For many years I wanted to ride a hot air balloon in Bagan. Watching the sunrise from the basket of a hot air balloon and flying over thousands of temples in Bagan was like a dream come true for me.
Bagan, located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar, was the capital, and cultural, political and economic hub of the kingdom of Pagan from the 9th to 13th centuries.
The kingdom was the first to unify the area now called Myanmar, and during the 11th to 13th centuries, over 10,000 religious monuments (temples, stupas and monasteries) were constructed in Bagan.
Today there are around 2,220 temples and pagodas remaining in Bagan, and since Myanmar opened its doors to mass tourism, the sight of hot air balloons flying over Bagan has become one of its most iconic and emblematic images.
What to Know Before Riding a Hot Air Balloon in Bagan
Bagan Hot Air Balloon Season 2022 – 2023
The Bagan balloon season is from October to April, and at its peak during Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The 2022-2023 season starts on October 7th, 2022 and finishes on April 10th, 2023.
As it’s a very popular tourist activity with limited availability, I recommend booking your flight in advance, either directly with the companies, through agents or online (the prices are very similar).
And because flights can be cancelled due to weather conditions, try and do it as early as possible during your stay.
That way, you might be able to rebook in the case of a cancellation and not run the risk of leaving Bagan without flying in a hot air balloon.
Bagan Balloon Flight Price (2023)
I arrived in Bagan early in the morning after a 9h bus ride from Yangon. When I arrived in the city it was still dark so I just checked into my hotel before leaving to see the sunrise and, of course, the balloons.
But my excitement turned to disappointment very quickly when I discovered that there were no balloons flying that morning due to the weather conditions.
And to make matters worse, I also discovered what the average hot air balloon price is.
There are three companies offering rides in a hot air balloon in Bagan:
- Balloons over Bagan: US$ 200 – 450 / person
- Oriental Ballooning Bagan: US$ 200 / person
- Golden Eagle Ballooning: US$ 359 – 410 / person
The prices are quite expensive, especially if you compare them with other balloon rides around the world.
Over US$ 300 for a balloon ride??? This is very expensive, and I was not sure if I could pay for that. It looked as if I might have to postpone my dream of riding in a hot air balloon for the first time.
But the following morning, after waking up early to watch the sunrise and seeing dozens of balloons flying over the ancient city of Bagan, I suddenly had no doubts that I wanted to be in one of those balloons the next day, no matter how much I had to pay for it…
My Experience Riding a Hot Air Balloon in Bagan
I chose Balloons over Bagan because they were the cheapest at the time but also because they were the first company to offer commercial hot air balloon flights in Bagan.
While making my booking, I was informed that I would be picked up from my hotel at 5:20 AM the next day, but also that there was no guarantee that the balloons would fly, as it completely depended on the weather.
I was so excited and couldn’t believe that I would take a hot air balloon ride for the first time!
The next day I woke around 5:00 AM and at 5:20 AM, the antique red bus pulled up in front of my hotel. The bus was full of foreign tourists who were all looking forward to flying over Bagan.
But, on the way to the balloon field, it was so foggy that we could barely see the road – it had rained heavily the night before.
However, we continued our journey, were dropped off at the field, received the safety briefing and even saw a balloon being inflated… Only to be given the confirmation minutes later by the captain: “We’re not flying today because of the bad weather.”
The mist was so dense that even Bagan airport was closed. You can imagine my frustration and worry that I might miss my chance to fly in a hot air balloon in Bagan!
I returned to the Balloons over Bagan office, rescheduled a new ride for the next day, crossed my fingers and prayed…
The next day, the same bus picked me up around 5:20 AM with some of the same people who were on the bus the day before. But the weather was much better, which gave me hope that this time I’d actually get to fly in a balloon over Bagan!
One by one, the balloons were being inflated and I could no longer contain my happiness and exhilaration.
After the pilot, Robert Keron, gave us our safety instructions, we entered the basket with the help of the crew, crouched down, and seconds later, the balloon started rising. It was so exciting, but I have to admit, also a bit scary!
After a while, we were allowed to stand up. The sun wasn’t out yet and in the semi-darkness, we saw that other balloons surrounded us and we were already above the trees!
It was almost overwhelming. I was intrigued by the system Robert used to control the balloon, four tanks and ropes, and the strange feeling of floating, combined with the odd sound of the blast produced by the burners, ensured that my adrenaline was as high as the balloon, OMG.
Around 6:30 AM, the sun started rising as we were flying over the Bagan Archeological Zone.
The pilot rotated the balloon so everyone could appreciate the view. And what a view!! The orange-yellowish sky was dotted with balloons of three different colors, the big golden sun rising over the horizon and thousands of ancient temples and green plains below my feet.
The ride had just started and I was already loving it.
After passing the temples, we continued flying over a rural area of Bagan.
My adrenaline was coming down and I enjoyed the flight even more.
It was so smooth that it seemed as if we were floating in the breeze.
There were some moments when I couldn’t believe I was in a hot air balloon in Bagan. I felt like a child flying for the first time…
Robert told us interesting facts about Myanmar and the changes he had seen take place over the last seven years, as we continued floating slowly over the plantations I could see some people working on farms below and other balloons on the ground.
After around 50min, we started our descent. I was a bit apprehensive, as we had to practice the landing procedure several times before taking off, but the balloon landed successfully and very gently.
Once on the ground, we had a light breakfast with some champagne, fruits, pastries, cakes, tea and coffee, and received our flight certificate.
Everyone was extremely happy and filled with joy.
Riding a hot air balloon in Bagan was an experience that I will treasure forever!
Of course, if you’re on a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia, you could probably travel for another week on that amount of money, but if there’s any way you can afford it, you should definitely do it.
After all, what is money for, if not to fulfil our dreams and make us happy??
And this experience really made me happy. In fact, I can’t wait to do it again, hopefully, next time in Cappadocia.
Balloons Over Bagan Review
My experience with Balloons over Bagan was excellent.
From the very friendly people who made my reservation, to the captain and the crew who worked with him, everyone provided outstanding service.
The flight was very safe, the basket did not sway and during the flight, I wasn’t scared at all.
Balloons over Bagan was established in 1999 and was the first company to offer commercial hot air balloon flights, not just in Bagan, but in the whole of Southeast Asia.
The price may be high, but they also employ more than a hundred local people and donate money to poor communities in the city.
Balloons over Bagan offer two different options:
- Classic Balloon Flights: 12 to 16 people max, US$ 200/person
- Premium Balloon Flight: 8 people max, US$ 450/person
The price includes transfers between your hotel and the balloon field, pre-flight coffee, tea and refreshments, an experienced pilot (with an extensive safety briefing), breakfast with champagne upon landing, and a flight certificate.
And in case the flight has to be cancelled, Balloons over Bagan will refund the whole fee.
But no matter which company you choose, riding a hot air balloon in Bagan provides an unrivalled view of one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities in the world, and it’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Safe travel and enjoy your ride.
Planning a Trip to Bagan
Where is Bagan?
Began is located 290 Km (180 mi) southwest of Mandalay and 700 Km (430 mi) north of Yangon (check the map here).
How to get to Bagan?
You can get to Bagan by bus, airplane and train.
The closest airport to Bagan is located in Nyuang U, around 10Km from Bagan.
There are only domestic flights to Bagan, and some of the companies operating at Bagan Nyuang Oo Airport (NYU) are: Golden Myanmar Airlines, Air KBZ Ltd, Hahn Air and Mann Yadanarpon Airlines.
You can book your flights with Skyscanner, which is the website that I use and trust.
Traveling by bus is the cheapest and easiest way to get around Myanmar.
There are buses to Bagan departing from Yangon, Mandalay, and Inle Lake. Book your ticket online in advance here.
There are also trains from Yangon and Mandalay to Bagan with Myanmar Railways (MR). There is no official website though.
Where to stay in Bagan?
I stayed at Golden Rose Guest House, if you’re looking for hotels, some of the Bagan Hotels that I recommend are:
- Budget: Ostello Bello Bagan and Shwe Nadi Guest House.
- Great Value/Money: The Hotel Umbra Bagan and Zfreeti Hotel.
- Luxury: Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort Bagan and Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort.
Have you ever been to Myanmar? Is riding a hot air balloon on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below? 😉
- Book Your Flight Find deals on airlines on my favorite search engine: Skyscanner. Be sure to read my How to find cheap flights article.
- Rent A Car Rental Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal.
- Book Accommodation Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. But Hotels.com and Hilton Hotels have very interesting reward programs.
- Protect Your Trip Don’t forget travel insurance! I always use World Nomads for short-term trips and SafetyWing for long-term ones. Find out why Travel Insurance: Much More Than a Precaution, a Necessity.
- Book Tours in Advance Book unforgettable experiences and skip-the-line tickets with GetYourGuide or Viator .
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- Luggage Solutions Rent your luggage with Cargo or if you need to drop off your own luggage and enjoy your time without dragging it all over a city, find a LuggageHero shop here.
- Get a Travel Card Revolut Card is a pre-paid debit card that enables cash machine withdrawals in 120 countries. I’ve been using my Revolut Card for over a year and never paid foreign-transaction fees again. Get your Revolut Card with free shipping here.
- Packing Guide Check out my How to Pack a Carry-on Luggage For a Five-month Trip to help you start packing for your trip. Don’t forget your camera, chargers and other useful travel accessories.
31 thoughts on “Riding a Hot Air Balloon in Bagan, Myanmar”
Awe this takes me back to my ride with Balloons Over Bagan. Such an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing the photos it brought back some awesome memories!
Thank you Michelle !!
Glad to hear that it brought back some good memories 🙂
Riding in a hot air balloon anywhere is at the top of my bucket list! But Bagan?! That would be the ultimate! How gorgeous!!
Totally agree Melanie !!
I can’t wait for my next one 😉
Wow, if I had a bucket list, this would definitely be at the top. I have always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon. Your photos are magnificent!
Thank you so much Katie !!
I was an amazingly my experience.
Wow! The aerial view is stunning. I notice that the land all around is quite dry. Does the landscape get brighter and greener during rainy season?
Thanks for you comment!
Yes, the view is very sunning and the landscape changes according to season 😉
Aww this is so awesome! So glad that you did get a chance to go up on the second day! I wanted to do this last year but missed the window. It really is super expensive but everyone always says how amazing the experience is and I believe it! Great photos, too! Very inspiring!
Thanks so much Taiss!!
I hope you can go back to Bagan to do it.
What an experience! The shot with the balloons behind the temples are so amazing. A little spooky with the haze. It’s an expensive treat but, so worth it!
Thank you so much Kate!!
I’m definitely down for this. The views are amazing. I’m afraid of heights but this would be a dream for me, I just need my husband there to hold my hands.
That’s sweet 🙂
The flight is very safe Kellyn!
This sounds like an amazing experience! Riding a hot air balloons above of the temples would be so wonderful. I’ve not been to Bagan yet but didn’t know you could ride a hot air balloon there. Definitely putting this on my bucket list!
Glad to hear that Eve 😉
thats really beautiful and I am really happy for you that you had the chance to take this awesome ride! According to your pictures it was worth every cent, but I have to admit that I was a bit shocked to read how expensive it is! But I agree… if possible, do it 😀 It’s for sure a memory you keep your entire life
Yes, exactly Lena 🙂
Wow, I didn’t know you could do hot air balloon rides in Bagan! The scene looks so ethereal with all the balloon in the background. I would’ve love to do this so I can get an aerial view!
Yes, you can my dear. Since 1999 😉
Cheers and safe travels!
Wow this looks stunning. The view of the temples from the air is a treat for the eyes. Would love to do this someday for sure. Loved the detailed write-up.
Thank you so much!!
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Thank you so much!!
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Thank you so much !!
I’m really glad you liked it 🙂
Can we just book the BOB upon arriving the hotel? Will there be many available slots? I am worried that if we book thru their website in advance and might cancel the balloon flights due to weather.
I hope booking upon arrival in the hotel is fine. Any advice? Thanks!
How are you?
I’m glad you’re having this extraordinary experience in Bagan !!
I recommend you to book in advance through their website. You don’t know how it’s gonna be this season. The might not have many spots available. BOB will only cancel it with the weather isn’t good. Believe me, the people from BOB are the most interested and committed ones to provide you a safe journey.
You can email Nandar, if you want, and tell her your concerns.
Tell her that was the Brazilian blogger, Pericles, who gave her email.
Safe travels and enjoy Bagan Pia!
Don’t worry too much about taking too many pictures and videos in order to enjoy your flight even more 😉
Thanks for your sharing! Hot air balloon in Bagan is amazing and I will explore this land soon. Long time ago Burma was underrated, but now it is considered as the last gem in Southeast Asia.
Yes, exactly. Everyone wants to go to Burma.
Have fun in your hot air balloon ride and safe travels 😉