Mrauk U is considered as the second most important archaeological site in Buram. A visit to Mrauk U will not disappoint you thanks to its beautiful landscapes and magnificent monuments.
Mrauk U, located in western Burma, is considered the second most important archaeological site in the country after Bagan. However, it is very easy to differentiate between the two sites. Indeed, Mrauk U is more recent and its temples were built in stone, not brick.
This medieval city, once the capital of the Arakan Kingdom, was an important trading center where French, Dutch, Burmese and Chinese merchants passed by daily. The city still bears traces of this prosperity.
A visit to Mrauk U will be an opportunity for travelers to visit sumptuous temples and pagodas, coiled in a bucolic environment of small villages, rice fields and green hills.
1. How to get to Mrauk U
During your tour in Burma, you can easily reach Mrauk U by boat or by road. The city is connected to the major cities of the country.
If you choose to reach Mrauk U by road, notice that the journey may be long. There is no housing service on the way. In addition, buses are not always comfortable and the road is uneven. There is a bus station in Mrauk U, where buses arrive from all over the country. It will take you 24 hours to connect Yangon and Mrauk U (about 20USD), more than 16 hours for the journey from Bagan or Mandalay (22USD) and 15 hours from Ngapali (14USD).
By boat, the journey is much more comfortable and pleasant, but also much more expensive. From Ngapali, you can reach Mrauk U in 7 hours (costing 80USD, meal included). Notice that this journey is made only on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
From Sittwe to Mrauk U, ferries operate daily, and the journey takes only 3 hours (15USD). However, the ferries do not run on certain days because of unknown reasons. As a result, you should book your seat in advance. For more security, you can rent a private boat for about 80USD (you can negotiate).
You will be able to move relatively freely to Mrauk U, except perhaps in Chin villages. You can either walk; rent a bicycle, a trishaw or a horse-drawn carriage. For bicycles, it will cost 0.8USD per day. This is one of the means of transport favored in Mrauk U as it will allow you to enjoy the scenery.
In terms of housing, you have various choices from guest-houses to the high-standing hotels which depend on your taste and budget. It will cost 11USD for a decent room in a guest-house and up to 240USD in the upmarket hotel of the Mrauk U.
You can enjoy your stay in Mrauk U in Burma to taste the typical dishes in one of the many street restaurants in the city. In addition, many hotels open their own restaurants.
2. What to visit, what to do during your visit to Mrauk U
During your tour in Burma, a stop at Mrauk U will allow you to immerse yourself in the history of the Burmese civilization through magnificent and amazing monuments. In addition, the city welcomes an average of only 5,000 foreign visitors per year. You will be a privileged visitor far from mass tourism!
The monuments of Mrauk U are separated into different groups: north, south, east and west. Free maps are available at most hotels. You will have to pay a fee of 5000K (3.8USD) for visiting the temples of Mrauk U, but it is not compulsory for the Shittaung Pagoda.
The North group has greatest density of interesting monuments. In particular, there is located the Shittaung Pagoda, the most famous structure of the city. Always worshiped by believers today, the Pagoda is adorned with fascinating stone sculptures, such as the 550 Jakata (birth name of Buddha) or many Buddha representations. Built in the 16th century, the Shittaung Pagoda also tells the past of Kingdom Arakan via colorful paintings.
This North group includes many other temples and structures. For example, it is said that a Buddha’s tooth would be kept at the Andaw Temple. To become more aware of the extent of the city and its monuments, climb the hills that surround the city. You will be able to observe the most magnificent views of the temples that follow one another in the valley.
Mixed shapes and colors, the structures of northern temples offer a beautiful introduction to the Buddhist treasures during your visit.
Although less temples and pagodas than the Northern group, the South and East groups will not fail to dazzle you. The Mong Khong Shwe Pagoda is worth a visit. These groups also offer a whole new perspective on Mrauk U. Indeed, the monuments of these groups are in harmony with the surrounding nature. Temples and pagodas blend into the green landscape of the rice paddies, the stone and the earth combine to create a beautiful landscape. Do not miss the Temple of Kothaung, which is said to contain 90,000 images of Buddha.
In the center of Mrauk U, you will find the ruins of the outer wall of the palace. To the north of the palace is the Haridaung Pagoda located at the top of a hill, an ideal location to have a beautiful view of the surrounding valley. Most hotels and guest-houses are located around the palace.
Despite the great number of monuments in Mrauk U, two days are enough to visit the city. You can also venture for a day in the ethnic minority villages of Chin, whose women are known to have tattooed faces.
During your customized tour in Burma, you will be surprised by the beauty of the landscapes and monuments of this country. If you decide to walk away from the beaten path to Mrauk U, you will not be disappointed.