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My First Hot Air Balloon Fiesta Experience

PIHABF - Souvenirs

Twice I have attempted to attend the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, and twice I have failed. Until I  read an article on Facebook that says "This year's Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark maybe the last", and it gave me a mini heart attack! So I asked AJ to book us entrance tickets immediately, that way there will be no backing out. I just cannot miss this one. Now I'm finally able to say, I made it! Lol. It's in my bucketlist to visit the hot air balloons in Turkey, so when I found out that we have one of our own here, I've been wanting to go ever since.

On the road
Gates open at 5:30 in the morning, while the first flight of the hot air balloons for the day will be at 6:30AM. We woke up at 2:00AM and by 3:00AM we were already on the road backpacker style. It was really early, I thought we had enough travel time to make it to the first balloon flight. But of course, at 4:30AM, it was already traffic in the express way. How can there be no traffic at 4 in the morning, right? To our luck, the bus we we're riding on got held up by a traffic enforcer just as we we're about to exit a toll. Our driver really sucked at negotiations, he just stayed there in his seat cursing the officer outside, unwilling to surrender his license. Big thanks to that one passenger that helped and convinced the driver talk to the officer to let us go and out bus driver got a ticket instead.

8:00AM. We arrived at a very very bad time. Despite the fact that we were not able to witness the first flight of the hot air balloons, we entered the Freeport while everyone who came only for the damn balloons were already exiting the grounds. Imagine the hassle, the heat of the sun and the crowd of people. The organizers did a really crappy job at the gates. I saw two gates, and people are coming in and out on only one gate. It made a very long line, huge traffic of people, and a very angry crowd to that too. At 9:30AM we finally got inside and set our camp.

What's inside
The said event's theme is "A Weekend of Everything That Flies". Most people came to take photos of the hot air balloons, and since we missed it, our only chance to see them again is to wait until the next balloon flight which is at 5:30PM. So we camped and waited.

But worry not, you're not going to die of boredom inside while you wait for the balloons to fly. There were plenty of activities for us to enjoy. There's paragliding, aircraft flights, and skydiving! But I have to tell you, it is not cheap. We didn't try any of those, it was way out of our budget! Haha. But I definitely enjoyed myself watching people do the activities themselves.

There are also booths inside where you can play games and win prizes! That we participated in. I won a shirt from the Manila Bulletin booth. There are also lot of food stalls there so don't you worry about your hunger fam, food is everywhere. There's also fast food chain stalls inside, like Jollibee, KFC, Bon Chon, Shakeys, and many more. So you have a wide selection of food. I packed ourselves something for lunch, but we ate/bought a lot of food inside as well. Especially cold drinks, because it was scorching in there!

We mostly stayed in the tent because of the heat. Eventually we got bored and obviously we had nothing better to do, so we bought a kite and flew one along with everybody else. The kite costs P80 and up depending on the design. There are various designs to choose from! From a plain old kites, cartoon characters, birds, and planes.

As soon as it got cloudy, we started to watch the event shows. It inlcudes Aerobatic Exhibitions, Balloon Bursting, Formation Flyung, Gliding and Microlight & Ultralight Flying. Balloon Bursting was my favorite! Criteria is, someone from the ground will release a balloon and the one's riding an aircraft needs to pop it with the tip of it's phalange* . And there was an event where a helicopter is racing an SUV, which is always won by the SUV btw. What I was excited about was the Drift event. I'm a huge Fast & Furious fan so watching live drifting excites me! Too bad they had to perform on a runway only, it would have been so cool if they had like a track or something! They chose about 10 lucky winners to ride shotgun with the drifters, they we're so lucky! :)

At 5:30PM, the winds were still strong. We had to wait until the wind rate is low before they blow up the balloons. The hot air balloon show started at 7:30 in the evening and it was fantastic, I am just out of words. I don't know if it was the same with the morning flight, but I prefer the one at night. Though I didn't think so because it kinda looked like a light show in the evening! Although they did not actually flew them up in the air, they just blew them up. It was amazing all the same, it was quite the sight!

Useful tips
  • Go as early as you can. We left at 3AM but it was still not enough. It may be faster if you're not commuting. Still, the earlier the better.
  • Do not wear white anything. It's like a dessert in there, so expect to get a bit dirty. I wore a white sneakers and a white shirt. My shoes were almost brown when I got home.
  • It is super hot out there, so bring or be ready for any kind of refreshments. Bring sunblock and an umbrella!
  • Manila Water's booth was free drinking water for everyone. Plus it's cold too!
  • Bring a face mask. It's sandy, so expect a lot of dust around. 
  • Ladies, there are only portable comfort rooms. Ya'll need to bring lot of tissues and wipes if you'll ever need to pee. Be brave, haha.
Most of the people said that it was not worth it to go to the said event but if you love like aircrafts and flying, it's going to be worth it. We truly enjoyed ourselves. If you have enough money, you can try their activities and I'm sure you're going to love it. It's not going to be the last for the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF), they announced that we'll definitely see them again next year! I will probably go back, but just to take photos of the first balloon flights because revenge.
Thank you all for reading! How about you, are you planning to go on the next PIHABF? Or we're you able to experience the fun already? Tell me about it on the comment box below :)

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  1. It's sad that it may be the last and I haven't experience this one. Hihi.I hope they'll change their minds. Thanks for the tips girl! Keeping my fingers crossed to experience this too but I wish there will be better organizers too. :)

  2. Your photos are amazeball! Super ganda ng mga shots! Hihi. My lead went there but he was disappointed and told me it wasn't worth it. The place was jam-packed and the entrance/exit was such a chaos. He said he'll never come back. The look on his face while telling me all these things. Haha. I also heard that the cost of riding the hot air balloon is 20k. It wasn't really cheap.

    Auradelle // Shoot, Eat, Write

  3. Nice photos! I've seen some of my friends attended the hot air balloon festival this year and it makes me want to experience it next year, hopefully! Thanks for the tips!

    Bia S. | RoadByBia

  4. Same experience here! This year's PIHABF is my second one! What day did you go? I was with my boyfriend on the penultimate day of exhibition. We were dead tired by 8 am. Hahaha! And I have also heard that they would transfer the fiesta on another venue next year? Have you heard any (confirmed) news about it? :)

  5. first let me say your photos are perfect! :) i'm happy for you, Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is among the happiest festivals in the first quarter of the year. thanks for sharing some tips. as per the plans, me and my friends are looking into the hot air balloon ride in myanmar this december :)

  6. Nice pictures. Hot air balooning is a great activity. I tried it once too in Goa, India and totally loved it.

  7. Glad that you enjoyed the event aside from what happened at the entrance gate. I attended the one last year, I think it was February 2016. It was an amazing experience, yes, because of seeing the Hot Air Balloons but I was disappointed by majority of it that I didn't plan to ever come back again. But that's just me. I have read many blogs saying they did enjoy the entire exhibition just like you. :)

    By the way, I love the quality of your photos Nika!

  8. Same, I always want to go there but I never tried. Sucks that this year is the last one, I really hope that there will be another one next year. :-( Glad you enjoyed it and I love the photos!

  9. I feel you when you made it to last chance to attend hot air balloon. Photographers are absolutely stunning and love the way you described in details about the place. I am waiting to experience hot air balloon and Im so excited.

  10. You seemed to have fun. I didn't enjoy this year's fiesta and it was very tiring and stressful and not fun at all for me. Did you have VIP pass? I think, VIP pass will really let you enjoy the event. But good thing you really enjoyed it :)

  11. This looks like so much fun! I'm dying to ride in a hot air balloon, and this looks like the perfect place to do it. Hoping to make it to the Philippines this year, so thanks for the tips!

  12. What a beautiful sight! And the tips were really helpful. I really want to experience this beautiful hot air balloon fest!. The photographs are simply amazing. So much fun!

  13. We love hot air ballon festivals too. Our second date was on a hot air balloon, so they hold a special place in our hearts. We'd love to see this one.

  14. I have never been to a hot air balloon ride. It is quiet high on my bucket list. You had such a wonderful time. To wake up at 2 am and then take the ride early in the morning!! What a wonderful experience

  15. Always wanted to go to this event but haven't had the chance! I also don't like crowds so... hehe :) But I hope I could experience this myself someday!

    Nice photos, btw. <3

  16. Every year, naiinggit din ako sa mga pumupunta dyan. And syempre gusto ko din but for some reason, di pa ko nagkakaron ng chance. But next year sana! ♥ Haha. Love your photos, Nika! Hope to hear from you soon!

    Love, Airish
    Gorgeous Glance

  17. Sadly, I didnt attend this year's hot air balloon. I think its impressive and exciting as always ;)

  18. I have been here last year and the feeling is awesome. And yes, it's really a must to bring a tent or something to shade you. It can be very hot in the area. The nice thing is that it has different activities for kids too. Have you tried going to Lubao Hot Air Balloon Festival?

  19. Since 2 years ago my friends keep on inviting me to watch/see this festival but since we need to travel super early sabi ko nextime nalang, mainit pa for sure. Hahaha! But seeing your photos, parang gusto ko na ulet pumunta, parang ang saya magtake ng photos and all. Hahaha! By the way, i'll take note of your tips!



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