Ballooning Over Burma: the Land of a Thousand Temples

Stacie Chan
12 min readMay 13, 2020

Myanmar was pure magic with its imposing temples dotting the landscape for as far as the eye could see. There were so many ways to appreciate the grandeur of the pagodas: whether through winding arches and paths, or from hundreds of feet in the air — all were spectacular.

Russell from “Up” the movie ain’t got nothin’ on me.


  • Bagan: the hot air balloon ride was one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life. Human ingenuity never ceases to amaze me as we invent new ways to marvel at the world.
  • Yangon (Rangoon): at 46.3 hectares, the Shwedagon Temple feels like the Disneyland of temples, with different lands and sites to explore.
  • Inle Lake: I hopped on a long boat at sunrise to cruise through the Nampan Floating Village, the Venice of Southeast Asia.
  • Mandalay: nearby, the ancient city of Mingun housed the pure white Hsinbyume Pagoda whose structure resembles a tiered wedding cake.


Old Bagan is a must visit when traveling to Myanmar. I felt like I traveled back in time over a thousand years ago, and couldn’t fathom how the Burmese people were able to build over 2,000 grandiose, intricate temples. There’s a sense of other-worldliness, as the red dirt and harsh sunlight collide to cast a faint orange glow over the entire city.

The brightness of the hot air balloon’s gas rivalled the sunrise

Hot air balloon ride: The best way to view the hundreds of temples in Old Bagan is by hot air balloon. It’s definitely pricey: $350USD, but worth every penny. The balloons gently float above the temples to offer a true bird’s eye view (literally). Way before sunrise, we embarked to an open field where dozens of giant deflated balloons were being awoken from their slumber. I gulped down the free tea and crackers to try to wake myself up, but not too much liquid! There are no porta potties in the hot air balloon basket ;)

The guides started firing up the balloons, creating our own light just as the sun started to crest over the mountains. For some balloons, it took dozens of men multiple efforts to hurl the balloons just right in order to catch the gas…

Stacie Chan

California girl gallivanting around the globe, writing about travel, food, life, and everything in between