Mrauk U is another stunning ancient city in Myanmar. Mrauk U was once the capital of a mighty Arakanese kingdom from the 15th-18th century. Left from this kingdom in the Rakhine State of Myanmar are about 700 pagodas and temples. Hmm, hundreds of pagodas and temples, isn't there another famous place like that in Myanmar? Yup, Bagan! However, there are many differences between them, which makes them both unique and worth a visit.
Some major differences between Mrauk U and Bagan are:
- Bagan has not only hundreds, but thousands of temples and pagodas. Nevertheless, the architectural design is distinct from each other.
- Unlike in Bagan, in Mrauk U none of the temples are closed, so you can explore each of them from the inside as well
- Bagan is incredibly hot and feels like a desert, whereas Mrauk U offers a green landscape and cooler temperatures. It is still hot though. (This of course also depends on the season, I was there in May 2016.)
- The local everyday life is happening around the temples in Mrauk U, which creates a completely different atmosphere compared to Bagan.
- Mrauk U can still be considered as off the beaten track. I was all by myself in the temples, even in the Shittaung temple, which is the most famous one (see video below). One major reason for this is, that so far it is much more unconvenient to reach Mrauk U than Bagan.
How I got to Mrauk-U
I took a direct bus from the Mandalay Bus Terminal with the bus company 'Academy Express'. The fare was around 25000 Kyat (= 18-20 USD) to Mrauk-U and the travel time was around 20 hours. On the bus is also a bus hostess and she woke me up when we arrived in Mrauk-U, as the end destination would be Sittwe. My guesthouse booked the bus ticket for me.
You can reach Mrauk-U from other places as well. I took a bus from Mrauk-U to Ngapali, therefore I am sure that there is a connection the other way round. (However, this bus drive was the worst I had during my eight weeks in Myanmar.)
Additionally, I know that there are busses operating from Yangon. Furthermore, you can reach Mrauk-U from Bagan. I met other travellers who took a bus from Bagan to Magwe and then got in the Academy Express bus which was coming from Mandalay.
I found further useful information regarding this topic here:
What to do
- visit the different temples
- go to one of the peaks to see sunset/sunrise (ask your guesthouse for the best one)
- rent a bicycle and explore the villages around Mrauk-U
Furthermore, you can do a day trip to visit some villages of the Chin tribe. I was not sure whether I should go or not, since I heard many stories of a zoo-like experience. As I am very interested in different tribes and cultures, I decided to give it a shot and I guess I was really lucky. I must say that I learned a lot and I had interesting conversations with the locals (obviously thanks to my local guide who translated all of it, as he was the only one speaking English). Additionally, he explained me that he is trying to build up kind if a school system there and that his income out of his tour-guide activities are for the most part being used for this education project. So if you decide to do a trip to the Chin villages, I strongly suggest you to go with the guide I had:
Htwe Kyi // Phone number: (+95) 09259401836 // e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(it might take him some time to reply)
Where to eat
I have got to say, by the time I was there, there were not many restaurants around. I tried three different ones and only one of them was good. It's name is Moe Cherry. They served very tasty food. It is a little bit more expensive than the others, but still I highly recommend you to spend that little extra money in that case. Also other travellers and the staff of my hostel recommended me to spend my money for food there.
Where to stay
There are several places to stay. I went for a budget option: Golden Star - Resort Guest House
It is by no means a resort. However, the staff is very kind and helpful. I am honestly not quite sure about the rate anymore, but if I remember it right, I paid around 10-15$ per night. The single room is kinda small. And it was not the best room I had during my trip through Myanmar, but still relatively clean and fine.
In case you are looking for Wi-Fi, during my time of visiting there was no budget accommodation or restaurant with Wi-Fi available. However, you can just head near to the Mrauk-U Hotel and log into their Wi-Fi.
Some additional tips
- If you continue your trip towards Ngapali Beach, be sure to book the bus with the help of your guesthouse as soon as possible. I met travellers who had to stay longer than planned, because the bus was fully booked and that was during mid-/low-season.
- There are ATMs.
- Rent a bicycle, it is the best way to get around.
Further questions? Message me or write a comment below
I hope that this article about Mrauk U was helpful for you. If you have some feedback for me, I would highly appreciate it. Feel free to write a comment below.