Near the Laos – Vietnam border in the Quảng Bình Province lays the Sơn Đoòng Cave — what is currently regarded to be the largest cave in the world. Discovered in 1991 by a local man, the cave has a subterranean river that is believed to have eroded a mountain 2.5 million years ago to create the current cave. Estimates suggest the cave is more than 200 meters wide, 150 meters high, and approximately 9 kilometers long.
While some travelers have started to explore the cave — at a very hefty price tag — the cave is not generally accessible for the average traveler. Which is why National Geographic created a virtual tour of the Sơn Đoòng Cave. Now you can explore the cave without shelling out thousands.
The virtual guide features an overall map of the Sơn Đoòng Cave so users can get an idea of where they are in a broader picture. Additionally, they can navigate locally using the arrows on the screen and get a full immersion experience with the sound effects with the option to zoom in and see the region in a very high resolution of over 500 megapixels. To assist with the navigation process, National Geographic has an accompanying sidebar that has information about what you are looking at.
“This was the hardest project I’ve ever planned for, both creatively and logistically,” writes Martin Edström, who pitched the project to National Geographic after hearing about Vietnam’s plans to install intrusive cable cars in the caves, about his experience on PetaPixel. “There were a lot of x-factors, mostly due to the fact that capturing images in 360 degrees is such a messy workflow compared to normal stills and video.”
Essentially, the 360-degree tour is the only comprehensive guide to the Sơn Đoòng Cave that makes wearing sneakers optional and if Vietnam commercializes the cave, it will be your only opportunity to see it in its natural state.