It is really one of our favourite festival in Myanmar. You have a lot of people (99% local), it is very spectacular, very friendly. If you can, arrange your journey in Myanmar to go and visit Taungyii hot air balloon festival and it you are in Myanmar between 17 November and 22nd November, you really should come in Taungyi for the festival. A real must to see.
Hot air balloon festival and contest.
In fact, the festival is mainly a hot air balloon contest. The festival and contest last three days, the last night is the most spectacular with the biggest hot air balloons.
During the day (afternoon), you will see mostly small shan paper balloon built by “amateurs”. Nice to see also.
At night, it is the main contest that last all the night, shan paper balloons are very big, they carry a lot of candle and fireworks. The team which has the nicest balloon, which reach the highest point and fly the best wins the contest.
Also, during the hot air balloon contest, you have the local pagoda festival (same place) which attracts twenty thousands of more people.
The Taungyi hot air balloon festival attracks thousands of Burmese tourist and hotels are often fully booked long time in advance. We book one year ahead, but even like this it is difficult to get the best room.
- The closest to the festival and the most convenient is the Aytha Aye Golf Resort. Rooms are good, not too expensive, very quiet and you are located at the bottom of Taungyi hills, so only 20-25 minutes away from the festival. That is why this hotel is booked long time is advance.
- Inle Lake or Nyaung Shwe Village. This is the second choice if AyTha Aye Golf resort is full or if you want to stay in one of the finest hotel of the lake (Amazing Nyuang Shwe hotel, Myanmar Treasure resort, Royal Inlay hotel). You will need 45 minutes drive from Nyaung Shwe village to the festival + 15 to 30 minutes if you have to take a small boat from one of the hotel on the lake. It makes the trip to Taungyi a little long, especially when you come back late at night, with the very very cold weather. Nevertheless, some hotels are full at the lake during the festival.
This year (2018), the festival starts the 17 November and ends the 22 November. We strongly recommend the last night, 22 November (the day before you can go to Kakku, there is also a festival)
How to arrange your program – what to do ?
As Taungyi is located near Heho airport and Inle Lake, it is very easy to include the hot air balloon festival in your Myanmar program. You can either start by Taungyi and then proceed to Inle and other places in Myanmar, or arrived in November in Myanmar and finished your journey by the balloon festival.
As it is the full moon, you have also other very interesting festival around Taungyi, we recommend Kakku with is one day before Taungyi festival (perfect for the program).
- Visit of Inle Lake before or after the 22 of November.
- 21st November : Kakku, and festival of Kakku (you can reach Kakku by car from Inle or by walking 6-8 hours).
- 20 November : morning and early afternoon, visit of Inle Lake, late afternoon and night, hot balloon festival at Taungyi (plan to have your “diner” – very local- at the festival).
What to take with you?
The hot air balloon is in November, on a plateau at an altitude of 1,500 meters. It is freezing, really freezing, especially because your going to stay still, watching the festival during hours, believe us, it is very very cold……
Take hot clothes, gloves, socks etc… There is no seat, so if you have to seat, it is on the ground… cold ground. You can easily find local food at the festival, near the pagoda festival, but the crowd is hude, it is difficult to walk at night, it could be a good idea to carry some hot tea or coffee and some snacks.
Very important that should not stop you to come at the festival, nevertheless, you have to be very very cautious during the festival, especially when you take pictures of the balloon.
There is absolutely no security problem with the locals, but there is problem with the balloons. They are made of Shan paper, they are big and carry a lot of fireworks (more 30 or 50 kg of fireworks…)
It is common that a balloon cath fire before taking off…. fireworks then exploded on the ground…. So it is quite dangerous if you are very close to the balloon, taking photos, please be very careful.
There is a fence at 200m from the lauching place, but hundreds of people (probably you) cross the fence and come very close to the balloons.
We guaranty you that you do not want to try the local emergency room…. Just be careful!
This article was originally published by ananda.