Ballooning In Burma

19/02/2015Myanmar News

Ever wanted to see Burma from the air? With a couple of high-end ballooning operators to choose from across a number of regions, this truly ‘once in a lifetime’ experience bears serious consideration.

Oriental Ballooning were set up in 2013 and aim to open up new areas of the country for balloon touring. As well as the traditional Bagan flights, they now operate over Inle Lake, Mandalay, and the Shan hill area of Pindaya. For illustration of what such an experience would entail, check out the photos on the right. These stunning shots were taken by the team at Oriental Ballooning and offer some remarkable perspectives of the Kuthadow Pagoda in Mandalay, the stilt Innthar villages of Inle Lake, and the Khay Min Ga temple in Bagan – all of which would be brief highlights on one of their sunrise excursions.

In Bagan, Oriental Ballooning are joined by Balloons over Bagan: the more established outfit who have been pioneered sunrise flights in 1999. Balloons over Bagans have since become something of an institution: their famous ruby red craft have become such a part of the landscape that they are often integral to iconic Bagan photography such as those seen here.

Both operators have a distinct British influence. All balloons are manufactured in the UK before being shipped East, and all flights are led by vastly-experienced British pilots. The excursions themselves are comfortably high-end affairs: guests are picked up from their accommodation in vintage colonial transport, treated to champagne and fresh pastries while conducting an in-depth safety briefing, before enjoying flights of an hour or more in small baskets carrying no more than 16 (Balloons over Bagan) or 8 passengers (Oriental Ballooning). The operators may be foreign-led, but they are locally focussed and each employ over 100 highly-trained local staff.

Balloon rides in Bagan are well-known but we urge travellers to try out the newer flights in Inle, Mandalay, or Pindaya. While the rates are not cheap (usually at least £200 per passenger for either outfit), we think these images speak for themselves – this would be a true ‘bucket list’ addition! Flights with either outfit can be built into any of our existing Myanmar itineraries, or form part of an entirely tailor-made trip.