In Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the sky is not the limit. Residents and tourists can enjoy the scenic views of the city in a hot air balloon ride. Dubai’s white-sand beaches, state-of-the-art architecture, serene safaris, and favorable weather conditions make it a premier global destination for hot air balloon flights.
One shouldn’t leave the city without trying out this airborne adventure. So, if you want to see Dubai as you’ve never seen it before, here’s everything you need to know before you book your first hot air balloon ride in Dubai.
Things to Know Before You Book Your First Hot Air Balloon Flight in Dubai
Hot air balloon riding is a relaxing recreational activity that won’t require too much from you. Still, you need to find the best offers and packages in Dubai to get the experience of a lifetime. Start your research with the information below.
What Is Hot Air Balloon Riding?
Hot air balloon riding is one of the best sports and travel activities in Dubai. Most countries use hot air balloons for recreational purposes, but Dubai turned it into a booming commercial business.
Operators in Dubai use modern hot air balloons with light nylon envelopes, metal cables, traditionally woven baskets, and burners. These giant balloons rise and become lighter when the burners heat the air inside them. They usually fly between 1,000 to 3,000 feet in the air. But while all hot air balloon offers in Dubai can give this range, many can go as high as 4,000 feet above ground to offer riders the city’s best view.
Who Can Ride In A Hot Air Balloon?
The average commercial hot air balloon in Dubai can carry up to eight passengers, including the pilot. Balloons with larger baskets or gondolas can accommodate 14 to 24 passengers. There are also private rides that welcome single riders and couples. Hot air balloon operators set their minimum and maximum loading capacities, depending on the basket’s size and the envelope’s durability.
Riding these balloons is generally safe. It’s safe for people of all ages, even friendly animals like dogs and cats. However, some operators in Dubai impose age, height, and health restrictions to comply with local regulations and ensure smooth sailing. Children aged 0 to 4 are usually not allowed to fly, and responsible adults should accompany minors.
Further, pregnant women are discouraged from riding due to the possibility of a bumpy landing. Passengers with physical disabilities, however, are welcome to look for packages with wheelchair-equipped hot air balloons. It’s critical to inform the operator of your existing health problems and conditions before officially booking a ride.
Does Hot Air Balloon Riding Require Certain Skills?
The only person who needs skills and mastery in a hot air balloon ride is the pilot. Weather experts, engineers, and ground staff will assist the pilot before the flight and during the landing. Tourists and passengers are encouraged just to relax and follow safety precautions. There’s really nothing for you to do but to enjoy the ride.
Is Hot Air Balloon Riding Safe And Regulated?
Despite the altitude and notwithstanding the age and height restrictions, hot air balloon riding is generally safe. Rest assured that you’ll be in safe hands as travel companies in Dubai follow safety protocols before, during, and after the adventure.
The entire activity will be managed by reputable and experienced management staff, pilots, weather experts, and engineers. You’ll find a team of experts unloading the basket at the site, spreading the massive balloon, preparing the burner, and inflating the balloon. While this happens, the designated instructor of the trip will give flight safety instructions. When everything’s ready, the journey begins.
These safety protocols add a layer of protection, but you can already take comfort in the fact that hot air balloon riding is considered one of the safest air sports in aviation by the World Air Sports Federation. The only thing you should be worried about is your height tolerance—but that’s also part of the overall experience, isn’t it?
All travel and tour companies in Dubai follow special health and safety measures to combat COVID-19. Hot air balloon operators in Dubai are required by the World Health Organization (WHO) and local authorities to ensure social distancing among passengers, regularly sanitize hot air balloon baskets and equipment, conduct temperature checks for staff and passengers, and promote contactless payments. Tour companies may limit the number of passengers per ride based on local regulations.
Tourists, too, are required to follow individual safety protocols. Hot air balloon passengers should wear face masks during the activity, avoid physical contact among staff and other passengers, and submit basic personal information for contact tracing purposes.
When’s the Best Time to Ride a Hot Air Balloon in Dubai?
Hot air balloon riding is a year-round activity in Dubai. There’s no best season in question, but you should always consider the weather condition. Hot air balloons smoothly sail when there are bright skies, light winds, and little to no rain. Strong winds accompanied by heavy rain make it difficult for pilots to fly. Operators only allow commercial flights upon the advice of their weather experts.
The best time to fly above the ground and see the city as a whole is during sunrise. Departure times are usually scheduled in the early mornings to catch favorable weather conditions. However, if time is not in your favor, remember that this is a year-round activity in Dubai. So, if the weather condition is fair, you’re good to go no matter the time of the day.
How Long Do Hot Air Balloon Rides Last?
The duration of the flight can range from 20 minutes to an hour. After that, hot air balloon pilots will aim to get a suitable landing site to make the actual landing as smooth and as comfortable as possible. Upon landing, there will be a team of ground staff waiting for you. Getting off the basket can be a struggle, but it’s part of the experience.
Where To Ride a Hot Air Balloon in Dubai
Hot air balloon ride packages are scattered all over Dubai since every piece of the city is a masterpiece. But for first-timers, it is recommended to book your first adventure at the Hajar Mountains, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR), and Margham to get the ultimate Dubai experience in one go.
DDCR is the most popular location among the three because of its location, accessibility, and functionality. It’s a protected area with healthy biodiversity. It’s also home to various desert activities unique to Dubai. Only select travel and tour companies have been permitted to conduct adventures in the heart of the conservation area.
Preparation Tips And Booking Procedures
After the basics, you can now plan your itinerary and book the best hot air balloon offers in Dubai. For a hassle-free experience, keep in mind our preparation tips and booking procedures below.
How to Get to the Best Hot Air Balloon Locations
Hot air balloon riding has become a booming business in Dubai, so hundreds of operators are offering it in the city. The duration, mode, and price of your travel to and from your accommodation depend on the package you choose.
For those traveling to popular hot air balloon riding locations like the Hajar Mountains, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, and Margham, you can book private transportation in the form of vans, buses, and cars. Some operators offer private pick-ups as part of their adventure packages. Alternatively, you can also book an Uber or take the metro.
How to Get to the Hajar Mountains
The Hajar Mountains is reachable via plane or car. The cheapest option costs 80.81 AED (22 USD), and the fastest travel time from the city takes five hours. Travelers with private or rented vehicles can easily reach the Hajar Mountains from the city center in approximately 6 hours through Al Ain – Dubai Rd/E66 at Ruta 21.
How to Get to Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Travelers with private or rented vehicles can easily reach DDCR from the city center in approximately 45 minutes through the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Rd/E311 at Al Ain – Dubai Rd/E66 or Dubai-Hatta Rd/E44.
There are no bus and metro transportation services that can directly take you to DDCR. You’ll have to ride multiple vehicles with varying rates if you take this option. It’s best to rent an Uber, taxi, or private vehicle.
How to Get to Margham
Margham is reachable via car, taxi, Uber, bus, or metro. The cheapest option for public transportation costs 84 AED (23 USD), and the fastest travel time from the city takes 40 minutes. Travelers with private or rented vehicles can easily reach Margham from the city center in approximately 45 minutes through Al Ain – Dubai Rd/E66 or Dubai-Hatta Rd/E44.
If you want to commute, city buses can take you to Margham and its surrounding areas. Take bus 66 or E16. There are no direct metro transportation services that can take you to Margham.
What Are the Things Passengers Need to Prepare?
The morning of your adventure, dress comfortably, eat a light meal, and stay hydrated. Consider the current season in Dubai and the weather condition in the area when choosing an outfit. To ease discomfort, you can wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats.
Cameras and mobile phones are allowed during the ride. But if you plan to bring heavy professional equipment, it’s best to discuss it with the operator ahead of time. It would be difficult for you to handle heavy equipment when there are heavy winds.
If you booked a package with a reputable operator, chances are they’ll provide you with storage locations to store your belongings before the flight and while completing the tour. If there aren’t any, look for transportation stations with rental lockers.
Do Travelers Need to Book Beforehand?
It’s advisable to book a hot air balloon ride in Dubai at least three days in advance for a hassle-free experience. Walk-ins are typically not allowed, especially if you’re in big groups. You and the operator need ample time to prepare for the actual activity. Preparation includes booking transportation services, observing weather conditions, and assembling the hot air balloon.
Where To Book a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Dubai
Since this adventure offers a one-of-a-kind experience, it doesn’t come cheap. But don’t fret; one ride is worth every penny in a perfect adventure package. Hot air balloon prices in Dubai can range from 700 AED (190 USD) to 1,500 AED (408 USD). Prices vary depending on the size of the balloon, time of the day, location of the flight, and additional activities.
Most operators offer packages targeting friends, families, and couples. They usually come with basic inclusions like scheduled hotel pick-ups, complimentary meals, and tour guides. Premium packages may include overnight safari adventures and vintage Land Rover tours.
The most exciting part of the activity, of course, is the actual airborne experience. As you soar thousands of feet above the ground, you can take photos, watch the sunrise up close, and gawk at Dubai’s incredible scenery all at the same time. Premium hot air balloon packages offer in-flight shows featuring falcons, the world’s fastest birds.
Once your feet touch the ground, you’ll receive flight certificates signed by the pilot, as well as complimentary pictures with your family, friends, and the team. To extend your adventure, you can roam around the desert and explore nearby tourist attractions. There are restaurants and booths per hot air balloon riding location, so you can upgrade your adventure and enjoy a traditional Arabic meal near the site as part of your package or as an additional activity.
To help narrow down your options, here’s a list of some of the most reputable travel and adventure companies with hot air balloon offers in Dubai:
Amigos Balloon Dubai – 770 AED (209.6 USD) to 12,500 AED (3,400 USD) for standard and private tours.
Hot Air Balloon UAE – 850 AED (231 USD) to 949 AED (258 USD) for deluxe and adventure packages.
Dubai Dunes – 1,209 AED (329 USD) for deluxe packages; 1,499 AED (408 USD) for hot air balloon packages with a day desert safari adventure; 1,800 AED (490 USD) for hot air balloon packages with an overnight desert safari adventure.
Platinum Heritage (DDCR-approved) – 2,100 AED (572 USD) for hot air balloon packages with a day desert safari adventure; 9,950 AED (2,708 USD) for a private ride with falcon shows.
You can book a hot air balloon ride online or via phone call. Registered operators have reputable websites and contact details accessible online. Alternatively, you can visit their physical locations if they’re near your area to inquire about hot air balloon prices in Dubai or book a ride right away.
Final Hot Air Balloon Riding Tips for First-Timers
A hot air balloon adventure only lasts for 20 minutes to an hour, but it offers a one-of-a-kind experience that lasts a lifetime. As such, it’s crucial to pick the best hot air balloon offer in Dubai that fits your budget and preferences before officially booking a ride. This activity will let you marvel at the great charm of the Arabian Desert like no other, but your overall experience depends on your choices and preparations.
What to Do After a Hot Air Balloon Ride
If you enjoyed your hot air balloon riding experience in Dubai, explore other airborne experiences and aerial tours in the city. Go extreme and book your first skydiving, parasailing, and zipline adventure in Dubai. If you want to relax and view the city’s most impressive sites from a different aerial perspective, book a helicopter tour! Whatever your choices may be, make sure to experience Dubai in all its glory above the sky.