Is a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Bagan Worth It?

That’s right. I decided that I deserved a splurge, and since I had never been in a hot air balloon…I went for it. Many people surely would like to do this but are maybe hesitant to spend the money, which is completely understandable. So let’s explore whether or not a hot air balloon ride in Bagan is worth it!

Hot Air Balloon Ride Bagan

Who What Where When?

There is a balloon riding season, so to speak, in Bagan. Balloons don’t like to fly during the rainy season. If you really want to do this, travel between October and March.

I chose Golden Eagle over the two other companies (partly because they have yellow balloons…my favorite color) and I even splurged for the VIP balloon (8 people instead of 12). The costs were approximately $320 and $380 respectively. I also found out that the company is locally owned by a Burmese family and NOT by the government, which was important to me. The other companies are called Balloons over Bagan and Oriental Ballooning, if anyone wants to know.

Hot Air Balloon Ride Bagan

They picked everyone up at various hotels and arrived at the launch site. There was “breakfast”. Tea, coffee and some meh croissants. Can’t lie, I kind of expected more but oh well. More tea please!

We were split into groups and given a quick briefing from our pilot. My pilot was a lovely Swiss lady named Lea. I scoped out the balloon and decided the back corner is the best spot (furthest from pilot). I delayed a bit while everybody else ran to get in balloon…”oh we’re going now”?  Hee-hee.  I got my coveted spot in the back.

Hot Air Ballon Ride Bagan

Taking Off

Lift off was thrilling…hearing the hiss of the fire and watching the ground get further and further away…watching all the other balloons. It was overwhelming, but amazing. I had a stupid giddy smile on my face the entire time.

Hot Air Balloon Ride Bagan The sun had already risen at this point. It was serene to quietly glide over Bagan, taking in the landscape, the people, the dogs playing, and of course all the other beautiful balloons peppering the ever-changing kaleidoscope of a sky.

Hot Air Balloon Ride Bagan Doesn’t it just make you feel peaceful to look at this?
Hot Air Balloon Ride Bagan

Hot Air Balloon over Bagan
Yeah, this doesn’t suck



Slowly Drifting

We soared for about an hour. We first flew over some residential areas and waved to children, eventually arriving to the temple zone. It was surreal to see the places I had seen from the ground. Pictured below is the popular pagoda, Shwesandaw…the one with all the cars! In my post about sunset and sunrise I had mentioned how crowded this pagoda was and how I avoided it like the plague.  We waved at everybody below, feeling pretty high and mighty. Well, definitely the high part.

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Bagan

Hot Air Balloon Ride Bagan

The light was constantly changing, depending on how the balloon turned and what position you were in relation to the sun. I thought it was beautiful in every direction.

Hot Air Balloon Ride Bagan


Champagne Landings

Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise

I was slightly anxious for landing. How the hell does one land an air balloon? How did she steer it the entire time. Nice that I ask these questions now, huh? Lea was an expert pilot and didn’t cause us the least bit of concern. She expertly maneuvered that massive balloon as close as possible to the river, which helped the crew not have to drag it to the boats.

Hot Air Balloon Ride Bagan

It was a little bumpy landing, but not at all scary. We were prepped to get in landing position, to put away cameras and crouch down. I think tipping is always a possibility but thankfully that didn’t happen. We all cheered and eventually climbed out. Champagne and fruit were waiting. I had two glasses because…champagne in the morning.

Hot Air Balloon Ride Bagan

They even give you a little certificate, a copy of the video they take and a miniature hot air balloon.

So Was it Worth it?

Yes, yes, yes for days. It was a once in a lifetime experience. It was pure bliss and I enjoyed every second!

Hot Air Balloon Ride Bagan
Nope, not having fun at all.

Read More:  Sunrise and Sunset in Bagan

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About The Author

Cherene Saradar

Cherene is a travel expert with 30 years of experience in over 100 countries and 7 continents. She has traveled solo to over 50 countries. She is also a nurse anesthesiologist with over 20 years of healthcare experience. Her passions include wildlife travel and visiting wine regions of the world.


  1. A Travel Diary | 28th May 17

    I’m thinking I need to cut out some expenses so I can do this the next time I visit South-east Asia. It looks like a dream, and those beautiful shots of the countryside below. How beautiful is that. To see everything at that elevation must have added a lot of depth to your travel there. This is definitely something I need to do. Thanks for this!

    • csaradar | 28th May 17

      It is a huge expense but since I had never been in a hot air balloon….I did it! I heard the hot air balloon ride in Cappadoccia, Turkey (which looks equally stunning) is much cheaper. Food for thought:)

      • A Travel Diary | 31st May 17

        Wow, thanks for the advice. How much cheaper are we looking at here? Out of curiosity. Actually, I might have to go do some research now lol

        • csaradar | 1st Jun 17

          I’m not sure exactly but I heard around $200 (vs $400 in Bagan)!

  2. Sunrise and Sunset in Bagan - WanderingRedHead | 16th Mar 17

    […] Read More:  Is a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Bagan Worth it? […]

  3. sandy | 15th Mar 17

    Wow these photos are extraordinary! <3

    • csaradar | 18th Mar 17

      Thank you Sandy:)

  4. Lara @ Find Your World Girl | 12th Mar 17

    Thanks so much for this! I’ll be in Myanmar this summer and was going back and forth on this. Now I can’t wait!!

    • csaradar | 18th Mar 17

      I did the same thing and one day I was feeling impulsive and just booked it. And I’m so glad I did. We have to indulge every now and then!

  5. Lorena | 12th Mar 17

    Oh My! I definitely want to try but a bit hesitant. I also don’t know how much it costs. I do know now. I was hoping you would say, it wasn’t worth it. Now I really really want to try

    • csaradar | 18th Mar 17

      Lol. I know how you feel. I have done many things that weren’t worth the money and I try to be honest. I was expecting to be disappointed by this but I wasn’t!

  6. Allison Wong | 12th Mar 17

    I’ll definitely splurge on this too if I’m in Bagan! Thanks for your detailed info!

    • csaradar | 18th Mar 17

      You’re so welcome. We all deserve a splurge now and then.

  7. Alice Chen | 11th Mar 17

    This looks so absolutely beautiful!! It’s good to know that they don’t fly half the year so I can plan my trip around that. I will definitely be revisiting this post when I get around to exploring more of SE Asia!

    • csaradar | 18th Mar 17


  8. Phoebe | 11th Mar 17

    That looks beautiful! I’ve always wanted to do it but it seems like it’s very expensive.

  9. Evie farrell | 11th Mar 17

    I’ve been wondering whether or not to do this, and now you’ve convinced me. I just need to check if my daughter can come with me! Fab read!

  10. Amber | 11th Mar 17

    Dammit, I was kinda hoping you’d say it wasn’t worth it!!! I’ve booked a trip to Myanmar in May and this was at the top of my to-so list, but sadly they don’t fly in May ? I’m sure I’ll go back and do it again one day but I was so upset about it, that I nearly cried.

    Lesson learned!

    • csaradar | 11th Mar 17

      Oh don’t fret too much. There other fabulous places in the world to try a balloon ride plus seeing the sunrise from the temples is also magical. I have another post coming out in a few days about places to watch sunrise and sunset in Bagan so stay tuned!!!!

  11. noshoestodayblog | 11th Mar 17

    I can’t get enough of these photos! A hot air balloon ride is on my to-do list and it looks simply amazing here! Love that there were so many others up at the same time as well, they look amazing all together!

    • csaradar | 11th Mar 17

      I’m glad you liked them. I love them all so much, couldn’t decide which ones to put on here. I wondered if I was oversharing. LOL

      • noshoestodayblog | 12th Mar 17

        Definitely wasn’t oversharing, I love them!

        • csaradar | 18th Mar 17

          haha thanks sister.

  12. Itinera magica | 11th Mar 17

    Thank you for this detailed story of your experience and those BEAUTIFUL pictures! This might come in handy – pinning it 😉

  13. C-Ludik | 11th Mar 17

    Wow, amazing pictures ! Hot air ballooning seems to be one of the most exciting forms of recreational flying. Being suspended high in the sky in a basket with the roar of the burners will definitely give you an adrenaline rush, right ? It seems you really enjoy breath-taking views, landmarks and the wonder of nature from a new and unique perspective as you take to the skies ! Rising smoothly and silently towards the clouds, the only noise the occasional burst of the burners… definitively on my bucket list ☺!!

    • csaradar | 11th Mar 17

      You wrote that comment so beautifully…want to edit my blog? LOL. Thanks so much. It was an adrenaline rush but peaceful and relaxing at same time. Very strange and cool feeling.

  14. Laia | 11th Mar 17

    Thanks for this post! Flying in a hot air balloon is like a dream… but so expensive! So of course you always wonder if it’s worth the money. Happy to see that it’s worth! By the way I didn’t know that there is a balloon season… of course it makes sense that hot air balloons don’t fly during rainy season but I didn’t think about it. It’s also good to know that there are companies owned by families and other by government.

    • csaradar | 11th Mar 17

      I was happy to not support the government there! Glad you enjoyed. It was an expensive endeavor but I cut from other parts of trip because I really wanted to do it. Sometimes you just gotta!

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