“Mount Popa”

Mount Popa, Myanmar. November 2019. (12 photos)

This is Part 14 of my posts about Myanmar, and Part 18 of my posts about my near month-long visit to Myanmar, Thailand and Singapore in November 2019.

Leaving the village of Salay where I had tea with the monks of Sasanayaunggyi monastery I continued on to Mount Popa.

Mount Popa is an extinct volcano 1518 metres (4981 feet) above sea level, in the region of Mandalay about 50 km southeast of Bagan in the Pegu Range. Mount Popa is perhaps best known as a pilgrimage site, with numerous Nat temples and relic sites atop the mountain.


Arriving to the village at the bottom of Mount Popa, the visitor is required to make the ascent to the top by climbing a set of about 700 steps, quite steep in areas, in the heat and humidity of Myanmar.

As with many sacred sites, the climb is made barefoot. The climb is not made alone. According to National Geographic, there is a population of about 2,000 wild rhesus macaques living around the monastery. And after many years of being offered food by local pilgrims, they can become very mischievous and aggressive if they smell food on your person, or see something they can steal. Oh, and there will be sightings of monkey droppings on the steps and I was warned about scabies and rabies before beginning my climb. And the macaques don’t smell that great either.

“Taung Kalat Monastery”

At the top is the Taung Kalat monastery, a site of pilgrimage dedicated to the Nats.

They have a saying in Myanmar, “Love the Buddha, fear the Nats.”

Buddhism in Myanmar is heavily influenced by animist beliefs in which Nat spirits are thought to inhabit trees and water. Grand Nats, are malevolent ghosts, taking forms such as demons and goblins which evolved from male and females who died from unusually painful deaths. They’re believed to have supernatural powers to intervene in your life and can hex you if not treated with respect.

“Nat worship”

“Macaque looking for a victim”


“The Descent”

Descending back to the village at the bottom of Mount Popa, I was then transported to my resort on the side of an opposite hill for the main event, the watching of sunset on Mount Popa.







This is Part 14 of my posts about Myanmar, and Part 18 of my posts about my near month-long visit to Myanmar, Thailand and Singapore in November 2019.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Mount Popa


70 thoughts on “Mount Popa

  1. J.D. Riso says:

    What a magnificent sunset. Macaques can really be a nuisance. It’s good to see a post from you! Hope you are well. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Julie. It was worth the overnight stay from Bagan. People were actively feeding the macaques which makes them more daring and aggressive in their behaviour, but I made sure to carry no food and had everything safely away in my camera bag and pockets.

      I’ve made a conscious effort to slow down my blogging and spend not so much time online. Hope you’re enjoying life in your beautiful neck of the woods.

  2. Great recount. I’ve just done a 240 step walk to a waterfall today and am flabbergasted by the thought of 700. I needed the sunset shots at the end to calm me!

  3. Nice to know that there is something different to go back to when the world finally changes enough for us to start traveling again.

    And from the answer to the previous comment, which wines did you try?

  4. It must have been a careful climb up the top barefoot in those hot, humid conditions. Spectacular views. Looks like you got really lucky with the sunset there – warm coloulrs all round and lovely how the purple at dusk matched the purple lights down below.

    • Indeed it was worth the time to detour to this location for the experience and views. Yes, lucky with the weather. It was just after the wet season, so there’s always the chance rains might persist longer than normal.

  5. Amazing to see how rapidly the sky changes comparing the times with the pictures. Amazing, too, that you ventured up there after all those warnings, but I’m glad you did. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Julie. It was an effort to get up there, and I saw at least one person slip on the way down, but it was worth doing. Yes, wine in hand and camera on tripod was a great way to watch that sunset. πŸ™‚

  6. Coming back to Myanmar through this post is almost as good as the real thing, Lignum. Your sunset shots of Mt. Popa are something out-of-this-world, brilliant and so deeply satisfying. Well done!

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