Myanmar's Hot Air Balloons in Bagan
It’s nearly impossible to picture Bagan without hot air balloons beautifully clouding the historic horizon. Bagan’s balloons have become an iconic symbol of the region, and have carried many travelers on soaring adventures of a lifetime. Here’s how to experience an unforgettable birds-eye view of Bagan, Myanmar.
Ballooning season in Bagan runs from the beginning of October to the middle of April. Sunrise is when most rides are offered, as the cooler morning temperatures allow balloons to float closer to the ancient stupas for a more detailed glimpse. Daybreak also tends to bring with it more dramatic layers of haze, dreamily blanketing the landscape for a perfect photo opp.
Balloons Over Bagan
Perhaps the most established of Bagan’s ballooning providers is Balloons Over Bagan. What started out as one hot air balloon and a small crew nearly 20 years ago has grown into a 12-balloon fleet and over 100 mostly local, experienced crewmembers.
Balloons Over Bagan has two balloon flight options – classic or premium. The classic package costs $340 per person. Passengers are picked up, then treated to a light pre-flight breakfast while the balloons fill. Classic balloon baskets fit up to around 10 riders each. Complimentary refreshments paired with wine come after floating over Bagan’s stunning immenseness. For a more intimate, in-flight journey, the premium choice ($450 per person) has smaller baskets that fit eight travelers at most, with separate compartments for couples.
Oriental Ballooning is newer to the hot-air balloon scene in Myanmar. But, for having only been around since 2013, it’s already become another large ballooning operation. Oriental Ballooning advertises many of the same services and extras as Balloons over Bagan. Basket sizes range from as intimate as four up to the capacity to hold 12 passengers. The price is $399 per person.
All hot air balloon rides last approximately 45 minutes. Book far in advance, as spaces fill up quickly – especially during peak tourist season. Prices tend to be higher from mid-December to mid-January.
If ballooning over Bagan doesn’t fit your travel budget this time around, or if rising at great heights above the archaeological zone seems a bit too daunting, there’s still a chance to marvel at the hot air balloons as they drift in with the sunrise. For some of the best shots head to Shwegu Gyi Paya to take in a panoramic view of nearby temples and Bagan’s iconic skyline dotted with balloons in the distance.
The experience of flying in a hot air balloon can be magical. It's nothing like flying in a plane, and more like floating in the breeze. There are essentially no sounds, other than the odd blast from the burners, or the clicking of camera shutters.
Hot air balloons over Bagan are not a budget friendly experience, but most people consider it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So if you're here in the right season, and you have the means, it's certainly something worth considering. It might just be the cherry on the top of your Bagan visit.