Difference between revisions of "Mrauk U"
Revision as of 11:07, 30 September 2007
By boatBoats 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.
Foreign Independent Travelers are not permitted to travel to Mrauk U overland.
In Mrauk U you can either walk, rent a bicycle (available from most hotels), hire a trishaw, or hire a horse cart.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Southwest of the temple area there is a market.
This region is quite remote, and therefore the prices are somewhat higher. A bottle of Myanmar Beer is about 2500 kyat.
There are no real luxury hotels in Mrauk U.
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.