The jungle vines creeping over the some of its 600-year old temples & stupas of Mrauk U (aka Myohaung or the old city,) lies on a rocky isolated plateau in western Myanmar, is once one of most spectacular royal cites of Asia. King Min Saw Mon set the foundation stones of the great city in 1433, where it remained for next 355-year, while its golden age aroused under the King Razagyi after his conquest over the Bamar’s most powerful kingdom Bago in early 17th century, until the destruction of Burmese King Bodawpaya in 1784. Mrauk U served as a free port for trading with Middle East, Portugal, Spain, and Holland in its heydays. A European visitor, Father Sebastiao Manrique vibrantly depicted Mrauk U’s metropolis appearance and the city’s richness he’d seen at the Mrauk U market during the king’s coronation in 17th century.
Nowadays, some 157Buddhist shrines and pagodas, where a couple of large, well-known ones were renovated while others in various stages of decay, veiled with dense jungle vegetations and crumbled by the strangling green vines. Comparing to Myanmar’s most popular 11th century Bagan, Mrauk U may be smaller in scope with limited transport and accommodation facilities; it is still a well worthy Myanmar’s backwater archaeological destination at the foothills of Chin Hills. For those who tend to be more adventurous can be visited to the Chin villages along the Laymyro River to see the village women with their tattooed faces, marveled their traditional woven fabrics.
Mrauk U can be reached via Sittwe, the capital of Rakhaing State. Although there’s a road between Sittwe & Mrauk U, the best way to reach to/from these places is 65km (4 to 6hours) lovely boat trip along scenic Kaladen River. It is necessary to plan the Mrauk U/Sittwe trip separately from other Myanmar tours as it can only be reached by flight from Yangon. Depending on the seasonal demand, there might be a couple of flights from Thandwe (Ngapali Beach) to Sittwe.
Sittwe, situated on an estuarial island at the confluence of the Kaladan River, Myu River, and Lemyo River, is a port city of the Rakhine State sits at the mouth of the Kaladan River where it empties into the Bay of Bangal. The city started as a trading port around 200 years ago and further developed after the British occupation of 1826. But for most tourists, Sittwe is just a hurry-and-leave point for those heading to Mrauk U. In fact, Sittwe has a few advisable highlights that are worth-seeing, like the fish market, the waterfront, Rakhaing State cultural Museum, and a couple of Buddhist museums.