The current COVID-19 pandemic has left streets and seats vacant for pigeons, event spaces bear similarity to empty warehouses and closed worship places encourage distance with people but never with God.
But what if we told you that you can explore the world while practising social distancing?
Thanks to technology, largely due to Google Arts and Culture, you can virtually travel the globe.
Gain insights about ancient artworks, appreciate architectural marvels and embrace natural wonders from various perspectives. Get a break from Netflix/Astro and Dalgona Coffee and wake up the wanderlust in you.
Here is a glimpse of destinations you can visit:
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
To explore one of the world’s most active volcano is like stepping foot on another planet. In the comfort of your own home, acknowledge the primitive power of Mother Nature.
Head inside the Nahuku Lava Tube, a cave formed by flowing lava and take in jaw-dropping views from the volcanic coastal cliffs. Fly over an active volcano, hover through massive plumes of ash and witness the aftermath of the previous eruption. Backed by the park ranger’s insights, this tour is as exciting as it is educational.
Take me there: https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service/hawaii-volcanoes/nahuku-lava-tube-tour
Kenai Fjords National Park, USA
“The ruggedness isn’t intimating but it's inviting,” states the park ranger, who will be escorting you throughout this otherworldly virtual tour. Sights, sounds and the serenity of the Alaskan wilderness would rattle your senses in the most enchanting way.
Kayak through icebergs, descend into an icy crevasse, watch wildlife thrive with freedom and glaciers melt. The latter experience exposes the effects of climate change.
Take me there: https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service/kenai-fjords/exit-glacier-tour
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico, USA
If caves conjure curiosity and challenge to your mind, a visual expedition to the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico would add “comfort” to the equation too.
Together with national park ranger Pam Cox, travel 750-feet underground to explore mysteries and marvels of the network of caves shaped over millions of years. Its storied past traces back upon prehistoric occupants to historic American Indians.
Also, see the world through the eyes of Brazilian free-tailed bats, fly with thousands and learn about echolocation.
Take me there: https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service/carlsbad-caverns/natural-entrance-tour
Taj Mahal, India
A symbol of love with a symphony of striking structures. To visit Taj Mahal is to fall in love with it.
Google Arts and Culture permits you to not only wander around the ivory-white mausoleum but also zoom in Islamic calligraphy, intricate carvings and inlay works, completed by around 20,000 artisans at the cost of 32 million rupees (RM1.83mil) at that time.
Don't miss the marvellous main gate which is built of red sandstone. If you call yourself an art lover, you are in for a big treat.
Take me there: https://artsandculture.google.com/search?q=taj%20mahal&hl=en
Right now, we all need a little zen and a good dose of wanderlust. And Bagan hits the sweet spot.
Your virtual journey takes off with soul-soothing music, clear narration and incredible shots of the former ancient city on the Irrawaddy River. This sprawling land was once home to over 3,000 Buddhist stupas, which have been destroyed by earthquakes and floods.
Today, the remains echo a lasting legacy of culture and revelation. Explore history-laden temples like Ananda Ok Kyaung and Eim Ya Kyaung, decode the scenes behind the wall paintings and listen to stories of Buddha.
Take me there: https://artsexperiments.withgoogle.com/bagan
Canada’s Wonderland, Canada
Dump away your dreary day with a roller coaster ride in your living room. Yes, you read that right.
The largest theme park in Canada is offering virtual tours on its website to pump up the adrenaline rush of little and big kids. Open up the YouTube App on your TV, arrange two-by-two chairs in front and for small kids, place them in laundry baskets over your lap and enjoy rides on 16 coasters and 11 thrill rides.
If you’re using a VR headset, be prepared for neighbours knocking on doors with curiosity over your screams.
Take me there: https://www.canadaswonderland.com/blog/2020/march-2020/heres-how-to-take-a-virtual-ride-on-all-the-rides-at-canadas-wonderland-in-your-own-home
The Northern Lights
Defining aurora is no easy task as there’s no other phenomenon like it. But what’s easier is to check out the natural lightshow on a virtual tour. Lights Over Lapland created the Northern Lights adventure tours in Sweden and they have now extended it to an online experience.
It’s not all about the astronomical shafts in the sky, but you’ll also step inside the fairytale-like Ice Hotel, explore the Arctic birch forest, ride in a sleigh behind a reindeer and even meet Huskies.
Take me there: https://lightsoverlapland.com/abisko-national-park-virtual-reality-tour/
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Google Arts and Culture have teamed up with over 2500 museums and galleries across the globe and the Netherlands landmark is no exception.
This museum houses the largest collection of Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most celebrated artists in history. Check out his classic self-portraits, 19th-century art history exhibits and a look into his life through famous paintings like “The Yellow House” and “Sunflowers”.
Take me there: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/van-gogh-museum
British Museum, London
The world’s oldest national public museum possesses a wealth of collections that sweeps over two million years of human history and culture.
Among the infamous objects include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures and Egyptian mummies.
More than six million visitors turn up each year to step back in time and now you can check them out without having to brush anyone’s shoulder.
Take me there: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-british-museum
The Louvre, Paris
The former fortress is one of the world’s most inspiring museums, with a trove of history from the 17th century BC to the mid-19th century. Walk through the halls fitted with well-known masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the remains of Louvre’s moat.
Remember that the museum is, after all, once home to Louis XIV, whose personal art collections remain as they were until today. The vast complex also includes the Tuileries Gardens, which is dotted with antique sculptures and colourful flowers.
Take me there: https://petitegalerie.louvre.fr/visite-virtuelle/saison5/ or https://www.youvisit.com/tour/louvremuseum
The Metropolitan Opera, New York
Even when the stage is closed, the Met hopes to cherish the lives of audiences at home. Each day, the largest classical music organisation in North America will host nightly encore performances of its timeless classics and new works from leading artists around the world.
For those new to theatre shows, this would be the try-before-you-buy experience. The free steams will begin at 7.30pm every night on the opera house’s homepage and be available for 20 hours.
Take me there: https://www.metopera.org/nightly-opera-stream/
Nasa Research Centres
If you are into space exploration or even wondered how NASA facilities look like, this virtual tour is for you.
Check out eye-opening equipment like the Supersonic Wind Tunnel to research high-speed flight, learn microgravity at the Zero Gravity Research Facility and get a window into aeronautic technology.
Once your kids are done watching the informative images, videos and test actions, they may have a new career in mind.
Take me there: https://www.nasa.gov/specials/nasaathome/index.html
Strange that at this present situation, surrounded by the invisible threat of infection, we can still develop a taste for travel.
Make the full use of it. Stay positive, stay a wanderlust and stay at home.
Happy virtual travelling, you guys!