Visit Gardens by the Bay on Google's Street View

Virtual tour will include paid attractions such as the Flower Dome

The Grand Canyon's Bright Angel Trail in the United States.
The Grand Canyon's Bright Angel Trail in the United States. PHOTO: GOOGLE
Trekker operator Dan Luo Dequan, 28, at the Gardens by the Bay. The Trekker, a backpack with a camera system, will allow Google to take panoramic shots of travel spots usually accessible only by foot. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Singapore's Gardens by the Bay is joining a growing list of iconic travel spots accessible only by foot which are being photographed by Google for its Street View feature.

The mapping service allows users to zoom in from above and get a panoramic 360-degree view of an area and take a virtual tour.

The tech giant will begin capturing images of several parts of the Gardens, including the Super Trees, Indian Garden and Dragonfly Lake, from today. The Flower Dome conservatory, which has an entry fee of $12 for local residents, will also be photographed.

A Google operator will walk through the Gardens with what is called the Trekker - a special backpack with a Street View camera system. This consists of 15 lenses mounted on a mast and connected to a computer, which allows the wearer to automatically capture an image of their surroundings every 2.5 seconds as they move.

It will take about two days to map out the areas within the Gardens, said Ms Cynthia Wei, Google South-east Asia's Street View programme manager. The images will be uploaded later this year.

Google has been capturing panoramic views of famous but less accessible spots since 2012.Cambodia was the first South-east Asian country to receive the Trekker last week, though Google would not confirm whether it was used at the Angkor Wat temples.

"With the Trekker we can capture more greenery and trails in Singapore," said Ms Wei, who declined to say which spots in Singapore are next on the list.

The company has also brought in its Street View Trolley to Singapore - a push-cart version of the Trekker that can be used to capture panoramic images in museums and around sculptures. The company hopes to take the Trolley to indoor locations here.

Gardens by the Bay chief operating officer Kenneth Er said being on the virtual world map will facilitate its "outreach to both local and international visitors".

Visitors to the Gardens said they would still be willing to pay to enter the Domes to experience the sights and smells.

"It's not the same is it? You might as well just stay at home," said Australian Jan Arrowsmith, 53, who was visiting Singapore for the first time with her husband.

Student Niranjana Mahalingam, 21, who studies in Australia, said: "I guess it kills the surprise."

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