Reaching the Golden Rock is no easy task.
From the base station at Kinpun you essentially have three options – ride all the way to the top (or, almost) on a shared truck; take the truck half-way and walk the rest or; walk the whole way, with the local pilgrims.
Most will board a truck for the ride all the way up the 3,615ft mountain – taking just over an hour if your truck leaves promptly. The trucks are crammed full with locals, the bench seats suitable for hardy Asian bottoms and the drivers really don’t mess around at all on the hairpin corners. It makes for an un-comfortable, but entertaining journey. You will need to walk the final, short stretch to the rock itself.
It is also possible to alight from the trucks at the intermediary station – more than 2/3rds of the way to the summit and cover the final mile or so on foot. It is a steep climb, but you will feel all the more worthy for doing so.
The drastic third option is to climb all the way from Kinpun, a 5 hour hike which should be done barefoot if you consider yourself a devout pilgrim.
There are a number of restaurants and various shops selling anything and everything that a pilgrim would require, ranging from rosary beads, toy wooden rifles, gold leaf to a bowl of hunger-busting noodles.
Its better to stay overnight – the distance from Yangon makes this impracticable as a day trip unless you are prepared for an extremely long day and, secondly, waking up to catch the sunrise is a truly spiritual experience. Remember, you are here as much for the views as the rock itself and it’s the early morning mist in the valleys when it looks at its best.