The Guardian has published a list featuring the top 10 best virtual tours of the world’s natural wonders, with Son Doong cave located in Vietnam's Quang Binh Province being named among them.
Via a National Geographic project titled “Son Doong 360” aiming to preserve the cave in digital form, wanderlusts are able to explore the world’s largest natural cave with their computers or smartphones.
A trek, created from 360-degree images and atmospheric sound effects, heads through light-filled caverns, passing a 70 metre-tall stalagmite, and huge sinkhole jungles.
Viewers are advised to “take advantage of the high definition images to zoom into details of the cave’s geology, flora and fauna”, said the newspaper.
Son Doong Cave, said to be the world's largest, is located in the heart of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Quang Binh.
It was named on the list of the seven new wonders of the world for 2020 by prestigious travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler.
The cave, which has a large, fast-flowing underground river inside, was discovered by local resident Ho Khanh in 1991.
Khanh’s discovery made world news in April 2009 after a group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard and Deb Limbert, conducted a geographical survey of Phong Nha-Ke Bang.
Son Doong Cave has since drawn international attention and become a staple on adventure bucket lists for travellers from around the world.
As the world’s largest cave, Son Doong cave can be found situated in central Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park. The site was first explored by scientists in 2009 after local man Ho Khanh discovered it in 1991 but failed to locate it again until many years later. Son Doong 360 is a project initiated by National Geographic with the aim of preserving the cave in a digital form as a means of stopping it becoming overran by extensive tourism development and spoiling its natural beauty.
The Grand Canyon, the United State. Totaling 277 miles in length and 18 miles across at its widest point with a maximum depth of 1,857 metres, this vast Arizona landmark is both grand in nature as well as name.
Mount Everest, Nepal. One can now virtually explore Everest’s southern base camp in Nepal, situated at an altitude of 5,380 metres above sea level, whilst enjoying interactive 360-degree views of snowy peaks and colourful prayer flags. Through the use of the interactive map and rotating 3D view, one is able to look up at the 8,848-metre summit.
The northern lights. The northern lights over Lapland take virtual travelers on a five-minute journey through a series of 360-degree videos. The trip starts in the Icehotel located in Abisko national park, northern Sweden, before heading into the wilderness on a reindeer sleigh. The journey then passes Lake Torneträsk and an Arctic birch forest as it travels to a cosy wooden Sami hut nestled at the base of Mount Noulja.
Yosemite national park, the US. The epic national part represents a diverse and spectacular natural landscape that is home to over 400 species of animals, including approximately 500 American black bears, rare snowshoe hares, and endangered mastiff bats.
Zhāngjiājiè national forest park, China. One can experience flying around the national park’s towering natural columns, some of which stretch up over 1,000 metres, in an interactive video tour that explores the site. Viewers can also enjoy high definition 360-degree shots from the sky.
Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland. This fantastic piece of County Antrim’s Atlantic coastline is made up of over 40,000 interlocking and geometric basalt columns which are mostly hexagonal in shape.
Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina. An immersive video tour of the wilderness that is situated beyond the glacier was first created by the Guardian in 2018. The tour takes viewers around the varied landscapes of the protected Parque Patagonia, taking viewers through turquoise rapids, a rainbow, and a pack of guanacos which roam around the plains.
Ambrym volcano, Vanuatu. The virtual tour ventures down into one of the world’s most active volcanoes which is located on the Pacific island of Vanuatu. Viewers can virtually experience being just a few metres away from a churning 1,200C lava lake.
Namib desert dunes, Namibia. Viewers are able to enjoy several interactive 360-degree images from some of the giant dune ridges in Namibia. The tour also includes the iconic Deadvlei, a salty clay backdrop to blackened dead acacia trees. Moreover, viewers can enjoy the sight of mist around the Skeleton Coast and a starlit scene that highlights the Milky Way.