If you’re into adventure, then you will love hot air ballooning Vang Vieng! Known as the cheapest place in the world to do this activity, it also happens to be one of the most beautiful ones, too. While the majority of the tourists opt for tubing and hiking in Vang Vieng, you won’t regret booking this bucket-list experience during your visit to Laos. In this article, you will find out everything you need to know before you make the booking, how much it costs and how our trip went. I will also answer one of the most burning questions on this topic: was it safe?
Where to book a hot air balloon ride in Vang Vieng
There is only one company that operates the hot air balloons in town, Vang Vieng Balloons. You can arrange your hot air balloon ride through your hotel or several travel agents in town. While there is a general agreed-upon fee of $80-90 USD among the agents, it’s worth comparing them if you want to save a few dollars. If you want the best deal, then cut off the middle-man and go straight to Vang Vieng Balloons.
You can book the hot air balloon ride a day in advance and there is no need to book online. The tours are at sunrise and sunset and during the high season, they even operate in the afternoons. We visited Vang Vieng in May 2019 and they only had the sunrise and sunset option available. There were absolutely no problems securing a spot.
How much does it cost?
The price of going on a hot air balloon in Vang Vieng fluctuates throughout the year and is season-dependent. We paid $80 USD per person during our visit in May 2019. If you are looking to save a few dollars, then make sure to compare the different travel agent prices, and don’t be afraid to bargain.
The price includes pick-up and drop-off at your hotel.
Is it safe?
Being a scaredy-cow most of the time, even I felt safe during this activity. In Laos, you will have to learn to trust strangers even if they provide little to no information to you.
Although they didn’t provide us with any safety briefing, we didn’t feel that our safety was compromised in any way. When we were waiting to board, there was a lot of staff assisting us in getting into the basket and also helping us land smoothly in the end.
Important: Bear in mind that hot air balloons are depended on the wind and can not be steered in any direction. So it might take you some time to land. It took us 5 attempts, including grazing a few trees. This is completely normal and part of the experience when hot air ballooning.
What to bring and what to wear
Bring as little as possible, since you will be in a basket with other people.
Camera: you should pack your widest angle lens for this activity if you want to get shots of yourself in the basket + view. If you plan on taking photos of the view only, then you don’t need anything very wide.
Clothes: You can wear anything on a hot air balloon ride. It’s warm, even hot, so no need for any long sleeves.
Shoes: make sure you wear flat shoes. It might feel a little unstable to be in heels and it’s also completely unnecessary to dress fancy for this occasion.
Our experience with hot air ballooning in Vang Vieng
We booked the sunset tour and were picked up at our hotel about an hour before the takeoff. After picking up 4 other people, we started the drive towards the balloon.
Upon arrival at the take-off place, the adrenaline started rushing over me. I was thinking I must be crazy for boarding a wooden basket with 5 other people and trusting everything will go fine. I was certain someone will think it’s funny to start jumping and rocking the basket when we fly.
It took the staff about 20 minutes to get the balloon ready, so it took slightly longer than anticipated. We observed them filling it up with air and the moment it was ready, we had to quickly get in the basket. They closed the little door to the basket and off we went.
As soon as we were in the air everything just became so calm. Even though I am slightly scared of heights (getting vertigo when looking down), I had no problems here. There was so much beauty to see and so little time to think about what could go wrong. We swifted through the sky for about 30 minutes, when we started making the descent. It took us a few attempts to land and the staff on the ground had to constantly watch where we might go. On the 5th attempt they finally managed to catch the rope we threw and they safely helped us land.
It was such a beautiful experience to do hot air ballooning Vang Vieng! If you want to see more stories from Laos, visit my Laos IG highlights.