Last Updated on November 17, 2021 by Nellie Huang
Seeing the world from above often gives a refreshing perspective: peaked mountains transform into jagged land masses under your feet and rivers meander around like snakes. Atop a hot air balloon, it’s also easy to to see and feel the enormity of the world. Here’s my take (based on my own travels) on the best hot air balloon rides in the world.
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Best Hot Air Balloon Rides in the World
1. Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia is one of the best places for hot air ballooning rides in the world thanks to its strangely unique landscape and favorable weather conditions. An expanse of sandy brown desert and limestone rock mountains, this area in Central Turkey features whimsical fairy chimneys and cave churches scattered amidst steep valleys and green olive groves.
Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia is a dreamy experience: floating above these magical rock outcrops at dawn and rising above the red canyons upon sunrise impresses even the hardened travelers. Book your hot air balloon ride here.
2. Luxor, Egypt
If you’ve never been on a balloon before, this is one of the best places in the world to go hot air ballooning. The 1-hour ride lets you feast on views of the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the Nile River, and the surprisingly lush green fields of the West Bank.
I booked my hot air balloon ride here and highly recommend it. It was much cheaper than other hot air balloon rides I’ve taken, and the pilot was great and communicative.
3. Maasai Mara, Kenya
As one of the best safari parks in Africa, Maasai Mara is a massive game reserve in Southwestern Kenya, most famed for the Great Migration that takes place here every year from July to October. Millions of zebras, gazelles and wildebeests travel long-distance through the park each year in search of water.
This is an exceptionally phenomenal sight, especially when seen from the air. If you are celebrating something special, hot air ballooning over the Maasai Mara is definitely a memorable experience. Prepare to spend around $450 for the experience of a lifetime. Book the experience here.
4. Napa Valley, U.S.
As one of the best wine regions in the world, California’s Napa Valley is a perfect getaway for the well-heeled traveler in search of good food, luxurious accommodations and a natural setting. Hot air ballooning over Napa is definitely one of the best things to do in Northern California.
Floating above the vineyards, the mishmash of olive groves and plunging valleys are spread out below your feet. Fields of yellow sunflowers and patches of brown earth create a beautiful palette of colors. After descending into a meadow of mustard and wild flowers, celebrate to a glass of champagne with your loved one. Book your Napa Valley hot air balloon ride here.
5. Wadi Rum, Jordan
Also known as the Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum is a mishmash of rose-red sandy plains and jagged peaks in Southern Jordan. It has some of the world’s most unearthly landscapes: rugged sand stone rising from a sed of red sand. With so much to see and plenty of surprises at each corner, Wadi Rum is an excellent place for hot air ballooning.
At an altitude of 7,000 feet, you’re treated to a jaw-dropping view of the vast desert and its peculiar rock formations, sand dunes and the occasional natural springs. Located close to the Israeli border, this is definitely one good spot to catch a glimpse of Israel and the Red Sea. Here are our recommended Wadi Rum experiences.
6. Queenstown, New Zealand
Dubbed the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown packs a punch in terms of adrenaline-pumping activities. Located in the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island, Queenstown is built along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, a long Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes.
Surrounded by awe-inspiring mountains and lakes, Queenstown features dramatic scenes straight out of the Lord of the Rings movie. Most people come to Queenstown to go paragliding or bungee jumping — but if that’s not your cup of tea, then hot-air ballooning would be the best way to witness Queenstown’s natural beauty at a leisurely pace.
7. The Outback, Australia
The Australian Outback can be hot, dry and brutal but its beauty is undeniable. Located right smack in the middle of Australia, the Great Red Center is more than just a desert. From a vantage point, you’ll be treated to a view of the red soil, the Ayers Rock and nearby Mount Olga.
Uluru or Ayers Rock is perhaps the most famous landmark in Australia and once here, it’s easy to see why. The 348m-tall sandstone formation is not only majestic but it also appears to change colors at different times of the day, glowing red at dawn and sunset.
8. Bagan, Myanmar
Myanmar is one of the few remaining places in the world that steers clear of the well-trodden tourist trail and retains a sense of authenticity. The most visited area in Myanmar is Bagan, an ancient city in the Mandalay division. Located in the dry central plains along the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady River, the ruins of Bagan were constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries, during which Bagan was the capital of the First Burmese Empire.
Atop the hot air balloon, you will float above the 5,000 pagodas of Bagan and taking in the serenity of the sunrise. Check out our list of best Bagan temples to visit. Note that hot air ballooning in Bagan is suspended during the rainy season (from the beginning of April to end of September).
Have you been on any of these best places for hot air balloon? Which one of the best hot air balloon rides is on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments field below.