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Mrauk U

Mrauk U

Located in the remote area of Rakhine state, Mrauk U is a significiant archaeological site in Southeast Asia. This is one of the biggest treasures that attracts photographers to spot its highlighted relics.
Mrauk U Overview
Mrauk U is a sleepy little town in Rakhine, one of the poorest states in the country. It has been recently torn apart by religious conflicts. There is no paucity of natural beauty here, though. It has some of the prettiest, white sand beaches and the foggiest of mountains.
 
Mrauk U lies in the midst of one such mountain range called the Rakhine Yoma. It is nestled between the Kaladan and the Lemro rivers zigzagged by the Yoma in between. This makes the town hilly and hence, the perfect abode for many hilltop pagodas.
Mrauk U History
In 1433, King Min Saw Mon established Mrauk U as the capital of the last unified Arakanese Kingdom. The city eventually reached a size of 160,000 in the early seventeenth century.  Mrauk U served as the capital of the Mrauk U kingdom and its 49 kings till the conquest of the kingdom by the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty in 1784.
During British colonial rule, Mrauk U was known as Myohaung.The area was the site of fighting during the Arakan Campaign, in the latter part of the Second World War.
On 16 January 2018, Rakhine  protesters rioted near a government building in Mrauk U after a ban was issued by local authorities on an event that commemorated the anniversary of the Kingdom of Mrauk U's  dissolution. In response to protesters attempting to seize the government building, police fired live ammunition into the crowd, killing seven and wounding twelve.

Mrauk U climate and best time to visit
Mrauk U, like much of Rakhine State, is situated in a coastal tropical monsoon rainforest climate region. The town receives over 1,200 millimetres (47 in) of rain a year from the Shouthwestern Monson, making it one of the wettest regions in Myanmar.The Monsoon season usually begins in late May and ends by mid-October.
Although located in a tropical region, Mrauk U enjoys lower temperatures when the Northeastern Monsoon falls. From mid-October to mid-March during the Cool Season, temperatures can drop to 13 °C. This season coincides with the tourist season for Myanmar.
The best time to visit is from November to mid-March when it's cooler in the morning with attractive mists.


Mrauk U Transportation

Mrauk U can be accessed by road from Yangon, Bagan, and Sittwe, although arguably the best way to get to the town is by boat.  Travel the delightful backwaters and river from Sittwe and relax onboard as you watch life along the water’s edge unfold as you pass by.  You will see basic local houses, fishermen trying to make a good catch, people bathing and washing in the waters, and children happily splashing about.  It is a great way to take it slowly and see another side of beautiful Burma.  Once you arrive in Mrauk U, by any means, it is easy to get out and about by foot or rented bicycle.  Trishaws are also available and you can explore by horse and trap. 


Things to do and see in Mrauk U

Top 6 most attractions in Mrauk U
 

1. Temples and Pagodas in Mrauk U
The main draw in 
Mrauk U is the pagodas and temples which would have been part of a vast empire that stretched into Bangladesh. Many of the buildings in Mrauk U were built in the 1400s and would have belonged to various princes and other royals. To access the temples, and Mrauk U generally, you will need to pay a fee of USD 5 at the counter at Shittaung Pagoda which will cover you for the rest of your stay in Mrauk U. Some of the best preserved temples in the vicinity include Shittaung, Kothaung, and Hitukhan Thein. As well as the central temples however there are also a range of other attraction scattered around Mrauk U.

2. Royal Palace and Archaeology Museum
The Royal Palace sadly no longer really resembles a palace and all that is left are some of the external walls which are crumbling gracefully. Inside the palace walls however you will find the Archaeology Museum which is free to enter and has a range of items taken from various sites in Mrauk U. These include statues of the Buddha as well as stones with carved inscriptions and coins from the Wethali Era. You will also find some nice paintings of Mrauk U as it would have looked in the days of old as well as a model of the town.

3. Chin Villages
You can visit the Chin Villages on a day trip although by law you have to return to Mrauk U and stay in town overnight. Most of the villages are dotted along the Lemro River and the best way to visit them is to arrange a tour with a hotel or guesthouse which should be around USD 80.
It is much cheaper to travel to the villages independently but also more hassle and sometimes foreigners are told they need to be accompanied by a guide anyway. The villages are known for being ‘garden villages’ and you can admire the flora and fauna as well as see how people live in more rural areas of Myanmar.

4. Wethali
Wethali is now nothing more than a village but back in the day it would have been the capital of the mighty Arakan Kingdom. Unfortunately there are no temples that still stand there to this day although there are some mounds under which several temples are thought to be buried. One of the big draws here however is the Great Image of Hsu Taung Pre which is a large ancient statues and the village is very picturesque in its own right. If you want to cycle to the village leave around 2 hours to get there and another 2 to get back.

5. Mahamuni Paya
Mahamuni Paya is a pagoda around 40 kilometres away from Mrauk U and would have been the home of the Mahamuni Buddha, although this has now been moved to Mandalay. Still, you will still find a collection of ancient artifacts at Mahamuni Paya and there is also a museum close to the shrine which gives you some of the background history. Many people combine a trip to Mahamuni Paya with a visit to Wethali although you will probably have to travel by car rather than bicycle. Most guesthouses offer half day tours to the two attractions together.

6. L’Amitie Art Gallery
Located near Laymyetnha Paya is a cosy little local gallery which showcases some of the best artwork dedicated to Mrauk U and the surrounding area. If you want to see some nice depictions of Mrauk U in the days of old as well as the Chin Villages then this is a good place to come and you can also pick up a piece to take home as a souvenir of your trip.
 

Mrauk U Travel Tips
1. Avoid coming during the rainy season from mid-May to September. In Mrauk U. When it rains, it pours!

2. The best time to visit Mrauk U is from November to mid-March when it’s cooler in the mornings and you get to see the morning mist

3. Put at least a 1 day allowance to your trip to cater for possible ferry or flight cancellations. It’s pretty common over at these parts

4. Bring lots of insect repellent.

5. Myanmar has one of the highest incidences of malaria in Southeast Asia and Mrauk U is considered to be more frontier than Bagan or Inle Lake. While it may still be okay to visit without having taken malaria pills, it’s best to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants to decrease the chances of getting the disease.

6.Change your kyats beforehand. Avoid changing in Mrauk U. The exchange rate here is not good.
 
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