The first time I saw a photo of Golden Rock at Mount Kyaiktiyo, I knew that I had to visit Myanmar (also called Burma). Since we don’t have a lot of time in Myanmar, we had to fit it in to a day trip from Yangon. It was not for the faint of heart!
We opted to take the train from Yangon to Kyaikto, a similar sounding town. The Myanmar train is an adventure in and of itself, but we were pleasantly surprised that we were exactly on time. Arriving around noon, we took a shared pickup truck to Kinpun, the small town of restaurants and hotels that serves as Mount Kyaiktiyo’s “base camp.”
After a quick lunch, we went to the truck station. Large open-bed Mack trucks were converted into seating for 40 plus people. Since there are only two of us, we were squeezed into the back corner of a ready to go truck full of Myanma tourists and Buddhist pilgrims. The ride up was absolutely terrifying as we were squeezed into too small of a space with little handholds. At one point, I really was convinced we were going to fly off. But we made it intact to the top!
Since we arrived at the heat of the day, most of the stone was hot. Shoes have to be removed far in advance of nearing the Golden Rock, but thankfully there is a pathway of marble to the top that was quite cool on our bare feet.
I had read online that women weren’t allowed to get close to Golden Rock and, but this turned out to be a bit of a misrepresentation. Women aren’t allowed to walk right up to the rock and paste gold leaf onto the rock, but we can get close enough for viewing. Many women pilgrims sat below the rock, prayed and lit incense.
The site was surprisingly empty while we were there. Sure, there were plenty of tourists, but not like I was expecting. Trucks full of foreigners began arriving around 4pm, most likely in time for sunset, but we had plenty of space in the mid-afternoon.
Due to fact we were on a day trip, we had to get down the mountain before sunset or risk having to walk back to Kinpun. We caught a bus and arrived in Kinpun around 4:30. Since the next train out was at midnight (!!) we opted to try for a bus instead. A lot of bus companies have a stand at Kinpun, so we picked one with a bus leaving soon, took the half hour shared pickup back to Kyaikto and hopped a bus to Yangon.
After a short stop for dinner around 6:30pm, we watched an interesting Myanma movie about love, revenge and death that ended just as we arrived back in Yangon at 9:00pm. It was a bit of a long day, but a really interesting one and totally doable (as long as you are okay with skipping sunrise or sunset!).