Sittwe (Akyab) is a city and district in Rakhine State, Western Myanmar.
Sittwe, formerly known as Akyab, is the capital city of Rakhine (Arakan) State, located in Western Myanmar. It has a population of around 200,000 inhabitants.
Air Bagan and Air Mandalay fly to Sittwe from Yangon for US$135 to US$140. Some of the flights go via, or on to Thandwe (Sandoway). The airport (nothing more than a Second World War 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 ply 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).
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 (see the section on Food below).
Sittwe's dirty little secret is that its once sizeable Muslim population has been the target of a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign following ethnic riots in 2012. The entire Muslim population has been relocated into camps outside town. Investigative journalists who have visited the camps report very poor conditions, with no medical care, and food only available to the extent that foreign NGOs are permitted to bring it in. Tourists are not permitted near the camps and will be turned back at police checkpoints if they stray in the wrong direction. The once beautiful Jama Mosque (built in 1859) is, as of early 2016, a mouldering ruin.
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 favorite, 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. Hotel Memory, the newest hotel in town, has a good restaurant serving good Rakhaing and Chinese food.
Be warned that many guest houses are not allowed to take foreigners any more.
As of 2006, the Internet situation in Sittwe was restricted to one computer offering very unreliable dial-up service at a small shop next door to the Shwe-Thazin Hotel for about 2500 kyat/hour. The direct dial phone service from Sittwe is quite erratic as well but 'booked' international calls at US$6/minute seem to work fine.
As of 2015, wifi is available at most midrange guesthouses, though the internet connection to the outside world is very spotty. People with 3G phones have reliable internet access, either via foreign sim cards with roaming plans, or via local sim cards which are widely available, at least in Yangon.