Laos,  Asia,  Destinations,  Travel Diary

Flying over Vang Vieng in a hot air balloon

From Vientiane, I took a minibus (for $7 USD) up to Vang Vieng for a few days. Vang Vieng has a lot of outdoors things to do: kayaking, paragliding, tubing on the river etc…mostly things I’m not interested in as I don’t do water activities. That said, one popular activity is doing a hot air balloon ride early in the morning.

I booked with Above Laos Ballooning Adventures for my hot air balloon flight. You can book online using credit card, and they accept foreign cards as well. I booked two days before because my original choice was full. They have both a morning flight and an evening flight (same price) and I booked the morning flight for $135 USD.

Above Laos early morning balloon flight

We got picked up early from our hotels, in a nice passenger van driven by one of the Above Laos staff members. The actual flight location is somewhat out of town, about 20 minutes or so out in the more rural part of Vang Vieng.

Once at the site, we had coffee/tea offered and small snacks. There were three Above Laos balloons flying that morning, two with clients and one with training staff. Each balloon held 8 people plus the pilot. My balloon’s pilot was a Laos local, but the other pilot was French– this is a French-owned company, I think– though both spoke good English.

We watched the balloons inflate, and then it was time to fly!

I got stuck near one of the supports, so if you want unobstructed photos try to get away from that part of the basket. Once you’re loaded in you can’t move spots, as it’s a very small basket with standing room only. Still, I managed to get some great photos of the landscape as the sun came up.

The other balloons we saw are from a different hot air balloon company. They apparently do shorter rides, but from multiple spots. Above Laos does one long ride from one location. Time in the air isn’t guaranteed, as it totally depends on the weather conditions, but usually you get at least 30 minutes. Our ride was longer, almost a whole hour, and we went fairly far via wind power.

Once we came down, the ground crew ran to meet us and start packing up the balloon. We had to walk a bit to meet the passenger van which brought us back to the main Above Laos site, where we then had a light breakfast of champagne and fruit. Our pilot presented us with a flight certificate at the end!

After all that, we were driven back to our hotels in the main part of Vang Vieng. In total, it took about 3 hours total from pick up to drop off.

I had a wonderful time floating above the world for about an hour! If you’ve never done a hot air balloon ride, I recommend checking out Above Laos in Vang Vieng.

What to bring

It can be colder up in the air before sunrise, but I didn’t find it THAT much colder. Still, you might want to bring a light jacket or a thin sweater for the first part of the trip. Once the sun came up it got very warm very fast.

Of course, bring a bottle of water and stay hydrated.

Sunscreen, a hat and mosquito repellent could be useful. Once the balloon lands, the ground crew rush to meet up with the pilot and guests, but you might have to walk a bit to meet them. We landed in a field and had to walk about 10 minutes to get to the road to meet the passenger van, and by that time the sun (and bugs) was in full force.

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Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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