The Taunggyi Fire Balloon Festival: A Beginner’s Guide

Get the low-down on this exciting pyrotechnic display in Taunggyi 

When is it:
16th – 22nd November 2018

What is it:
To celebrate the Tazaungmon full moon, which signals the end of the rainy season, thousands descend on Taunggyi for a 7-day festival. Competing teams build huge paper balloons, decked out with candles and firecrackers, and launch them into the sky each night.

Where is it:
Located just outside the hilltop city of Taunggyi in Shan State, travellers from Yangon can either fly to Heho Airport or take the overnight bus from Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station to Nyaung Shwe.

What to expect:
The Taunggyi Fire Balloon Festival is one of the most spectacular events in Myanmar’s calendar. Where else in the world can you see paper balloons, rigged with fireworks, being launched into the air before exploding over-head? A health and safety nightmare, be ready for dense and drunken crowds, plus the occasional rogue explosive. But all that aside, it’s a wild and unique adventure, complete with a man-powered Ferris wheel, lots of beer and a spectacular show.

What to bring:
Though the area around Taunggyi, including Inle Lake and Nyaung Shwe, is warm during the day, temperatures drop at night. Much of the festival is open air so jeans and jumpers are advised, but there are plenty of clothing stalls too so you’ll have the option to top off your outfit with a hat, anything from Pokémon beanies to knitted pink bonnets are strongly encouraged. Many bring blankets that serve a variety of purposes – including being somewhere to shelter under in case fireworks spray into the crowd. The festival is situated in a large sloping field so scruffy trainers are best. Bring enough money for the fair ground attractions, shops and bars as well as an extra bit for the ride back to your hotel, which can be extortionate late at night.

Where to stay:
Though there are places to stay in Taunggyi, many make for the more scenic town of Nyaung Shwe or even the shores of Inle Lake. The options include:

Ostello Bello Nyaung Shwe
Yone Gyi Street, Nyaung Shwe
081 209 302
ostellobello.com

 Inle Cottage Hotel
Nyaung Shwe
081 209 305
inlecottage.com

 Inle Princess Resort
Maing Tauk Road, Nyaung Shwe
09 525 1407
inle-princess.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. Issy,
    Thanks for all the great info!
    I want to go to this festival, but have a couple of questions:
    1) I see many conflicting reports. Does the festival start on the 16th or 17th? I am trying to plan when to come/ leave. Are some of the nights better than others?
    2) Do you know the exact location of where the festival occurs?
    Thanks so much!
    Avraham

  2. Hi Avraham,
    Many thanks for your message. As far as I know, the festival will indeed be starting on the 16th. I believe the format of each night is roughly the same throughout, although the last night is reserved for a prize-giving ceremony. The festival happens in the Awayyar Fire Balloon Field just outside Taunggyi, which you can find on Google Maps. There will be big crowds of people heading there each night so you can’t miss it!
    I hope that’s helpful,
    Issy

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