Kyait Htet Gyi- A day hike around Mt Kyaiktiyo


A short hike you say..

During our time at Mt Kyaiktiyo Frankie suggested a ‘small’ hike to a neighboring village where some pre Buddhist ‘Nat’ spirit idols are situated in the hillsides.

The small village, Kyait Htet Gyi (pro.Jow Chat Gee) is tucked away from visiting foreign tourists, approx. 1-hour hike straight down the mountain along a dirty maintain track. The monsoon season has not been kind to the Kyait Htet Gyi area. Situated along a ridgeline on one side of Mt Kyaiktiyo in the region near the Myanmar border, which is home to Karen (pro. Car En) people, which are a Burmese Ethnic minority and to the east is Thailand.

While strolling along the dirt track we were over taken by a local man, muscular and wiry which was perfectly suited to his role as a carrier. As the name suggested he is a man powered product mover. He was carrying supplies on his head and in his arms for the local tiny corner stores. For extra income he also carried timber that was harvested in the area for building supplies often carrying weights equal to half his body weight in a single trip – up hill and down dale, on their head or on their back

Frankie struck up a conversation with him in Burmese and he offered to be our guide in exchange for us buying a drink from his little house stall. Today he was taking the trip to deliver goods to the small path-side stalls in preparation for ‘festival season’ and the newly constructed stalls. The trip normally took him 35-45 mins. With us novices it took over an hour. He also kindly took us to his main source of income – his stall. We met his little daughter and son both aged less than 5yo along with the business manager – his wife.

When not carrying goods they all live in a small space behind their stall measuring no more than 5m x 5m constructed of bamboo, thatch and tarps. Frankie purchased all the children little packets of chips.. the cautious smile that appeared on all faces was priceless.

In fact we approached one fork in the path our ‘accidental’ guide pointed out the path to Thailand.

Almost at the end of the trail our guide took us down a small washed out landslip to a small ‘Nat’ temple for the ‘Mother of Dragons’ who guard the mountain. The Game of Thrones reference was not lost on me and brought a little smile to my face when Frankie translated our guide’s explanation.

Further at the end of the trail was another rock that is similar to ‘the golden rock’ only, not golden. The rock is balanced precariously on the side of a cliff just like is more famous cousin. The elders of the village that also look after the temple space told us that each year they travel to another village to collect a long thick vine that is climbed by a designated village member to place donations of gold leaf and adornments on the top. If the walk down to the village was not harrowing enough… the walk back – all uphill was certainly a challenge.

Mt Kyaiktiyo – Myanmar’s Golden Rock

Golden Rock by Night

Mt Kyaiktiyo

The Golden Rock of the Golden Land


Golden rock at night


Getting there

 After leaving Yangon by the newly constructed multilane concrete hghway the former capital with the new capital Nay Pyi Daw located towards the centre of Myanmar it struck me – we are one of only a handful of cars on this road. It soon struck me as to why. Toll booths – paying the few kyats at each the toll gates located as close as 20km apart was simply beyond the means of many Burmese. They simply found less maintained paths.

Turning right at the big fork in the road heading towards the mountain the landscape changed from the rice producing flat lands to the fertile hilly region of Mon State where Mt Kyaiktiyo (to my ear it is pronounced Mt Jie Tee O) is located.

Some 6 hours after leaving Yangon we arrived  at the bus station at the base of the mountain. I say bus – really a tip truck with wooden planks for seats. Hey – if it was easy to get to, it wouldn’t be a pilgrimage site.

Taken from Wikipedia

The season that we are  in Myanmar is the period between the end of the monsoon season and the start of ‘festival season’. (Early October).

Most of the religious sites appear to be forgotten, unrepaired and abandoned. This is a good thing – no other people around, locals or tourist.

During ‘festival season’ all the sacred sites are polished, painted, swept and thus crowed with not only foreign tourists but also Burmese pilgrims coming to pay homage.

Why See It

Mt Kyaiktiyo, with its famed Golden Rock is one of Myanmar’s 3 most holy sites. :

• Swedagon in Yangon
• Mt Kyaiktiyo’s Golden Rock; and
• The Maha Muni Buddha image in Mandalay.

Where to stay

We stayed at the well named “Hill Top Hotel” which really couldn't be any closer to the Rock if it tried. It is also the most expensive place to stay costing between $100-150AUD per night. For the cost conscious you can always stay at the bottom of the hill in the local village and day trip up the mountain.