Bagan’s Hot Air Balloons
Of all the places I have visited in my life, I knew as a young graduate student first coming to Bagan in 1994 that this is a truly special place. I fell in love with Burma (now Myanmar) as I traveled in a pony cart by moonlight among the Bagan Temples for hours. Back then, very few tourists ventured to Myanmar and even less made it up-country.
If there is one place in the world you should consider getting a close-up aerial view of, it is here, sailing above the tops of the thousands of pagodas and temples of the Bagan plain.
A hot air balloon ride is perhaps not something you’ve thought about doing before, and that is often because of the price. The hot air balloons in Bagan are piloted by seasoned professionals who have been safely conducting their tours for many years. Because Myanmar is a developing country, the cost of ballooning over Bagan is less than similar experiences in most other countries.
There are many wonderful places in the world to see the perfect sunset, but there are few places as perfect as in a Bagan hot air balloon to see a perfect sunrise as you fly over thousands of ancient Temples.
Below I describe the best three hot air balloon operations in Bagan and the pros and cons of each.
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But first, what is it that is worth seeing from a balloon?
Finally designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Area in mid-2019, the Bagan plain shows the handiwork of the Burmese Kings following the establishment of Burma (now Myanmar) as a Buddhist Kingdom. Pagan (now Bagan) was once the site of ancient Pyu culture and Pyu heritage can be seen in some of the Pagodas on the Bagan plain.
Thousands of temples, stupas, zedis, or pagodas have been built upon the plain. Over the centuries they fell into disuse and were damaged by earthquakes and the ravages of time. Some were disastrously “restored” by the military regime but lately, there have been more sensitive attempts at stabilizing and restoring the pagodas.
The Bagan plain is hot and dusty, located in central Myanmar and nestles in the wide bend of the Irrawaddy River. Around the Bagan Archaeological Zone are three townships and you can read a complete guide to where to stay in Bagan here: Bagan Hotels: Where to Stay in Bagan, Myanmar
Generations of Burmese Kings and Queens commissioned temples on the plain and the result is different kinds of Buddhist monuments, designed using the peak architectural practices of their day. Some have spectacular Buddha images and frescoes inside.
For a comprehensive and detailed itinerary that covers all of the significant Temples at Bagan, see my post here: Bagan Itinerary: Best of Bagan Temples in 1, 2 and 3 days
It is not until you are out on the Bagan Plain, however, that the sheer size, diversity, and the number of Bagan temples is evident. There is no way to see them in all their glory and understand their relationship to each other, except by taking to the air!
Best Bagan Hot Air Balloon Experiences
There are three reputable companies with perfect reviews, experienced pilots, convenient locations and thousands of satisfied customers. These are:
Balloons of Bagan
Golden Eagle Ballooning
The differences between the companies are slight and the amazing views are the same! Some will take children a year younger than the others but they have worked to standardize their product. Below I outline the pros and cons of these three companies and then answer all the most common questions about the hot air balloon ride over Bagan.
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Bagan: Premium Hot Air Balloon Experience has only 5-star reviews and costs approximately US$380 per person.
Cancellation for a full refund is possible up until 48 hours before the flight. Although it is a little more expensive than Golden Eagle Ballooning, Oriental Ballooning has the best cancellation policy.
Printed or mobile voucher can be used with instant confirmation upon booking
45 mins -1 hour flight in a 12-person balloon basket
Pregnant women are not allowed on this flight
Hotel pick-up and drop off, full safety briefing and snacks and sparkling wine included.
Golden Eagle Ballooning
This perfectly rated and best-selling tour is approximately US$276 and sells out quickly.
Cancellation up to 15 days before the hot air balloon ride for a full refund.
Printed or mobile voucher with instant confirmation
Pick up and drop off from the hotel
Light snacks before and after the flight and a glass of sparkling wine upon landing
Balloons of Bagan
The Bagan Hot Air Balloon Sunrise Experience by Balloons over Bagan is approximately US$350 for the Classic Service Flight with light breakfast, and US$450 for the Premium Service Flight with Full Continental Breakfast.
5 am pick up from your hotel and returning at 8 – 8.30 am. The operator will wait 10 minutes at each location. When you arrive at the location you are offered refreshments as the balloon is inflated.
Electronic or printed voucher accepted, bookings confirmed within 24 hours, no refund in the case of cancellation by the passenger.
Bad weather may mean that the flight is canceled for that day. A full refund or choice of another day is offered.
Coffee and tea, a light breakfast and champagne are included.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bagan Balloon Experiences
When is the Bagan Hot Air Balloon season 2020?
The actual dates of the season vary each year depending upon the length and severity of the monsoon. In general, the season begins in the first week of October and ends in the first week of April. A long rainy season may mean the season starts later in October. A particularly hot April means that the balloon fabric heats up during the day and so for safety reasons, the Bagan hot air balloon schedule concludes just before the heat really beings to take hold in Bagan.
How much can I weigh?
Passengers must be 125 kg (280 pounds) or less to travel on the balloon flights. If a passenger weighs more than 125 kg/280 pounds, they are still able to enjoy the hot air balloon ride but they must purchase a second ticket.
Can children go up on a hot air balloon?
The rules around children are strict. Children under 137 cm in height are not permitted to join the tour and for most tours, children under 8 are not able to ride in the basket. Children 8-16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Why do I have to show my passport?
All passenger details must be recorded for insurance purposes.
What is the maximum number of passengers?
How long is the balloon ride?
You are up in the air for an hour but occasionally only 45 minutes.
What should I wear?
Warm clothes and enclosed shoes.
Is a Bagan hot air balloon worth it?
Read the 5-star reviews of this incredible experience. A Bagan air balloon experience is unforgettable and there is no other way to see all of the pagodas of the Bagan Plain.
What other great places in Myanmar should I balloon over?
What is the Oriental Ballooning Bagan price?
Approximately US$380 per person.
Further Links and Information
Visiting Bagan? Click on my ultimate itinerary for one, two or three days in the largest archaeological site in the world: Bagan Itinerary: Best of Bagan Temples in 1, 2 and 3 Days
How do choose where to stay in Bagan? See my detailed guide to the best Bagan accommodation for all budgets in the three main areas of Bagan: Bagan Hotels: Where to Stay in Bagan, Myanmar
For a comprehensive guide on the most important of all the things to do in Yangon – visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda – see my post here: Shwedagon Pagoda: The Best Pagoda in Myanmar
Get Your Guide Myanmar travel activities are here
More detailed information on how to book transport, airfares, accommodation, and travel insurance is available on my Travel Resources page
For another spectacular and must-see Asian temple, see the world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobodur here
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