Widely publicized as Golden Rock among the tourist crowd, the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is one of the most magical destinations in Myanmar. For the Buddhists, it is a must visit place after Shwedagon of Yangon. The Golden Rock or Kyaikhtiyo is located some 160km southeast of Yangon, on one peak of eastern mountain range of 1200-meters, deep inside the dense rainforest of Mon State. It is far enough to avoid, or take a break from the hectic city life to enjoy from the expanse rice-growing region that stretch your eyes endlessly, the scenic rivers bustling with passengers boats and fishermen, and changing of socio-economic landscapes as you entered into the land of the Mons.
There’s no solid historic record on Golden Rock pagoda except the legendary stories. However, Buddhists in Myanmar generally believe that the rock boulder and the original stupa were built last 2400-years ago, during the lifetime of Buddha. The credit goes to the hermit who kept the hairs of Buddha for several hundred years until he urged the king of Mons, Tissa to find a stone that would resemble his hermit head and enshrine the hairs in it. With the help of the King of the Nat spirits, the king, who was also a son of miracle making alchemist father and dragon mother, could manage to find one from the ocean bed and then transported to the edge of the ridge by a ship, which then transformed into a stone a few meters away from the present-day Golden Rock boulder. And there are some more fascinating stories to be heard! While Golden Rock is the main focus to visit, there are several other monasteries and pagodas in this area.
For the devote and capable Buddhists, it is more appropriate to hike up from the near-sea-level base camp to the 1200-meter top along the 19-km forest trail passing through a couple of rest houses, waterfalls, food stalls and scenic spots.