With 3 balloon companies operating in Myanmar and competing each other for the tourists who are doing the myanmar hot air balloon ride, 2 have managed to be the most successful amount the tourists: Balloons over Bagan and Oriental Ballooning. Even if the price can be a decisive factor in choosing the balloon ride in Bagan or Inle Lake there are other factors to be taken into consideration while booking the balloon experience. I have did the bagan hot air balloon both with Oriental Ballooning and Balloons Over Bagan 

 

Myanmar Hot Air Balloon – Oriental Ballooning vs Balloons Over Bagan in Bagan

1. Confirmation of the Bagan Hot Air Balloon

One important step after  made the balloons over bagan booking if to reconfirm your booking 24-48h prior to your balloon ride date to inform you the exact pick up time for the balloon ride..  You can ask the hotel receptionist in Bagan to help you or your travel agency who made the booking for your can assist you in doing that. Balloons Over Bagan does not confirm the booking for you – and you have to do it yourself or as mentioned above.

On the other hand, Oriental Ballooning does call the hotel 24h before the balloon ride for you and don’t need to do it yourself. Having only 6 premium balloons Oriental Ballooning can  easily manage this process compared with Balloons Over Bagan which has more than 18 balloons and mostly with standard seats ( 16 persons on the basket)

+1 balloon goes to Oriental Ballooning

2. Morning Pick up 

Balloons over Bagan has at disposal more than 10 vintage minibuses for their myanmar hot air balloon rides.  There are super cute in terms of looking but not that comfortable. If you are the first to be pick up and we will be the last to be dropped off it means spending a lot of time in not a comfortable wooden chair.

Transfer Balloons in Bagan

Transfer Balloons in Bagan

Oriental Ballooning do use for their pick up normal and modern Hiace Commuter car. Even if the space is limited compared with the Balloons over Bagan car the chairs are more comfortable. Having less people to pick up would translate in having less stops on the way to the starting point of your balloon ride in Bagan.

Oriental Ballooning Car

Oriental Ballooning Car

Even if the sitting is not that comfortable with Balloons over Bagan,+1 balloon goes to Balloons Over Bagan.

 3. Pre Hot Air Balloon Ride Snacks & Coffee

Once I have arrived at the departure point few years again the set up was not ready. Only the table was set and no chairs. There was no official welcoming from the balloons over bagan ground staff or pilots

As minutes passed chairs started to show up and everything was in order; I believe we arrived a bit early. The Balloons over Bagan set up is simple with chairs being set up in the circle. You have to go to take yourself the coffee or the snacks they have on that day. There are not tables around you where to put your cup of coffee or the croissants plates. Not sure if the same services or not applies to the Premium Balloons Over Bagan as well.

Myanmar Hot Air Balloon

Myanmar Hot Air Balloon

I was really impressed with the Oriental Ballooning set up for their balloon flight in Bagan. This time we were the last one to show up. 6 tables were already set up in line; we were welcomed by the head of the pilots (Ravi) and driven to our table, the no 5. All the others tables were already full with sleepy tourists eager to start their magical balloon ride in Bagan.

Coffee or tea was served at our table and if we wanted to get some cereal and milk a small truck with fresh milk, extra croissants was welcoming you.

Oriental Ballooning Breakfast

Oriental Ballooning Breakfast

Compared with Balloons Over Bagan I felt as if I were in a luxury airport lounge.

+1 balloon goes to Oriental Ballooning. 

 

4. Balloon Space Allocation & Instructions

Both pilots from the both companies, Oriental Ballooning and Balloons Over Bagan gave very precise information the safety instruction regarding the balloon ride in Bagan. Safety is number one priority for the balloon companies in Myanmar and even if the weather is not good (a bit of wind of rainy) the balloon flight will get canceled.

The seats & place distribution in the balloon is very important. First weight is very important and the balloon has to be balanced. You can not put 2 tourists with 240 kg on wide side and 2 tourists with 100kg on the other side; balance will be damaged . That’s why while making the myanmar hot air balloon booking, weight is an important factor. With Balloons Over Bagan I felt like being at a football game in high school when you pick up your team for a game. 32 person were divided in 2 groups and then some issue appeared because some groups had been separated and other tourists were asked to join  the other group. The other aspect was the moment when we climbed in the basket.

Everyone wanted to go close to the edge of the balloon and not inside; being inside in the standard balloon at Balloons over Bagan will mean being close to the balloon pillar and quite difficult to make photos.  So when the go ahead moment was give to go up in the balloon, everyone rushed the best spot they imaged to be to take photos in the myanmar hot air balloon Bagan.

 

Balloons Over Bagan - inflating of the balloons

Balloons Over Bagan – inflating of the balloons

Oriental Ballooning seats distribution ad been made in a very professional way. As I mentioned above, 12 person were already been assigned to one balloon at the table. Then while the instruction were explain again at the balloon take off site ( what to do when the balloon takes off and the landing position) we were assigned the exact location of each person. I had luck and given the edge corner of the balloon. Other were assigned in the middle, next to the pilar; even if they were a bit disappointed no one complained.

+1 balloon goes to Oriental Ballooning. 

5. The Basket 

First it’s important to mention that each balloon company in Myanmar has its own balloon ride type.

Balloons Over Bagan have the Standard Service where up to 16 person will fill in one balloon; that means 4 person in the compartiment. Oriental Ballooning on the other hand has only the premium Service where up to 12 persons ( 8 to 12 person will fill one balloon depending on the number of tourists on that day) and that means only 3 persons in the compartiment.

Balloons over Bagan has the Premium options as well were only 8 person can fit in one balloon; that means that during the balloon Bagan ride only 2 persons will be in the compartiment. This is would be the best option for your myanmar hot air balloon ride if you want more space and better photos!

My review is based on the Standard Service with Balloons over Bagan and Premium services with Oriental Ballooning Bagan.

Even if the compartiment size are almost the same I felt a bit claustrophobic in the Balloons over Bagan basket. There was no sitting place as the compartiment of the Oriental Ballooning had. When taking off and landing in the Balloons over Bagan basket you sit like on a chinese toilet and on Oriental Ballooning we fell like sitting on a western toilet if the comparison is permitted!

+1 balloon goes to Oriental Ballooning. 

6. Balloon Ride Experience in Bagan 

Both balloon rides experiences in Bagan with Balloons Over Bagan and Oriental Ballooning had been a great experiences. The pilots are super trained and focusing on the quality of the services. The wind is the major factor while determined the balloon route in Bagan and if you will be flying of the Bagan Zone of the pagodas. If you are unlucky for a bad wind we will might see the Archaeological area of Bagan and it’s not pilots fault. It’s only the ends.

+1 balloon goes to Oriental Ballooning and Balloons Over Bagan. 

Bagan Temple Balloon Ride

Bagan Bagan Temple Balloon Ride

7. The Pilots

All the pilots from Balloons over Bagan and Oriental Ballooning are well trained, licensed pilots especially from UK, Australia and New Zealand. Both my hot air balloon rides in Bagan had been with the british pilots. I liked more the Oriental Ballooning pilot during my balloon ride in Bagan this spring. Beside his pilots skills he had very good knowledge of history and very good information about almost all the major pagodas we surveilled.

Since this an personal optionio and sometimes we can get a excellent pilot from both sides the votes goes to both companies.

+1 balloon goes to Oriental Ballooning and Balloons Over Bagan

8. The Breakfast After the Myanmar  Hot Balloon Ride

To mention that full breakfast is only offered to the premium seats for the Balloons Over Bagan; this is the extra they will over to the premium clients of the balloon ride in Bagan.

Oriental Ballooning Champagne

Oriental Ballooning Champagne

Even if Oriental Ballooning is a premium service their after hot air balloon ride in Bagan does not include full breakfast but only small snacks, fruits, croissants and of course champaign.

The champagne of course is French. I liked more the champagne from the Balloons over Bagan. It was more fresh; something about the croissants; more fresh and better taste with Balloons Over Bagan.

Even the presentation and the plates were more nicer with Balloons over Bagan. They did not make a good impression at the departure but there sure made it at the end!

Balloons over Bagan Croissants

Balloons over Bagan Croissants

+1 balloon goes to Balloons over Bagan.

9. The Gifts & Photos

During the myanmar hot air balloon in Bagan or Inle Lake the pilots will be asked you to pay few seconds attention to their Gopro cameras they have sticked on their balloons. Even when I did the rafting on the Nile in Uganda  you had to pay for the photos. Well in Myanmar for the balloon ride we don’t to pay – more or less and let me explain.

The photos for taken during your myanmar hot air balloon ride with Oriental Ballooning are free of charged and can be downloaded on the official website.

For Balloons over Bagan the photos are free of charge from the upcoming balloon season. Till this Bagan balloon season we had to pay 20$ for the photos. It’s a bit too much for 5-10 photos and the chances of seeing you are quite limited. At the end of the hot air balloon ride we were give a code; it was a general code for the whole balloon; we could have seen it and note it down and not pay and taken the photos for free. Maybe many tourists did the same thing (I did not ) and for this 2019 Bagan balloon season they have increased the price with 20$ and in the standard service the photos are included by default. Now even if you want or not the balloons photos in Bagan, we have to pay for them, at least with Balloons Over Bagan.

Oriental Ballooning Drinks

Oriental Ballooning Magnet

The other gifts from the  Oriental Ballooning were more nicer compared with the one’s from Balloons Over Bagan from fridge magnet and a cool stick in the shape of a green balloon. Even the hat looked to me from a better material.

 

+1 balloon goes to Oriental Ballooning

10. Price 

The Myanmar Hot Air Balloon Ride does not come at a cheap prices. Prices are above the average of the normal balloon ride compared with Europe for exemple. Prices are similar with the balloons safari rides in Africa;  there are many reason why the balloon over Bagan prices are higher but this is not the topic to discuss.

The official bagan hot air balloon price  for the Standard balloon ride with Balloons Over Bagan is 350$/person and the hot air balloon price with Oriental Ballooning is 400$ (plus card transaction fees).

+1 balloon goes to Balloons over Bagan

PRO TIP –  Local travel agencies in Myanmar have special prices, much lower than the oficial prices.  For booking and super bagan hot air balloon price click here.

Oriental Ballooning vs Balloons over Bagan – Final Thoughts 

We have compared 10 services for 2 of the main balloons operators in Myanmar. The final score is 7 to 5 with favour of the Oriental Ballooning. No matter what balloon company we will choose in Myanmar both have excellent reviews on Tripadvisor and  the quality of the services in amazing!

Feel free to contact us for any questions!

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