Nwa-la-bo Pagoda


A local pilgrimage site, Nwa-la-bo is still relatively unknown outside Mon State and few foreigners make it out here. This is surprising because the pagoda is a smaller but, geologically at least, far more astonishing version of Kyaiktiyo. Unlike at that shrine, where just one huge boulder perches on the cliff ledge, Nwa-la-bo consists of three sausage-shaped gold boulders piled precariously atop one another and surmounted by a stupa.

Nwa-la-bo can’t be reached during the rainy season (approximately June to October) and is at its best on a weekend when pilgrims will add more flair to the scene and transport is a little more regular. From Mawlamyine, you’ll have to wait at the roundabout before the bridge for a northbound bus or pick-up to Kyonka village (K1000), around 12 miles north of town, or a motorcycle taxi will run here for around K10,000. From Kyonka, clamber into the back of one of the pick-up trucks that crawl slowly up to the summit of the mountain (K2000 return) in 45 minutes. Allow plenty of time as the trucks don’t leave until full – you can hire the whole truck for K20,000 – and don’t leave your descent too late in the day as transport becomes scarce after 3pm.