Pretty much any M83 song will do here. The Kyaiktiyo (pronounced: “Chachiyo”) Golden Rock has been a pilgrimage site for thousands of Burmese Buddhists, but for the determined traveler, it’s an immersion in the unreal. There’s a mystical feeling about arriving to this place; it’s not everyday that you come upon a misty, deserted square built around an immense golden rock perched precariously upon a cliff. To many Burmese it’s a holy place of miracles, and you may witness that in the fervor of its pilgrims.
Getting to Kyaiktiyo requires more determination than usual:
1. From Yangon, take a cab up to the Highway Bus Station (5000 kyats, 1 hr.)
3. Arrive in Kyaikto (the locals call it “Downtown”) and find a motorbike to take you to Kinpun (1000 kyats, 20 minutes
4. Enjoy the ride!
5. Find a place to stay in Kinpun.
6. Find a truck heading up to the summit (where the Golden Rock is). The tricky thing is that there’s no timetable…a truck will leave whenever it fills up. So if you’re going during low season, be prepared to wait anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. (1500 kyats, 30 minutes)
7. After a jarring but exhilarating Indiana Jones-style truck ride, you will be dropped off only halfway up the hill. You have to walk the rest up yourself. Be prepared for a paved but very very steep hill (30-45 minutes)
8. Pay the Foreigner Ticket Office to enter ($6 USD)
9. Take off your shoes and walk the rest of the way to the Golden Rock (10 minutes)
FYI: the last truck heading downhill leaves at 6pm, so if you miss this, you have to either walk 4-6 hours in the dark or book a $45-$60 USD room at the 2 hotels on top of the hill. Neither is recommended.
Once at the top, there’s nothing really to see but the rock itself. But the atmosphere can be surreal if you’re the only foreigner there. And if you’re of the introspective spiritual lot, simply being here and seeing the rock may brew a profound appreciation of your existence. That’s probably because you never have seen anything as enigmatic, and to realize you’ve come all the way to a forbidden kingdom like Myanmar to see something like the Golden Rock can put a lot into perspective.
Just enjoy the moment while it lasts. This is what traveling is all about.
– At time of posting in Guanzhou, it was 78.8 °F – Humidity: 78% | Wind Speed: 3km/hr | Cloud Cover: drizzle