NOTE: An rise in fighting in the North of Burma has resulted in the government imposing a ban on Independent travel around Sitwee and Mrauk U. You must obtain a permit and book a tour with a guide through a government recognised agency in order to travel
The Andaw Temple in Mrauk U
Mrauk U is a medieval town and archaeological site in Rakhine State, Central Myanmar. It was formerly known as Myohaung. All foreign nationals must pay a US$5 fee for their stay in Mrauk U.
The journey through the backwaters and then up the river is a wonderful trip (contemplative and delightful). In Nov 2011 there were 2 large ferries running from Sittwe to Mrauk U, the ex-government boat (XGov) (now privatised) & the Aung Kyan Moe(AKM) double decker boat (on both tourists 10 USD, 7 hours & an Express boat (20 USD, 3 hours). You will almost certainly be met at Sittwe airport by a tout selling private boats / places on private boats (5 passenger+ 20 USD pp, 6 hours, one way), which may be useful if it go that afternoon, as you save a night in Sittwe.
Sittwe to Mrauk U, a Ferry goes Mon (AKM) Tues (XGov),Fri(Xgov),Sat(AKM).at 7am Express boat Wed 2pm.& there one more sailing of the Aung Kyaw Moe probably Thurs (possibly Wednesday).
Mrauk U to Sittwe a Ferry goes Tues(AKM),Wed(XGov),Fri(AKM),Sat(Xgov),Sun(AKM).at 7am Express boat Thursday 7am
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 hours) for US$50-80 (2008 price) depending on your negotiating skills and the number in your party. The principle advantage in renting a private boat is that you are no longer tied to the ferry timings. In the main season in 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.
Mrauk U, which monkey's egg, 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.
Foreign nationals must pay a US$5 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.
Inside the Shittaung Pagoda
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 is the main attraction of the city.
The Archaeology Museum (Free), just inside the Royal Palace has a collection of artifacts from the Mrauk U sites - Buddhas, slabs with inscriptions, Wethali era coins, paintings that show Mrauk U in its heyday, and an excellent model of Mrauk U that will help you get your bearings. Crumbling walls is all that remains of the Royal Palace itself.
Chin Villages Day trips to semi-remote Chin villages can be arranged at most hotels (US$40).
Wethali Now a small village but fifteen hundred years ago Wethali was the capital of an ancient Arakan kingdom. While temples are probably buried under the many mounds that dot the area, the only thing to see today is the layout of the palace and a statue known as the Great Image of Hsu Taung Pre. Wethali is a pleasant two hour outing from Mrauk U by car, or all day outing by bicycle.
Mahamuni Paya This pagoda is 40 km (forty bumpy kilometres!) north of Mrauk U and once housed the mahamuni Buddha that now resides in the Mahamuni Paya in Mandalay. There are several ancient artifacts on view at the Paya and at the small museum near the shrine. Hire a jeep (US$30-US$50) for a day outing to Wethali and the Mahamuni Paya from Mrauk U.
Several small restaurants are available at the market.
Pyae Wa Restaurant in the market offers authentic Rakhine food. The butterfish with rice is recommended.
Mo Cherry restaurant offers good Chinese and semi-authentic Rakhine food. The food is good and less risky than the places in the market but, if you have the time, explore other restaurants, often unnamed, and you'll be pleasantly surprised! To get there, follow the Yangon Sittwe Road by the Narawat hotel and Mrauk U hotel east to the crossing, then turn right. After a few metres you see the restaurant on the left side.
Good meals are served at the Nawarat hotel and in the Mrauk U hotel, see the Sleep section below.
Royal City Guest House, Mini Ba Gyi Rd (Around the corner from the Sittwe jetty). Simple rooms, some with attached bath. Two bungalows (concrete rooms) across the street. Friendly and helpful but, as it is on the main path to the jetty, it can be very noisy! No generator.US$5-15. edit
Prince Hotel, Mraund Bwe Road, Alzee Quarter, Mrauk U, ☎ (+9543) 24200 Ext: 50174 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Recently renovated with bungalow style rooms a bit away from the city (easy bike ride). The best amongst budget choices.US$8-15. edit
Pleasant Island Guest House, (On a tiny island close to Royal City). Shower, WC; Bungalows, simple and close to the market. edit
Tha Zin Pan Khaing Guest House, Myothit St.. This hotel is not licensed for foreigners.edit
Mya Nann Thein Gyi Guest House, Maung Bwe Road (Next to the market). Excellent location but is not licenced for foreigners.edit
Nawarat Hotel, E-27, Yangon-Sittwe-Road, Nyaungpinzay (approx. 200m from the Shitthaung Pagoda), ☎ 951-703885 (email@example.com). Very friendly, pleasant hotel; air-con, shower/bath tub, WC, TV, refrigerator; clean and beautiful, not too large rooms in bungalowsUS$38-60 incl. breakfast. edit
Mrauk U Hotel (Yangon-Sittwe Rd., Nyaungpinzay Qtr., opposite the Narawath Hotel, phone: 23060) - air-con, shower, WC, TV, fridge; very large rooms; large garden; well equipped; note that this hotel is run by the government of Myanmar - US$30-50
Vesali Resort Hotel Rooms are bungalow type (near the Shwetaung Hügel; phone: 01-526593, 525609 Fax: 01-526325, E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com) - including breakfast; good food - US$ 35-45
The area around Mrauk U is restricted and all foreign visitors must sleep in the town itself. For day trips, see the See and Do sections.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!