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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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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
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The Chin tribe of Myanmar, which live near the Bangladesh border not far from Mrauk U, are a people who wear facial tattoos. I journeyed to this corner of Asia to seek out the answers of why exactly do they undergo the process of getting such tattoos, which might seem extreme in Western culture.
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