‘A Tourist’s Guide To Love’ Review: For The Love Of Travel And Vacation Romances


Falling in love on a picturesque vacation takes a bit of luck, a taste for danger, and a certain ability to selectively open up to strangers. In the absence of one or all of them, it takes a few sacrifices to the gods or maybe a reincarnation into a different kind of life. But if you don’t have the time, budget, or temperament for that, you can live vicariously through movies like “A Tourist’s Guide to Love.” 

Everyone can agree that traveling is fun. Our everyday lives are consumed by a thousand things. From planning what to eat to scrambling to be on time to work and dealing with the thousand things to do that never seem to end, the mind always seems to be at war. The simple task of survival involves a complex ecosystem that, more often than not, doesn’t let us go beyond just endurance. It is worth asking at times like this, what are we exactly living for? This brings to mind a trip I had taken a while back to Udaipur, which is called the City of Lakes. It was the first time in months that I could experience the simple pleasure of just being in the moment without pending deadlines to think about or annoying people to deal with. Of course, much like Amanda does later in the movie, I left the planning to the wisdom of my Virgo companion. It allowed me to switch off in a way I hadn’t thought was possible for me. As I was watching “A Tourist’s Guide to Love,” I could see the same thing happening with Amanda. But unlike her, my vacation wardrobe was just regular clothes, with the addition of a raincoat and an umbrella, which I spent much of my trip in. You cannot escape the constant light drizzle in Udaipur if you visit in August.

Amanda goes to Vietnam to test out a travel company to decide whether her boss should invest in it. Maybe that is why she was not entirely uncomfortable going off the itinerary. My FOMO would never let me do that. I agree that the main attractions are a touch too touristy, and there is always something new to discover off the beaten path. I also know that going to a different country, again and again, is not feasible. Therefore, most of the time, I just have one shot to see and experience as much as I can. But hey, if a handsome and charming tour guide gives you special attention, it is not criminal to let the plans change.

On that note, I wonder whether anyone else noticed that there is a rise of on-screen couples with strong friendship chemistry that is awkward when it turns romantic. I noticed this with “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” and “Prom Pact”, and it continues with this one. A sweet love story has its merits, in contrast to the enemies-to-lovers trope, but I wonder if that is making it difficult for me to accept two people as lovers who I have started seeing as friends. In such cases, maybe I prefer people with no chemistry at all. With them, friendship or romance all starts looking the same, weirdly taking out the cringe factor.

While I was watching “The Tourist’s Guide to Love,” I remembered the news that White Lotus Season 3 would be set in Thailand, another Asian country. It is a little unrelated, but it just made me think about how two pieces of content based on a group of people traveling together have such different tones. One is as sweet as sugar, and the other is as politically incorrect as can be, pushing people to the extremes. Maybe the point I am trying to make is that company matters when traveling. Amanda’s experience with Sinh’s grandmother is the kind of thing that has me googling the culturally best time to visit a place. I remember thinking that a South Asian person might still relate to the festival, but someone from a Western country is going to be bowled over primarily by the color and the culture. Amanda looked beautiful in her New Year’s dress. It reminded me a little of Rohit Bal, but that is a good thing because he is the moment.

On a different note, I found the breakup between Amanda and her boyfriend, John, a little noteworthy. But before I get to that, did John, played by Ben Feldman, remind anyone else of Darren Barnett (Paxton Hall Yoshida of “Never Have I Ever”)? Either way, that breakup was a look at how travel and perspective actually open our minds, helping us re-evaluate existing relationships. Amanda had always valued safety and stability, but when she understood the joys that could be found when life is given permission to surprise a person, it had her wanting more. Amanda had been with John for five years, and their relationship was textbook stable. But we suppose John wanted more when he got an opportunity in a different city. When he came back to Amanda days later, it was because he was craving the safety of the relationship after having been burned by rejection. This just went on to show Amanda the drawback of safety: that it was a compromise, and she wanted more than that. Somebody was right when they said that it is only when you taste different things that you can understand the difference between what you like and what you love. Amanda had tasted spontaneity, and she wasn’t ready to let that go from her life.

As beautiful as this is, my one gripe with “A Tourist’s Guide to Love” is that I would have preferred that Sinh and Amanda remain friends or some kind of platonic soulmates instead of stepping into a romantic relationship. To reiterate my previous point, they do not have that kind of chemistry. Summing it all up, this is a very sweet movie and is visually stunning enough to save you a trip to Vietnam. This could be your feel-good weekend watch that actually puts you in a good mood. Don’t miss out on “A Tourist’s Guide to Love.”

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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