Up and Away! 6 Best Places in the World for Hot Air Ballooning
Soar above majestic animals, pagodas, and breathtaking natural landscapes on these epic journeys.
If you've never floated peacefully, noiselessly above pristine landscape in a hot air balloon — well, then it's time to tweak that bucket list. For inspo, consider our list of the best places in the world to take a hot air balloon ride, from Australia to Africa. Epic views, unparalleled selfies, and a lifetime of bragging rights? We're so in!
1Queenstown, New Zealand
By hot air balloon, you can see Middle Earth. Sort of. The Lord of the Rings was filmed here, and it's easy to see why: This Southern Lakes region of New Zealand is the epic adventurer's paradise, but if you’re not into jumping off cliffs strapped to a hang glider, a hot air balloon will give you the same views (minus a bit of the adrenaline rush). Just look down to see where you want to head after the ride is over: mountains, lakes, and the Fiordland National Park.
This is the most famous place in the world to take a hot air balloon ride, and chances are you’ve already encountered photos of its splendor. There are huge limestone rocks scattered across the dessert, thanks to thousands of years of erosion (they're known quaintly as “fairy chimneys”), making a spectacularly interesting landscape to behold from above.
3Château d’Oex, Switzerland
Looking down at snow-capped mountains (Mont Blanc, the Eiger, and the Matterhorn), glacier rivers, caves, and tiny little Swiss homes makes for an unforgettable experience. Go at the end of January for the annual balloon festival and take in the sites of one of the world's most beautiful regions.
4Maasi Mara, Kenya
African safari by air: to die for. Just look down to see incredible animals like elephants and lions. Go at sunrise to see the famous African plain sunrise, and see how many of the area's million zebras you can spot.
5Yarra Valley, Australia
Just outside Melbourne, go for a ride over vineyards, orchards, and mountain peaks of the Great Divide. This one is for the romantics: Take a bottle of wine up from one of the area's world-class wineries and toast to a seriously stunning day. (Or... maybe pull out that ring you've stashed in your bag!)
Myanmar (previously known as Burma) is only recently open to tourism, and drifting on the wind over thousands of pagodas is the top attraction. Because the pagodas cover 15 miles, exploring by air is the obvious choice; sunrise is the ideal time. The town and pagodas are ancient, and this cultural experience is can't miss.