8 mins

16 immersive ways to (virtually) experience Asia

Asia's natural beauty, rich history and fascinating culture makes it undeniably popular. Don't miss out on travelling through Asia during the pandemic. Simply take these virtual tours, instead...

Virtual tours of Asia (Shutterstock)

With natural beauty, incredible wildlife and a wealth of cultural and historical sites, Asia makes for an enriching travel experience. 

While you can't physically go there now due to the coronavirus outbreak, you can experience some of the continent's great wonders from the comfort of your home. 

Whether you want to see elephants in Thailand, walk the Great Wall of China, kayak between mangrove forests or get a taste of Vietnam, our virtual travel guide to Asia will give you plenty of armchair wanderlust.

Simply click on your area of interest below, or keep scrolling for the full list...

 

Top 5 virtual Asia experiences for culture seekers

Top 5 virtual Asia experiences for an adventure

Top 3 virtual Asia experiences for foodies

Top 3 virtual Asia experiences for wildlife enthusiasts

5 best virtual tours for culture seekers 

1. Explore Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Virtually walk the ancient streets of Hoi An (Shutterstock)

Virtually walk the ancient streets of Hoi An (Shutterstock)

Pristine, historically rich and culturally captivating, Vietnam is home to an abundance of World Heritage Sites. From the old towns of Hoi An and Hue, to the natural splendour of the Phong Na Caves and Ha Long Bay, you can now explore Vietnam's UNESCO wonders without leaving your sofa.

Take the tours

2. Gaze at the Taj Mahal, India

Gaze at the Taj Mahal (Shutterstock)

Gaze at the Taj Mahal (Shutterstock)

The Taj Mahal may be revered as one of the most recognisable sites in the world, but like so many travel classics, it's closed to visitors for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.

This virtual tour gets you as close to the real thing as possible. Marvel at the mausoleum's white marble exterior, focus on the intricate interior, and enjoy views of the building from across the river and up above. You'll also have the opportunity to read up on the Taj Mahal's history. 

Take the tour

3. Explore Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Explore Angkor Wat (Shutterstock)

Explore Angkor Wat (Shutterstock)

Exploring the many temples of the ancient city of Angkor Wat takes days. The site has an almost hypnotic effect, too, making you want to take your time: to run your hand over every carving, study the detail of every stone-cut face, and be awed by the sheer scale of an ancient civilisation reclaimed by nature.

Nothing beats the real thing, but this behind-the-scenes virtual tour from Google Maps is pretty close. You'll have the chance to explore well-known temples, such as Angkor and Ta Prohm, in incredible detail, as well as gaining an insight into lesser-known temples on the site. 

Switch to street view to virtually walk across the jungle-clad stone floors, see what day to day life is like in the ancient city, and learn about the significance of the complex.

Take the tour

4. Discover Japanese culture 

A virtual, cultural tour of Japan awaits... (Shutterstock)

A virtual, cultural tour of Japan awaits... (Shutterstock)

From the glittering, skyscraper-clad cities to the rolling, rural mountains, Japan offers a wealth of contrasting cultural experiences. This Virtual Reality experience crams as much of it as possible into just three minutes.

If you own a VR headset, pop it on for a dizzying whizz around Japan's Japanese temples, restaurants, museums, theatres and much more. The video is still worth a watch, even without such technology lying around at home.

Take the tour

5. Tour the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Tour the Grand Palace (Shutterstock)

Tour the Grand Palace (Shutterstock)

If you were travelling right now, would you be searching for the world's grandest temples? If so, peek inside the gilded Grand Palace in the heart of Thailand's capital, Bangkok.

Click through each 'scene; at your own pace, and zoom in to admire every angle of its scale and grandeur. If something in particular catches your eye, you can bring up all you need to know about it with just the click of a button, too.

Take the tour

5 incredible virtual tours for those looking for an adventure 

1. Climb to Everest Base Camp, Nepal 

Climb to Everest Base Camp (Shutterstock)

Climb to Everest Base Camp (Shutterstock)

Making it to Everest Base Camp is a true once-in-a-lifetime experience, and something you'll likely never forget. 

Google Maps can take you there. Online, at least. This immersive tour allows you to wander around the camp in street view, enjoy panoramic views of the snow-capped Himalayas and follow a team on their journey up the mountain. 

Take the tour

2. Explore the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China 

Explore the otherworldly mountains of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Shutterstock)

Explore the otherworldly mountains of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Shutterstock)

One look at this mystical forest in China and you'll see how it heavily inspired the otherworldly landscapes in the movie Avatar. These grand, pinstriped rock towers look like they belong on another planet - all covered in dark green trees, piercing the clouds.

On this virtual tour, fly over for a birds-eye view of the rock formations, visit the temples that perch atop them, and enjoy panoramic views over the mountainous horizon. 

Take the tour

3. Kayak through a mangrove forest, Japan 

Kayak through a mangrove forest in Japan (Shutterstock)

Kayak through a mangrove forest in Japan (Shutterstock)

The island of Okinawa in Japan is an adventurer's paradise. Now, you can experience the thrill from your living room. 

This virtual tour allows you to jump in a kayak and paddle around Higashi Village, sailing past mangrove forests and enjoying 360-degree views of the water. Or swap paddles for pedals, and cycle along the road sandwiched between the forest. 

Take the tour

4. Walk the Great Wall of China 

Walk the Great Wall of China (Shutterstock)

Walk the Great Wall of China (Shutterstock)

Although a section of the Great Wall of China has opened up for domestic visitors, stepping foot on the world's most walkable wall is something foreign travellers won’t be able to do for some time.

Instead, prepare for the walk of a lifetime from home, with this virtual tour offering a 360 experience of the wall from Jinshanling to Simatai. Click the arrows to virtually step along the wall, marvelling at the views. Perfect for planning your future route.

Take the tour

5. Climb Mount Fuji, Japan 

Climb Mount Fuji (Shutterstock)

Climb Mount Fuji (Shutterstock)

This perfectly symmetrical cone-shaped volcano is an undeniable travel icon, and probably one of the world's most recognisable mountains. 

This Google Maps tour allows you to climb up Mount Fuji from your computer. Better still, take a fascinating history lesson on its cultural importance, and enjoy the glorious sunset view from the peak with zero exertion.

Take the tour

3 tasty virtual experiences for foodies

1. Get a taste of Vietnam

Cook traditional Vietnamese dishes (Shutterstock)

Cook traditional Vietnamese dishes (Shutterstock)

Whether you're craving a fluffy meat-filled bun, a flavoursome noodle dish or some traditional pork and rice, these classic Vietnamese recipes will help bring the flavour of this vibrant country to your kitchen. Time to get cooking... 

See the recipes

2. Make Japanese soba noodles 

Make Japanese soba noodles from scratch (Shutterstock)

Make Japanese soba noodles from scratch (Shutterstock)

If you’re after a lockdown cooking challenge, then we’ve found it for you. Have a go at making these traditional Japanese noodles from scratch. It's a messy job, but a fun and tasty one, too. 

See the recipe

3. Cook a traditional Thai dish 

Learn how to cook a Pad Thai (Shutterstock)

Learn how to cook a Pad Thai (Shutterstock)

Pad Thai is a favourite dish with Thai locals and visitors alike. Now, you can recreate an authentic version of this delicious dish at home. Virtually, you'll be transported to Chiang Mai and meet chef Sonia, who'll show you how to make the perfect Pad Thai, step by step. 

Take the course

3 great virtual experiences for seeing wildlife

1. Watch a film about Thailand's elephants

See elephants in Thailand (Shutterstock)

See elephants in Thailand (Shutterstock)

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, Phuket Elephant Sanctuary has lost its visitors, meaning its income, too. So, the sanctuary – which both rescues and looks after elephants – has made a short film to raise money to help care for their animals.

The film is about Kannika and Madee, the first ellies to arrive at the sanctuary. It's a close look into their lives, the bond they've developed with each other, and their relationship with the humans who look after them.

Watch the trailer

2. Snorkel in Komodo Island, Indonesia

Coral reefs of Komodo Island, Indonesia (Shutterstock)

Coral reefs of Komodo Island, Indonesia (Shutterstock)

Komodo may be famous for its namesake dragons, but duck under the clear waters that surround the island and you'll be in for a colourful surprise. 

Pink-hued coral lines the walls of an underwater cave, providing a home for thousands of rainbow-hued fish. This virtual tour allows you to look inside, zoom in on the fish, see other divers, look down at the rainbow-dotted seabed and stare back up towards the surface. 

Take the tour

 

3. Watch pandas in China

Watch pandas in China (Shutterstock)

Watch pandas in China (Shutterstock)

The Shenshuping Gengda Panda Center in China's Wolong National Nature Reserve provides a natural habitat for giant pandas to eat, play and sleep. Their live webcam allows you to watch the rare bears in action, up close and personal, without disturbing them.

Watch now

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