Hot Air Balloon Flight over Bagan: All you need to know
Located in Myanmar (also know as Burma), Bagan is one of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia and offers an absolutely fabulous landscape of hundreds of temples and pagodas spread over a vast plain. One of the best ways to discover this incredible place is to fly in a hot air balloon at sunrise, drifting on the Bagan plain.
It’s an expensive activity, but if you have the budget it’s a breathtaking experience and really worth it. An important point to know: it’s better to book several months in advance, because it’s one of the most popular activities in Myanmar.
This page will answer the most common questions you may have in order to prepare for this unforgettable experience.
Here’s all you need to know to prepare your hot air balloon over Bagan:
1/ How does a hot air balloon work?
Invented in 1782 by two Frenchmen, the Montgolfier brothers, the concept of the hot-air balloon is ultra-simple and works according to the principle of Archimedes’ thrust. It consists of a balloon, a burner and a wicker and rattan basket. The burner sends hot air into the balloon, which is spread out in a suitable place for take-off: the density of the heated air sent into the balloon becomes less heavy than the ambient air, and the balloon will rise in altitude by lifting the passengers in the basket. The pilot controls the altitude of the balloon, and if this air cools, the balloon will gradually descend.
2/ Do you get airsick or dizzy on board a hot air balloon?
Symptoms of dizziness appear if you are in contact with the ground, such as at the top of a tower, ladder or staircase. As the balloon is not connected to the ground, there is no feeling of imbalance. You can’t get dizzy!
During the flight, you will not be sick either because the basket is very stable and there is no swing. The apprehension is quickly dissipated when you realize how smooth the takeoff is and you feel comfortable very quickly. Even the most nervous passengers do not feel dizzy on board and can fully enjoy the flight, especially since there are practically no noises or jolts.
3/ When can I fly a hot air balloon in Bagan?
The flying season runs from mid-October to mid-March, the season that provides optimal weather conditions for a successful flight. The rest of the year, there is too much wind and it’s therefore too dangerous.
Take-offs are made at sunrise, very early in the morning, when the air is calm and there is good atmospheric stability. It’s impossible to fly at sunset because the air is different at this time of day and it’s more difficult to direct hot air balloons.
4/ How to dress for the hot air balloon flight in Bagan? Is it cold?
You will not feel cold during the flight because the burner of the hot air balloon gives off a lot of heat. Remember to take a cap to protect yourself from the heat released by the burners. Avoid wearing synthetic fabrics as they are not recommended near the hot air balloon burners (cotton clothing is preferred). A casual outfit will do the trick.
Hot air balloon flights to Bagan are made very early in the morning, before sunrise, and a light sweater will be useful if it’s a little cool. Take a sweater that you can easily remove during the flight because you will quickly be warmed by the sun’s rays.
For shoes, avoid flip-flops or high heels and provide a comfortable and light pair of sneakers.
5/ What do we see during the flight?
A hot air balloon flight over Bagan makes you aware of the importance of this fabulous site. You can discover the whole Bagan plain from a totally unexpected angle, at 360°, with temples and pagodas as well as Irrawady and the mountains in the distance. The grazing light accentuates the relief of the temples and pagodas and gives the landscape fantastic colours.
6/ How many people can board the balloon?
Hot air balloons can take about ten-fifteen people.
7/ How long does the flight by hot air balloon to Bagan last?
The flight lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour, although for the whole activity it takes about three hours with the reception of passengers, the preparation of the hot air balloon and then the return to the hotel. There is also a breakfast before the flight, and a glass of champagne on arrival.
8/ Can we sit in the hot air balloon?
Throughout the flight, it’s impossible to sit down and all passengers must stand in the basket.
9/ Any final advice?
If you can, try to have a place in a corner of the nacelle to enjoy a better view! Of course, you can take your camera, smartphone or GoPro. The balloon basket is very stable, and you can both photograph and film.
Regarding safety, no worries, a hot air balloon is the safest mode of air transport available. However, pregnant women cannot board, and children must be old enough to see above the edge of the basket.
Finally, remember that each flight is unique because you cannot direct a hot air balloon and the company does not commit to a defined route. It’s the wind and a little luck that will make you get closer to some pagodas. In any case, the landscape at sunrise offers a fabulous spectacle.
10/ How to book a flight?
Click here for more information and to book your hot air balloon flight over Bagan with Golden Eagles.