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Balloons over Bagan - frequently asked questions

1. How long is the flight?

Our flights normally last 45 minutes to one hour, or longer depending on the wind. The whole experience including hotel pick ups and light champagne breakfast lasts between 2 to 3 hours. Ballooning is also about watching the set up of the balloon, and being rescued at the end too, not just the flight itself. Not knowing where you are going to land is always exciting and part of the adventure!

2. What do we see?

Bagan as you’ve never seen it before! Like a bird would see and wherever the wind takes you! The exciting thing about ballooning is that you just don’t know. You may see Bagan waking up in the morning. You will see many temples in the distance and get an aerial view of Bagan. Sometimes you may fly over villages and see people getting up in the morning and feeding their animals; or fly over fields and see people going to market. It is an amazing experience.

3. Can we go to …… by balloon?

The balloon can only go where the wind takes it. So you can not pre-plan where it will land.

4. Is it safe?

• Very. Commercial passenger ballooning is the safest form of all air transport.
• In Bagan we are always very careful. We only fly when there are light winds.
• Our pilots and technicians are qualified and registered in the UK.
• Our balloons are built to the highest standards of the British aerospace industry by Cameron Balloons Ltd, the world’s largest manufacturer of hot air balloons.
• All our crew are trained to the highest international standards and have all been trained in first aid.

5. I’m scared of heights.

Ballooning does not usually affect those people who are scared of heights. Because the balloon travels with the wind, the basket is very stable and does not sway or rock during flight. There is no sense of vertigo or motion.

6. Do we see this pagoda?

You will see lots of pagodas! Exactly which pagoda you will see depends on the wind direction.

7. How many people can fit in one balloon?

The balloon has room for 8 passengers in four separate compartments plus a pilot. Our largest balloon can accommodate 12 passengers also in four compartments

8. What do we get for the price?

A memory that we hope will last forever; transport to and from your hotel to launch and landing site, flight, ‘rescue’, celebratory glass of champagne and light breakfast.

9. Where do we take off?

The take off site changes with the wind and is decided by the pilot in command on the day of the flight.

10. Where do we land?

Wherever the wind takes you! This could be a field by a village, a field in the middle of nowhere, on a sandbank, or even across the river, which will involve a rescue by boat – anywhere!!

11. What time will we be picked up?

For the morning flight, passengers are usually picked up at their hotels by our Balloons over Bagan bus between 05h30 and 06h00 in the morning depending on the location of your hotel and the hotels of other passengers. The exact time will be given to you the evening before after you come to our sales desk at Thiripyitsaya Sakura Hotel to re-confirm your flight.

12. What time do we get back to the hotel?

In the morning flight, passengers are usually back at their hotels by 8.30 am.

13. Can we fly at sunset?

We can sometimes put on evening flights on a standby basis only. Unfortunately because of the tropical location in Bagan, evening weather conditions tend to be less favourable and less reliable than in our scheduled morning flights. We believe therefore that a morning flight affords a more enjoyable and superior experience.

14. Oh, it’s too early, I can’t get up.

Bagan is normally at its most beautiful early in the morning, and temperatures are pleasant and cool. In addition, apart from the views of thousands of temples, you will experience Bagan coming to life. At this time in the morning it is common to see from above children going to school or monks walking in long lines collecting alms for the day.

15. Can our children fly?

For safety reasons there are age and height restrictions. We set a minimum age of 8 years old, but as a general rule, all passengers must be able to see over the basket.

16. How can we pay for a pre-booking?

For pre-bookings, full payment must be made in Yangon, before your departure to Bagan. Please inform us where you are staying in Yangon and what day and what time we can visit you to deliver your flight tickets and to collect cash payment.

17. Can we pay by credit card?

Please be aware that at present credit cards cannot, or seldom be used in Myanmar. In the near future we may be able to accept Visa and MasterCard, but we strongly advise you to bring either cash USD or Euro with you. Additionally, we are unable to accept traveller’s cheques either.

18. Can I get my money back if the balloon flight is cancelled?

Yes of course! Balloons over Bagan only operates when the chief pilot decides that the weather is suitable and it is safe to fly. Therefore it could be possible that we have to cancel the balloon flight at the last moment for safety reasons. In that case we will refund 100% of your payment. If you have made payment through your travel agent, we will advise them immediately so that they can make arrangements for your refund when you return to Yangon.

19. Can I decide later in Bagan whether I want to fly or not?

It is possible to buy a last minute stand by ticket at our sales desk at the Thiripyitsaya Sakura but this is only possible if we have spaces left for the next day. In previous years at certain times during the season we unfortunately had to turn people away who wanted to join the balloons but couldn’t because the day they were in Bagan the balloons were already fully booked by package tours. Therefore, to avoid disappointment, we strongly suggest you make your booking in advance. However if you are planning to stay in Bagan for 3-4 days there is a much better chance to book a standby space on one of the flights. If you are in any doubt, please feel free to contact us directly by phone or email, and we can give you an indication of our current booking status. Please note that this is an indication only, and may not remain accurate for very long.

20. Why do I have to give my weight?

It is important that we receive the weight of each passenger as soon as possible. The chief pilot needs this figure to calculate the total ballast of the basket, so he can determine the total amount of lift available on that day.

21. Who owns Balloons over Bagan?

Balloons over Bagan is a 100% private Myanmar company, which was set up and run by husband and wife team Brett Melzer and Khin Omar Win.

22. What is the price?

Our prices are:
Pre-booking: USD 295 per person (Xmas USD 310)
Stand-by: USD 275 per person (Xmas USD 290)

These prices are valid from 1st October 2009 until 31st March 2010.

There will be no general increase in rates, but from the 24th December through until the 4th January we will introduce a USD 15 per person increase during the peak Christmas and New Year Period to reflect the very heavy demand at this time.

This price includes transfers from your hotel, balloon flight and a light champagne breakfast.

Please note that “stand-by tickets” (which are unsold tickets for the following morning's flight) are only available 24 hours before flight, at our sales desk in Bagan.

23. It’s very expensive.

No! For a balloon flight this is not expensive! In Africa flights per person cost US$ 400 on average. In the UK flights are typically GBP 150 – 175 per person. Flying in a balloon is very special and is the best way to see Bagan. It is a once in a lifetime and unique experience that you will never forget.

Balloons over Bagan employs highly qualified UK pilots and public transport Inspectors, and each custom made balloon is built in the UK. Each balloon is insured for US$ 3,000,000 third party and passenger liability, through Lloyds of London. All our staff are trained to the highest international standard.

24. It’s cheaper in Europe.

Some operations in Europe are cheaper because regulations for pilots and manufacturing specifications for the balloon are not as strict as the UK. However all EU ballooning legislation is now being harmonised in line with UK legislation to ensure operators meet stricter operating standards. Pricing in established commercial operations with full international insurance cover in Europe now exceeds 200 Euros per person.

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Myanmar Golden Image Travels & Tours Co., Ltd
No. 21, Shwe Hnin Si St, Sanchaung, Yangon, Myanmar. Tel: (+951) 536470, 535944 H.P: 95-95 127398
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