In 1999, 20th Century Fox decided to make a new version of the fictionalized account of Anna Leonowens' time in the Siamese court. They wanted to film the movie on location in Thailand, but couldn't come to terms with the Thai national film board, which considers the works based on Anna's diaries disrespectful of one of Thailand's most revered monarchs. Given the number of outright fallacies in her diaries, it appears that Anna had a rather loose grip on reality.
View of the palace building from the courtyard
After failing to come to terms with the Thai authorities, the studio decided to film the movie in Malaysia, which welcomed the studio's money. Several sets were constructed around Malaysia and the streets of Penang also feature in many scenes.
On Langkawi, the studio built a seaside Summer Palace set on Kok beach in Burau Bay. After filming was completed, the set was donated to the Langkawi government. It was rebuilt to make it a bit more permanent.
A pavilion on the sea
While the buildings are crudely similar to Thai royal buildings, they have nothing close to the refinement of Thai architecture. However, the gardens are quite lush and the collected furniture and costumes from the film are interesting if not very authentic.
The Summer Palace is now the centerpiece of an entire development which includes a marina under construction.
The fee for entry to the Summer Palace is RM 3.50 (0.71 USD) for adults. The palace is open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm every day. We're not sure the Summer Palace is really worth the trip, but it's a continuing development that may well be worth it in the future. It's also close to the Oriental Village and so can be combined with a trip there.