How to visit Myanmar’s Golden Rock
Nowadays, Myanmar is not a secret destination anymore and tourism is booming. While travelers are heading massively to Lake Inle and Bagan, the Golden Rock does not attract that many foreigners. However, it is very popular with Burmese tourists because it’s a major pilgrimage place for Buddhists.
As you only need half a day to see the place, it’s a cool stop on the way to Hpa-An and the South when you are coming from Yangon.
What to expect
Third holiest Buddhist pilgrimage site in Myanmar, the Golden Rock (or Kyaiktiyo pagoda) is supposed to bring wealth and recognition to pilgrims who trek from the base camp to the top three times in the same year.
If we believe the legend, the rock is maintained there by a strand of the Buddha’s hair.
For foreign tourists, the main interest is to have a close look at Burmese traditions and devotion. Plus the place offers a really nice view over the surrounding mountains.
Only men are allowed to touch and access the rock itself to add a gold leaf on it. It is also forbidden to approach the rock with any cell phone or technology in your pocket. This creates funny scenes where groups of monks have to designate one of them to stay outside the rock’s access ramp with all the smartphones while his counterparts go and pray.
How to go
Buses to the Golden Rock depart from the Yangon’s main bus station (Aung Mingalar Gate) located 45-60min outside downtown Yangon. A taxi from the city center will be around 18 000 kyats.
The bus company Win Express can take you to Kinmun, the closest village, or ”base camp”. From there, you can then access the Golden Rock, located 11km away at the top of a 1100m high mountain.
The best time to visit the Golden Rock is at sunset or sunrise so you can take a morning bus from Yangon (start at 8am) and you will be there 4-4 ½ hours later (cost about 8000 kyats per person). You have time to check-in, have lunch and then go spend the rest of the afternoon at the rock. You can then spend the night in Kinmon and catch a bus to Hpa-An or Yangon the next morning.
There are plenty of places where to stay in Kinmon (search for Golden Rock or Kinmun in booking websites), but it’s important to book in advance, they can be full quickly. Plus if you arrive with the morning bus, you don,t want to waste your afternoon walking around the village (which does not have anything special by the way) to find a place to stay. You can have a look right away here:
How to access the Golden Rock
In Kinmun you will see dozens of large pick up trucks where they squeeze people in for a 45min ride to the top. They run from 6 an until 6pm during the high season (November to March).
The ride on itself feels like a rollercoaster and it’s pretty fun as long as you’re not afraid of speed. Plus you will quickly become friends with your neighbors (until they throw up on you though… true story). The transportation costs 2000 kyats each way (you pay directly in the truck after the departure). The entrance fee to the rock is 6000 kyats.
Once you disembark from the truck you will pass a few small shops and arrive on the main square where families gather and even set up camp to spend the night. From there the rock is just a few meters away.
To plan your One Week Adventure to Myanmar check out this itinerary
Time and prices: all timetables and prices mentioned in this article are for reference only and are based on early 2017. As the tourism industry evolves very quickly, this information can change over time.