Embark on an intriguing trip to the far in Northwestern Burma, where the ancient civilization can be experienced at Mrauk-U, filled with majestic temples and a little-known history still buried in the jungle.
irst views of Mrauk-U: Dozens of breath-taking stone relics pack a lush riverside valley, with more monuments dotting hillsides in every direction, marking this as one of Southeast Asia's great ancient kingdoms.
Mrauk-U isn’t as well-known as the more famous and older sites like Burma’s Bargan and Cambodia’s Angkor. This keeps the ancient civilization off the beaten track with immense Indiana Jones appeal, crumbling temples and unexplored mounds abounding for kilometres around this lost city. Scant excavation has been done, but some estimate as many as 700 ancient structures remain around Mrauk-U, most unexplored.
Visitors often start at Mrauk-U’s northern group, which has the most structures, including Shitthaung – “Temple of 80,000 Buddha Images”, then move to the distant Koe Thaung – “Temple of 90,000 Buddha Images”. The names say it all, thousands of Buddha images in every shape and size, each carved with fascinating facial details.
During its heyday 500 years ago, Mrauk-U’s stately temples, intricate stone carvings and evocative architecture put it on a map of regional capitals like Bagan, Ayutthaya and Angkor. All rose to greatness but were eventually sacked or abandoned. Yet only Mrauk-U vanished with virtually no trace and little record.
Around Mrauk-U are numerous other attractions, most hosting even fewer visitors than the temples. One popular day trip is on a long-tail boat that slowly winds upriver through bustling villages where life remains unquestionably authentic, like in the Chin village which is famous for women sporting massive earrings, and tattoos, often covering their entire faces. Travellers who are keen on active itineraries can also have a gruelling eight-day trek from Bagan to do something different from the classic routs.
Contact our destination’s experts to have a variety of trips that include Mrauk-U to move beyond the well-trod tourist track of Rangoon-Mandalay-Bagan and discover other places which are still untouched by tourism.
Read the full story by Ron Gluckman here.