Mount Popa is the center of Nat worship in Myanmar.
Nats are animist spirits often worshiped as minor deities in Myanmar’s Buddhist culture. As King Anawrahta was consolidating the power of the Pagan Empire during the 11th century, he enshrined an official pantheon of 37 animist spirits in the newly adopted state religion of Theravada Buddhism. Mount Popa is considered to be their supernatural abode, akin to a Southeast Asian version of Mount Olympus.
Popa is a dormant volcanic mountain rising almost 5,000 feet into the air. Mount Popa’s fertile volcanic slopes are covered in lush jungles teeming with wildlife. A volcanic plug near the base of the mountain is capped by the Popa Taung Kalat Temple. Pilgrims climb 777 stone steps to the temple dedicated to the animist spirits believed to inhabit Mount Popa’s peak.
The best weather to explore the Mount Popa National Park is typically between November and May during Myanmar’s cooler dry season. Higher temperatures last from June to October, and the second half of the year also sees higher chances of rainfall, but the extra precipitation makes the mountain’s forests particularly lovely.
A visit to Mount Popa offers a thrilling look into the animist practices that permeate Myanmar’s Buddhist culture. It’s a unique destination rarely visited by tourists, and makes for one of the most memorable excursions on a Myanmar tour.
Mount Popa is about 30 miles from the ancient temple city of Bagan. Guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar typically reach the Mount Popa area in a private vehicle after exploring the numerous temples in Bagan.
Dress for a hike in cool clothing and a good pair of shoes. If you are planning to visit the Popa Taung Kalat Temple you should wear modest attire that covers your shoulders, arms, and knees.