This five-day tour will start with a quick plane trip to Sittwe. It is a former small fishing village in the state of Rakhine, baptized since the first Anglo-Burman war. Then you will sail to Mrauk U to discover the rich history of Burma – the ancient name of Myanmar – through its beautiful temples and pagodas. You will visit the Mrauk Uchin villages that perpetuate the cultural traditions of the Chin ethnic community.
Rangoon – Sittwe – Mrauk U
In the morning, you will quickly reach Sittwe, a small fishing village that has become a major commercial crossroads, especially for the export of rice. It owes this to the British occupation of Arakan, now known as the state of Rakhine, after the first Anglo-Burman war in the early nineteenth century.
You will visit the lighthouse View Point, also called Farkir Point, a beautiful place to relax and breathe the fresh sea breeze. One can enjoy a panoramic view of the Baronga Islands, on the other side of the Kaladan River, as well as the lighthouse of the wild island Layshinedaung.
You will be taken to a landing stage to sail between five and seven o’clock, depending on the river conditions. You will arrive in Mrauk U in the afternoon and go to your hotel to check in. This western Myanmar town, whose name means “far north”, seems to have become a sleepy village, but this has not always been the case. Not long ago, it was the capital of the Arakan since 1431; Portuguese, Dutch and French merchants frequented the literary princes of Bengal and the Moghul empire, who were fleeing.
At the time of its golden age, the Arakanese kingdom controlled the present state of Rakhine, the western part of Lower Burma and the present half of Bangladesh. As Mrauk U has developed over the years, many temples and pagodas have been built there, and many of those who have survived are now its main attraction. You will visit the Htaukkhan-Thein temple-fortress (meaning “cross-beam ordination room”), one of the most famous of the ancient city. Like most of its high places of Buddhism, it is designed for this dual defensive and religious use; it may be a “thein” (ordination room), it is one of its most military buildings, built on raised ground with a single entrance and small windows. Htaukkhan -Thein was probably used as a refuge for monks in wartime, according to Emil Forchhammer, a prominent archaeologist who worked for the British Raj at the end of the 19th century.
Then, you will discover another temple, Andaw-Thein, which retains a sacred dental relic of Buddha. Then you will see the sunset over the Kaladan River.
You will begin the excursion by the famous Shitthaung temple, with its about 80000 holy images of Buddha and its reliefs. You will see the Laungbanprauk pagoda, known as the “plate” because there is a wall in front, with tiles in the form of brightly colored panels.
In the afternoon, you will go to the museum which houses old stone slabs with inscriptions. There is also a collection of interesting Buddha images in a style peculiar to Rakhine. Then you will reach the Shwe Taung hill, where you can enjoy a good view of Mrauk U, where you will spend a pleasant time until sunset.
You will reach Ngagya Pier to embark on a beautiful boat ride among the Chin villages, close to the Lemro River. On the way you will find that the rivers can be shallow, about half a meter, to the point that they are often invaded by a bamboo forest. You will see women with tattooed faces because of their beliefs, but the striation of the skin is no longer practiced.
Excursions from Mrauk U to the Chin villages begin at 7 or 8 am, in principle, and include two to three hours of sailing in both the outward and return journeys. You will be able to stop almost in a few villages to meet Chin, before returning to Mrauk U.
Departure from the hotel and transfer to the pier to return to Sittwe by boat. Then, you will reach its airport to fly to Rangoon.