An archaeologically significant town located in the northern part of Rakhine State, Mrauk U is an ancient old city dotted with hundreds of temples as well as other interesting tourist attractions. It used to be the capital of the kingdom of Mrauk U, the most important of the Rakhine kingdoms from 1430 to 1785.
The place abounds with great natural beauty. Plenty of hills, mangroves, marshes, and lakes are sprawled all around. Apart from these, it’s also very rich in culture and history, evident through its vast collection of temples, museums, and historic sites.
Its tourist industry is surely flourishing, attracting more and more foreign visitors each year. To get here, most tourists board a domestic flight from Yangon to Sittwe, and then ride a boat along the Kaladan River.
Here are some of the must-not-miss attractions that should definitely make it to your travel itinerary:
Shai-thaung Temple – One of the most famous temples in Mrauk U, the Shai-thaung Temple was constructed from 1535 to 1536 under the leadership of King Min Bin. It was erected in honor of his Bengal conquest. The name of the temple translates to “temple of 80,000 images of Buddha.” This can be found in the western part of the Pokhaung Hill, adjacent to another temple called Andaw-thein. It looks like a typical Buddhist temple in Myanmar having a central stupa surrounded by other smaller stupas.
HtukKanThein Temple – Another fascinating temple in Myanmar that you can’t dare to miss is the HtukKanThein Temple, which can be found in the ancient city of Araknese. Its name is a Burmese term for “cross beam ordination hall.” As with other Buddhist temples in the country, it was built for two purposes: to serve as a temple, and as a fortress. This one was put up by King Min Phalaung in 1571. It’s just a few minutes away from the Shite-thaung Temple.
The Archaeology Museum – Right within the ruins of the Royal Palace stands the Archaeology Museum, which houses a vast collection of artifacts from the historic sites of Mrauk U. From inscripted slabs, Buddha figures to paintings and Wethali coins, the place surely abounds with a colorful history giving you a sneak peek of the town’s glorious past.
Chin Villages – Do you want to take a closer look at how the locals in Mrauk U live their lives? A day trip to the Chin Villages should be included in your list of things to do while you’re here. The journey is like a quick cultural immersion that will prove to be a memorable part of your vacation.
Mahamuni Paya – A pagoda that’s 40 kilometers away from the north of Mrauk U, it’s a worthy stop that can’t be skipped. It used to serve as home of the mahamuni Buddha, which now resides in Mandalay in the Mahamuni Paya. Here, you’ll find yourself surrounded by several historic artifacts inside its quaint museum located near the shrine.
Ratana-pon – This one is a solid stupa which means “Pile of Jewels.” Legend says that there were jewels and images within the central stupa but nothing was ever found. It was erected King Min Khammoung in 1612.
Andaw Thein – Like most temples in Myanmar, the Andaw Thein is also an outstanding sight to behold. The meaning of its name is “Tooth Shrine.” It was named as such as it houses a tooth relic of Buddha that originated all the way from Sri Lanka. It was built by King Thazata from 1534 to 1542. Expansion was later done by King Raza II.