The golden rock in Myanmar
The golden rock in Myanmar, so impressive to see it from your own eyes! Honestly, I didn’t even know it existed just a few weeks before arriving in Myanmar, but after doing my research on the internet (and found out its existence!), I told myself it was pretty much impossible to go to Myanmar, and not check what the golden rock looks like for real!
By the way, what’s the history behind this golden rock? It’s a very long story and I don’t have all the details but there’s one thing you need to remember : two nats (spirits) put the golden rock at this spot about 2500 years ago! The crazy thing is, this golden rock impressively stands in balance on another rock! I just want to specify this rock has a diameter of 6 meters… According to the legend, the golden rock stands in balance thanks to just one hair of Buddha himself!
We always feel like the rock is about to roll and smash on the floor, but no, it stands still. Thanks to Buddha’s hair 🙂 So here I am, on my way to visit the golden rock, which seems to defy the law of gravity. I give all the tips at the end of the article, but we took the bus from Yangon early in the morning, and we arrived 4 hours later in a small village, Kin Pun, around noon (lunch time!).
After arriving in the village, you have two options to go to the golden rock : you can either take a truck (not free) to get up there, or you can hike all the way to the golden rock (it takes about 4 hours). Those who know me already know I like to stay active, so obviously I wanted to go up there by foot. Unfortunately, we had to go back to Yangon the same evening, and since we didn’t have much time, we had to take the truck, for a 35-minutes ride.
Take the truck… I’d rather say take the cattle truck! We were all squeezed in together in this vehicle, and it’s not leaving before it’s completely full! Which means more or less 60 people completely glued to one another during almost 40 minutes, before getting in the golden rock. This is when I noticed that there are just as much, if not more locals than tourists going to the golden rock. Yeah actually there are more locals, and not that many tourists.
Indeed, the golden rock is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the country, and Burmese go there to commune with themselves. After the ride in the cattle truck, and after walking for ten minutes, we finally get to the entrance… to find out tourists have to pay 10000 kyats (6.25€) to get the green light to go… Needless to say, the locals don’t have to pay to get in there. At this point, it’s possible to ask porters to carry you all the way to the golden rock, but come on, just walk! I was a bit surprised to see this, I think I wasn’t the only one…
We took off our shoes, we walked a bit more and here it is, finally, the golden rock! I watched it from all angles, and I kept wondering how it was possible for the rock to stand still, and if it’s not gonna smash on the floor one day! There are sooo many monks around the golden rock, they’re literally all over the place! Even more than in Yangon! They’re sagely walking and they also commune with themselves.
As I was getting closer to the golden rock, I noticed there were many Burmese touching it, praying with one hand on the rock, keeping their heads down… Before moving away. And as I was paying more attention to the scenery, I noticed there were only men touching the rock, meditating just next to it. I didn’t see the signs… Women cannot get too close to the rock and they are not allowed to touch it, there’s a security perimeter and guards watching… Indeed, all the women commune with themselves… from a bit further!
I decided to get close to the rock and touch it (sorry ladies, but I can do it!). You pass the security, where they deny access to women, and where they told me I had to leave my stuff (bag, camera, smartphone…) to go further. And I stayed a few moments next to the golden rock, touching it and watching the locals communing with themselves. I also saw them affixing gold leaves on the rock. And I went away.
We walked around the golden rock, we took pictures, in my case Burmese were also taking pictures with me, we watched the locals praying… And it’s already time to go back! Either by foot (it takes a few hours) or like me (I had no choice, not enough time!) back in the cattle truck to come back down… From there, I took the bus back to Yangon…
Info to visit the golden rock
- Wanna go to Myanmar? Check the visa policy here. Most Western countries need a visa. Easy, you can apply online here. You’ll have to pay 50 US dollars. If you decide to apply online, you must get in the country by plane (most likely anyway).
- Do not go to Myanmar without a travel insurance!
- I left early in the morning from Yangon, and I went back there in the evening… The evening before, a Nepalese guy from my hostel asked me if I wanted to go with him the day after, and I accepted without thinking. I was like “Why not go there with someone from the hostel, it’s still better than being on my own!“. The guy was cool, but with hindsight it was a bad idea (he thought the same). Because doing a daytrip to the golden rock from Yangon is exhausting. Going to the bus station, spending 4 hours in the bus, and let’s not forget the 40 minutes in the cattle truck… Plus the same the other way around. I think you understand, there’s not much time left there to really enjoy the golden rock (we stayed a little bit more than one hour). And I really felt like it was a race, we had to rush, and this is not the way I travel… Useless stress (“Quick! we have to go back all the way down! The bus to Yangon is leaving soon, and the driver will not wait for us!“). I suggest you to spend one or two nights in Kin Pun, the closest village to the golden rock. This way, you have all your time, you can hike up there (and come back) by foot if you want to, and you can stay as long as you want strolling around the golden rock.
- If you don’t have much time and you reaaally want to see the golden rock, then do it in one day from Yangon. We paid 9000 kyats (5.60€) total the taxi from our hostel in Yangon to the bus station, which is on the outskirts of the city. I said “total” because we were three in the taxi, so we paid 3000 each. Then from the bus station to Kin Pun, the small village, I paid 8000 kyats (5 euros). You’ll get there around lunch time, the locals will suggest you to have lunch before going up, and there’s only one restaurant in the surroundings. I paid around 2500 kyats (1.50€) my lunch : rice, meat, soup and tea! Then 2000 kyats (1.25€) the truck ride, and once up there, 10000 kyats (6.25€) the tourist fee. At the end, pay 2000 kyats (1.25€) again the truck ride to come back down, another 8000 kyats (5 euros) the bus ride back to Yangon, and this time we paid 8000 kyats (5 euros) total for the taxi back to our hostel (we were two). For the day, I spent more or less 40000 kyats (25 euros). Oh I almost forgot. They know we don’t have space at all in the truck, so they ask if anyone wants to sit in the front next to the driver, with your own seat and a lot of space for yourself, for 3000 kyats (a bit less than 2 euros) instead of 2000 for the regular seats.
- I said it earlier, you’ll have to take off your shoes and your socks before getting in. But you also need to know that they won’t let you in if you wear a short, if you wear a tank top or anything sleeveless, if we can see your navel. Basically, it’s a pilgrimage site, you need to have a sense of decency and cover up. It’d be so stupid to come from Yangon, and not be able to get in there because of a short and a tank top!
- If needed, get a Myanmar travel guide.
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