Myanmar's most astonishing sight - Golden Rock
Lay eyes on the stunning Golden Rock and you’ll see why it’s one of Myanmar’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites. Balanced miraculously on a rocky outcrop, the gigantic gilded stone attracts thousands of visitors daily, including many pilgrims keen to add their gold leaf offering to the sacred rock. As if it weren’t already disconcertingly balanced, Golden Rock has a pagoda perched on its top; many claim that one glimpse is enough to inspire anyone to convert to Buddhism.
What to expect at Golden Rock...
It’s difficult to put into words what to expect from Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, or Golden Rock, such is the awe-inspiring nature of this precariously balanced phenomena. The huge granite rock seems almost to hang in mid air, so delicate is its perch on the mountainside.
The intriguing story behind it only adds to the mystery. Legend has it that whilst visiting the mountain, Buddha gave a strand of his hair to a hermit called Taik Tha. Taik Tha passed the strand onto the King, asking that it be enshrined in a rock resembling the hermit’s head. Having conveniently inherited magical powers from his parents, the King found the perfect rock at the bottom of the sea, and placed it on the mountain. It’s said that this lone strand of the Buddha’s hair is what keeps the Golden Rock in place.
The Rock is gilded by countless applications of gold leaf by pilgrims who add to it on their visits. If you visit at different times of the day, you’ll be amazed at how the colour changes as the sun moves.
Watch Nick's pilgrimage up the trail from Kinpun to Golden Rock:
Devout pilgrims (and devoted hikers) will walk the entire way to the top — a journey of six or seven hours — with the faithful often travelling in bare feet. The heathens amongst us can take Myanmar’s first ever cable car, from Yathetaung down below. It is possible to take a truck ride to the top, but it’s something of a rapid roller coaster. The cable car journey is far more gentle and slows down your approach to the sacred peak.
Golden Rock dominates the skyline as you make the steep final ascent, and once you’re at the top you can spend some time admiring the impressive view and doing a spot of people watching from one of the casual cafes. Afterwards, choose your means of descent, which range from one of those bouncy trucks to a 12km trek down the mountain.
Rather than leaving immediately, however, we recommend staying overnight at the top of Mount Kyaikhtiyo in the aptly named Mountain Top Hotel, which practically on the doorstep of the Golden Rock. This prime location means you can not only enjoy the Rock gleaming at sunset, but also rise early to witness it in full glory at sunrise, surrounded by the dedicated early morning pilgrims.
Location: Mon State, Myanmar
Duration: 1 night
Accommodation: Mountain Top Hotel offers comfortable accommodation just minutes from the main attraction
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'Yes, it's popular - it's also unmissable. One of the most astonishing sights you'll experience in South East Asia, let alone Myanmar.'
Important to note...
Women are not allowed to touch the rock, and everyone must remove their shoes before completing the final leg of the journey.