The "Valley of Rubies", the mountainous Mogok area, 200 km (120 mi) north of Mandalay, is noted as the original source of ruby including the world's finest "pigeon's blood" rubies as well as the world's most beautiful sapphires in "royal" blue. Mogok is situated in a valley surrounded by a large number of mountains. The shrub- and flower-covered hills rising above are dotted with small towns, villages, and garden plots, and adorned with well-tended Buddhist shrines. Mogok and other villages nearby have been famous since ancient times for its gemstones, especially ruby and sapphire, but semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, garnet, moonstone, peridot and chrysoberyl are also found. Gems are sold in markets in Mogok; however, foreigners require special permits to visit the town, and purchase/export of gems from Myanmar at non-government licensed dealers is illegal. The area is still world-famous for gems: A sign along the highway reads “Welcome to Ruby Land,” as about 1,000 working mines and diggings are found there today.