Balloon adventures set for takeoff in Mandalay

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Eager adventurers will soon have the chance to enjoy an aerial view of Mandalay from a hot air balloon starting this October, a newly launched company says.

Oriental Ballooning plans to launch the service on October 25, with daily, pre-sunrise services through to at least the end of March – weather permitting.

“There was no balloon flight service in Mandalay before,” said spokesperson Ma Ni Ni Khaing. “This will be the first time. Visitors can enjoy Mandalay and surrounding areas from a perspective they’ve never had before.”

Oriental Ballooning is a subsidiary of Amata Group, which also owns Amata Resort and Spa at Ngapali beach and Amata Garden Resort at Inle Lake.

Oriental Ballooning anticipates interest in the unique experience can only rise and hopes to expand operations to Bagan and Inle Lake “very soon”, Ma Ni Ni Khaing said, adding that the company is waiting for Department of Civil Aviation to launch in those areas.

In Bagan, Oriental Ballooning will be taking on the long-established Balloons over Bagan service. In March, two companies linked to businessman Serge Pun – First Myanmar Investment Company (FMI) and Yoma Strategic Holdings – bought a 75 percent stake in Balloons over Bagan’s parent company, Shwe Lay Ta Gun Travels and Tours Company.

Ma Ni Ni Khaing said Oriental Ballooning is also considering offering the service in a number of other locations across the country. “We are inspecting Pindaya in Shan State and a few other destinations as part of plans to expand our services in the near future,” she said.

“The demand is really high from European markets as well as from Asian markets. We hope visitors will find this service highly enjoyable.”

The company has six balloons, two of which can carry four people each and four of which can carry eight people. Those concerned about safety will be relieved to know the balloons were made by the UK’s largest and longest-established balloon manufacturer, Cameron Balloons. Each is inspected and maintained by certified balloon inspectors working to standards set by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Ma Ni Ni Khaing added that the company has also hired experienced British pilots holding UK commercial balloon pilot licences. Flights will cost US$320 per person, which includes insurance through an international provider.

Source: Myanmar Times

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