10 Tips For The 2011 Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival

Hey man, you dropped your beer!
A number of people have asked me about this year's Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark, Pampanga. They are planning to go to the event but have no idea what to expect. Since I was there last year, I can play the expert on the subject matter.

The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival has become February's most-awaited event because nowhere in the Philippines can one witness such a spectacle any other day. So here, I compiled 10 tips to help make everybody's trip easier and more fun. Hopefully these will answer all the questions left unanswered before you leave for Clark.

1. Dress comfortably. All hot air balloon spectators are free to wander around the Air Force City open field. It's a hangar field without benches nor shady trees. If you plan to see all the balloons up close, you're gonna need to walk a few kilometers back and forth the field. Depending on the weather, I suggest you wear comfortable clothes and shoes, especially if you plan to stay there all day (click here for the day-to-day schedule). Lastly, wear sunscreen and proper sun protection accessories like hats and shades.

Sooo early, yet so many people!

2. Rise before sunrise. The hot air balloons are lit up just as the sun rises because it's when the wind conditions are most ideal for balloon flight. So, to witness the entire balloon flight ceremony, make absolutely sure that you arrive at the air force city no later than 5:00 AM. NLEX and SCTEX are expected to get bumper-to-bumper around that time. Additionally, give yourself some time allowance to find a suitable parking spot because it will most likely be full if you're not that early.

3. Pack for a Picnic. Anything goes once you are inside Air Force City in Clark. Whether you're coming alone, with a date (hey, it's a perfect pre-Valentine's day treat!), or with your family, don't forget to bring some picnic must-haves: full picnic basket, ground sheet, umbrella and chairs. There's no exaggeration when I say some people even set-up some tents there! All kinds of food is okay but alcohol is prohibited inside the location.

Anything goes

4. Lens, no less. Bring your most badass camera and accessories! Need I expound on that? If you sign up for a ramp tour (P250 adults; P150 children), you can access the runway to be really up close with the balloons and even interact with the balloonists. A hot air balloon ride is a different deal, though - it costs no less than US$150.

5. Don't forget the kids! The event is absolutely kid friendly. Last year I brought my then-4-month old kid and I didn't have any more problem than if we had gone to the mall instead. Kids and babies get in for free. Make sure you bring all the necessary items before you go inside the event area so you don't have to keep going back to the parking lot. Strollers and wet wipes are lifesavers. Bring enough umbrella to make sure everybody gets sheltered in case it pours.

Kids and babies welcome!

5. Bring the sunshine. A huge crowd equals crowded restrooms, long queues and people getting your field of view. But despite all these, it's festive atmosphere. So, I advise you to wear a smile and enjoy the day even though some things or events may turn out to be less than perfect.

6. Travel light. Your vehicle will use less gas and your arms and back will hurt less when you travel light. This tip may be contradicting to what I have said in numbers 3 and 4. But here's the thing: you can still travel light by choosing items that weigh less. Here are some examples: An umbrella stroller versus a heavy one, folding chairs instead of monoblocks and a larger vehicle for better leg room.

7. Book a room. To make your weekend really special, why not book a room in one of the hotels in Clark? This will make your trip less hectic and worry-free because you don't have to drive too far away from the event - at least not right away. I suggest you stay in a leisure park-hotel like Clearwater Country Club, Holiday Inn, Fontana, Mimosa, Hotel Vida or Stotsenberg. There you can use their park facilities which include the swimming pool, casino or golf course.

Overpriced but really cool souvenir toy

8. Eat all you can. All you can eat buffets are set up in the location by some of the hotels in Clark. You can get a buffet breakfast for about P300 or a lunch buffet for about P1000. This will save you the hassle of preparing and bringing your own food. There are also food stalls and an assortment of other items sold tiangge-style (bazaar style). I remember a stall selling export baby clothes (think Carter's Gap, Old Navy).There was also a hot air balloon souvenir toy stall the made money like selling hotcakes! I think the thing was sold for P200 then!

9. See all the attractions. The event is not only about hot air balloons, it's a weekend of everything that flies! So check out the rest of the attractions in the event such as sky diving, Paragliding, plane exhibitions, stunts and others (click here for the day-to-day schedule).

10. Visit Nayong Pilipino sa Clark Expo. If you're interested in more leisure time after the balloon flight, I suggest you make a detour to Nayong Pilipino sa Clark Expo. This park was once located in Paranaque. Now that it has been moved to Clark, it became a wee bit less accessible, so this is your chance to go there. Check out my itinerary here.

Let me know how your trip went!

So there you are - a little late post but can still be helpful for everybody until next year: 2012 Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Leave a comment if you have any questions.


  1. That's a great event for the family so you can enjoy the hot air balloon.

  2. Indeed the event was another success!

    Thanks for visiting!

  3. Hey thanks for sharing these tips! Will go there for the first time. :)

  4. @Gabz

    You're welcome! Hope you had a great time! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...