Sittwe, the capital of the Rakhine State, is located on the northern coast near the Bangladesh border and home to a large Muslim community. Originally built by the British in 1826, the town’s most popular sites include the Payagyi Pagoda, the Rakhine State Cultural Museum, Payamya Monastery and the riverfront market. It’s the best place to buy Arakanese longyis, the sarong cloths worn by Burmese men. The actual town of Sittwe has little to offer the visitor other than being the gateway town to the forgotten ruins of Mrauk-U.
These ruins are located along the Kaladan River, about 80 km north of Sittwe. The ruins were an ancient capital founded by Rakhine King Minzawmun in 1433. Unlike the temples of Bagan, Mrauk-U’s ruins are constructed with stone rather than the traditional bricks in a truly unique style. Accommodation and food options are limited but even in a country where there are so few tourists Maruk-U is truly off the beaten track, a real gem of a place, a remote destination for the genuine explorer.