Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, usually referred to as the ‘Golden Rock’ is one of Myanmar’s most well known and most photographed landmarks, a massive boulder entirely covered in gold leaf precariously perched on the edge of a steep and jagged cliff. Remarkably, it is believed the sacred rock is balanced on a single strand of Buddha’s hair. This is undoubtedly one of the very best short trips available from Yangon.
DAY 1Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is approximately 190 km north of Yangon and the scenic drive will take you up to five hours. Along the way, you will stop at the Allied War memorial park near Htauk Kyan, the final resting place for over 27,000 Allied soldiers. Upon reaching Golden Rock, you will stop in Kin Pun, a small town at the base of the mountain, where you will switch vehicles to proceed up the steep mountain path. You will squeeze in with other fellow tourists and devotees into a specialized, open-air truck for a winding and exhilarating ride to the summit. If you wish, you can also opt out of the ride and hike up the pathway starting near the midpoint stop of Yeataetaung. The challenging hike is approximately 4 km and can take nearly an hour. Note: The local trucks from Kin Pun to the top of the mountain are very tight and can be uncomfortable for some. They are shared with locals and are filled to capacity before each trip; please be patient. Note that you will need to reach Kin Pun by 5.30 PM at the latest to be sure of a ride to the top.You will be on your own for lunch and dinner; there are numerous restaurants and shops that cater to tourists at the top of the pagoda. You will overnight at a hotel near Golden Rock.DAY 2Get up early to catch the best view of Golden Rock during the morning calm. If you time it just right the glimmering boulder will be bathed in the misty, purple light of dawn – a truly unforgettable sight. There will also be time to explore the other stupas and shrines scattered on the outer ridges atop Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. By midday you will catch the same open-air trucks for the drive back down to the base of the summit or, if you wish, you may proceed on foot down the mountain via the same route and prepare for the journey back to Yangon. On the return trip, you will stop in Bago (ca. 110 km, 3.5 hours) to stretch your legs and explore the former capital of the Mon kingdom. True to history, Bago remains a bustling city with a busy commercial center. Take this time to browse through the colorful local markets where vendors compete to sell the most colourful flowers, produce and spices. A tour of Bago would not be complete without visiting the thousand-year old Shwemawdaw Pagoda, which features a spire taller than Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda. Bago’s other treasure is the 55 meter long Shwe Tha Lyaung Buddha, which is recognized as one of the country's most extraordinary images. The last stop in Bago will be a visit to Hin Thar Kone Pagoda, which houses some of Myanmar’s most famous national figures and offers spectacular views of Bago from its elevated platform. Your day will end back in Yangon where you will be dropped off back at your hotel.