Mrauk U

Mrauk U was founded in 1433 and once was the center of the medieval Arakanese kingdom, whose naval force of 10,000 war boats dominated the Bay of Bengal. The city was a major regional trade hub, growing to a size of 160,000 residents by the early 17th century; its rulers boasted that the kingdom of Arakan extended from the Ganges to the Irrawaddy.

Today, a visit to Mrauk-U offers fantastic opportunities to explore a little-known corner of Burma and discover the fascinating history of pre-colonial times here. Landmarks and activities include the Mahamuni Pagoda, a sacred Buddhist site; a village inhabited by the Laytu minority, known for their beautiful, blue-black tattoos; and Shittaung, a sandstone complex that serves as a sprawling, impressive repository of Buddhist art and relics.


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Andawthein Pagoda

Another Mrauk U highlight, Andawthein Pagoda is believed to house a tooth of the Buddha brought from Sri Lanka (where the better known “Temple of the Tooth” in Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage site).

Archaeology Museum

Visit the ruins of the city palace, and the Archaeology Museum within, for a firsthand glimpse at artifacts gathered from the many temples around Mrauk U. Receive a private tour of the museum’s collection and meet a senior member of the museum’s staff.

Cheik and Sinke Villages

Visit settlements of the Cheik and Sinke people, famed for their hand-weaving. The residents are usually happy to give visitors a hands-on demonstration and lesson in their centuries-old craft techniques.

Laytu Village

Take a full-day trip by basic motorboat to a village of the Laytu minority people, distinguished by the spider-net tattoos on their faces. Meet local residents and learn about their lives and tribal history in this remote region of Burma.

Maha Kuthala Monastery (Sittwe)

The town of Sittwe is mainly passed through as the gateway to Mrauk U. With that said, there are a few sights that are worthwhile if time permits. One is the Maha Kuthala monastery, home to centuries-old works of religious art and punctuated by a series of stupas.

Mahamuni Pagoda

According to legend, Mahamuni is home to one of only five likenesses of Buddha that were cast in his lifetime. The large bronze statue is said to have been commissioned upon the Buddha’s visit to this area in the 6th century BC; today, it is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists throughout Southeast Asia.


The “temple of the 80,000 Buddhas,” Shittaung is an impressive fortress-like complex. Erected during the mid-16th century, the temple extends through a maze of tunnels constructed with sandstone six feet thick: the result is a haunting, labyrinthine complex, believed to house over 84,000 relics of the Buddha.

Sittwe Fish Market

On your way to or from Mrauk U, visit the Sittwe fish market, where a cornucopia of seafood is sold wholesale for distribution throughout Myanmar.

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