Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Are you a gemstone hobbyist or amateur looking for the travel experience of a lifetime? Then the Gemstone Detective tour to Mogok is for you! There aren’t many unspoilt travel destinations that offer a tourist both an authentic and exciting experience, but Mogok is certainly one of them.
View across Mogok © Kim Rix Photography / Gemstone Detective
Situated in the Mandalay region of Myanmar (Burma), the city of Mogok is nestled in a green and temperate valley, surrounded by imposing mountains. Though famous for hundreds of years due to its abundance of stunning gemstones, the city of Mogok has only recently been opened up to visitors – which means that you will be among the first to experience the treasures of this formerly secretive place!
The most celebrated rubies in the world are mined here, giving rise to Mogok’s nickname ‘The Valley of the Rubies’. Rare and beautiful, ‘pigeon blood’ rubies are so named because their red to slightly purplish hue is said to resemble the blood of a freshly killed pigeon.
Mogok Gem Market. © Kim Rix Photography / Gemstone Detective
Of course, it won’t be just rubies you’ll see in the bustling gemstone markets of Mogok – Mogok’s mines also produce a plethora of other gemstones, including particularly fine royal blue sapphires.
We might even be able to go panning for gemstones ourselves! Though this trip is about the gemstones, you will experience so much more in Mogok.
Mogok local market. © Kim Rix Photography / Gemstone Detective
Are you a foodie? Well, you can expect to be well catered for by the local cuisine. You’ll be able to sample unique local delicacies, such as laphet – fermented tea leaves, eaten in a salad with shredded cabbage, deep-fried beans, nuts, peas and tomatoes, all flavoured with chilli and garlic. You won’t have tasted anything like it before! Or how about Mohinga – the unofficial national dish of Myanmar? Mohinga is traditionally served at breakfast and consists of fine rice noodles in a fish and shallot broth, garnished with crunchy banana tree pith.
Besides these unusual and delicious dishes, you’ll choose from an array of fragrant curries, simmered beneath a layer of oil to seal in the flavours and make the meat mouth-wateringly soft and succulent.
Mogok Buddhist temple by night. © Kim Rix Photography / Gemstone Detective
Mogok’s Buddhist temples are quite something to behold. Pada Myar Zeidy, with its golden spire, stands above the city and gives the visitor a wonderful view over Mogok and its lake – created from an abandoned colonial-period ruby mine. As well as an impressive white marble buddha and two smaller gilded buddhas, Phaung Daw oo Paya houses two stunning pedestals, encrusted with priceless gemstones. Equally dazzling, if not as valuable, are the ornate, mirrored columns within the temple.
View looking over Mogok Lake. © Kim Rix Photography / Gemstone Detective
For the nature lovers, there are some great trekking routes through the rainforest and farms around Mogok. The picturesque King Chaung waterfall is a wonderful place for a refreshing dip if Mogok temperatures reach their February average high of 24 degrees Celsius.
Portrait of a Mogok woman. © Kim Rix Photography / Gemstone Detective
Despite Mogok’s many treasures, it’s the local people who make this a travel experience of a lifetime. There’s no word for tourist in Mogok – the closest translation in Burmese is ‘guest’, which tells you everything you need to know about local hospitality. Genuine smiles and invitations will greet you wherever you go, and you’ll be eagerly offered the first tastes and choicest cuts at every meal.
So what are you waiting for? Places on the Gemstone Detective Mogok Tour are going quickly. Act now to secure your experience of a lifetime!
Kim Rix GG GIA
Gemstone Detective – Travel Guides
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