Are you going to Thailand? Then you must go for Hot Air Balloon Ride in Chiang Mai.
There is so much to do and see in Chiang Mai, that you will need at least two weeks to really soak in all that Chiang Mai has to offer. I was there for two weeks and I know I will be going back again.
If you are an adventure enthusiast then you have all the more reason to visit Chiang Mai. You can do White Water Rafting, Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Abseiling the caves, Bungy Jumping, Ziplining, Hot Air Balloon Ride etc. Of course there are temples and pagodas as everywhere else in Thailand.
Hot Air Balloon Ride was not there on my To Do list
Hot Air Balloon Ride, Chiang Mai, Thailand was not on my To Do List, although my itinerary was packed with host of other things which I intended to do during my two weeks stay in Chiang Mai. It all happened because of the two lovely ladies, from US, I met in my hotel lobby. They had just returned from Hot Air Balloon Ride and were quite ecstatic about their experience. We had a breakfast together and by end of the breakfast I was motivated enough to go for Hot Air Balloon Ride. According to them, there is no better way to see the beautiful sunrise in Chiang Mai and also the panoramic view of the city from the top is just breathtaking.
You can directly book this activity with the operator, but I took help from my hotel’s travel desk to make a booking for the next day. The booking process was quick but it came with the rider that the booking may get cancelled if the weather is not good or if they do not have enough bookings for that particular day. So, I was keeping my fingers crossed.
Luckily they had enough bookings and the weather was also great. They picked me up sharp at 6:30 am from the hotel. The beginning of the day was perfect.
We travelled to the launchpad, which is located in a beautiful resort called Horizon and Village Resort, 10 kms. away from the city centre.
When I reached at the launch pad, my co-passengers were already there. There were four passengers in total, including me.
Hot Air Balloon – Getting Ready to Go
Before the flight we enjoyed tea/coffee and cookies. Meanwhile, the crew was getting the balloon ready.
For me, seeing the massive balloon getting inflated with hot air was an experience in itself. If you have not seen it before, I’m sure you will enjoy it. The Dutch pilot Wout Baker, himself took charge of the burner and started blowing hot air into the balloon. It took some time 15-40 mins. before the balloon was ready for the flight.
They Bring Hot Air Balloon to Life
It’s the bright one, it’s the right one, that’s hot air balloon
First Class Cabin
The basket was some what small but had enough space for five of us including the pilot. You won’t feel cramped.
Up, Up and Away…
With all passengers onboard, the balloon started its ascent gracefully. There was no jerk no swinging of basket.
Cruising the Chiang Mai sky above misty fairytale countryside
Though it was little hazy in the morning I could still manage some beautiful snaps. It is a beautiful scenery all around. You can see the locals, especially the wide eyed kids waving hands.
We were flying at about 500 ft. and there was an atmosphere of tranquility, broken occasionally by the sound of burners.
Pilot Wout is the master of his craft. He is a very experienced pilot and has got immense knowledge of flying and also about his adopted city Chiang Mai. All along the flight, never once we felt unsafe. He will answer your tons of questions with patience. He will keep you regaled with his flying experience and stories.
Plucking leaves from the tree
I wondered if we can lower the balloon and pluck the leaves from the tree. Our man from Hot Air Balloon, Wout Baker,….he say’s ‘Yes’.
He brought down the balloon nice and low, so low that I could pluck the leaves from top of a huge tree. But mind you, all along he was very conscious about the safety.
The sunrise was beautiful. Wout drew my attention to the beautiful shadow of our balloon in the paddy field. For me that was a photo opportunity.
There was this beautiful temple, I couldn’t resist taking picture of.
Love is in the air
Wout took beautiful pictures of us using selfie stick. Some people had the time for romance too, which was nice. Wout told us that there have been quite a few occasions when a boy/girl has proposed to the other partner. So if you are going with your girlfriend or boyfriend and like the idea of proposing in the mid air, what better place than doing it on your hot air balloon flight.
Hey! Who’s there?
I spotted the retrieve team vehicle following the balloon. The landing spot is not predefined. It all depends on the direction of the wind at that time. So the retrieve has to follow the balloon and be ready for landing formalities when they get the signal from the pilot over radio.
After an hour of amazing flight we landed in a paddy field. The landing again was very smooth, no jerks no dragging of basket.
The crew took 15 minutes to pack the balloon and we traveled back by car to the same resort from where the flight had taken off.
Celebration with Champagne!!
In the resort, the flight experience was celebrated with Champagne and a nice buffet breakfast.
Why this celebration with Champagne after the Ballon Ride?
This tradition is being followed since the good old days when the Hot Air Balloon were still relatively new invention. As hot air balloon became a fad, French aristocracy soon learned thal local farmers didn’t like rich people setting balloons down on their land. The peasants were afraid because they thought balloon looks like dragons, but while the smoke that powered early ballons may have appeared dragon-like, it seems like that the farmers didn’t want hot air balloons crushing there crops. In any case, champagne smoothed things over, ad a tradition was born.
Let your Hot Air Balloon do the Walking
If you are in Chiang Mai, go for Hot Air Balloon ride and you will thank yourself that you did it. Not everywhere you find this opportunity, and you can have this experience without really adding one more day to your itinerary.
International Hot Air Balloon Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Every year Chiang Mai hosts this balloon festival. Annually the two day event starts with a mass launch of balloon at about 7:00 am followed by model balloon display. There are workshops and family activities. One of the main activities is balloon tethering. The participants of the activity are picked up through lucky draw.
The balloon night glows at 6:30 pm. The day usually ends with a concert. This is the only balloon festival of the country, so expect thousands of spectators.
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