriller IMDb rating: 7.2 Synopsis: In Thailand, the impoverished village of Ban Nong Pradu has its most precious Buddha statue stolen from the temple. Luckily the small town also has a very skilled fighter in the form of Ting (Tony Jaa), who sets out on a quest to recover the cherished figure. His journey leads him to Bangkok, where he must wrangle the statue from Don (Wannakit Sirioput), a volatile drug dealer. Meanwhile, the village is suffering a severe drought and needs the Buddha to restore vitality.

If you like action-packed Jackie Chan type movies, this is definitely a must see. There have been many sequels but the first one is by far the best.

Tropical Maladay

Description: Not rated | 1h 58m | Drama, Fantasy IMDb Rating: 7.3 Synopsis: Keng is a soldier stationed in a quiet Thai village where the days progress with methodical slowness. Not much happens of interest until Keng encounters local boy Tong, and the pair begin a tentative romance. Then, in a surreal move typical of director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the film splinters into a story about a soldier searching for a lost boy in the jungle and meeting a vexing spirit.


Description: No Rating | 2h 10m | Comedy IMDb Rating: 7.6 Synopsis: Ped had never listened to music until introduced to the music world by a classmate Ern , whom Ped had a crush on. Unfortunately soon after Earn left to Bangkok for good. Years later they meet again, when Earn moves back and starts to attend the same high school. At the same time, Ped’s best friend Khung decides to make a band Khung & Friends to pick up girls and one-up his popular twin brother Kae. Things get serious when Khung also fells in love with Earn, who has amazing guitar skills, and upcoming is the biggest youth band contest.

If you like music and you are a school teacher, you really need to watch this movie! Many Thai rock legends make cameos in this movie as the high school rockers have visions from their rock idols. Great acting and romantic element to the movie.

Teacher Diary

Description: G | 1h 50m | Romance, Comedy IMDb Rating: 7.9 Synopsis: It follows the story of two lonely teachers, a male and a female. They were assigned at the same rural school but a year apart. The girl being assigned first, attempted to write her thoughts on a diary, being stuck out in boonies. One day she has to be transferred to another school and left the diary. The male teacher came by as a substitute and saw the diary, thus, falling in love with the unacquainted writer. He also wrote his thoughts on it. The guy also left and the lady returned and saw that there are added articles on the diary. She also fell in love with him but now having a hard time looking for the boy. Will the two ever meet?

If you enjoy romantic comedies as well as teaching English in a Thai school, this film is for you! 

The Legend of Suriyothai

Description: R | 2h 20m | Action, Adventure, Drama IMDb Rating: 6.6 Synopsis: During the 16th century, as Thailand contends with both a civil war and Burmese invasion, a beautiful princess rises up to help protect the glory of the Kingdom of Ayothaya. Based on the life of Queen Suriyothai.

If you are interested in Thai history, this is a ‘must watch’! It depicts the Thai monarchies of 500 – 600 years ago, chronicles the intra-empire machinations between competing families to become the king of Siam, along with some epic ‘300-style’ battle scenes between the Burmese and Thais.  It is hard to find this movie with English subtitles. One of the most expensive movies ever made in Thailand, Suriyothai featured all of the famous actors of the early 2000s and had to be approved by the monarchy before release to make sure they were depicting history in a favorable light.

Pee Mak

Description: No Rating | 1h 55m | Horror, Drama, Romance IMDb Rating: 7.4 Synopsis: Mak served in the war during the beginning of the Rattanakosin Dynasty. At war he became friends with Ter, Puak, Shin, and Aey, whose lives he saved. Once the war was over, Mak invited his four friends into his home in Phra Khanong town and introduced them to his beautiful wife Nak and his newborn baby boy Dang. A rumor was going around in the village that Nak had died giving birth to her stillborn baby, Dang. The source of this rumour; Aunty Priak, owner of local liquor store was found dead floating on the river a few days later. The four friends felt it’s time to tell Mak the possibility of Nak and Dang could be dead and lingered as haunting ghosts and risk their lives. It’s up to Mak to choose love or reality.

I Fine, Thank you Love you

Description: G | 1h 57m | Comedy IMDb Rating: 7.1 Synopsis: A young man loses his girlfriend when she goes to work overseas. He then signs up to learn English with a teacher to better his skills and win her back. An unexpected twist of fate puts a spin on the romantic comedy. 

The Protector

Description: R | 1h 51m | Drama, Crime, Action IMDb Rating: 7.1 Synopsis: A young fighter named Kham must go to Australia to retrieve his stolen elephant. With the help of a Thai-born Australian detective, Kham must take on all comers, including a gang led by an evil woman and her two deadly bodyguards.

My Girl

Description: No Rating | 1h 51m  | Comedy, Romance IMDb Rating: 8.1 Synopsis: Jeab hears that his childhood sweetheart Noi-Naa is to be married, so he makes the trip back home to his provincial village. As he does so, the memories come flooding back to his childhood in 1980s Thailand. He remembers always being late to school, so his father would have to give him a ride on the back of the motorcycle. After school, he would always play with Noi-Naa and her girlfriends while the neighborhood boys rode their bicycles and played football and Chinese fantasy characters.

This is definitely one of the best Thai movies ever produced. And the amazing thing is that it was directed by three Thai directors. Somehow the movie hangs together nicely. Set in the 1980s in Thailand the film is famous for bringing back a nostalgic time for may Thais and includes music, food and dress from that period. Definitely a must see for anyone interested in cinema and in Thai contemporary culture.

Pheuan sanit

Description: No Rating | 1h 30m | Drama, Romance IMDb Rating: 7.9 Synopsis: A shy young man from Bangkok, Khaiyoi develops a friendship with a girl with strong personality called Dakanda. Later, they both realize of their changing feeling far more than the ‘best friend.” Thus, after graduation, Khaiyoi moves to work in the South where a nurse Nui develops a crush on him. But Khaiyoi wants to keep their relationship as only ‘the best friend.’

This list makes up just some of Thailand’s popular local movies. You can also visit your nearest cinema to watch more recent western movies. Many Thai cinemas have a VIP section for the ultimate comfort experience. Remember to take something warm as cinemas can get really chilly in general! Also remember to remain silent when standing to pay your respects to the King (an occurrence before every movie in Thai cinemas).


One can can see other popular Thai movies here



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