Mrauk U

 
 

Mrauk U was the last capital of the Arakan kingdom (1430-1785). It was among the greatest cities of South East Asia along with Ayutthaya, capital of Siam. It was also an important trade base between East and West region. This also contributed to its religious enrichment and the construction of incredible temples. Once the merchants left for other lands, the climate - arid and dry in summer and torrential rains during the monsoon - made the kingdom's treasures disappear.

A little history

Being a former capital of a dynasty that remained in power for more than 350 years, Mrauk U is located 72km from the coast of the Bay of Bengal, on the banks of the Aungdat. It reached its peak in the 16th century, accumulating wealth and benefiting greatly from adjacent maritime trade. This site is among those that not to be missed!

This region, long known as Arakan, was strongly influenced by the neighboring countries, Bangladesh and eastern India. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the wealth acquired through international trade enabled this city to free itself from Burmese control. But nothing happened and the kingdom was taken over by the Burmese in 1784.

Today, this city lives to the rhythm of the boats that come from Sittwe and its market. The 20,000 inhabitants now live in rather old wooden houses. Yet the riches of the past still remain and this is all Mrauk U's treasure!

Summer hell and summer monsoon

The best season to visit here is between mid-October and March. The rest of the time, the heavy monsoon which falls on the region makes the stay strongly wet and not necessarily very pleasant. It should be added that the roads are mostly made of soil. July and August are to be avoided absolutely for traveling.

And when it doesn't rain, the temperatures are extreme...

Architectural treasures

There is the real interest to go to Mrauk U. Every treasure has its merits: the bravery to overcome the barrier of distance and the weather is rewarded by the presence of monuments worthy of the most grandiose film sets, which is one of a kind in the world: Dukkanthein, the temple that looks like a fortress with a spearhead. The exterior aspect is used to preserve remains and statues inside that are remarkable. Paya Shittaung, the second point of interest is even more impressive rather in the inside than outside. Paintings, sculptures, statues, etc., the place is imbued with a positive energy that will truly satisfy any traveler who has braved the journey.

Spider women in Chinese villages

Any traveller who goes to Mrauk U and has been informed in advance knows of the existence of these women. Even if often narrated in the travel guides as an authentic experience, the way to get there is long, even very long. It is generally necessary to go to Sittwe by plane, and then take the boat, then the bus.

Moreover, these villages where the women are tattooed are very difficult to find.

Finally, according to the law of tourism-poverty obliging, this has developed a commercial aspect where the traveler will be offered souvenirs or objects throughout the visit of these villages.

After field inspection, we further encourage our travelers to explore the breathtaking temples and sites of the kingdom of Mrauk U, rather than stopping in these villages. This is important information for us because the travelers often have limited of time during their journey.  If you wish, we can of course visit one of these villages.

Circulation

It is forbidden for foreigners to rent two-wheelers there. The best means of transport are therefore the taxi, the car, the motorcycle taxi or the bus...

 

Good to know

The successive kings were Arakanese Buddhists. Today, there remain some 90 temples and stupas that cap the hills. Magnificent spectacle of a sunrise on the city of the hills. 

Click on each photo to see details of the attraction