The abandoned city of Mrauk is rich in pagodas and temples to create an awe-inspiring sight that is witnessed across the rolling hilltops of northern Rakhine State. For the travellers on the Myanmar tour packages this is certain to give a truly unique experience that isn’t possible to see elsewhere in the country.
Most tourists to this region of Myanmar are likely to stay for a period of one or two days, which gives plenty of time to admire the landscape with its hundreds of temples. Plus, there are also further archaeological sites in the local area, as well as the authentic Chin villages found upriver.
Mrauk has plenty of issues with electricity black-outs, but most of the guesthouses and hotels have back-up generators to keep things going. Also, the Wi-Fi reception in the local area is quite limited. However, if the lights do go out, the candle-lit atmosphere throughout the village is quite enchanting and gives a very peaceful time.
Mrauk U is quite different to the country’s other famous archaeological site at Bagan which is a lot more isolated. Most of the temples in the local area are built using stone to give the thicker walls to protect from the vicious Rakhine winds. The temples are scattered across a lush landscape that is still inhabited with plenty of grazing cows, rounded hillocks, rice paddies and small villages.
In addition to the endless temples, the local Mrauk region is blessed with stunning countryside where it is possible to find religious and archaeological sites, as well as Chin villages. Plus, there isn’t the most foot traffic from tourists in this region, which means it is possible to explore the temples without too much interruption.
The preferred time for tourists to visit Mrauk on the Indochina tour packages is November to December when the weather starts to clear and the rains have passed. The passing rain leaves the landscape green and lush with blooming flowers. However, the acceptable travel period can usually last until at least March. Because this is a coastal part of Myanmar, clouds and rain should be expected.
How to get there
Mrauk is easily reached by travelling by road from Sittwe, Bagan or Yangon, but a popular route for the tourist is to get to the town by public ferry or private boat. By travelling by boat up the Kaladan river, it is possible to admire the wonderful backwaters and watch on to see the local children happily splashing in the water, people washing, fishermen attempting a good catch and to see the basic houses. A slow ferry can cost in the region of $12-$15 per person, while a private boat is quite a bit more at $80 per person, and expect a journey time of approx. 6 hours.
On arrival in Mrauk it is possible to easily get around on a hired bicycle for the local sights - thou a jeep might be more practical if planning to travel further afield, such as travelling as far out as the southern and eastern temples. A jeep hire comes with a local driver and costs about $20 per day. Hiring the services of an English-speaking Myanmar travel guide is certain to benefit if planning to explore the temples.
Where to stay
Most of the popular guesthouses and hotels in town are located close to the palace and easily reached by foot or on a trishaw (cycle rickshaw). Most of the guesthouses have a back up generator in place to keep the power on. Also, there are few places that offer a reliable interest connection.
A stay at the Mrauk U Palace Resort on the Indochina tour packages gives the pleasant and comfortable accommodation. Guests have access to free private parking, Wi-Fi and a decent on-site restaurant. Most of the rooms come with satellite TV, air-con, and a nice seating area. The preferred rooms give a great view of the local city and mountains. Plus, for ease in travelling around Mrauk, it is possible to hire a car.
The Golden Star Guest House is great for the tourist in search of low-cost accommodation and a popular choice with backpackers. The rooms are basic with many in need of TLC and include a fan with some the most expensive rooms including an en suite bathroom.
Eat and drink
The most popular places to eat are clustered around the palace with a varied choice of restaurants, beer stations and teahouses.
A great place to visit includes the Happy Garden Restaurant which is west of the palace and serves a mixture of Burmese and Rakhine food.
A favourite place for the tourist is Moe Cherry restaurant which isn’t the most affordable, but offers great food with large portions of many of the local dishes.
For the most varied shopping experience, a visit to the Mrauk U Market is the most practical option. This market trades in all types of goods, from household wares, dried food-stuffs to seasonal fruits and a variety of vegetables. Also, by shopping at the market it is possible to meet the locals and getting a better appreciation of the Rakhine.
Things to see and do
The local Mrauk area has plenty of impressive temples and pagodas to explore, as well as galleries, museums and Chin villages. The market in town is a major attraction and has a great community feel to make it really easy to get a full appreciation of the local life. Plus, the market has a great street food scene that makes it possible to try a varied range of low-cost and delicious local dishes. But, for the traveller on the Myanmar tour packages that prefers the sit down restaurants, there are a few of those available in the evenings. Mrauk has a lot to do and see throughout the day, but not so much when it comes to the evening with no nightlife. In the evenings, the town has a quiet atmosphere that makes it quite appealing.