A Magical Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Bagan

After waving goodbye to the bustling city of Yangon at the start of March, it was time for Mr O’T and I to pack our bags and continue forth with our Burmese adventures. The next stop on our travel itinerary was the ancient city of Bagan, otherwise known as the land of 2,000 temples.  

hot air balloon ride

When I began compiling my 2017 bucket list at the end of last year, I couldn’t look past all the incredible images of hot air balloons I kept seeing on Pinterest. I was researching alternative modes of transport at the time, as I love trying out new things. But what I didn’t realise, was that the images I was scrolling through on my app were actually photos of Bagan – a part of the world Mr O’T and I had already earmarked to visit as part of our trip to Asia in March.

hot air balloon ride

Fast forward six months and here I was, at 04:45am in the morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, eager to get on the road. It’s a rare occurrence for me to be up at this hour but this was one adventure that was worth the early morning wake up call! 

Logistics

With only three hot air balloon companies operating from Bagan, you’re not spoilt for choice when it comes to booking your trip. This is definitely a good thing as it means you don’t need to procrastinate for too long before making a reservation. 

hot air balloon ride

I booked our hot air balloon ride with Golden Eagle for two main reasons. Firstly they operate in smaller groups, with only a maximum of 10 people per balloon. Secondly Golden Eagle are slightly more conservative when it comes to the weather – they won’t operate balloon flights unless the wind direction is perfect. As safety is paramount with this type of activity, I thought it best to err on the side of caution.

hot air balloon ride

After a timely pick-up at 5:15am, we made the short 20 minute drive to our departure point in the middle of the desert. It was still dark when we arrived and quite chilly too, but a warm breakfast of pastries, hot tea and coffee soon beckoned and it would have been rude of me to turn down a croissant 😉.

balloons over Bagan

Daylight began to creep in and after a temporary setback courtesy of the weather, Golden Eagle confirmed it was safe to fly. Watching the specialists fire-up the balloons was absolutely fascinating and was almost as thrilling as the ride itself!

balloons over Bagan

Getting into the basket proved quite amusing and if I were to give you one tip, it would be to wear trousers at all costs – no one wants to see your Bridget Jones granny pants, however nice they may be!

balloons over Bagan

Once our group of 10 were safely strapped in, we were given the all clear for lift off and my goodness what a lift off!

hot air balloon ride

Hand on heart, nothing can prepare you for the views from above. Bagan is magical from the ground but from the skies it really is something else.

hot air balloon ride

For the first 10 minutes of our flight, I was lost in a trance of jaw dropping beauty, desperate to soak up every single second. 

hot air balloon ride

Eventually my brain kicked into gear and remembered that I had a phone in one hand and a camera in the other.

balloons over Bagan

Our hot air balloon ride lasted between 30-40 minutes and for the duration of the flight, I was quite literally lost for words. Hovering over 2,000 temples and watching the skies turn from a moody orange to bright blue was something else. My fear of heights was long forgotten and I can genuinely say that I’ve never felt more at peace with the world.

balloons over Bagan

To be able to experience moments like this is too special to do justice to. My experience also reinforced to me, the power of having a bucket list and of writing down your hopes and dreams and making them happen!

balloons over Bagan

Soon enough, we were told to prepare for landing. For all the hot-air balloon novices out there (myself included), there are two types of landing. A soft landing and a hard landing, the former being the preferred scenario. 

 balloons over Bagan

As you might have guessed, we told to prepare for a hard landing which meant there was a strong possibility that the basket could topple over on landing. Instead of freaking out (which I would usually do in this kind of scenario), I got a fit of the giggles. For whatever reason, I found the entire prospect of toppling over with a group of 8 Chinese tourists quite hilarious 😂.

balloons over Bagan

Mr O’T on the other hand did not find our scenario remotely funny. What didn’t help matters was firstly, we were incredibly close to the Irrawaddy River and secondly everyone in the group was doing the opposite of what we had been told to do for a hard landing 😂.

balloons over Bagan

Soon enough we hit the ground with a thrilling bump! We all crouched down in the basket preparing for our fate when right at the last hurdle and to much relief, our basket bounced back to an upright position. Our captain was fantastic throughout and we were never in any real danger which was comforting. 

balloons over Bagan

After jumping out of the balloon and taking a few more snaps, we made our way over to the champagne reception area to toast to an incredible once-in-lifetime experience!

hot air balloon ride

Floating through the skies of Bagan in a hot air balloon really is magical. If you’re ever in Bagan and have the money to spend on this once in a lifetime experience then I would urge you to go for it, because the memories you’ll capture, really are worth the splurge! 

hot air balloon ride

What did you think of my VLOG? Have you ever been in a hot air balloon before or visited Bagan?

Maggie O xox

Bubble Tips

champagne glass png Book your hot air balloon ride as far in advance as possible, preferably at least two weeks beforehand as places get snapped up very quickly.

champagne glass png  It’s better to book your experience for the beginning of your Bagan trip. Adverse weather conditions can result in hot air balloon flights being cancelled and rescheduled for a later date. If you’re flight does end up being rescheduled then hopefully it will still be within the time period of your stay in Bagan.  

champagne glass png Wear trousers and take a warm jumper/coat as Bagan is very chilly first thing in the morning even though it averages 37C during the day!

champagne glass png Take a pair of flip flops with you too as a boat will take you back to your pick-up point. Getting into the boat can prove a little tricky as you need to get into the Irrawaddy River to reach the boat due to low tides. Make sure you have a pair of flip flops with you as your feet will be a little muddy and wet by the end of the boat ride.

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16 Comments

  1. May 15, 2017 / 7:48 pm

    What an incredible experience – I’ve always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride and this looks like the place to do it!

    • May 16, 2017 / 9:21 pm

      Oh Connie it was amazing – quite literally and my favourite bucket list experience to date!! Bagan is such an incredible city and I can’t wait to showcase more!

  2. May 16, 2017 / 5:09 am

    This is on my bucket list and it looks frickin amazing!!!

    • May 16, 2017 / 9:23 pm

      Loved your frickin comment haha! To reiterate what you’ve just said – it was frickin amazing!!! 🙂 xx

  3. May 16, 2017 / 8:40 am

    I’m so glad that you got to tick this off your bucket list!! I’ve had the opportunity to go in a hot air balloon but I was too scared!

    • May 16, 2017 / 9:24 pm

      It is literally the most incredible experience ever!!! I’m not good with heights but flying in a hot air balloon over Bagan really was something else!!

  4. May 16, 2017 / 11:30 am

    How amazing?! This is one of my ultimate bucket list experiences too. The possibility of you toppling out of the basket with a group of chinese tourists had me in stitches.

    • May 16, 2017 / 9:26 pm

      Hahaha it was a pretty hilarious scenario!! Honestly Sima this was one incredible bucket list experience – not sure I will ever top this but that’s ok 🙂

  5. May 16, 2017 / 3:06 pm

    I’m tempted to try a hot air balloon ride but my husband always nixes the idea b/c he doesn’t think they are safe. I am scared of heights so I let him talk me out of it every time. The views are incredible though!

    • May 16, 2017 / 9:27 pm

      Melissa this really was something else! As long as you do your research into hot air balloon companies then you’re fine. I felt so safe and the experience of being up in the air really was incredible!

  6. Suze
    May 16, 2017 / 4:03 pm

    What an epic experience, to fly over all those temples and in the company of other hot air balloons. We did a balloon ride in Henley with an unexpected landing on a school playing field, the local kids were delighted!

    • May 16, 2017 / 9:29 pm

      How funny! I bet the school kids were delighted! Flying in a hot air balloon over Bagan really was something else Suze and the memories we have are just incredible!

  7. May 18, 2017 / 7:21 am

    Oh wow! I have always wanted to do this, it looks so incredible. Golden Eagle sounds like a very safe choice, will have to remember them.

    Ash | Liakada

  8. May 18, 2017 / 8:18 am

    Another one for my bucket list – looks like an absolutely magical experience, well worth getting out of bed for 🙂 Enjoyed watching your vlog! Have a wonderful weekend!

    Miriam xx

  9. May 20, 2017 / 1:00 am

    All of the other ballons in the air make it even more of a spectacle than if it had just been you!

    • May 25, 2017 / 4:36 am

      It definitely adds to the magic Anna and watching the sunrise from the temple tips is pretty spectacular too!

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