The vision of Kyaiktiyo’s gilded boulder glowing molten yellow in the dying rays of daylight is simply one of the most ravishing Myanmar – or indeed the whole of Southeast Asia – has to offer. To Buddhists, the opportunity to pray before the jewelled pagoda seated on top of the rock is incentive enough to make the bumpy journey to the mountaintop.
But it is the otherworldly atmosphere – the hundreds of candles, the clouds of incense smoke, ringing of bells and, above all, wondrous vision of the rock itself, miraculously balanced on the rim of the valley – which makes this such a memorable destination for travellers.
Sunset and sunrise, when the hilltop complex fills with pilgrims and the rituals reach their peak, is the best time to be at the temple, which is why we recommend clients spend the night at a small hotel on the ridge - the aptly named ‘Mountain Top’ - close to the entrance to the pagoda. That way you’ll only have a short walk to reach the Golden Rock at first light.