Mrauk U

The Andaw Temple in Mrauk U

Mrauk U is a medieval town and archaeological site in Rakhine State, Western Myanmar. It was formerly known as Myohaung. All foreign nationals must pay a USD5 fee for their stay in Mrauk U.

Understand

Mrauk U may seem to be a sleepy village today but not so long ago it was the capital of a reasonable sized empire where Portuguese, Dutch and French traders rubbed shoulders with the literati of Bengal and Mughal princes on the run.

Mrauk U was declared capital of the Arakanese kingdom in 1431. At its peak, Mrauk U controlled half of Bangladesh, modern day Rakhine State and the western part of Lower Burma. As the city grew, many pagodas and temples were built. Several of them remain, and are the main attraction of the city.

The best time to visit Mrauk U is from November-mid-March when it's cooler in the morning with attractive mists.

Foreign nationals must pay a USD5 fee in Mrauk U. The official counter is in the Shittaung Pagoda, but the government fee collector will track you down sooner or later if you miss him.

Get in

Map of Mrauk U

By boat

The journey through the backwaters and then up the river is a wonderful trip. There were 2 large ferries running from Sittwe to Mrauk: the ex-government boat (XGov, now privatised) and the Aung Kyan Moe (AKM) double-decker boat. For both, tourists USD10, 7 hr. An express boat is USD20, 3 hr. You will be met at Sittwe airport by a tout selling private boats /places on private boats (5 passengers+, USD20, 6 hr, one-way), which may be useful if it goes that afternoon, as you save a night in Sittwe.

Sittwe to Mrauk U: a ferry goes M (AKM); Tu (XGov); F (Xgov); Sa (AKM) at 07:00. Express boat W, 14:00 and there one more sailing of the Aung Kyaw Moe, Th (possibly W).

Mrauk U to Sittwe: a ferry goes Tu (AKM); W (XGov); F (AKM); Sa (Xgov); Su (AKM) at 07:00. Express boat Th, 07:00.

Food is available for purchase. The ferry is not in great condition, but seems safe enough. Be warned though that the ferry has been known to skip a day or two every now and then so, if relying on it for travel, keep a reasonable buffer to avoid getting stuck. Private boats are available for rent in Sittwe and may do the trip considerably faster (4 to 6 hr) for USD80 (2008 price) depending on your negotiating skills and the number in your party. The principal advantage of renting a private boat is that you are no longer tied to the ferry schedule. In high season 2011 there were private boats leaving Mrauk U seemingly every day, which you could join for negotiated fare. Flights from Yangon arrive in Sittwe in the afternoon and it is easy to rent a boat and be in Mrauk U in the evening which means a travel time of one day from Yangon. With the government ferry, count on at least two days to get from Yangon to Mrauk U, longer if you arrive the day before a ferry off-day.

Local Transportation

By road

Buses leave for Sittwe and Yangon every morning, and foreign travellers are now permitted to travel to Mrauk U overland. In the early morning there are more buses. You have to get to the bus station in Sittway at 5:30 A.M to ensure you get a seat, unless you book your bus journey in advance. Buses heading to Yangon will stop at Mrauk U., normally starting at 7 A.M. The last bus is at 12 P.M or sometimes 1 P.M. if you miss the morning bus you can only take last bus.

You can get a bus from Yangon and Mandalay too. If you starting from Bagan, you have to take a bus to Magway and switch to the bus to Mrauk U. The bus from Mandalay stops at Magway near the bridge across the Irrawaddy river. There are also buses from Ngapali beach to Mrauk U.

Get around

In Mrauk U you can either walk, rent a bicycle (available from most hotels), hire a trishaw or a horse cart.

See

Inside the Shittaung Pagoda

Do

Buy

Eat

Drink

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Go next

The area around Mrauk U is restricted and all foreigners must sleep in the town itself.


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, January 15, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.