Kyaiktiyo Pagoda – The Golden Rock, Myanmar.

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda
A fantastic day visiting the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock) Myanmar.

If I’m going to be completely honest the image of the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock) was one of the things that drew me to going to Myanmar in the first place. It’s a view like no other and after seeing such a multitude a Buddhist sights throughout our trip, it felt like a journey we just could not miss.

However, it turns out that getting to the golden rock is somewhat of a monumental ball ache. We were travelling from Hpa-An. Hpa-An sits four hours east of Kinpun, the area where we we’re staying to visit the temple. We booked a ticket from Hpa-An for 5,000 Kyatt. We were sure to double check the bus took us directly into Kinpun. Obviously, this turned out to not to be the case. The  bus actually dropped us at the nearby town of Kyaiktiyo. From here, we we’re quite literally swarmed by a group of men offering us motorbike taxis. Not today thanks. We managed to blag a songthaew into Kinpun for a 100 Kyat each, which took around half an hour. The driver and other passengers were friendly and although a bumpy journey, we were dropped right off at our hotel door.

And that is where the story really begins. Packed in amongst locals, monks and a few other like-minded tourists we set off in our journey from the town centre up the mountain to the temple. What must have formally been used as a bin lorry transports visitors up the steep and winding mountain. The locals sit relaxed, enjoying the view. Contrasting this, the tourists cling on for dear life, praying the truck stays on all four wheels and firmly on the road. However; for me this hour-long journey was my favourite part of the trip. The journey on the way up boasts spectacular views. The greenery is incredible and there’s even a fantastic waterfall on your left.

Once you are dropped off a short walk brings you to the entrance of the monument. You will be asked to remove yours shoes and a Longyi is absolutely essential if you want to proceed further. A long skirt or full length trousers are not acceptable, it must be the traditional Longyi. There is a small area to pray and light candles, and then a large viewing platform with amazing views of the rock itself and the surrounding mountains. The legend states that the rock is held on the edge of the cliff with a single hair of the Buddha; and watching the way the locals admired this sacred area was a fantastic part of the day.

The area of Kinpun is a little lacking however there are a couple of nice restaurants and we did stay in this really nice hotel, the room was spacious and clean; and the staff organised our onwards travel to Yangon for us for the following morning. I wouldn’t recommend staying in Kinpun for any longer than 1 night. Other than the golden rock there’s nothing much else to see. The only exception to this rule would be if you’re planning on hiking up the mountain. The hike apparently takes around 6 hours, and with my novice hiking experience, the hike looked pretty brutal. The Myanmar sun can become extremely harsh at the best of times, meaning a super early start and a second night in Kinpun would probably be necessary.

All in all a brilliant 1 night stop over, and a fantastic opportunity to see yet another side of Myanmar.

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