For me, Mount Popa was the biggest highlight of our trip to Burma. It’s such an amazing, otherworldly place. The monastery at the top of this extinct volcano can only be accessed by climbing up 777 steps, surrounded by wild monkeys hunting for scraps of food and passing through temples and relic sites on the way.
The volcano is about 50km from where we were staying in Bagan. Our taxi stopped in a couple of interesting places along the way; a little farm producing peanut oil and coconut sweets, and a small town with lots of fruit stalls.
Apologies for the inappropriate amount of photos – I just have too many good monkey pictures to share!! I hope your wi-fi is good (I’m sitting in a chalet in Méribel as I’m typing this and every picture is taking approximately 2 hours to load!).
So we stopped at a peanut and coconut farm on the way…
… and watched as they got oil from peanuts.
The coconut sweets were so delicious.
We also stopped in a town on the way, just to have a look. Look at those huge papayas!
Our driver also took us to a good viewing spot. I’m not sure what Chris was trying to do with his hand…
Definitely not being a glamorous fashion blogger there! It turns out that when you’re travelling around dirt roads on a scooter it’s best not to wear white skinny jeans (I had packed two pairs) – who would have known? You’re not supposed to show your knees when visiting pagodas either, so short skirts and shorts are a no-no.
Before you start climbing, you should look for the place that’s guarded by two big tiger statues in the village at the bottom of Mount Popa. That’s where you’ll find the famous 32 nats (spirits that are worshipped).
Start walking up the steps and say hi to the residents – I thought the baby monkeys were adorable; Chris disagreed.
Over 700 steps sounds like a lot, but you’ll get to the top sooner than you’d expect. There are lots of opportunities to stop and catch your breath as well.
As you climb up the steps, you’ll find more relics and temples and run into many monkeys. The view also gets better and better as you keep hiking up.
When you get to the top, just have a wander around and enjoy the view!
Don’t forget to take a few more monkey pictures as you walk back down…
Mount Popa is definitely something you can’t miss if you’re in Burma. It’s such a fun and unique experience! It’s not too challenging physically either, as you can really take your time and take as many breaks as you like on your way up. Just be careful with your belongings – we didn’t have any issues at all but the monkeys have been known to steal things!