Myanmar: Golden Rock of Kyaiktiyo
Though a beautiful area and something you should definitely consider visiting while in Myanmar, the Golden Rock is not a ‘hiking’ destination in the strictest sense. However, if you want to visit on a budget for sunrise or sunset you’ll have to do a fair bit of walking, so we thought this info might be useful!
The best times to see the Golden Rock are right at sunrise or sunset. Unfortunately, all the budget accommodation (around $5 or just less when we were there) sit at the base of the hill, in the village in Kinpun. The problem being, of course, that busses from Kinpun up/down to the Golden Rock don’t run before sunrise or after sunset! There are expensive accommodation options, around $100 when we visited several years ago, on top of the hill.
Alternatively: just walk at night! We got up around 2am to start hiking up the road, and got to the top just a bit before sunrise (so something like 3.5 hours). Ideally you’d stick to the road for a night hike, as the Pilgrim Trail is a bit tricky and overgrown even during the daylight hours.
Time it right, though, and you can get up to the rock well before the majority of pilgrims are up and out for the day! On the way down (unless you stay through sunset as well!), either hike the Pilgrim Path back or take a short walk back down the road to the truck station where you can jump in the back of an oversized pickup for the quick ride back down the hill.
Though it can take a bit of time and patience, busses run regularly from Yangon to Kinpun from early morning to early afternoon. If you’re short on time or heavy on cash, though, there are also guided tours on GetYourGuide that take care of all the logistics AND save you having to walk all night. Choose as you like!