Located in the remote area of Rakhine state, Mrauk U is the second most famous archaeological site in Myanmar. However, Mrauk U is not widely known by tourists, which explains why it is called the “forgotten heaven” of the Golden Land.
Mrauk U used to be the capital of the Arakan empire from the 15th to 18th centuries, established by King Min Saw Mon in 1430 and quickly developed as an important center for trade, visited mostly by Portuguese, Dutch and French traders. It was soon declared capital of the Arakanese kingdom in 1431.
Nowadays, Mrauk U is a quiet and small town containing many features that create a memorable trip for travelers out there, range from an ancient kingdom with impressive ruins and a large number of temples and pagodas to a lively local culture. Let’s discover the hidden charm of this magnificent town.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN MRAUK U
As the city grew, many pagodas and temples were built and became the main attractions. There are hundreds of temples in Mrauk U, most of them have name plates in English, with date of construction.
Foreign visitors are required to pay a $5 fee (6700 Kyat) at the official counter which is located in the Shittaung Pagoda. Afterwards, you could start your trip in one of these famous monuments recommended by Myanmar Private Holidays
Shitthaung Pagoda is among the most outstanding religious architectural monuments in Mrauk U and whose name means “Temple of 80,000 Images of Buddha.”, or additionally known as “Temple of Victory” More than 80.000 displays of Buddha can be found here. The main hall of Shitthuang also features hundreds of Buddha statues.
The temple is located 2.5 km northeast/east out of town and known as the “shrine of the 90,000 images of the Buddha”. This used to be the biggest pagoda in Mrauk U but has fallen apart during the past centuries
Sightseeing in Mrauk U usually includes a visit to the Archaeological Museum. The museum can be spotted inside the Royal Palace. It features many religious sculptures, a collection of artifacts and a wide range of items, from nice paintings of Mrauk U to stones with carved inscriptions or Wethali era coins.
The museum opens from 10:00a.m to 3:30p.m (Tuesday to Sunday) and visitors are charged $2 admission fee.
Located 10km north of Mrauk U, Vethali is a small village which used to be the capital of an ancient Arakan kingdom fifteen hundred years ago. Unfortunately, the temples are buried under many mounds and the only thing that draws visitors’ attention is the Great Image of Hsu Taung Pre, which is a great statue.
Along with the sites listed above, if you wish to chill out and experience the peaceful life of the countryside, you can ride around with bicycle and discover ethnic Chin Villages. It takes a half-hour by tuk tuk from Mrauk U and about 3 hours by boat trip on Lay Myo river to arrive at Chin Village. Here you might take your time to explore how the villagers do their farm work and weave fabrics.
L’Amitie Art Gallery
The gallery features great artwork dedicated to Mrauk U, you might want to come and see how Mrauk U would look like back in the day.
WHERE TO EAT
A number of small restaurants, food stalls are available in and around the market. Here are some recommendations based on travelers’ personal experience.
Moe Cherry Restaurant offers good Chinese and semi-authentic Rakhine food. The restaurant is situated in AlayZay Quartier.
For You is another good place which is highly recommended and offers a wide range of food.
Pyae Wa Restaurant is a restaurant that serves Chinese dishes, products from the river and lots of curries.
In Mrauk U, you can walk, rent a bicycle at 2,000 Kyat a day, hire a trishaw or hire a horse cart at about US$ 10 per day.
HOW TO GET TO MRAUK U
Mrauk U is located between the Kaladan and Lay Myo rivers in Rakhine state in the Western part of Burma, near the Bay of Bengal.
The journey to Mrauk U is a combination of flight and boat. To travel to Mrauk U, visitors may take a domestic flight from Yangon to Sittwe which takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, then board a river boat on the Kaladan River. The boat departs at 7 am and costs 10000 Kyat ($7.5) one way and takes about 5 hours.
The best time for tourists to visit Mrauk U is from late November – early December when the rains have gone.