Kori Cicero (Sales & Product Manager, Destination Asia Myanmar) and Khar Khar (Sales Executive) recently spent 4 days / 3 nights on a FAM trip. The nearest airport to get to Mrauk U is Sittwe (a major fishing port), and it’s a 3h car drive or 5h 30min boat ride to connect both cities. Mrauk U is the name of the city home to impressive temples and ancient relics. It is also the last kingdom of Rakhine that fell after the invasion of the palace by a Burmese king from central Myanmar in the 18th century, their most sacred Buddha statue Mahamuni was stolen and can now be visited in Mandalay.
There were 4 successive periods in the Rakhine civilization: the Danyawaddy (4 BC to 4 AD), the Vesali (4 AD to 9 AD), the Lemro (9 AD to 15 AD) and the Mrauk U (15 AD to 18 AD) periods. The temples you see in the pictures are from the Mrauk U era – 15th century onwards, so more recent than Bagan temples (11th to 13th century).
The two most famous temples were built by a Rakhine king returning victorious from war in India (Shittaung temple, meaning 80,000 in Burmese as that was the number of Buddha images it held) and later his son who wanted to surpass his father’s feat (Kottaung temple, meaning 90,000).
At Destination Asia Myanmar we want to encourage the economic development of the second poorest state of Myanmar through tourism. Shifting mindsets locally by opening access to the world is important.
While it’s a complex situation between the Rakhine Buddhists and the Muslim minority, we have never had any safety issues with our clients, and have sent multiple UK and American tour groups over the past 3 years that have a strict vetting process. We personally have not felt any tension anywhere or at any time. Many NGOs are based in Sittwe and Mrauk U and are closely monitoring the situation. Destination Asia Myanmar will of course inform clients if anything changes.