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Mount Popa

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Fifty kilometers southeast of Bagan in Central Myanmar at the base of Mt Popa is a solitary peak topped by gold stupas. The Popa Taungkalat shrine is the favoured home of 37 Mahagiri Nats or aminist spirit entities, statues of which can be found at its base. These spirits were once so important to the country's early Kings that it was essential for them to consult the Nats before commencing their reign.

To reach the top, you need to remove shoes and socks and climb the 777 steps to the summit. Along the way are a multitude of monkeys expecting treats. Sometimes they can get a little aggressive so it's recommended that you keep a tight grip on your possessions!

Popa means "flower" in Sanskrit and you will find bottled flowers that you can purchase as offerings at the temple.

Nearby, on the side of Mount Popa is the Mt Popa resort, a beautiful and luxurious 5 star hotel complex with an excellent restaurant featuring Burmese and European dishes.

Get in[edit]

Most people visit Mount Popa as a daytrip from nearby Bagan. It's only about 50km away but due to the conditions of the road and vehicles, it will take at least 1hr 30min to get there.

The cheapest way to get there is either by bus or pickup truck. Both are a bit uncomfortable but the bus will be slightly faster as the pickup truck will stop frequently to load or unload things. The ride will take about 1h 30min and cost around 3000 kyat.

  • The local trucks run from the 'old' bus station, off the main tourist road in Nuang U. If you ask around, many people may try to tell you that the bus doesn't exist, or other lies. Not all buses run directly to Mount Popa but if not, then you can go via Krauk Pradang (pronounced Chow Prang) and another truck from there. If you're lucky, you may be able to get the local price of 1000 kyat (ti tau chets).

A more comfortable way to get to Bagan is to hire a taxi car. You'll have the added benefit of being able to stop and visit the few villages along the way. One taxi quoted a rate of ~$35 for transport from Bagan to Mount Popa. Shared taxi is available for 7500-9000 kyat

Get around[edit]

Prices have been rising recently for taxis. currently the price is 35000 - 40000 for a car. The price might be higher if you want to stop at the little towns along the way.

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  • Climbing Mt Popa Peak - a 45 min hike up to the peak will reward you with a spectacular view. If the weather is clear you might even spot the temples of Bagan. Mt Popa's spiritual importance is expressed by the many golden stupas along the way and on top of the crater rim. The flanks of the volcano are covered by dense vegetation, a paradise for bird watchers and botanists. The upper third of the climb is bare and it can get very hot even in December / January.

Local guides can show you the way up (US$ 10 - 20), but not many speak English. Inquire at any of the roadside tea sheds in Popa village. They will happily serve you with beverage and pickles until the guide shows up. Popa Mountain Ressort can also help you with guides for a much larger sum.

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After your climb up Mt Popa, get in a taxi or share a truck to go over to Popa Mountain Resort for a break. The Resort has a stunning view of the shrine you have just visited and offers a nice relaxing environment for lunch or drinks. The only downside is the place is “expensive”, aka expected to pay the same price for food and drinks as if you were back in the States or Europe.

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  • Mount Popa Resort.  edit

Get out[edit]

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