Rumored to be balancing on a delicate strand of Buddha's hair, the shimmering golden Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (also known as Golden Rock) towers over the beautiful mountainside in central Myanmar, just 110 miles (180 km) northeast of Yangon.
The famed pagoda sits on Mount Kyaiktiyo just 30 minutes up the hill from the town of Kin Pun which acts as base camp for monks, tourists, and others making the pilgrimage. To reach the glittering rock from Kin Pun, you have the choice of either hiking 4 to 5 hours up the mountainside or taking a wild and bumpy ride in one of the many pickup trucks carrying visitors up to the shrine. Just don't get confused and stop in the town of Kyaikto—although the names are similar, Mount Kyaiktiyo sits another 9 miles (14 km) down the road.
If you want someone else to take care of transportation for you, try this 15-day tour of Myanmar that includes sunrise at Golden Rock, along with a visit to ancient temple ruins in Bagan and mysterious caves in Hpa-An.
Duration: 4.5 hours
The easiest way to get to Kin Pun from Yangon is to either take a bus or hire a driver. Both options are fairly simple and comfortable—it will take roughly 4.5 hours and the scenery along the way is striking as you wind through the Bago Region and into the mountains. Another alternative is to take a train, however, it's much longer and not nearly as comfortable. There are no flights between Yangon and Mount Kyaiktiyo.
Learn more about getting from Yangon to Mount Kyaiktiyo.
Duration: 8 to 9 hours
The only direct path from Mandalay to Mount Kyaiktiyo is by private vehicle. You can either rent a car or hire a driver to take you the 375 miles (600 km) to Kin Pun which takes 8 to 9 hours. Since the latter can be rather expensive and the bumpy roads are sometimes intimidating, many tourists opt to go to Yangon first for an overnight layover. You can pair this with seeing sights such as the Shwedagon Pagoda or the Kyauk Taw Gyi Temple.
Another option is to take a bus heading to Mawlamyine in the south and get off early in the town of Kyaikhto. From there, a taxi can take you the final 30 minutes to Kin Pun.
Find out more details about traveling from Mandalay to Yangon.
Duration: 8 to 9 hours
Similarly to Mandalay, there isn't a great option for traveling directly between Bagan and Mount Kyaiktiyo unless you rent a car or hire a driver. If you do this, it will take about 8 to 9 hours. Alternatively, you can fly to Yangon in about an hour and a half, then stay the night to check out some of Myanmar's best attractions. From there, it's an easy 4.5-hour ride over to Kin Pun.