For thousands of years monks applied gold leaf to a rock at Kyaikhteeyoe that teeters on the cliff. Legend has it that the rock is held in place by one of Buddha’s hairs. It seems to be a pretty popular pilgrimage and many come to make offerings and stay at the Golden Rock.
We left our guesthouse in Yangon at 7.30am to leave the city and taxi to the bus station which is beyond the airport. It took about 45mins for 9,000 kyats. We then took a 9am bus we booked via the guesthouse to Kin Pun for another 8,000 kyats each. It took about 5 hours and there was a lunch stop along the way.
As soon as we arrived in Kin Pun a guy directed us to the Golden Rock transfer service. I love this kind of Asian ingenuity. How do we get as many people up the mountain as quickly as possible? Let’s add seat rails into the back of a small dump truck and pack 50 people into it at a time.
The truck was a bit of a rollercoaster ride on the way up to build enough speed to make it up the steep inclines. Hold on tight to your hat, your bags and your 2,500 kyat economy seat (3,000 for front row of the rollercoaster). It did pull some Gs, but it never felt like it was going to flip.
The truck drops you off at Kyaikhteeyoe. We had heard you could camp at the top but we got very mixed responses from the tourist information office and police. In the end, I asked the head security guard at the rock itself and he said it was fine.
If you do have to stay it’s 60USD for a twin at Yoe Yoe Lay hotel just past the Golden Rock, but prices can exceed 100USD on the mountain. Staying at the bottom of the mountain means you miss sunset and sunrise.
Unfortunately the rock was being maintained when we were there. They were applying some sort of coating to the rock, but they still charged 6,000 kyats nonetheless.
But I at least got some satisfaction out of seeing the mini Golden Rock.
So instead to pass the time I did some yoga and amused the locals with my tent and inflatable camping mat. The food at the top of the mountain was pretty average. Lots of deep fried food at the mountaintop market, but try to secure some samosas if you can.
There were hundreds of pilgrims staying near the rock and seemingly many of them were up all night. It’s a family thing to do and the people were all very friendly and welcoming.
We woke up at dawn to find many people had already left presumably to go and make offerings somewhere else on the mountain.
We took the truck back down pretty early and it was much more tame than the way up. I was craving eggs on toast and managed to find an omelette and chai tea for 1,300 kyat in Kin Pun.
From there we paid 7,000 kyat to take a tauk tauk to Kyaikto and then a minivan to Hpa-an which took about 3hrs.