Compared to other famous ancient cities in Asia such as Angkor or Bagan, Mrauk U, an archeological town in Western Myanmar is definitely an under-the-radar destination. Some people, even the Burmese often name it as “Little Bagan”. While these two sites do share some similarities, with both used to be major capital cities of past kingdoms in Myanmar, Mrauk U is unique in its own way.
In the 15th century, Mrauk U was the capital of the powerful Arakanese Kingdom which controls the western part of Myanmar and half of Bangladesh. Although it seems like a quiet town today, Mrauk U used to be one of the busiest trading ports in Asia, welcoming hundreds of ships from the far Europe continent. Visitors coming here will get the feeling like belonging to a different world, which full of rock temple ruins, some hidden behind lush hills.
How to get there
The most chosen, also the most convenient way to get to Mrauk U is taking a seven-hour boat ride from Sittwe, the tourism hub of the whole Rakhine State. You will also need a domestic flight to get to Sittwe Airport. Land transfer is available but not recommended. In fact, generally in Myanmar, you should avoid land transfer, especially for long distance trip.
What to do and see
Shittaung Pagoda: a must-see on any trip to Mrauk U. Inside the ancient pagoda, you will visit the Royal Palace and the Archaeology Museum where a variety of artifacts from around Mrauk U are put on display. These artifacts include Buddhas, slabs with inscriptions, coins and paintings from Wethali era.
Wethali: this sleepy and picturesque village was the site of the capital some 500 years ago. The remaining today is the palace’s layout and a statue named Great Image of Hsu Taung Pre.
Chin Villages: a perfect site for exploring remote villages in Rakhine State
Temple ruins: Andaw Paya (typical Arakanese architecture), Kothaung Paya (largest temple in Mrauk U), Shwetaung Pagoda and Haridaung Pagoda are ideal for sunrise and sunset watching opportunity.
|A monk meditating at Andaw Paya|
|Kothaung, the largest temple in Mrauk U|