Picture yourself in a basket, tied to a balloon that is flying over mountain tops and all of civilisation; the serenity, the sky, the view. Floating above epic landscapes, castles, even Aztec ruins. That is what hot air balloon flights represent. Humanity's curiosity with flying is a long-known history and the ever-revolving chase for thrill has taken us to hot air ballooning, which allows you to enjoy a beautiful scenery and experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, all from above.
Here are five up and running places in Asia best for hot air ballooning.
Cappadocia, known as a "geological oddity without comparison" with its wilderness, and otherworldly beauty. The scenery is straight off a fairy tale; crumbling caves, pillars sculpted by the wind and oddly balanced boulders. Cappadocia is truly one of the most luxurious places to go hot air ballooning. The climate works best between May and October with the nights significantly colder than the days. July and August stand out as peak operating and travelling months with the most traveller. You are urged to make reservations as early as a month in advance if you want to catch that sun glancing through the thick clouds as the wind blows you into zen.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Up, up, and away goes the hot air balloons in the Angkor Hot Air Balloon tour in Siem Reap. The Bakong temple and the sunset view is one of the few things you need to experience from that height. You can enjoy from sunrise to sunset, of course in short individual flights. You can see the sights of Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng and West Baray. However, their flight seasons are quite short; from December to March. They also have a tethered helium balloon which can lift 30 people to a height of 120 metres for a short trip of 10 minutes. This balloon operates all throughout the year. So, do not be discouraged if you happen to miss the season.
Despite there being quite a few places in India that flies commercial hot air balloons in various locations, there is no place like the 'Pink City.' This city, on its own accord, is on every international visitor's list of 'places to go' but it's truly from the air that one can appreciate all the landscape Jaipur has to offer. On a good day, you're sure to fly by the beautiful Amber Fort; one of the six ancient hill forts courtesy of the royalties of India. Most of the flights in Jaipur are sunrise flights while sunsets flights are scheduled if the weather is good. Their peak season starts from September to April.
Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Dambulla is one of the three main towns that encompasses the iconic 'Lion Rock' of Sigiriya. A different visual works goes down while you go up away from its many lakes and jungle areas within its dry plains of Sri Lanka. The ballooning season here starts from November and ends in April and have two active balloons and pilots in shifts. Sunset flights are not recommended as the afternoon weather in Dambulla is seldom considered suitable for hot air balloons.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
The countryside, small monasteries, the village scenery is just what you might need for a refreshing change of pace. Even though the hot air ballooning was not something people thought of doing in Chiang Mai but these days the companies operating the hot air balloons in both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, Thailand has found their way around the air. Their flight schedules at both sunrise and sunsets and are subject to weather changes, just like all the other hot air balloon flights. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and plan your next dinner on the air!