Balloon Over Bagan
Now visitors to Myanmar can view what Marco Polo described as ‘one of the finest sights in the world’ from the unique and enchanting platform of a hot air balloon basket.
The magic of Bagan has inspired visitors to Myanmar for centuries. One of the most remarkable sights in Asia, ancient temples dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. Now ‘Balloons over Bagan’ affords visitors a unique opportunity to see this ancient kingdom as it has never been seen before. The flights take place early in the morning, around sunrise or an hour or so before sunset from October through to April. Light winds and stable weather conditions are needed, the speed of the balloon and the length of the flight are governed by the strength and velocity of the wind. Ordinarily flights are planned to last 45 minutes to one hour. However, the entire experience will last about 2 – 3 hours. *Note: Flights are dependent upon weather conditions.
Day 1 Sunrise Balloon Ride
It really is the only way to see Bagan. You arrive in the middle of nowhere in the pitch dark to find a group of young men unloading things from the back of a truck. The first light appears shortly after to reveal hot air balloons being efficiently assembled as the silhouettes of ancient pagodas begin to appear all around. Ten minutes later the night has gone and the pilots are ready to start the burners in front of a sizeable crowd of curious onlookers – monks, children, old women. The roar of the burners brings everyone back to their senses, and shortly after the balloons are upright, the red envelopes billowing upwards into the pale blue sky. A red glow appears on the horizon – it is time for everyone to climb on board. This is the moment everyone has been waiting for. More blasts from the burners, and before anyone really notices you are suddenly fifty, then one hundred feet above the ground and into a different world. It’s an unbelievable almost surreal sight – Thousands of pagodas as far as the eye can see with the morning mist swirling in-between. The sun pops up over the horizon right on cue, flooding the whole plane with golden light. It is only now that Bagan is revealed in its full splendor. For a while nobody even takes photos, but this doesn’t last long either. This isn’t just about the incredible views, but also for the chance to witness Bagan coming to life as it has done for the past thousand years. As you drift lower again over the local villages everyone stops to gape up at you. Their natural shyness is overcome as they wave and beam at you. Complete strangers have suddenly become friends. You may even feel slightly intrusive as you peer down at women feeding their chickens, watering their gardens and children being dressed for school. Now the sun is higher in the sky, the mist is evaporating and it is perfect for photography. The red pagodas contrast perfectly with the deep blue sky and green palms, and the balloon shadow against the largest pagodas makes a great picture for the mantelpiece back home. With favorable winds you can ascend to heights of over 2000 feet for a spectacular view of the whole Bagan valley. Now it is time to land, and remembering the landing positions you rehearsed earlier, you touch down in a field, or maybe on the banks of the mighty Ayeryarwaddy River. Wherever you land, the crew are on hand to welcome you with cold towels and fruit juice.
What to Expect
Duration 1 days
Operates at sunrise or sunset, October thru March
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.