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Mrauk U

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Southeast Asia : Myanmar : Western Myanmar : Mrauk U
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The Andaw Temple in Mrauk U

Mrauk U is a medieval town and archaeological site in Rakhine State, Myanmar. It was formerly known as Myohaung. All foreign nationals must pay a US$5 fee for their stay in Mrauk U.

Get in

Map of Mrauk U

By boat

Boats to Mrauk U depart daily around 07:00 from Sittwe. The 70 kilometer river journey is a contemplative and delightful trip, it lasts up to 7 hours and costs US$ 4 with the public boat. You can also charter a private boat for US$50-80 (depending on number of people and on your negotiating skills) for the roundtrip from Sittwe to Mrauk U. It is not possible to rent a boat in Mrauk U itself. All boats leave from the Mrauk U jetty at Sittwe.
The Sittwe-Mrauk U Ferry

By road

Foreign Independent Travelers are not permitted to travel to Mrauk U overland.

Get around

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

Understand

Mrauk U (literally, and no one knows why, Mrauk-U means 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.

See

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 today, 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.

Do

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 40km (forty bumpy kilometers!) 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.

Buy

Southwest of the temple area there is a market.

Eat

  • Several small restaurants are available at the market.
  • Pyae Wa Restaurant in the market offers authentic Rakhine food. Ask for butterfish with rice.
  • 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 meters you see the restaurant on the left side.
  • Good meals are to be had in the Nawarat hotel and in the Mrauk U hotel, see the Sleep section below.

Drink

This region is quite remote, and therefore the prices are somewhat higher. A bottle of Myanmar Beer is about 2500 kyat.

Sleep

Budget

  • Tha Zin Pan Khaing Guest House (Myothit Str.)
  • Wethali Guest House (Ponenarmyaung Qtr.)
  • Royal Guest House (Mini Ba Gyi Rd.) - Shower, WC; very simple - US$3-6.
  • Myantheingyi Guest House - Fan, shared bath - simple and familiar - US$4 per person.
  • Prince Guest House (Mrauk U Min Bya Rd.) - Shower, WC; very simple - US$5-6 per person.
  • Pleasant Island Guest House - Shower, WC; Bungalows, simple - US$5-6 per person.

Mid-range

  • Nawarat Hotel (E-27, Yangon-Sittwe-Road, Nyaungpinzay Quarter, opposite the Mrauk U hotel, approx. 200m from the Shitthaung Pagoda; nawarat@myanmars.net - Yangon-Office: 105-B, Parami Rd., Mayangone Township, Yangon; phone: 01-703885, 661159, Fax: 01-651234) - very friendly, pleasant hotel; AC, shower/bath tub, WC, TV, refrigerator; clean and beautiful, not too large rooms in bungalows; incl. breakfast - US$18-48
  • Mrauk U Hotel (Yangon-Sittwe Rd., Nyaungpinzay Qtr., opposite the Narawath Hotel, phone: 23060) - AC, shower, WC, TV, fridge; very large rooms; large garden; well equipped; note that this hotel is run by the government of Myanmar - US$30-50
  • Vesali Resort Hotel (near the Shwetaung Hügel; phone: 01-526593, 525609 Fax: 01-526325) - including breakfast; good food - US$ 35-45

Splurge

There are no real luxury hotels in Mrauk U.

Get out

You must return to Sittwe either by the government boat or by a private boat. Since private boats come from Sittwe, it is very hard to hire one in Mrauk U itself, so, if you arrive by the ferry, you'll most likely have to leave by the ferry. Because of potential delays in getting to Sittwe from Mrauk U (the ferry may not run because of mechanical problems, your private boat may break down), it is best not to visit Mrauk U on a tight schedule.



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