By Aisha Hassan on November 4th, 2020
Do you remember what it feels like to be overcome by wonder when you visit a stunning new place? (Picture walking through ancient temple grounds or wading through cerulean-coloured water.) Travel and vacations often deliver that feeling. But the pandemic means that many of the world’s most beautiful destinations, including those in Southeast Asia, are now fully inaccessible or strictly regulated.
While you may be hesitant to plan for a tropical vacation in 2021—or to plan anything, really—you can still live vicariously through virtual experiences for now. Put on some ambient music or cook up the right cuisine to set the mood. Importantly, these virtual travel hacks can make you feel inspired and be a quick and easy getaway from everyday life. Ultimately, virtual travel experiences remind us that a wonderful world is waiting for when we can plan adventures again.
Take Virtual Tours
There are countless virtual tours available, which range from Google Street View to setups requiring VR headsets. When it comes to Southeast Asia, our favourite tours are easy to navigate and have extra features. This National Geographic tour of Son Doong Cave in Vietnam, for instance, is full of engaging trivia to lead you through the space. These tours of Vietnam’s heritage sites even have realistic ambient noise. And Virtual Angkor is a comprehensive platform, originally built for the classroom, that incorporates cultural information into its experience.
Binge on Drone Footage
There’s something addictive about drone footage. Maybe it’s seeing things from a different perspective, or the dramatic music that accompanies the sweeping shots, or the carefully edited videos that make everywhere seem incredible. YouTube is full of some stellar drone enthusiasts: Travel through the landscapes of Laos, relax while flying above Lombok, or take in Southeast Asia in under three minutes. Tropical destinations are at your fingertips.
Have a Movie Night
Ok, so you’ve seen The Beach (set in Thailand) or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (set in Cambodia). But there’s a whole host of indie movies—including foreign-language films—that show a different side of the region. We recommend Nanti Kita Cerita Tentang Hari Ini (One Day We’ll Talk About Today), an Indonesian film exploring transgenerational trauma, and Shirkers, a Sundance award-winning documentary about an unusual kidnapping in Singapore.
Explore Foreign Brands
Travelling often means bringing home beautiful handmade objects to give as personal gifts or to remember your trip by. Today, boutique brands from around the world are close at hand. Mindful online shopping is a way to travel somewhere through its creators and invest in products that tell a story. MAAARI and Cambio & Co, for example, showcase products from the Philippines in particular. And Dia, of course, is all about Southeast Asian artisanship and exploring the region in a new way. Maybe you can’t fly to Southeast Asia, but we’ll fly wonders from Southeast Asia to you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aisha Hassan is a writer, journalist, and co-founder of Dia. Previously, Aisha worked for Quartz in New York and Harper’s Bazaar in Malaysia. Her fiction has been published in international literary magazines. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature from the University of Oxford, and a master’s degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.