MT KYAIKTIYO (GOLDEN ROCK)
From Yatetaung bus station it’s a 45-
minute climb to the top of Mt Ya-The, a
30-minute walk down to Mo-Baw Water-
fall and a 1½-hour walk to the Sa-ma-taung
paya and kyaung (monastery).
From Kyaiktiyo itself a trail continues
along the crests of the surrounding peaks for
another couple of hours to the Kyauk-si-yo
Pagoda and Kyaiktiyo Galay Zedi.
If you’d like to spend more time in the
area or want to give something back to the
community, the Seik Phu Taung Youth
Development Centre (%60353), located
between Kyaikto and Kinpun, is an estab-
lished, temple-based orphanage that accepts
volunteer English teachers. Basic food and
lodging is provided and a minimum stay of
two weeks is the norm.
Although Kyaiktiyo can be visited as a day
trip from Bago and, in theory, Yangon, this
isn’t recommended; the advantage of stay-
ing near the shrine is that you can catch
sunset and sunrise – the most magical times.
Foreigners aren’t permitted to stay in one of
the many zayat (rest shelters) for pilgrims
at the top, nor are they permitted to camp in
wooded areas on the mountain.
In the town of Kyaikto along the main
road from Bago there are several guest-
houses, none of them very appealing, and
there really is no reason to stay here rather
than in Kinpun.
ON THE MOUNTAIN
If you want to catch the best light and most
enchanting atmosphere at the shrine (and
yes, you do) then you simply have no choice
but to stay at one of the three overpriced ho-
tels near the top.
Mountain Top Hotel HOTEL $$$
(%in Yangon 01-502 479; email@example.com;
r $50-78; a) Yes, the rooms in the Mountain
Top Inn are overpriced but they’re clean and
well maintained, with good service. They’re
also situated right on the summit of the
mountain only a couple of moments’ stroll to
the shrine complex – an unbeatable position.
The more expensive ‘deluxe’ rooms have air-
con, a TV, a mini bar and great views.
Kyaiktiyo Hotel HOTEL $$
(%in Yangon 01-663 341; s/d $40/50) This for-
mer government-owned hotel is where most
package tourists stay. It’s unremarkable, but
has the benefi t of being located a short walk
from the Golden Rock. We’ve come across
reports of things missing from rooms here,
so take care to look after your valuables if
you choose to stay.
Golden Rock Hotel HOTEL $$$
(%70174; firstname.lastname@example.org; r $46-72; a)
The Golden Rock Hotel, just a few minutes
up from the Yatetaung bus terminal, but at
least 45 minutes from the shrine, is in a lovely
spot and has larger and marginally more en-
dearing rooms than the Mountain Top Hotel.
The only problem is that its positioning –
halfway between everywhere but not really
anywhere – makes it a little inconvenient.
oGolden Sunrise Hotel HOTEL $$
(%in Yangon 01-701 027; email@example.com.
mm; s $20, d $30-35; a) A few minutes’ walk
outside the centre of Kinpun village in the
direction of the highway, the Golden Sunrise
is one of the best value hotels in southeast-
ern Myanmar. There are eight bamboo-heavy
bungalows with a touch of class. The spacious
rooms are undisturbed by noise and immacu-
lately clean and, for once, the bathrooms are
a sheer delight to spend time in! The private
verandahs overlooking the secluded gardens
are the perfect place to relax at the end of the
day with a drink.
Sea Sar Guest House HOTEL $
(%60367; r $5-15; a) In the heart of the town,
but set in spacious gardens a little way back
from the pilgrimage noise, the more expen-
sive rooms at the Sea Sar are memorable for
all the right reasons. They’re clean, with hot
showers, silky soft beds and wooden fl oors –
you can’t really go far wrong. The cheaper
rooms, though, are more disappointing and
look as dark and messy as a crime scene. The
staff are dialled into travellers’ needs and
can provide local maps with marked walks,
taxi services and bus tickets. The restaurant
can do a variety of basic Burmese dishes for
K1500 to K2000.
Pann Myo Thu Inn GUESTHOUSE $
(%60285; r $5-20; a) This green-themed inn
(the building is green and it’s full of green
plants and lots of green, fl owering orchids)
is another great choice. The cheap rooms are
better value than those at the Sea Sar, but
the pricier ones are not quite as neat. It has a
friendly home-away-from-home feel – prob-
ably because it is in fact the owner’s home.