Flying over a city is not only a mesmerizing experience but also one that offers a chance to become more familiar with what’s below.
Most of the balloon rides in Myanmar are concentrated in either Bagan or Inle Lake. The cost of these rides can be off-putting, but it is still beautiful and fun to do. What about in Yangon, over the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda?
Spending a morning flying over Yangon with Mingalarbar Balloon was a great activity and one of the best ways to enjoy the view of Yangon. It is located in Bogyoke Aung San Park, a section of Kandawgyi Park. The price for the fare was nothing compared to its counterparts in Bagan and Inle Lake, where both foreigners and locals would have to pay over 300 dollars. Here, you have to pay only about 30 dollars and less for locals.
Arriving there at 10am, I was surprised to see there were no queues. The service there was pleasing, as the hosts and the pilots were understanding and friendly. The pilots were trained abroad and ensured the passengers were comfortable in the air. For safety measures, the passengers have to wear a belt connected to the basket. After I got my ticket, we quickly prepared to take off. I stood there looking at a 20-foot tall yellow balloon with ropes attached to a donut shaped ring.
After mustering the courage just to step inside the ring, I discovered the balloon was not gas powered like those in Bagan. It was a helium balloon tethered to the ground. Standing in front of the pilot, stiff, I imagined the 400-foot we would climb.
As the balloon took off, the bucket swaying slightly, my ears pinged and an uneasiness of not having firm ground swept over, but as we passed the tree lines, revealing a full view of the lake and walkway, silence filled the air. In that moment of silence, it was only me and the wonderful panorama.
After a few minutes, I saw Shwedagon Pagoda appear, the gold light of it beaming out onto the horizon. The city began to appear, and, looking at the pagoda and cityscape, I felt a part of this scene, the gold light beaming in the corner of my eye. After about a minute of being up there, the wind started to pick up and sway the ring a little more. We were taken down to wait for better weather. Coming down, the winds hardened – even more swaying – but we landed safely.
I had to wait some hours for the weather to clear. I was informed when it was okay to take off again. This time around, I was glad to see that there were more people. Knowing the extent of the beautiful scenery up there, I was happy to get back in.
This time the ascent was easier, as the winds were light. I saw that the ascent was controlled by another pilot on the ground. The pilots stopped at 220 foot and asked the passengers if they wanted to go higher. As some of the passengers were scared at even that height, we stayed there at that elevation.
But even at that height the view was spectacular, enough to calm your thoughts. It was not like the morning, the gold light of the pagoda no longer beamed like before, but it was still beautiful, as the tree lines from the park lead to the city and in the middle of the city stands Shwedagon Pagoda, strong and proud.
The lake was glaring with its green essence. The lake, the walkway, the park, the city and the magnificent pagoda were striking enough to transcend you into a peaceful state. Twenty minutes flying went quickly, when you’re being mesmerized by the view. We began to descend as the winds started to pick up. The landing was smooth and, overall, I had an amazing experience.
If you are new to Yangon or just want to have fun with friends and take a ton of beautiful pictures, I would urge you to try the balloon ride. It will be an experience you will not regret.
Contact: 09 425843131
Address: Bogyoke Park (a section of Kandawgyi Park), Yangon
Price: Foreigners pay US$27 and locals pay 10,000 kyats.