As anyone who has tried it will tell you, rising silently into the sky in a hot-air balloon makes for a spectacular start to the day – and when you’re zooming above famous temples or renowned natural settings, all the better! Since we’re unlikely to be seeing Singapore from a floating basket any time soon (the island’s small size means the airspace is tightly regulated), we’ve rounded up some of the best destinations for hot-air ballooning in Asia.
Right, then. Strap yourself in!
#1 Hot-air ballooning above Siem Reap, Cambodia
If you thought the Angkor temples of Siem Reap were spectacular when seen one by one from ground level, how about peering down on all of them (there’s over 1,000, by the way!) from a hot-air balloon? You’ll need to time your travel just right, though. The window of operations for balloons at Siem Reap is small: they generally operate only from December to March each year. Sunrise and sunset flights are available.
#2 Seeing Ubud, Indonesia, from a hot-air balloon
Ubud in Bali is a renowned for its natural beauty, and now you can experience those gorgeous lush surrounds from above in a hot-air balloon. This is a tethered balloon trip rather than a free-floating journey, but the ascent over jungle, rice fields and sleepy villages is still memorable. Plus, it’s the only hot-air balloon adventure available in Bali.
#3 Hot-air balloon trips in Furano, Japan
Is it just us, or does a winter visit to the snowfields of Hokkaido – Niseko, in particular – seem to be the current favourite getaway for Singapore-based travellers? Yet Japan’s northernmost prefecture is well worth visiting in summer too, and Furano in the middle of the island is a picture-perfect place for getting sky-bound in a hot-air balloon. The views of Mount Tokachi and the Daisetsu National Park are majestic – especially when the lavender is blooming in June.
#4 Hot-air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey
“First the sun appeared over the chimneys, and then came dozens of hot-air balloons, soon swelling to hundreds, perfectly covering the golden sky as far as the eye could see.” So goes the eyewitness account of an Expat Living writer’s experience of hot-air ballooning in Cappadocia, the historical Turkish region. It’s no wonder this place is rated one of the best ballooning spots in the world; the views of the famous limestone spires and caves are incredible.
#5 A festival of hot-air ballooning in the Philippines
After a hiatus of a few years, the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta returns in 2024 (16-18 February). This popular annual festival started in 1994, with 21 balloon pilots. Today, it brings large numbers of hot-air balloon pilots and enthusiasts together from around the world – plus, you can also get the chance to ride one of the balloons and experience the thrill of sharing the air-space with a whole fleet.
#6 Hot-air balloon trips near Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai might be up in the mountains already, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go higher still. And, as far as the best hot-air ballooning in Asia goes, this is a destination that’s highly regarded by travellers. On a sunrise flight, you can expect to see lush jungle, rice paddies and lakes and villages in mist, and Chiang Mai itself in the distance, twinkling in the first light of the morning.