Sittwe (Akyab) is a city and district in Rakhine State, Western Myanmar.
Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, and Yangon Airways all fly to Sittwe from Yangon for USD70-80. Most of the flights go on to Thandwe (Sandoway). The airport (nothing more than a WWII airstrip) is only a couple of miles from the city and taxis are available but it is cheaper to take a trishaw for the short ride to the city (trishaws wait outside the airport gate).
The road to Sittwe (via Pyay) has been upgraded in recent years and the once harrowing journey is now quite comfortable if you have your own car. Buses also travel the route. Either way, set aside two days for the journey from Yangon. The coastal route is still long and arduous.
Trishaws, readily available, are the easiest way to get around. It is also possible to walk (if you are not going far!) or to rent a bicycle (available at most hotels).
- Maka Kuthala Kyaungdawgyi. An odd museum with a mixture of colonial era and Buddhist artifacts. The museum is in a colonial mansion that is itself well worth a visit.
- Rakhaing State Cultural Museum. An easy way to get up to speed on the culture of the region. The entire visit takes less than an hour. USD1.
Most people use Sittwe as a stopping point for Mrauk U and rarely spend time in the city. However, a brief visit is well-rewarded. At sunset, visit The Point at the end of the Strand (50 kyat admission fee) for a glimpse of the sun setting over the Bay of Bengal. Walk back along the Strand to the City Point Restaurant for some beer and music by the water. The city is also known for its fruit bats which take wing by the hundreds at dusk. Swing by the lively Central Market near the bus stand. A Fish Market operates in the early hours next door to the Central Market if you like seeing fish by the thousands. Sittwe is also a much better place for trying Rakhine food than Mrauk U.
Rakhine food is spicy and is a nice change from the blander Burmese curries. Mondi, the Rakhaing version of the Burmese mohinga, is thinner and spicier. Rakhaing fish curries, catfish is the local favourite, are fiery and can be enjoyed at several hole-in-the-wall (or rather shack-on-the-ground) eateries that dot the main street and side streets of Sittwe. Restaurants, such as City Point, Nyein Chan, and in the Shwe Thazin Hotel in Sittwe tend to serve blander Burmese or Chinese food.
- Noble Hotel. Air-con; private bath; generator. USD25-30 single/double.
- Shwe-Thazin Hotel. Air-con; restaurant; private bath; generator. Clean, business style hotel. USD30-35 single/double.
The direct dial phone service from Sittwe is quite erratic as well, but "booked" international calls at USD6/minute seem to work fine.