My recent post was a trip to Yangon and visit to Schwedagon which may sound exotic. Travelling to Myanmar is like travelling to a new emerging tourist destination, you would rather go there before the tourism floodgates open of in the years to come.
So, this post is even more exotic than previous one - Mrauk U, the abandoned city, a long history and hundreds of temples and pagodas that lie across the rolling northern Rakhine State hilltops and form an awe-inspiring sight, whilst providing an experience quite unlike anything else in Myanmar.
Planning a trip to Mrauk U from Australia may seem long and adventurous, but it’s a one of a kind travel destination that you must tick off your travel bucket list.
The best way to travel from Australia is to fly Thai Airways to Bangkok and short connection to Yangon (with special deals that are going on now, it’s almost like a free trip from Bangkok to Yangon!). Then another short flight from Yangon to Sittwe, from there, a long 3 hour journey through the backwaters and up the river, is a wonderful trip.
Mrauk U today is still isolated from the rest of the country, you are more likely to bump into a herd of cows, chicken or goats than into another tourist.
What would you expect to see when in Mrauk U? There are many hundreds of temples, many of which primarily remain day-to-day places of worship for the local Rakhine villagers; what follows is a guide to the most beautiful and historically significant structures. The interiors of virtually all the temples in Mrauk U are open, ready to be explored and are magnificent!
The best way to get around Mrauk U is either to hire a bicycle for the duration of your stay or a Jeep with a driver....yep, that’s sound better for me (as I’m being mindful of the heat) It is safe for tourists to visit both Mrauk U and Sittwe and there are no travel restrictions in the area.
Many foreigners choose to hire a tour guide for the Mrauk U trip, you would be lucky if you bump into a local who speaks fluent English, although most Jeep drivers are able to tell you name of temples or pagoda. I would speak to these people from #หลงพม่า, หลงพม่า to plan this fascinate trip as they know how to travel like a local. My preference anyway.....
Two days is sufficient to explore Mrauk U itself; if you wish to travel further north to the other archaeological sites in the region and explore ethnic Chin villages upriver, you will need more time.
So another day trip from Mrauk U to Chin ethnic minority villages is definitely worthwhile. The journey by the river becomes very scenic as the valley narrows, and the visit itself will give you the opportunity to observe local traditions first hand and meet Chin villager women, known for their distinctive tattooed faces or spider women. It’s very fascinating!
So there’s the plan for a new airport in Mrauk U in few years time.... what does that mean? Well you won’t experience this place the same as it is today. Me personally, I’d rather hang out with the locals, goats and cows.....
So, from above, it’s look like a week long trip.... with a multi-city stopover, I would take advantage of stopping over in Thailand for a few days before you head back down under!
Where should we go then? Definitely somewhere that we can travel like a local.....
To be continued....