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Mrauk-U

marukMrauk U, which means “North Far” may seem to be a sleepy village today but not so long ago it was the capital of the Arakan empire where Portuguese, Dutch and French traders rubbed shoulders with the literati of Bengal and Mughal princes on the run. Mrauk U was declared capital of the Arakanese kingdom in 1431. At its peak, Mrauk U controlled half of Bangladesh, modern day Rakhine State (Arakan) and the western part of Lower Burma. As the city grew, many pagodas and temples were built. Several of them remain, and these are the main attraction of Mrauk-U.Food is available for purchase. The ferry is not in great condition but seems safe enough. Be warned though that the ferry has been known to skip a day or two every now and then so, if relying on it for travel, keep a reasonable buffer to avoid getting stuck. Private boats are available for rent in Sittwe and may do the trip considerably faster (4 to 6 hours) for US$50-80 (2008 price) depending on your negotiating skills and the number in your party. The principle advantage in renting a private boat is that you are no longer tied to the ferry timings. In the main season in 2011 there were private boats leaving Mrauk U seemingly every day, which you could join for negotiated fare. Flights from Yangon arrive in Sittwe in the afternoon and it is easy to rent a boat and be in Mrauk U in the evening which means a travel time of one day from Yangon. With the government ferry (US$6 or Ky 7’000), count on at least two days to get from Yangon to Mrauk U, longer if you arrive the day before a ferry off-day.

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