Precariously hanging off a cliff edge and defying the laws of gravity, Kyaiktiyo or the Golden Rock Pagoda is a must-see for any visitor to Myanmar. Located 180 kilometres east of Yangon and perched 1,100 metres above sea level, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is regarded as one of the sacred sites of Myanmar. Like all Buddhist monuments in the country, it contains a hair relic of Buddha Gautama.
The monument consists of a small pagoda atop a 5.5-metre-high rock. Geologists consider the Kyaiktiyo rock to be a volcanic accident, but the local people consider this to be a miracle and there is a legend involving Buddha to explain how the rock came to sit on the hill.
The entire monument is covered in gold leaf and pilgrims have added to this over time. There is also a tradition of leaving paper money on sticks between the rock and the platform below it. Although the sticks are there to keep the money from blowing away, they uncannily appear to be holding up the rock. The money placed here is collected and used to maintain the site.
Getting to the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda
A four to five hour car journey from Yangon will take you to the Kinpun base camp and from here there are open-top trucks that can transport you up the hill to the monument.
One of the trucks takes you to a base camp four kilometres from the rock (1,500 MMK, Approx. 1.70 AUD) and another transports you all the way to the top (2,500 MMK, Approx. 2.80 AUD). The last trucks leave the mountaintop just before sunset.
As this is quite a long journey from Yangon, it's probably not a trip that can be done in a day. You might enjoy spending the night in one of the hotels on the way up to the monument – the view from the hill is spectacular, especially at sunrise and sunset.