Hot air balloons, which allow you to enjoy the beautiful scenery from above and give an adventurous experience, are increasingly popular in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam.
To admire the whole fascinating view from above at a tourist attraction, you can opt amongst climbing a mountain or observatory, taking a helicopter or seaplane, and more. Another funny way is riding a hot air balloon, which saves both energy and money.
Hot air balloons work based on a basic scientific principle that hot air flies higher than cold air. In September 1783, the Montgolfier brothers successfully tested a hot air balloon model with the first “passengers” being a sheep, a duck, and a chicken. After many years of modification and renovation, the appearance, safety and capacity of the balloon are all better, serving higher demands of customers.
Hot air balloon tourism is increasingly concerned and developed with main forms including hot air balloon riding and hot air balloon viewing festivals. In European countries, America, or Australia, these activities are organized methodically and on a large scale.
For example, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has come a long way since 1972 in New Mexico (the US). Now the largest balloon festival in the world, Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta will welcome hundreds of thousands of guests from October 1 to October 9, 2022 to watch around 600 balloons. Beyond balloons, the event also features a chainsaw carving exhibition, skydiving shows, music performances, fireworks,… Visiting Bristol, England every August, travelers can see over 100 hot air balloons from all around the world gathering at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
Château-d’Oex (Switzerland), known as the hot air balloon capital, plays an important role in ballooning history. In 1999, it was the launch site of the first hot air balloon tour around the world. Château-d’Oex will hold the International Hot Air Balloon Festival from January 21-29, 2022, with 60 balloons and pilots from 15 different countries.
Asian nations including Japan and Taiwan are also famous for outstanding events such as Saga International Balloon Fiesta (Japan), the largest hot air ballooning event in Asia or the Taiwan International Balloon Festival in Taitung.
Hot air balloon tourism in Southeast Asia
Blessed with jungles teeming with flora and fauna, an abundance of underwater life, islands, mountains and cliffs to explore, Southeast Asia has world-class adventure destinations and is an ideal land to see from above.
The ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016-2025 states that adventure tourism should be boosted regionally. And among the thrilling sports, hot air balloons are gradually popular in Southeast Asia.
With the promotion of hot air balloon destinations, Southeast Asia can increase the direct contribution of tourism and travel to gross domestic product (GDP), which stood at 135.8 billion USD (4.9 percent of GDP) in 2017 and is on the rise.
In countries except for Vietnam
Till now, Southeast Asian nations such as Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia,… all have their own annual hot air balloon festivals. Some of them are Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Malaysia, Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (the longest-running aviation sports event in Asia – 22 years), International Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai, riding hot air balloons in Angkor, Cambodia, etc.
Participating in these festivals, visitors can choose to sit on a hot air balloon, or stand below to admire the sight of giant balloons slowly flying in space.
In fact, hot air balloons have appeared in Vietnam for nearly 20 years. It’s not until 10 years ago that the government allowed the free flying of hot air balloons in certain areas. In particular, in 2022, citizens and tourists across Vietnam can continuously see hot air balloons flying in the sky.
Specifically, Hue is the only city in Vietnam that has 3 times successfully organized the hot air balloon festival. This June, hot air balloons took locals and tourists high to admire the ancient city. In late March and early April, the biggest international hot air balloon festival in Vietnam took place in Tuyen Quang with more than 20 hot air balloons from all over the world. Also during this time, the Hot Air Balloon Festival organized by the Hanoi Department of Tourism also attracted a large number of attendees. After the festival, hot air balloons will be a regular tourist product of Hanoi at the Long Bien longan garden.
Not out of the trend, Ho Chi Minh City will not fire fireworks on National Day (September 2), but will release a hot air balloon to pull the 1,800-square-meter national flag at 8am on Saigon River, along with other leisure activities. National Day also marks the first time the Hot Air Balloon Festival is held in the Southwest of Vietnam. There will be 17 hot air balloons, of which 14 are fixed at a height of 20-40m, and 3 fly with a maximum height of less than 50m for sightseeing.
Hot air balloon tourism in Vietnam is busier than ever, but most of it is still spontaneous, short-term and not really attractive. The events organized and promoted are still not impressive enough. The country needs to have a synchronous strategy as well as a more methodical orientation on a regional or national scale to breakthrough compared to other countries in the region and turn hot air balloons into a new tool for tourism development.