The Covid-19 pandemic has dampened our travel plans, and the truth is, it’s unlikely we will be putting our passports into use anytime soon. Happily, technology has now made it possible for us to see some of the world’s most incredible sites on our silver screens or through virtual reality. Although nothing beats the feeling of traipsing down the aisle of a plane and taking in the sights and smells of another country, virtual tours are proof that you can still see the world from your humble abode. Buckle up as we bring you a few of our picks below.
The Rijksmuseum is one of the most important art museums in the Netherlands and features a myriad of 8,000 artworks and objects spanning across the Dutch Golden Age to abstract Mondrian. Artworks from famous Dutch artists including Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals are housed in a majestic Gothic Renaissance-style building. The Museum is offering an interactive virtual tour which will allow you to get an up close and personal look at world-famous art works such as Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, just to name a few. There’s also a virtual treasure hunt in the form of a “key challenge” to enhance your experience.
Visit the Rijksmuseum at www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/masterpieces-up-close
San Diego Zoo, USA
The pandemic has forced many attractions to rely on virtual reality, and the San Diego Zoo is no different. The wildlife park has long dedicated its services and resources to educate visitors about their adorable residents and animal conservation. The live cams, which are placed strategically around the various enclosures, allow one to get a clear view of the animals. Amuse yourself with the playful antics of the elephant and apes, gawk at the majesty of the polar bears and tigers or watch the penguins frolic around in their enclosure. After all, we could use an added dose of serotonin to keep us going in these challenging times.
Visit San Diego Zoo at zoo.sandiegozoo.org/live-cams
Makido Caves, Japan
This mystical looking cave, located in Niimi City, Okayama, Japan is a sight to behold. The 450m-long limestone cave is brought to life with multi-coloured lights that give off a psychedelic vibe. The official tourism website for the city of Niimi has created a virtual experience for people all around the world to bask in the beauty of Makido. If you miss Japan and its gorgeous nature, check out this immersive tour which covers all areas of Makido and boasts ambient sounds from the cave.
Visit the Makido Caves at secure.panoramic.graphics/publicvr/makidou
Yosemite National Park, USA
The Yosemite National Park is one of the most visited parks in the United States, typically drawing in crowds by the millions annually. The park is also home to the largest exposed granite monolith in the world, the “El Capitan” (which means “The Captain” in English). It goes without saying that the park offers enthralling views of meadows, valleys, and ancient giant sequoias. The high-resolution virtual tour will take you through various locations in the park and allows users to zoom into every nook and cranny of the park. The interactive experience is embedded with sounds typically heard at the Yosemite – calling birds, gushing waterfalls, wind, and even the chattering of tourists. A hike is now a walk in the park from the comfort of your home.
Visit Yosemite National Park at www.virtualyosemite.org
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Experience a true outback adventure by virtually visiting the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The sacred land is home to the Anangu people – an indigenous tribe native to Australia. The large sandstone rock formation called Uluru or Ayers Rock is the key attraction and it is not hard to see why. The majestic monolith stands a whopping 348m in height with the majority of its bulk laying underground. According to Australians, the park offers an otherworldly experience, as it tells the story of the Anangu people and the troubled past of their ancestors. The virtual tour offered by the National Park allows an immersive experience for its users – click on the musical note icons to hear narrations about the history of Uluru and dialogue from the indigenous people.
Visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park at parksaustralia.gov.au/uluru/discover/virtual-tour
Otherworldly Experience On Mars
It’s times like these where we can marvel at the lengths at which technology has evolved and made the impossible possible. You can now take a trip to Mars without having to spend an exorbitant amount of money (and also because it’s impossible to go there for now at least). NASA recently teamed up with Google to bring a virtual experience of Mars through images provided by NASA’s Curiosity Rover. Curiosity has been sending images back to NASA to help researchers find out more about life on Mars and the future home of humans. Icons appear throughout the experience to provide information about various points on Mars coupled with a voiceover by Katy, a researcher at NASA to guide you through the features and controls.
Visit Mars at accessmars.withgoogle.com
BONUS PICK: Changi Chapel And Museum
If all these attractions are giving you the urge to get out and about, then take a trip to the newly revamped Changi Chapel and Museum. The museum has amassed plenty of memorabilia over the years, many of which belong to World War II prisoners of war (POWs). From a painting of emancipated prisoners to an exclusive 400-page diary written by a POW to his wife, the museum offers an eye-opening insight into the horrors of war. Visitors are encouraged to pre-book their admission time slots and are advised to check the crowd levels via the museum website.
More info at www.nhb.gov.sg/changichapelmuseum/whats-on/exhibitions
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