In 5 days in Myanmar, discover Mrauk-U and Sittwe: the complex is a UNESCO tentative, bearing a breathtaking beauty rivaled by none.
|Day 01: Flight Yangon – Sittwe
In the first of your 5 days in Myanmar, fly from Yangon to Sittwe. This trip will definitely different from other trips to Myanmar. Upon arrival at Sittwe, you are welcomed by your guide and transferred to hotel for check-in.
You will then go on tuktuk or car to the Strand Road. Here there are various local shops, and dynamic areas of the city for sightseeing tour. You also visit Cultural Museum that features culture and history of Rakhine people. Payagyi temple is another place you visit. There is 100 year-old golden faced Buddha at this temple.
Late afternoon, you will go to the view point to have an amazing panoramic view of sunset over the Bengal Bay. View point is loveliest recreational spot in Sittwe.
Overnight at the hotel in Sittwe.
|Day 02: Sittwe – Mrauk U (by boat)
After breakfast at your hotel, pay a visit to the fish market in Sittwe. This market is famous for fresh fish caught by fishermen from the night before. You are then picked up and transferred to the jetty and boat from Sittwe to Mrauk U. This boat trip along Kaladan River takes about 5 hours. Lunch is served on board.
Upon your arrival in Mrauk U, transfer to your hotel in Mrauk U. Mrauk U is an abandoned city with hundreds of ancient stupas, little traveler include it in their tour to Burma. Take some rest and uncover the mystic beauty of Mrauk U. The tour includes Koethaung Temple – the largest ancient architectural monument of this city; Laungbanpyauk Pagoda – also known as colored tiled pagoda. You also explore Pitakataik library that has stored Buddhist scriptures.
You then return to the hotel for relaxing evening. Overnight in Mrauk U.
|Day 03: Mrauk U, visit temples
Watch sunrise in Shwetaung – highest pagoda in Mrauk U before a nice breakfast in the hotel. Then you visit local market, and the Royal Palace. Crumbling walls and gateways to the place are all the remaining of Royal Palace. You will then head on to the nearby Archaeological Museum with impressive collection of artifacts and relics.
In the afternoon, you visit Shitthaung Temple regarded as the most significant monument in Mrauk U. It was built by up to 1000+ architects and workers, housing a significant collection of Arakanese Buddha images and reliefs. You also have a chance to explore Andawthein Temple that contains a tooth relic of the Buddha; circular Ratanabon Pagoda with central stupa and 17 smaller stupas around. You then visit Dukkhanthein Temple with domed passages and remarkable stone sculptures. Finish this day’s trip at Laymyetnha Pagoda (also four-sided pagoda).
Overnight at the hotel in Mrauk U.
|Day 04: Mrauk U, visit Chin village
Go on Jeep (about 20 km – 40 minutes) to the shoreline of Lymro River. Then take a small boat along the river about 2 hours until you reach Kreik Chaung village. Here is home to Laytoo Chin people, and you can even spot some tattooed women. According to the legend, beautiful Chin women used to have their face tattooed to uglify themselves so that cruel Kings wouldn’t take them away as slaves. This tattooing habit is nowadays prohibited.
You proceed to Panbaung village that is really similar to Kreik Chaung. You then jump back to your tiny vessel where lunch will be served during your journey back home.
Overnight at the hotel in Mrauk U.
|Day 05: Mrauk U – Flight Sittwe/ Yangon
After breakfast, you are transferred to jetty for a boat trip back to Sittwe. Upon arrival in Sittwe, you move to the airport for departure flight. This put an end to your tour of 5 days in Myanmar.
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Sittwe is the Burmese colloquial term for the Rakhine word meaning "the place where the war meets". The macabre name - reflective of the darkest hour when a kingdom crumbled and fell to the heels of its invaders - projects into the image and future of the city. While Yangon - "End of Strife" - entered a prosperous era and emerged as the national political and economic powerhouse, Sittwe sank into the perpetual abyss of conflicts, poverty and eventually insignificance.
Before the invasion of Arakan by the Burmese King Bodawpaya in 1784, the nation was a wealthy one - and so was the city which acted as its harbor gate. Prosperity lasted for three centuries until the external and internal factors joined forces to brought it down. The place where the battle occurred came to be called Site Twêy by the Rakhine, and Sittwe by the Burmese.
In early 1825, during the First Anglo-Burmese War, the British forces landed at Sittwe and stationed their forces by the ancient pagoda, Ahkyaib-daw, which is still standing in the city. The British adopted the name Akyab for the place.
Originally a small fishing village, Sittwe became an important seat of maritime commerce, especially as a port for the export of rice after the British occupation of Arakan, now known as Rakhine State, following the First Anglo-Burmese War.
Sittwe was the location of a battle during the conquest of Arakan by the Burmese king Bodawpaya. In 1784, the Burmese expeditionary force, some 30,000 strong, encountered the governor of U-rit-taung Province, Saite-ké (General) Aung and his force of 3000. Outnumbered hugely, the Arakanese force tried to fight the Burmese forces on both land and sea, but were brutally crushed. This defeat opened the route towards the inland Arakanese capital of Mrauk-U, which was soon conquered, ending the independence of the Arakanese. According to Arakanese lore, all of the Arakanese defenders were killed.
During World War II the island was an important site of many battles during the Burma Campaign due to its possession of both an airfield and a deepwater port.
Sittwe is the birthplace of political monks in Myanmar. It was the birthplace of U Ottama, the first monk who protested against the colonial British in Myanmar. Also, in the recent 2007 protest marches, known as the Saffron Revolution, it was the monks in Sittwe who started the protest against the military government in Myanmar.
Sittwe houses the Dhanyawadi Naval Base, named after the ancient Rakhine city-state of Dhanyawadi - The kingdom who received the patronage of Buddha and craft his lifelike Mahamuni Image.
Mrauk-U, beside its famous temple complex, was known by generations of Burmese as the original birthplace of the Mahamuni Image.
Some Rakhine scholars state that the name Mrauk U means 'The First Accomplishment' in archaic Arakanese. This is based on the story of the Arakanese being able to crush an invasion by the Pyu in the mid 10th Century by a Mro prince, Pai Phru. The town is said to be located roughly near the region where the Pyu invaders were decimated. The prince went on to claim the throne of Wethali from his uncle who had murdered the prince's father due to a love scandal. The battle was seen as the first accomplishment of the prince, and thus, the name 'First Accomplishment' came to be associated with the place.
A dismissed myth was that in the region where Mrauk U was to be constructed, lived a lonely female monkey. She met a peacock and the two later cohabited. The female monkey conceived with the peacock, and it laid an egg. A human son was born from the egg and he grew up to become a mighty prince. The prince later built a city near the jungle, and in respect of his birth story, the city was called Myauk-U meaning ‘Monkey’s Egg’.
In 1433, King Min Saw Mon established Mrauk U as the capital of the last unified Arakanese Kingdom. The city eventually reached a size of 160,000 in the early seventeenth century. Mrauk U served as the capital of the Mrauk U kingdom and its 49 kings till the conquest of the kingdom by the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty in 1784.
During British colonial rule, Mrauk U was known as Myohaung. Due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal, Mrauk U developed into an important regional trade hub, acting as both a back door to the Burmese hinterland and also as an important port along the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal. It became a transit point for goods such as rice, ivory, elephants, tree sap and deer hide from Ava in Myanmar, and of cotton, slaves, horses, cowrie, spices and textiles from Bengal, India, Persia and Arabia.
At its zenith, Mrauk U was the centre of a kingdom which stretched from the shores of the Ganges river to the western reaches of the Ayeyarwaddy River. According to popular Arakanese legend, there were 12 'cities of the Ganges' which constitute roughly half of modern-day Bangladesh which were governed by Mrauk U, including Dhaka and Chittagong. During that period, its kings minted coins inscribed in Arakanese, Kufic and Bengali.
Not many existing itineraries incorporate Myanmar's classic destinations with far-flung retreats like Sittwe and Mrauk-U. With only air connection to Yangon and Ngapali Thandwe and barred from the rest of the country by infeasible land routes, the ancient capital and religious center remain largely off the beaten track, receiving only four thousand visitors per year. Our Journey to the West of Burma itinerary combines the classic and the unorthodox perfectly, allowing you to access to the most mythical religious centers of Myanmar in 15 days.
Type: Discovery & Culture | Duration: 15 days and 14 nights | Departure: Mandalay
Highlights of the two-week excursion towards the Burma’s Western areas: