Are you up for a unique travel experience? Visit Myanmar and be amazed by what this country offers. Myanmar has shied away from international eyes for more than 40 years. As a country with one of the world’s longest-running civil wars, Myanmar back then did not get the proper reputation and recognition for its amazing attractions and tourist destinations. Now that it has opened its doors to invite foreign tourists to explore its abundant landmarks and perfect travel destinations, this is your chance to visit the untouched land of great wonders.
Let’s start off with Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Mon State. Also known as the Golden Rock Pagoda, this pagoda is placed on top of a granite boulder on Mount Kyaiktiyo. The rock appears to be on the very edge of falling, but is in fact is sturdily placed on the hill. It is believed that the rock was chosen to be the base of the pagoda as it resembles the head of a monk.
A Significant Religious Site
This pagoda is one of the most important religious sites to Buddhists in Myanmar as well as Buddhists all over the world. Located 1,100m above sea level, the sight of this pagoda will amaze you and is admired by many. Being at the top you will also enjoy the cool, unpolluted air that can only be enjoyed at a higher altitude. According to legend, this gravity-defying rock is supported by a strand of hair belonging to Lord Buddha, allowing it to stay on its position till this day.
Devotees strongly believe in this legend and hundreds, even thousands of Burmese pilgrims would visit the pagoda to pray and provide offerings. The pagoda is so greatly cherished that even locals from rural areas willingly travel for hours to Mon, camping around the pagoda for several days with heavy luggage and food supplies. Their expressions of wonder on their faces when witnessing the great pagoda with their own eyes highlight the importance of their trip to this place.
Devotees often place golden leaves on the rock, however, only men are allowed to do so. Women are not allowed to touch the rock for unknown reasons. Worshipped for centuries, the pagoda is usually surrounded by devotees who place incense sticks and candles around the place to pay their respects. Your eyes might water from the thick smoke of burning incense, but this is the most authentic experience you can get from visiting Myanmar’s religious sites as you witness pilgrims from all over the country come to conduct religious rituals to pray for health, wealth, and peace. Visitors must remove their shoes and socks at the main entrance and walk to the rock barefooted as it is a highly sacred place.
You will find temples, restaurants, guesthouses, and other places of interest at the top of the mountain. There are several viewing points from which you can access a better view for great photo opportunities of the pagoda. Take your time admiring the clear, peaceful view of the entire town from above and relax in the green terrain on top of Mount Kyaiktiyo. There are other pagodas around the area as well, with Buddha shrines and Nat(spirit) shrines along the way. Enjoy a leisurely walk around the area without worrying about your safety as the place is well-taken care of and protected by the government. You can stay one night in one of the many cozy hotels and guesthouses available here. During nighttime is when you can observe the devotees who travelled all the way from their village to camp around the rock while they make and share food with other locals.
From Yangon, take the morning bus that goes to Kinpun Village. A truck will bring you to the base of the mountain and you can hike to the pagoda from there. The truck ride is rough and bumpy, but if you love roller coasters, this journey will get your adrenaline rolling. Just remember to hold on tight, especially when the truck is making sharp turns! If you are taking a bus but it does not go directly to Kinpun, you can get off at Kyaikto village and take a taxi to Kinpun instead. If you are going from Bago, you can take a bus heading to Kinpun Village and board the truck after to go up to the Golden Rock Pagoda.
You can enjoy an exceptional experience to visit this pagoda by staying at one of the guest houses for a night, or you can opt for a one-day trip. Either way leaves you with unforgettable memories of the place