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How to travel the world without boarding a flight: a cheeky guide

There’s no denying that COVID-19 has taken a real toll on the travel industry. 

With tight border controls, countries under lockdown, grounded flights, and imposed curfews (did you know about Bangkok’s own 11pm-5am curfew at this time of writing?), travel has come to a bit of a halt this month. 

Many have postponed a holiday plan, leaving most of us homebound and in self-quarantine. Hence, the need to shake this feeling of cabin fever has never been more acute than ever. We’ve compiled lists of travel films you can watch, books you can read, and even a whole list of other things you can do while at home, but if your desire to see the world is still not satisfied, maybe the answer could lie in virtual travel. 

While regular travel may be off the cards for the foreseeable future, you can still escape for a little while with these virtual travel options. Just make sure your internet connection’s stable. Read on for more.

Educate yourself on some of America’s national parks 

virtual tours
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Image credit: Jack Ebnet on Unsplash)

Immerse yourself in the wonders of nature with Google Arts and Culture: they have teamed up with national parks in the US to launch 360-degree interactive virtual tours that include a virtual park ranger explaining the area to you, making it both educational and breathtaking at the same time. It even sounds as though you’re in the location as well — head to the lava caves at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and you can literally hear the echoes of the park ranger’s voice as she speaks. If that’s not an immersive virtual travel experience, we don’t know what is. 

Tour world-famous museums virtually

virtual tours
Van Gogh Museum (Image credit: Rasmus Kuber on Unsplash)

Besides spending time in national parks, Google Arts and Culture realises you have to feed your artistic side as well. From New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) to Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, they have collaborated with 2500 museums and galleries around the world for an extensive library of virtual tours waiting to be explored. 

Spend some time in The Louvre in Paris

virtual tours
(Image credit: Matthew DeBlieux on Unsplash)

When thinking about museums, you can’t ever leave out the most iconic one in Paris: The Lourve. Even though you cannot physically be at the world’s most visited museum, you can still feel as though you’re right there with their in-house virtual tours. Get up close and personal with Egyptian antiquities, or lose yourself as you discover the remains of the Louvre’s Moat, “walking” around the original perimeter moat and viewing the piers that once supported the drawbridge.

Bring Africa to your doorstep 

virtual tours
(Image credit: Grant Rattray for andBeyond)

One of the world’s leading luxury experiential travel companies, andBeyond, specialises in designing personalised high-end tours, and they’re bringing Africa to your doorstep in these trying times. They’ve come up with a series of digital experiences spanning sights, tastes, sounds and reads that is sure to fuel your wanderlust. They’ve put together a playlist of some of their favourite local music while you head to the kitchen to prep for your meal with the recipes that they’ve come up with, African-inspired of course. Besides that, they’re also highlighting a selection of films and books to educate and excite the senses for your next trip to the safari. 

Spend some quality time with the wildlife 

virtual tours
Monterey Bay Aquarium (Image credit: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)

You might not be able to head to the zoo for some good ol’ fashioned animal watching, but you can still gaze at these magnificent creatures through live streams. Many aquariums, zoos and enclosures have regular broadcast schedules, but we’re featuring some of our favourite ones here. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC, has live streams of their giant pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, along with two camera angles for the most optimal panda appreciation experience. Over at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, they’re live streaming soothing views of their jellyfish enclosure as well as virtual look at the open seas’ most colourful sea creatures.

Transport yourself to Thailand with a yoga ‘retreat’

virtual tours
(Image credit: Thanyapura Health and Sports Resort)

Thanyapura Health and Sports Resort in Phuket is launching a series of daily online fitness classes that will be available twice-daily from 27 March onwards. These classes will be led by Thanyapura coaches and include high energy HIIT sessions, Muay Thai, yoga classes and more. All these classes will be made available via live stream on their Facebook page, and require zero equipment for anyone who wants to participate. If you find it hard to stay motivated with your own workouts at home, this may be the answer to your worries. 

This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong.

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