Mt. Kyaikhtiyo (The Golden Rock)

Ask a Myanmar Buddhist what place in the country they would most like to visit, they will probably answer (if they haven’t made the pilgrimage already) – “Kyaiktiyo”. Located 160 kilometres southeast of Yangon, Mt Kyaiktiyo is a 1,200 metre forest-clad mountain. Balancing on the cliff top at its peak is a huge boulder, covered in gold, with a pagoda perched on top. This is the Golden Rock, without doubt one of the most magical destinations in Myanmar.

According to legend, a hermit kept a hair of the Buddha for hundreds of years, secreted in his topknot. One day he approached the Mon King Tissa and instructed him to search for a boulder that resembled the hermit’s head, and build a pagoda on top to enshrine the hair. The King, who had supernatural powers, located a suitable rock at the bottom of the sea, and transported it to the top of Mt Kyaiktiyo. It is believed that the precisely enshrined hair balances the rock, and prevents it from tumbling down the mountainside.

Whilst there is a road all the way to the top, private vehicles are not allowed onto the mountain. After leaving your car at the base station, visitors must squeeze onto a bench seat in the back of a large truck for the journey up the mountain. Not many foreign visitors come here and the pilgrims will likely strike up a conversation with you, eager to know where you come from. The truck leaves you high on the mountain – but not at the top. From here, a steep path winds upwards to the summit. If you don’t want to walk, you can hire a sedan-chair and be carried up – a very unique experience!

The peak of the mountain is a large tiled terrace dotted with shrines. The views from here over the surrounding hills and countryside are amazing. Hundreds of pilgrims spend the day here; making offerings of rice, fruit or flowers, consulting monks, meditating. The most special times of day are dawn and dusk. The light and incense combine with the devotion of the pilgrims to create an unforgettable atmosphere. This is the time to cross the small bridge to the rock, ask Buddha to bring you good health, and add a little gold-leaf to the rock.

Myanmar Cycling can arrange transport to Mt Kyaiktiyo from Yangon by air-conditioned car. Mt Kyaiktiyo can be visited as a two day excursion from Yangon with an overnight stay at a hotel located on the mountainside itself. A two day trip can also include optional stops in Bago and the Taukkyan WWII War Cemetery. We recommend taking a guide who can explain the history and legends of the mountain and help you communicate with the Myanmar pilgrims.

Alternatively our popular five day trip to Mon and Kayin States also travels via Mt Kyaiktiyo. After a night and morning on the mountain the tour continues via some ethnic villages to Hpa-An, Mawlamyine (Moulmein) and the surrounding countryside. This trip can also be tailor made to suit your interests.

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