Golden Rock Pagoda is one of most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site in Myanmar rivaling Shwedagon Pagoda (Yangon) and Mahamuni Pagoda (Mandalay). Located near the town of Kyaikhto (5 hours’ drive from Yagon), Mount Kyaiktiyo is the place where the golden leafed boulder delicately balanced on the edge of its cliff-top. At a glance, with ignorance of the gravity, it appears that the boulder will fall at a slight push. It is said to be the site where one of Buddha’s hair was donated by a hermit. The hair was retrieved from the sea by a king in the eleventh century, and it subsequently turned into the rock. At sunset the golden rock is lit up by the setting sun and electric lights while pilgrims and monks circle around the rock.

The height of the season of pilgrimage to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is from November to March (December recommended) when the atmosphere surrounding is filled with magi and devotion, especially when the glinting boulder is bathed in the purple, misty, light of dawn and dusk. Pilgrims chant, light candles and meditate all through the night under the chilling wind. Entrance to the rock is currently – US$6 (no camera fee).

Getting There

By Bus (Recommended) – Buses run from the Highway Bus Station (also known as the Aung Mingalar Bus Station) in Yangon to the town of Kyaikhto and Kinpun which is a town 10km from Kyaikhto right at the base of Mt Kyaiktiyo. Do not get off at Kyaikhto. Instead continue all the way to Kinpun. The first bus leaves at 06:30 and then goes at hourly intervals until 14:30 (maybe later in high season). The fare is about US $10 and the trip takes less than 5 hours.

By Train

Trains leave throughout the day from Yanon with the earliest departing at 07:15. The ticket is less than $10, and as of April 2014, you can pay ticket price in Kyats (same price as locals).The train ride supposedly takes four hours to arrive in Kyaikhto. From there you will have to take a bus to base camp (Kinpun). It’s a great chance for you to see the countryside and interact with locals but a bit more time consuming than the bus.

By Bike

This opinion is for those wants to spice up the trip with a little bit of adventure. You can rent a bike from Yangon and ride all the way to Kinpun. Even though the road signs clearly show the way leading to Kyaikhto, it’s advisable to bring a guide with you.

Getting Around

To get from Kinpun to the Golden Rock you have to take a truck and/or walk.

By Trucks (Recommended) – Dump trucks used in this hike are rebuilt with seats to fit passengers. They are usually packed to the brim with 35-40 people, often sitting on each other, and won’t leave until they have enough passengers. The price ranges from US$ 3-5 depending on the high/low season. The last trucks depart from/to the mountaintop just before sunset so make sure to be on one of those last buses or risk having to walk down (about 3 hours) or stay in one of the hotels at the top. Sometimes the truck drivers won’t let tourists on the ones going all the way to the top as to benefit the sherpas working at the mountain, but if you want to avoid climbing a steep hill for an hour in up to 40°C heat carrying all your stuff or paying someone to carry it (US$ 8) or you (US$ 20) insist on taking the truck all the way to the top or wait for a truck with a more accepting driver.

On Foot/On PalanquinIf you want to visit on a budget, and you don’t really mind a fair bit of hiking, It’s also possible to walk the entire way up which is a 5 hour very steep climb.  Also It is possible to get carried up the mountain on a Palanquin, an oriental transport cart powered by the legwork of two persons bearing the cart’s and the occupant’s weight on their shoulders, for around US$ 10. Not advised for overweight tourists.

Things To Do

Climb to the Golden Rock from Kinpun

It’s possible but prepare for a steep hike up and a steeper descend!

Golden Rock Pagoda Festival (Nine Thousand Lamps)

December 31 of every year, the platform of the Kyaik-hti-yo ‘Golden Rock’ Pagoda is filled with devotees lighting up nine thousand lamps to welcome the New Year and to give thanks to Buddha’s peaceful Doctrine.

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Have a Myanmar Draft

A hot weather and an ice-cold local beer on the way to Kyaiktiyo is a must. One can find a lot of open-air beer-pubs, serving a delicious draft beer. Most of the Myanmar breweries have been founded at the beginning of the last century by German expatriates. So you can savor a very good and cheap drink, wherever you find the sign of “Myanmar Premium Quality”.

Golden Rock by night

If you visit Golden Rock then you’d better do that both at day and at night. As the Golden Rock is brightly illuminated at night the gold leafs reflect their yellowish color. Given the atmosphere with candles and people praying it is a very inspiring experience.

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Close-up view of Golden Rock

By using a piece of bamboo strips as a lever, with a piece of thread tied to one end and placed under the rock you can pass the thread from one side to the other side of the boulder which goes to show that the boulder supporting the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda does not touch the rock below it. And also you will be surprised by the amount of gold deposited on the surface of the boulder. No wonder they call it “Golden Rock”.

Kyaiktiyo massage

After a long journey from Yangon and the thrilling ride from the base and the long hour’s climbs, Burmese healing hands will give your muscle some good rest. And it won’t cost you more than US$ 3 for an hour massage.

On a tight schedule?

It’s possible to travel a short 12 hours trip to Golden Rock although you will miss the mesmerizing sunset of Kyaiktiyo.

06.30 AM – Take a taxi to Aung Mingalar bus station

07.00 AM – Reach Aung Mingalar bus station and ask the driver to stop at a bus heading to Kinpun. Buses leave to Kinpun every one hour. Have a breakfast and buy water at the bus station, since the bus does not stop in between.

07.30 AM – Catch the bus and head to Kinpun.

11.00 AM – Reach Kinpun and have your lunch, not many eating options available at the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.

11.30 AM – Go the truck station, from where you have to take a truck taxi to the pagoda

12.30 PM – Reach the pagoda and spend two hours (Entrance fees for foreigner – US$ 6)

02.30 PM – Take a truck taxi back to Kinpun

03.15 PM – Eat a snack

03.30 PM – Bus back to Yangon

06.00 PM – Reach Aung Mingalar bus station and take a taxi back to your hotel in Yangon.

 

 
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