Go on virtual tours of Malaysia from your own home

A rescued sun bear at the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Center in Sandakan, Sabah. You can learn more about these bears via a virtual safari hosted by the centre. — CHIEW LIN MAY

A virtual tour is far from the real thing but that does not mean it can’t be enjoyable. Some licensed tour guides in Malaysia have been giving virtual tours of well-loved destinations around the country, and they are worth checking out.

On Explore Malaysia Virtually (https://exploremalaysiavirtually.com/), visitors can join live virtual excursions with real tour guides, or choose to watch recorded segments.

The tours are mostly based in Melaka (highlights include Kampung Morten and Praya Lane) and Kuala Lumpur, where the guides take you on a journey of “old KL”, and the KL we know now.

There’s also a feature on Malaysian history through stamps and newspapers too.

There are currently four

hosts on the site – licensed tour guides Tajuddin Idrus and Shaukani Abbas, who are co-founders of Explore Malaysia Virtually; Nadge Ariffin, an award-winning heritage guide; and Martin Theseira, a community leader within the Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir, Melaka.

You can book these well-curated shows on the website or find them on booking platforms like Buddyz and Airbnb.

Tajuddin is also the co-founder of Kuala Lumpur On Foot (https://klonfoot.com/), which, as the name suggests is all about exploring the city of KL on foot (they also have limited walking tours in Melaka).

During this period of conditional movement control order, however, visitors can check out the group’s most popular online offering, a “time travel” virtual tour of KL in the 1940s.

Apart from Tajuddin, there are three other licensed guides hosting the tours on KLOF.

Meanwhile, travel platform LokaLocal has 143 virtual tours on its site, featuring destinations around Malaysia. The 360° tours are not unlike a Google Map view, but more comprehensive as it comes with a short audio description of each place.

The company is planning to add more destinations to the list. “We’re empowering businesses who want to take their stories and marketing message to a new dimension.

“Going virtual facilitates content discovery for venues and activities, while boosting engagement and providing real value.

“This virtual reality solution also extends beyond tourism, as it can pave the way for any sector looking to innovate their digital experience, including real estate, e-shopping malls, and theme park attractions, ” said LokaLocal CEO Chin Yoon Khen in a statement.

If you are looking for something more educational, and with cute animals to boot, check out the virtual safari experience offered by the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (https://www.bsbcc.org.my/) in Sandakan, Sabah.

Curated and hosted by wildlife biologist Dr Wong Siew Te aka “Papa Bear”, the centre’s founder and CEO, the hour-long tour takes visitors on a journey of the centre, where 43 rescued Bornean sun bears are now residing.

Dr Wong will not only talk about sun bears but other Bornean animals too like the orang utan and pygmy elephant, as well as the tropical forest in general.

Hopefully, these virtual initiatives, and others like it, would help to re-start tourism – domestically and internationally – in the months to come.

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