When one talks about hot air balloon rides, there’s hardly a more romantic and awe-inspiring way of breaking out of one’s everyday shell. Because, let’s face it – unless you’re a balloon tour operator, you hardly get the chance to experience these awesome thrill rides often (or at all, for that matter).
However, there’s a first time for everything and it’s safe to say that no one should go to their grave without going on at least one hot air balloon ride in their lifetime. Whether it’s to impress a girl, propose to her, have some fun with friends or just check that pesky thing off your bucket list, we give you sometop of the most famous and rightfully most amazing balloon rides around the globe.
10. Bagan, Myanmar
One of the main reasons why this particular location is ideal for hot air balloon rides is the fact that Mother Nature made it so. It’s actually a flat and wide landscape permeated by tons of Buddhist stupas and temples, which is to say – it’s a heck of a sight from high up in the air.
The red, sort of rusty color you’ll undoubtedly be seeing during your flight (we love saying “flight,” lol) has to do with the façades of the temples themselves. Namely, because some of them are incredibly old (think, 9th century-old), they suffered heavy damage due to erosion. The red you’ll be seeing is actually the brick used during their construction.
After your scenic trip is over, nobody knows where you’ll land (quite literally), as there’s actually no designated landing area. Good luck!
9. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The fact that we’re talking here about Africa pretty much means your ideal season of the year for going on a hot air balloon ride over Tanzania is – any time. Why this barren wasteland, you ask? Because, my friend, it’s far from barren. In fact, Serengeti NP is where you’ll be able to view firsthand the world’s largest mammal migration.
Here’s what we’re talking about: 250,000 zebra, 500,000 gazelle and around 2 million wildebeest go on a rampage through the grassy, golden plains while the sunrise bathes this wonder of nature in all of its might. Now, imagine witnessing all that while hovering in a hot air balloon. How’s that for wow-factor? And when you add other wild animals to that, like giraffes, hippos, lions, leopards and the like – well, you get the picture.
8. Luxor, Egypt
…because, who wouldn’t want to go hovering through the sky while a four-thousand-year-old city looms beneath them, luring them to descend and take a bite out of history firsthand? Yep – that’s generally what happens when you go ballooning over Luxor in Egypt, and the legendary, mythical city of Thebes. In fact, the term “the greatest open air museum in the world” is often used to describe this particular location.
As you can imagine, archeological sites are ample here, complete with the Colossi of Memnon and the awesome hall of the Luxor temple. Why not experience what the ancient pharaohs never could and view this once-all-powerful center of the planet and home to some of the most breathtaking legends of the Old World from a bird’s eye perspective?
7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
No – we’re not getting paid to advise people to go hot air ballooning in deserts (though we wouldn’t mind it one bit); we just speak from personal experience when we say that this is truly an adventure that is to be had many times over the course of one’s life. That being said, you might think it kind of loses its charm after the first time, but you’re wrong.
And if you happen to go on an amazing balloon ride for the second or third time in Dubai – there’s not a single thing you’ll regret about it (again – we know what we’re talking about). Camels wandering through the desert, green oases perched in the midst of seemingly endless yellowness, and giant sand dunes that seem to wrestle with one another – is just a glimpse of what you’ll be able to experience here.
And while everyone’s first association to Dubai is insane architecture and billionaires driving exotic cars – the true essence of a balloon ride is outside the city, in the ancient sands of a timeless desert.
6. Loire Valley, France
France is known far and wide as a country of stunning green landscapes, wine and cheese. Yet, it’s the greenery that you’ll be most privy to from a hot air balloon, especially when you add to that the winding river, postcard villages and a collection of breathtaking castles that adorn the famed Loire Valley.
Just a couple of hours south of Paris, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a convenient excursion from the country’s legendary capital. If you’re aiming for the prime time to watch all that greenery in bloom, we’d say you should be going for a summer or spring visit. Remember – don’t get tipsy before you enter the balloon!
5. Lake Champlain, Vermont
Unlike the previous contender on the list, Vermont’s legendary fall foliage makes it the ideal season to experience all that fairytale-like scenery as you hover above the colorful forests and landscapes. And one place in Vermont in particular has tons of it, including a considerable body of water. We’re talking about Lake Champlain, situated at the rolling foothills of the Green Mountains.
Meandering country roads, sailboats on the lake itself and rustic church towers help comprise some of the most breathtaking views you’ll have the privilege of seeing from an even more privileged perspective. And with blue herons and white-tailed deer keeping you company, just sit back, zip up your coat and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds.
4. Cappadocia, Turkey
If anyone asks you why you’d want to go hot air ballooning while on vacation in Turkey, just tell them you’re aching to see the area’s famed “fairy chimneys.” Cappadocia is a high plateau situated in the Anatolian Region of Turkey, and is brimming with countless rock formations shaped by centuries of rain and wind, and created by volcanic eruptions.
This is part of the reason why ballooning here is so highly sought after. The other part is the fact that earlier populations of humans built underground cities and temples in this seemingly barren location by stubbornly chipping away at the rock. All in all – there’s not a single reason why you shouldn’t make this sort of adventure a regular occurrence whenever you’re in the neighborhood.
3. Gstaad, Switzerland
Now, this here’s one of the rare places where you’ll be able to attend an entire festival that has to do with hot air ballooning. With a home in Chateau d’Oex, the International Balloon Festival takes place every year on the last week of January. Balloons featuring colors from all around the world take off into the sky and offer their passengers a view that’s not witnessed very often; not even if you’re a balloon owner or adventurer yourself.
In addition to plenty other companions who shall joyfully cruise the skies over Switzerland with you, you’ll be glad to know that the surrounding Bernese Oberland, as well as the legendary Swiss Alps, will be there to party alongside your friends and loved ones at this one-of-a-kind occasion. Pretty cool way to spend an afternoon, right?
2. Yangshuo, China
As if there’s not enough to see in the most populous country in the world, you can add hot air balloon rides to the list. The out-of-this-world region adorning the Li River has been featured in both modern cultural icons, such as Star Wars, and traditional Chinese paintings.
It comes as no surprise whatsoever, then, that the limestone formations near Guilin and Yangshuo tend to draw in tens of thousands of visitors from the world over. And while the great majority of them opt for boat rides when it comes to experimenting with the region’s vast challenges, you might want to think outside the box here.
Why not work smarter instead of harder by simply going up in a balloon and enjoying the whopping scenery from way up there? As far as desired heights go, you’re looking at anywhere from 300 to 4,900 feet (90- 1,495 meters). All you have to do is declare your desired height, bring a camera or smartphone along and you’re good to go.
1. Yarra Valley, Australia
You’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “it’s the Aussies we’re talking about, it’s always warm down under, so I can go whenever I want to,” right? Well…sort of. You see, since there’s really no beating fall when it comes to scenery and overall aerial-view appeal, this is your safest bet when it comes to ballooning. And because we’re talking about the Southern hemisphere here, that translates into a golden period of anywhere between March, April and May.
This valley famous for being in the heart of Victoria’s viticulture industry can be reached by just an hour’s drive outside of Melbourne. The Yarra River provides a stunning backdrop for some pro-looking photos, while an occasional kangaroo mixed with the valley’s unassuming wineries is all you need to fall in love with both this unique region and the manner through which you’ve chosen to explore it.
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