Historically, the Golden Rock is one of the most sacred places in Myanmar. It is famous throughout the country and is a pilgrimage place for many Buddhists and Myanmar people.
It is also quite strange and pretty touristy.
Yes, the Golden Rock is indeed a rock. It is actually a rather large boulder. Further, it is absurdly precarious how is it positioned. And it is covered, entirely, in gold painted leaves. The “rock” is perched high above the ground on the edge of a cliff. An entire complex and network of roads were built around it and to the top.
Kinpun, the name of the mountain that houses the Golden Rock and the name of the town at the base of the Golden Rock, is located 7-8 hrs from Yangon. There is a bus that goes directly to the town. Also, there is a cheaper bus that lets you off on the highway in the actual city of Mt. Kyaitko, where you then have to find your way into a 30 min taxi or truckshaw for about 500 kyat (40 cents). Once in Kinpun there are guesthouses and hotels, cheapest being $6 USD per night and the average being about $25 per night. The quality is pretty subpar, like much of Myanmar. From there you take a 2 hr bus to the rock. You can also hike there. The hike took me 3 hours going uphill – it was pretty hard and not for the faint of heart, but you get to see some pretty amazing views and villages. I would highly recommend walking down and busing up.
The bus is one of the wildest rides I have ever been on. The road is a snaking, broken-asphalt-former-construction-road that winds into the valley and up to the rock. The road goes two ways, which mean there are just as many huge trucks are careening up as there are going down. The trucks are 8 rows long, each of which holds 7 people. We flew down the mountain, across bridges, and over rivers. Stunning drive when you are not fearfully laughing to the person next to you about the ride.
Overall, the Golden Rock is a fun stop off for those who have time. However, I would not put it at the top of my list if you are short on time in Myanmar.