While visiting the majestic temples of the ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar, tempted by extraordinary photos and encouraged by the previous, amazing hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia, Turkey (take a look at my post about it), we decided to go for it and pay the extremely high price for the Balloon flight over Bagan flight. You live only once, after all. Not everyday you're in Bagan and can try something so unique - combining the air balloon flight with the overview of the whole magnificent area - miles and miles of land dotted with hundreds of various temples. All this in the warm rays of the rising sun. Sounds amazing, doesn't it? But in the end, was Balloons over Bagan really worth it considering the price?
Balloons over Bagan - best prices
We loved the experience in Turkey (take a look at my post about it). Therefore, we just thought we also had to do it in Bagan. But... the price of the balloon experience in Myanmar was around 3 times more expensive than in Cappadocia! That was a hard piece to swallow. But again, that was the dream and we decided to go for it.
The prices range from 350-450 USD per person. You can also opt for some some VIP services (like less people in the balloon and a complimentary glass of champagne) making the prices soar exorbitantly.
And how to book the best deal? You should start it quite early and browse through a lot of deals. We managed to get one deal online for 300 USD per person which wasn't to bad. Well, not too bad considering there's not much competition and that was really the best deal we could find.
Usually the balloon flights are operated by foreign companies, often from Australia. The experience is completely safe, there were no accidents noted in the history of the balloon flights over Bagan. Ever.
Early morning, before the sunrise a bus collects all the people who are taking part in the event in order to bring them to the meeting point. Once we were there, we were ordered some tea and biscuits.
Then, the balloons are filled with gas. When they are fully inflated, after a short safety instruction, the passenger board the basket. Around 10 passengers in each.
The air balloon flight was the same as in Cappadocia, Turkey. You don't know when exactly the balloon takes off - you can't feel this very moment. It's all so smooth. The only thing you notice is a slow movement - the ground is getting further and further away. The balloon will fly in the direction of the wind and will land in a different place.
Is Balloon over Bagan worth the money?
The flight itself is an amazing experience, especially if you've never done that.
Having said that, Balloons over Bagan was somehow disappointing. Although the reviews on Trip Advisor give it 5 stars. This is why I never believe Trip Advisor's reviews. I'm not talking here about the flying experience itself. What I mean is while the temples are absolutely amazing, there are a few factors that must be taken into consideration.
- First, the landscape. The landscape around Bagan is completely flat, therefore the area is not as attractive as in Turkey (with the exception of the temples of course).
- Second, the wind. You must be lucky with the wind. The balloons follow the airflow, therefore if the wind blows in the wrong direction, you might miss the most beautiful temples and only see grass. We were neither lucky or unlucky. We had nice views, however the balloons didn't fly over the very center of ancient Bagan filled with the largest temples.
- Third, the environment. This actually does affect the views and experience. It's normal in Myanmar for the people living in the countryside to burn bushes and anything that's combustible - like plastic and tires. This creates a grey mist over the the area and the air can be extremely polluted. The fog that you see in the photos is not real mist - it is smoke. It does block the view and smells awful.
- Fourth, the duration. The flight over Bagan lasts only 45 minutes which is less than the flight in Cappadocia. After the flight, we had a feeling that we were not completely satisfied and wanted to see more. Then, you have the opportunity to purchase some souvenirs and photos from the flight. Of course, extremely overpriced. This is ridiculous, considering the price of the flight itself. Thanks God, I managed to get some good pictures myself.
- Fifth, this is one of the most important factors and it goes without saying. The price. There's no need to comment here more, however the price would put people off the most. Overall, if the price was more appropriate for what you get, I could say that this experience was amazing. But I doubt it was worth paying 300 USD. And I know that others paid way more.
To sum up, the flight is an exciting experience, if you've never done that and money is not a problem for you - go for it!
The free alternative
So let's say you were dreaming to do the Balloon flight but when you checked the price, you thought no way. Well, there's some good news for you! If you wish to get some nice views over the whole area and the beautiful temples, you can still do it! You just need to climb the Sunset Temple - to find more information and a map showing where exactly it is located - check my post about Bagan. I know you won't experience the balloon flight itself, the view will not be as spectacular as the one from the balloon - but still, it's pretty much similar and amazing!
Author: Tom @ Adventurous Travels
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