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A New Angle on Sightseeing
A New Angle on Sightseeing
Hot air balloons rise in popularity
 

As a new form of sightseeing, hot-air ballooning is sprouting up in various tourist destinations in China. Many people are mustering up the courage to experience this new style of touring. Sitting in a basket suspended beneath a balloon—which could be small, with only three or four people, or large enough for a dozen people—and rising up hundreds of meters into the sky, passengers can look over the landscape below. It is definitely a fresh experience for people who are used to enjoying views on the ground.

Hot-air ballooning has become a common type of sightseeing trip worldwide and a must-have experience for tourists in Turkey, Egypt, Australia and other countries. The activity has also emerged in China in the last decade.

The progenitor of today's hot-air balloons dates back to the Five Dynasties era 1,100 years ago. The Kongming lantern, a small hot-air balloon made of paper, has been traditionally made for centuries. Due to this similarity, many Chinese people feel that hot-air balloons are familiar. The modern hot-air balloon was introduced to China after the nation began its reform and opening up process, first appearing in Beijing during the 1990s. But in recent decades, hot-air balloons have found their way to more and more regions, as their usefulness in sports, entertainment, tourism and advertising have been discovered.

Hot-air ballooning, as an airborne activity, carries safety risks. It can only be conducted in appropriate weather by qualified pilots, who must abide by China's air-control regulations. Nowadays, tourists can enjoy the pleasure of hot-air balloon sightseeing in most regions at a cost of around 1,000 yuan ($150) to 2,000 yuan ($300) per flight.

Copyedited by Chris Surtees 

Comments to weiyao@bjreview.com 

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