Up, up, and away

In Bagan, everybody seems to be trying to get the view from above. If they're not climbing to the tops of the pagodas and temples, they're taking a hot air balloon ride at dawn to look down at them. Even though rides here typically book up months out, we got lucky and scored a a last-minute spot with Oriental Ballooning, one of only two companies to offer ballooning in the area. It was not cheap: we paid $400 per person. However, from start to finish the experience was perfectly executed. They picked us up on time, we enjoyed coffee and pastries while the team readied the balloons, and our pilot was professional and experienced. They even gave us a champagne toast after landing — pretty swanky!