Mrauk U can be translated as “old town”. Indeed, from 1430 until well into the 18th century, it was the capital of the Rakhine Kingdom and an important trade town, particularly for goods such as rice, rubies, elephants and ivory.
The best way to travel here is via the harbour and trade town Sittwe on the Gulf of Bengal. From there a simple wooden boat goes up the Kalanda River to Mrauk U in around 5 hours.
Today Mrauk U is mainly an archaeological site and you can explore the many overgrown stupas and Buddha images hidden in the undergrowth around town. Mrauk U is as picturesque as Bagan before the restoration 30 years ago. Although Mrauk U is, for the most part, a Buddhist site, edifices of other religions can be found here as well, such as the Santikan Mosque.
From Mrauk U, a day excursion to a Chin village in the Rakhine Mountains is possible by boat.
One of Mrauk U’s own main sites is the Shitthaung Pagoda with its 84.000 Buddha images. The 4m high Wuthaie Buddha Statue is another highlight.