Mrauk U is an archaeologically important town in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. It is also the capital of Mrauk-U Township, a sub region of the Mrauk-U District. From 1430 until 1785, it was the capital of the Mrauk U Kingdom, the most important and powerful Rakhine (Arakanese) kingdom.
Mrauk U is a major archaeological and tourist destination. The main attractions are the temples and ruins around the town. The remains of the main palace roughly form the centre of the town. The most popular mode for tourists to travel to Mrauk U is to take a domestic flight from Yangon to Sittwe and board a boat from Sittwe against the Kaladan River. The hotels in Mrauk U also arrange private boat services to and from Sittwe.
Mrauk U houses a growing tourist industry, as it has only recently become a reachable tourist destination.
Mrauk U lies roughly 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) east of the Kaladan River on the banks of its minor tributaries. The town is located on a small outcrop of the Rakhine Yoma on the eastern side of the Kaladan's alluvial plain. Thus, the surrounding countryside is hilly yet also contains a great deal of marshes, mangroves and lakes.
As Mrauk U and her kingdom prospered, the kings, ministers and peasants built many pagodas and temples around the town to reflect their faith. Thus, Mrauk U houses a rich collection of temples and pagodas second only to the Central Burmese town of Bagan, in Myanmar. Most of Mrauk U's temples were constructed of hewn stone bricks, unlike the mud and clay bricks of Bagan.
The most notable temples in Mrauk U are the Shite-thaung Temple (Temple of 80,000 Images or Temple of Victory), Htukkanthein Temple (Htukkan Ordination Hall), the Koe-thaung Temple (Temple of 90,000 Images) and the Five Mahn pagodas.
The following are some of the famous and noteworthy religious buildings in and around the town.
Andaw-thein Ordination Hall
Five Man Pagodas
Mingala Man Aung Pagoda
Ratana Man Aung Pagoda
Sakya Man Aung Pagoda
Lawka Man Aung Pagoda
Zina Man Aung Pagoda
Sanda Muni Temple
Bandula Kyaung Monastery
Chin Villages Day trips to semi-remote Chin villages and garden villages along the nearby Lemro River can be arranged at most hotels (US$80). Note the actual price for the Tuk-Tuk 15'000 Ky to the jetty both way, and a boat for a day 25'000 Ky. Hostels and tour agencies organize tours for 20000-30000K (depending on the number of persons) from 2 person onwards. Lunch included, 2-3 villages, back before sunset. (March 2016)
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 one - two hour outing from Mrauk U by bicycle one way.
Mahamuni Paya This pagoda is 40 km 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.
Guesthouses organize tours on request at negotiable price (ca. 7500K per person) with a Tuk-Tuk to see Wethali and Mahamuni as a half day trip.
L Amitié Art Gallery (Close to Laymyetnha Paya) The owner of the art gallery warmly welcomes any visitor. He has great knowledge about the Mrauk U area and the Chin Villages he likes to promote by its art.