Part 2 of the Virtual Tour is here – virtual tours of Asia! I’ve been super excited about the ‘research’ required for this post, as I’ve never been to Asia, but am desperately wanting to visit! I tend to travel with my dog or stick to short flight times, so Asia has just never made it on to the itinerary – yet. While I didn’t find the same diversity or variety in virtual tours as I did with Part 1 of the Virtual Tour series (Europe), what I did find was inspiring to say the least! Enjoy this collection of virtual tours from Asia as we find ourselves mid-way through March 2020 ‘the sequel’.
Table of Contents
Old City Baku virtual tour
Baku is the capital city of Azerbaijan and the largest city on the Caspian Sea. On this virtual tour, you’ll join a local guide to stop off at some popular tourist sites. We toured Hajinski Palace, the Old City, the Philharmonic Fountain Park, Palace of Happiness, and the State Opera and Ballet Theatre.
Your guide enlightens you with stories of Azerbaijani history and culture on this tour that is as educational as it is entertaining. I could imagine wandering the narrow, ancient streets of Baku’s Old City as the guide led the tour. The tour is live and the guide was happy to answer questions throughout, making it as interactive (or as not interactive) as you’d like.
If you’re interested in Azerbaijani cuisine, check out this virtual cooking class for an online lesson in making Shah Plov!
Virtual tour of Bhutanese private home
Bhutan is one of the most elusive countries to visit in the entire world, making it also one of the most desired countries to visit. In fact, traveling around Bhutan can only be done with a registered guide! Alternatively, you could opt to get an insider’s look into the Bhutanese lifestyle with Jamtso. Jamtso is a charismatic 30-something year old man living in the Kingdom of Bhutan with his family who offers this one-of-a-kind virtual experience.
Jamtso takes you around his neighborhood to see gorgeous views of Thimphu Valley, and shares stories of day-to-day life in Bhutan, Buddhist philosophy and the importance of happiness to Bhutanese people. You can tell that Jamtso is very proud of his people and where he comes from, and he is eager to share any and all experiences with you. This is certainly one of the most unique virtual tours of Asia, as you are able to get an inside view into the realities of daily life for a Bhutanese family.
Price: From $75
Duration: approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes
Or you can watch this one I found on YouTube.
Virtual Siem Reap Hidden Gems & Angkor Wat
Get the chance to see hidden gems of Siem Reap and Angkor Wat?! Yes, please! On this tour you’ll learn all about the monk and monastery lifestyle in Cambodia, visit shrines, see a park where huuuuge bats live, and an entire neighborhood of Siem Reap filled with hidden gems to discover by the expert guidance of your local host. Walk along the Siem Reap river and ‘visit’ a local market to learn more about daily life. You’ll pass by a 10th century temple as you make your way to the tour de force, Angkor Wat – the largest religious building in the world! The Angkor Wat portion of the tour is around 25 minute and is pre-recorded (i.e., you can’t ask questions, it is not a livestream).
Beijing virtual tour
It was really interesting to see another tour guide’s perspective on Beijing – my students give me mini-tours all the time! During this tour I was able to enjoy some of the more tourist-oriented sites, such as the Forbidden City.
About two hours are spent here, where you can explore the different Halls and the Imperial Gardens while your guide gives personal anecdotes and interesting stories alongside the history of the Forbidden City.
Price: From $25
Duration: 2 hours
Virtual Tour Great Wall
This live tour of the Great Wall is a completely interactive experience. In addition to all of the history and facts you learn, the guide also uses photos and digital exhibitions. My favorite obscure Great Wall fact? That sticky rice was used as a glue/binding agent when building the wall!
Please note that this tour is given in Chinese Standard Time (UTC/GMT +8), so double check your times before booking.
Price: From $16
Duration: approximately 40 minutes
Xi’an City Wall virtual tour
Take the Xi’an City Wall tour to relax for an hour while seeing the largest and most beautifully-preserved ancient City Wall in China. Your guide will show you different gates, the moat, and drawbridge, as well as the front portion of the wall. Afterward, you visit Wengcheng (the ‘moon’ city), and virtually ‘climb’ up the city wall. This is a great option for an alternative to the better-known sites visited in popular virtual tours of Asia.
Price: From $31
Duration: approximately 1 hour
Taj Mahal virtual tour
The Taj Mahal is one of those places that’s for sure on my bucket list, but at the same time, I’m having anxiety already just thinking about those swarms of tourists shoving and elbowing you to take the perfect photo. Not sure if I ever will prioritize it enough to brave the crowds, but this virtual private tour is a great alternative in the mean time.
Akash, your super knowledgeable private guide, goes into extensive detail when speaking about the doors and inlays on the walls so that you can get an idea of the amount of work and talent that went into the Taj Mahal’s creation. With photos and video, fabled stories, and ample time for Q&A, the virtual tour of the Taj Mahal is a great way to escape the monotony of the pandemic. Akash was a memorable guide, very cordial and welcoming, and a fantastic storyteller.
Price: From $10
Duration: 1-2 hours
Guided virtual tour of Bodhgaya
For a virtual tour in India that may not be on your radar is this virtual tour of Bodhgaya is a great choice. Your guide takes you through different sections of multiple different temples and monasteries while describing the histories behind them. You’ll see the iconic Great Buddha Statue and learn about the basic tenets and principles of Buddhism. The last stop is a visit to some pretty epic cave temples. The tour is live with room for interaction with your guide.
Price: From $27
Duration: approximately 1 hour
Masada & The Dead Sea Virtual tour
This is an interactive Zoom virtual tour of the desert fortress, Masada at the Dead Sea. Learn about local history and a little folklore, including the Edomites and King Herod. King Herod built the fortress over 2000 years ago. You’ll also stop at the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. Note that starting times when booking are based on Israel Time Zone (UTC+3). One plus is that if you screw up the time and miss your tour, you’ll get a free voucher for a new date.
Amit was our guide, who was enthusiastic to share his knowledge about the region, a really personable guide who was a natural at the ‘virtual’ thing.
Price: From $20
Duration: Approximately 1 hour
Old Jaffa in Tel Aviv virtual tour
Amit is also the guide of this tour! These were the only two virtual tours of Israel I could find, and I couldn’t decide which to take. Jaffa is an ancient port city near Tel Aviv with lively markets, ancient architecture, and the magic of being near the sea. On the tour you will visit Ramses II’s Gate Garden, St. Peter’s Church, the Old City, and other interesting sites. Amit shows video and gives local info, describes in detail Jaffa’s history, and gives great commentary throughout the tour.
Mt. Fuji virtual tour
Get up-close-and-personal with one of the most iconic symbols of Japan. The mountain represents many things to the Japanese people – learn about the symbolism, history, culture, and hear stories from locals living in the Shizuoka prefecture. Alex, your tour guide, gives a lot of great insight, but also a bit of teasing with Japanese food that we, sadly, could not eat virtually.
Osaka virtual tour
Two hosts use photos, videos, show-and-tell items, and Q&A to give history and insight into the culture of Osaka, Japan. You visit Osaka Castle and Shinsakei while learning the history and stories of both.
Adjust your time when booking as this tour is in Japan Standard Time.
Nara, the Ancient Capital of Japan virtual livestream
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nara was the ancient capital of Japan from 710 to 794, when it moved to Kyoto. Nara is essentially a massive park where deer roam freely between the ruins of historical temples and shrines.
On this tour, your guide is actually walking around Nara so that you can perhaps imagine a quick walk around a park – maybe you’ll see some deer. Since the tour is live, you’re able to ask your guide questions along the way.
Explore fish markets, the traditional Asakusa, Meiji Shrine, Takeshita Street, Shibuya Crossing, and Shinjuku. The idea of Tokyo intimidates me, but this tour was perfectly chill. Yoshi, your guide, will teach you about Japanese food, Tokyo culture, Japanese pop culture, and drinking culture in Japan! Yoshi gave some great tips for planning a future visit to Japan, some inspiration to travel.
Chow Kit Market & Malaysian Street Food virtual tour
I wasn’t sure about this tour initially, as I love food too much to just watch it over Zoom. But, it wasn’t as torturous as I would’ve imagined! On this tour you’ll visit one of the largest wet markets in Malaysia, explore the popular food street in Malaysia, check out Kuala Lumpur street food, and hear local stories and anecdotes. With this virtual tour, you will receive a free e-book about Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, and its delicious street food.
Busan virtual tour
This virtual tour in Busan takes you to a number of different hidden gems. Your helpful guide takes you to Busan Gamcheon Cultural Village, which is like stepping into a colorful fairytale village set high in the mountains. Next, you’ll visit Haedong Yonggung Temple, a Buddhist temple on the sea. The temple is best known by locals for its wish-granting abilities. After the temple, you’ll go to Ahopsan Forest to wander the bamboo forest trail and admire the setting that is featured in many Korean shows and films. You’ll enjoy a guided ‘yacht tour’ to get up-close-and-personal with Gwangan Bridge and Marine City, followed finally by a Busan cooking class hosted by a local chef. A jam-packed ‘tour’ to fit into the span of an hour!
Price: From $10
Duration: Approximately 1 hour
There were many tempting South Korea virtual tours, all provided by the same tour operator.
History of Taiwan and China virtual tour
This is a fascinating and delicate subject for me, as a teacher of Chinese children. My ‘classroom’ setup has a large watercolor map, though not the same one I began my teaching journey with! You see, initially I got reported by a Chinese parent for having a map that showed Taiwan as autonomous from China and the company said this was against their policy. So, my map had to be replaced.
The relationship between Taiwan and China is complicated with extensive history. In this virtual tour, you’ll visit the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, which was modeled after the Taj Mahal, learn about the birth of the Taiwan-China conflict, get a local’s perspective, as well as learn about how things currently stand. You’ll also get to see the changing of the guard!
Price: From $53
Duration: approximately 1 hour
Vietnam War Museum virtual tour
This virtual tour in Asia takes you through the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The tour is guided live through Zoom with a local expert who will teach you the history of the Vietnam war. The tour focuses heavily on war crimes, peace and conflict resolution. The guide explains important exhibitions such as Tiger Cages, Agent Orange, and the Viet Cong background.
Studies of war and peace have always fascinated me, and this was one of my favorite virtual tours of Asia!