Kyaiktiyo or Golden Rock Pagoda

The Kyaiktiyo or golden Rock Pagoda

is one of the famous destination in Myanmar. Maybe even one of the most famous  place of Buddhist pilgrimage in Asia. It is built on a gilded boulder 25 metres in circumference balanced in what appears to be a very precarious position on a tabular rock jutting out from the Paung-laung ridge of the Eastern Yoma mountains.

This small 18-foot-high Kyaiktiyo or golden Rock Pagoda is located in the jungle in Kyaikhto Township of Mon State near the Thai boarder town of Mae Sot on Kyaiktiyo Hill at an elevation of 1100 metres above sea level. To get there one must first travel to the town of Kyaikhto which is about 160 kilometers by rail or road from Yangon. Another 15 kilometers by road takes the visitor to Kinponsakhan, the base camp for the ascent. From here it used to be a 12 kilometer climb to the top.

There are more than 20 camps on the arduous climb with such picturesquely apt names like Yaymyaunggalay, Small Water Gully, Yaymyaunggyi, Large Water Gully, Bopyantaung, Point of Grandpa’s Return and Shweyinhso, Belaboured Breath. They provide ample space for hikers to rest, eat, bathe or recline. Pilgrims are not bothered by the heat as the sun’s rays are unable to penetrate the jungle canopy covering the entire route.

Alternatively, visitors may travel most of the way by car or on the loading area of a small truck on a very steep and difficult to drive mountain road from the base camp to the top of Rathedaung or Hermit’s Hill. The last 1.5 kilometres to the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda platform must be done on foot or maybe not. Alternatively one can hire a bamboo sedan and will be balanced on the shoulder of 4 guys all the way up.

kyaiktiyo golden rock pagoda myanmar burma

Kyaiktiyo golden rock pagoda Myanmar Burma
kyaiktiyo pagoda bamboo sedan

The legend of Kyaiktiyo recounts that in the 11th century King Tissa received a strand of the Buddha’s hair from an old hermit on condition that it be enshrined in a pagoda built on a boulder resembling the hermit’s head. King Tissa failed to find such a boulder until Thagyamin, king of the nats helped him.


The golden at  rock at Kyaiktiyo was found at the bottom of the sea and carried to the top of the mountain on a ship with miraculous powers. The ship turned to stone nearby where it can still be seen today as the Kyaukthanban or stone boat pagoda.