Hot Air Ballooning in Vang Vieng.
Visiting Laos was on my list for a long time, and I booked a tour through Laos with a local tour provider. BUT riding a balloon has always been my dream and here in Laos, this dream unexpectedly came true one early morning in the mist of the sunrise over Vang Vieng, Laos. The day before I had heard about the Lao hot air ballooning and together with my friends we decided to give it a go.
So, we booked, paid and were just waiting for the morning to come.
Was it really to be the place where I do my first hot air balloon cruise, really here in remote Asia, and here in this more then dramatic and amazing landscape???
The landscape over Vang Vieng is one of the most spectacular and beautiful in Laos, if not even in the whole region of South East Asia. The limestone formations rise high out of green rice paddies, and majestic rock formations inspire each visitor, wanting them to stay longer. Vang Vieng was once known for the party town of Laos, which changed a few years back. The parties have largely gone, and nature can be enjoyed.
At 06.00 A.M. the alarm went off and we prepared for the early morning excitment, high in the air. We got picked up and introduced to what is about to happen. Following the guide and driver to the starting point of the hot air balloon.
We saw the balloon coming and landing on the tiniest road you can imagine. A crew helped to prepare for our very own flying adventure. We were bundled into the basket with about 6 people. The pilot looked above him and started the fire. The crew was holding on to the basket until we had enough pull to lift the thing up into the sky in a surprisingly quick manner.
Don’t forget to bring a cap!
The heat over your head is simply brutal, and I didn’t know about it…the burner almost feels like singing off your hair! Every time we had to get more heat inside, I could feel the brutal heat of the gas being blown into the balloon on this already warm morning. However, just a few seconds after we took off, we certainly realized the beauty of being airborne.
It’s hard to describe the feeling while you enjoy the views over rice fields, little grass roof huts, the Nam Song river below us and simply gorgeous mountain views around Vang Vieng in the misty distance.
As we drifted through the air, the rugged and sharp karst limestone peaks made us wonder how they were actually created by nature and why there would not be more of them in Laos/
The balloon was going up and down a few times and we even tipped a few trees while we were gliding over the river landscape with farmers and Lao fishermen and their families below waving their Sabaideeeees to us.
With the little wind speed we had this morning we were going South, towards a great cluster of mountains and we all started wondering where we were supposed to land. Not seeing a road, nor a proper wide field with access, the pilot pointed out a village a few kilometers in front of us. I have to admit, that I was bit worried for a few moments thinking about where we would actually hit ground.
But communication was ongoing over the radio and all in the sudden we saw the same support team racing towards us on a dust road,…and a school yard opening below us… The school was our place to land. And with the right feel and skill of our pilot we finally made a safe and smooth landing, on the school yard.
Contact a team member for more details and how to book this great Lao Adventure in a hot air balloon.
Published 2012. Edited by David Allan 2019.