VISITING THE GOLDEN ROCK

The Golden Rock – also known as the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda – is considered one of Myanmar’s top tourist attractions and is featured on numerous of travel brochures and posters. Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is a well-known Buddhist pilgrimage site in Mon State, Burma.

The stone lies on a 1102 meter high hilltop and is considered as one of the holiest pagodas for Buddhists. The Buddhists believe in the legend that says, that the Golden Rock is held in balance by two hairs of Buddha.

GETTING TO KYAIKTO OR KINPUN

Since we planned our trip from Hpa-An to Yangon the Golden Rock was perfectly located between these two destinations. So we thought, let’s just jump off the Bus by the town Kyaikto close by would be the easiest option. But it turned out that it wasn’t.

At the hostel in Hpa An, we were assured that we could take a taxi from the city of Kyaikto to the Golden Rock and back again to take the bus to Yangon the same day. However, we arrived late at 4pm in a tiny tourist office in Kyaikto.

They first had to explain to us, that there was not enough time to visit the Golden Rock today since the ride to get there would take us at least an hour. Also, the last Bus to Yangon would leave at 6pm. We decided it would be the best option to stay a night in Kyaikto and we booked a Hotel I saw the day before while I was doing my research.

We chose to stay at the Golden Sunrise Hotel, it is located in the village Kinpun at the foot of the Golden Rock. We paid around 50 Dollar for a Bungalow for three people which is a lot for us Backpackers but the best and almost only option we had. We were really happy with the stay since we could easily walk to the little village of Kinpun and meet the locals.

We were the only tourists in the village which was a very unique experience. There were plenty of young girls asking to take a picture with us, dozens of chicken families crossing the street, men playing soccer and so on. We could have watched them forever.

DRIVING TO THE GOLDEN ROCK

The next day we tried to take a truck along the street to bring us up to the Golden Rock. But unfortunately what we didn’t know (also because the communication with the locals wasn’t that great) that the street up there was under construction and the usual transportations weren’t either available or we just couldn’t find them (we later found out that we passed the truck hall because I thought it was the train station. hihi)

But here is how you normally should reach the top: You can either take the trekking path and walk up for 6 to 7 hours or take one of the taxi trucks in Kinpun. In the village, there is a large departure hall (next to KFC) where trucks drive to the summit every few minutes. In a truck fit 42 people, without exception, 6 people sit in a row so the tracks are pretty packed.

You don’t need to buy a ticket in advance. You just pick a truck and get in there. The cost per person is 2,000 kyat and you pay directly in the truck. If you want to drive in the cab, it costs 3,000 kyat and you have to buy a ticket in advance.

On the way up the truck often stops and hopes for donations. People stand at the roadside with bowls in their hands to collect money. Once you arrive at the summit, there are still a few minutes walk to the entrance. On the way are countless shops for snacks, drinks and souvenirs. According to my research the admission should cost 10’000 kyat. Which we didn’t pay since our way up there went like this:

After we searched for the trucks without success, we decided to find our private driver. So all the cars either wanted to have 30’000 kyat or just shook their heads for a big “No!”. A bit confused about the situation we finally were able to find two Motorbikes that brought us up and down there for each 5000 kyat.

We knew we paid way too much for an only 20-minute drive (we took a short cut) but at this point, it was the only option we had. Also: The men were really caring and drove very slow just to make us feel safe.

ON THE TOP OF THE GOLDEN ROCK

At the Golden Rock we were to our surprise the only tourists. (and we later found out, that the official Golden Rock Entrance leads you not as close as we could go). There were only a few local women were up there, they trimmed stones for a new building and their sweet children run around and picked flowers. The Golden Rock itself was impressive and beautiful, but in the end, it’s only a stone.

The bumpy road up there and the encounters with the local kids were the things that made the Trip worth it, not the Golden Rock itself.

By the way: We were lucky because I found out later that usually, only men have direct access to the golden rock. Women are forbidden to do so. The men come to the rocks with gold leaf and stick it to a prayer. The women pray separately on a platform near the rock.

View from the Golden Rock down to the village of Kinpun and the pilgrim trek.
The cute Flower Girl wearing Burmese Make up.
The beautiful and strong Burmese Women working with stones.


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