How to Visit Burma

Visiting Burma

Myanmar/Burma - Visit of Jean-Marc Ayrault (17-19.06.16) - France diplomacy

Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, will be visiting Burma from 17-19 June. It is the first formal France mission since the National League for Democracy formed the state. Mr Ayrault will thus demonstrate France's commitment to Burma in this new stage of the democracy processes and reinforce our co-operation in all areas.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who came to France in 2012 and 2014 on our invite, will be Jean-Marc Ayrault. Talks will be held with Htin Kyaw, President of Burma, Mahn WinKhaingThan, Speaker of Parliament, Pe Zin Tun, Minister of Electricity and Energy, and Phyo Min Thein, Prime Minister of the Yangon region.

It will also be meeting with Burma's civilian population. Mr Ayrault will attend the Joseph Kessel School, the Institut Fran├žais in Yangon and the Myanmar Journalism Institute, with the support of France and in particular of the CFI, the Foreign Ministry's Office for Press Co-operation and International Development. Mr. Bangemann will be meeting with the Algerian authorities and will be meeting a group of people from the Algerian government and representing France's businesses and non-governmental organisations active in Burma.

Yangon to Golden Rock Pagoda (Kyaiktiyo) In one go

The Kyaiktio or Kyaikhteeyoe Pagoda, although quite popular, is not as tourist as the other places in Myanmar - Bagan, Mandalay or Yangon. Continue reading and I'll give you some useful hints on how to get to Golden Rock Pagoda and back to Yangon in one single working days by public transportation only.

I will tell my tale here in the hopes that all of you who want to go to the Golden Rock will not make the same mistake I made. In order to see the Golden Rock, you must take the first coach from the Yangon Central Railway Terminal (Aug Mingalar) in the mornings.

I and my escorts had just come to this train terminal with a Bagan overnight coach at 5 o'clock. They asked us where we wanted to go and answered "Golden Rock". We' d also wrote a sheet of Burmese writing called'Golden Rock' by one of the people in Bagan.

Each time we purchased our ticket for 7000 MMK (6. 70 EUR/7. 20 USD) and should be waiting. Sometimes when you ask for something, you get the false information, or you say "yes, yes" just because you don't want to lose a client. When we got to the train terminal we were informed that we only had to get on the coach and after we got off, we had to take a cab for 2 US$ and we will be there.

Many busses take the tour to the Golden Rock, but only one FEW arrives at the station - a small town named Kinpun. For simplicity: All busses go from Yangon via the town of Kyaikto (not to be confused with the name of the Golden Rock Pagoda) either northwards to Kinpun or further southwest to other town.

If you only have one or two days, the best way is to take the coach directly to Kinpun (from here you will be taken by a special adapted lorry to the Golden Rock). If your coach does not go to Kinpun, you can get off in Kyaikto and take a cab, a mototaxi or a collective cab (which is much cheaper) to Kinpun.

Kaikto is about 14 km from Kinpun and the drive will take about 30 min (depending on the vehicle). It is all a bit bewildering because the little place named Kayaikto (although it almost divides its name with the Golden Rock) is NOT the next place to the famed pagean.

Kinpun is the next city and this is where you will end up. Yangon - Kinpun should take about 3.5h. When you drive over Kyaikto - much longer. It' s also possible to get to Kyaikto by rail, but it is not dependable and it will be the 4th rail.

Before we hadn't done any research on how to get to the Golden Rock, and without knowing it, we ended up on the coach that went through the Kyaikto town southwest to one of the cities (instead of the coach we should have gone to Kinpun, but from Kyaikto it is still relatively simple to get to Kinpun and the Pagoda).

There is a lot of fumes and dusty smells, which unfortunately make your visit to Myanmar less pleasant. In Myanmar, hygiene practices can, to put it mildly, be disputed by the West. They said at the coach terminal it was only supposed to take 3.5h. So something was up? But no one had any idea what "Golden Rock" was.

Then we had no idea, but it turned out later that the rider hadn't informed us when we were passing the Kyaikto hamlet and we drove on to Thaton, which was 100 km (62 miles) behind Kyaikto! As we got out, a little kid came up to us (after a brief talk with the driver) and pointed us to another coach that would take us back to Kyaikto.

The time was already 12:30 and we were afraid that we would not be able to go to the Golden Rock. About an hour and a half later it ended and they said to get out. Kyaikto was not as we had hoped, there were no visitors, no coach terminal or anything to indicate that we were near the monument.

However, we did notice some cabbies wanting to take us to the Golden Rock - Kinpun (20 min drive) for 10$ each! There was no clue where we were, it seemed odd that there were no visitors at all who wanted to see the Golden Rock.

We had a rather long trip and arrived in Kinpun at 3:30 pm! In order to make things even more difficult, we were informed that the last coach from Kinpun to Yangon departs at 3:30 pm. Nevertheless, we chose to either go to the sanctuary and spend the night or look for some busses back to Yangon in Kyaikto (the busses at Yangon train stations had said that there are busses that run from Kyaikto until night.

Kinpun has many stores, eateries and a few tourist. Nevertheless, I was quite appalled that there were so few international attendees there (but I wouldn't say it was a terrible thing!). Coming from Kinpun you have to take another - quite inventive - means of transportation, a modificated, unroofed lorry with some seats that are too narrow for most westerner.

Golden Rock is another 15 km from Kinpun. We arrived at the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda at 4:30 pm. Interesting is the fact that the Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock) Pagoda is not the only one in the area. The Kyaukthanban Pagoda (Stone Boat Temple) is associated with the Golden Rock Temple creation as well.

Golden Rock Pagode is located at 1,100 meters above see level. It is one of the most important monasteries in Myanmar and is frequented by several hundred people every day. It is very small, only 7 meters (24 feet) high, but it is the position that makes it so unique.

There is a giant stone wall (on which the stupa is mounted) standing on the rim and seems to be rolling down the hills. Kyaiktiyo means "temple on the top of a hermit's head". On the other hand, the recluse ruled that it would be a good thing to inform the monarch and ask him to build a sanctuary to anchor the Buddha in.

On the seabed, the monarch found a cliff in the form of a hermit's heads and carried it to the ideal place - where it is today. And the strands of fur left the cliff and stopped it from tumble. Usually the ship with which the cliff was carried was turned into a boulder and the pagoda was built on it.

A 2 hour tour of the entire complex and the village is sufficient. Despite everything, it was a really good thing to get there so later. Golden Rock is the most wonderful in the evenings, when it is lit by the hot colours of the sunset.

If I' d taken the 3:30 back to Yangon, I wouldn't have seen it. There' s a motel on the side and now we had to decide whether to stick around or take the last lunatic to Kinpun (the last one leaves at 6pm).

In spite of the information we received in the guesthouse that there were NO busses to Yangon after 4 pm, we resolved to go to Kinpun. At Kinpun we went around and found a fella who sold coach fares. There were no busses from Kinpun to Yangon, but there was one around 7pm from Kyaikto town ( (also for 7000 MMK), which was great for us.

Very kind, he consented to take us to Kyaikto on his motorcycle and waited with us to make sure we would get on the right one. It was 20 minus and... it was full. We were told by the type to take another one from the train stop, which was only 5 minute ride away.

I never thought it was a train stop, but we still made it. We were back at the train a few mins before 10 pm, but the coach didn't show up until an hours later..... Our mad trip was over and we got back to the Yangon coach terminal at 1:30am.

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