In this blog post, I will share my exact thoughts about my experience at Balloons over Bagan. I went in January, 2015.
Balloons Over Bagan is a company that flies hot air balloons over the incredible temples of Bagan in Myanmar. There are a few companies that offer this service, but Balloons over Bagan have been the most reputable and professional since 1999. However, they are not the cheapest.
Just how expensive is it?
The cost is $380USD per person for a 40-50 minute ride in the balloon. The price also includes:
– A pick-up service at your hotel at 5AM
– Tea and Coffee before the ride
– 40-50 minute balloon ride (depending on the weather)
– Champagne and pastries when you land
– Transportation back to your hotel around 9AM
But to be quite honest with you, I was quite underwhelmed by my experience at Balloons over Bagan.
Maybe it’s because I did the ride on my 3rd day in Bagan, after I had extensively explored the temples around the city. And frankly, despite the company being professional and legit, I think that the price is MUCH too expensive. Especially considering that you’re paying for unnecessary things like champagne at the end and transportation both ways.
It didn’t occur to me that this balloon ride is heavily catered for the elderly tourists.
I was by far the youngest person doing the balloon ride. An overwhelming majority of the people were 50-60 year old rich tourists from Europe (French, German and British) who have an extra $380 to throw around. That’s exactly why they serve the cliché champagne at the end of the flight, which I think is pretty dumb and unnecessary.
I think that Balloons Over Bagan should consider a cheaper option for backpackers which is half the price, and it only includes the balloon flight. People like myself can find out own transportation, and we don’t need to pop bottles of champagne at 7AM when we land on the ground.
Another (major) factor to keep in consideration is the weather. It takes a bit of luck to have a flawless experience in the air. In other words, if there is ANY rain or a more then a slight breeze, then the balloon ride will be cancelled.
I know this because my ride was cancelled on my first day due to rain, and I was lucky enough to go the next day with overcast weather. And when I went, the balloon was prohibited to fly above 400 feet due to weather conditions… I mean come on, I bungee jumped higher than 500 feet in Switzerland– so I was expecting to go much higher into the sky.
So, I advise you to check the weather forecast the the coming days before you do it. If you see rain or cloudy weather, then it’s honestly not worth the money or time. You won’t even be able to see the sunrise.
Also, it’s important to know that the Balloons are seasonal, which means that they only operate from October-March. If you are going to Myanmar during any other month, then the balloons will be closed.
I don’t mean to be too negative in this blog post, I just want to give you my honest feelings. Yes, of course the balloon ride is amazing and peaceful when you’re up in the air over the temples, but trust me, you can get a similar view by hiking to the top of the highest temple- which is free and there’s no time limit.
Kinda like you see in the photo below. Now a bad view, eh? I sat up there for hours.
To wrap it up, I would only recommend Balloons over Bagan if you have an extra $380 extra cash to spend, and the weather is sunny and clear skies. I’ll admit that it’s an awesome experience to be up in the sky in a balloon, and you also can check riding in a hot-air balloon off your bucket list, but I’d tell you to consider saving that $380 for a week-long getaway to Thailand.
Have you seen my fresh & up-to-date 2015 Travel Guide to Myanmar? I share exclusive travel tips, what to expect, local foods, nightlife, and things to do in Myanmar. It’s the most recent guide to Myanmar on the internet!
If you have any more questions about Bagan, or anything related to travel in Myanmar, then please contact me! I’m happy to help you 🙂