Rakhine, once known as Arakan, lies on the long and narrow western coast of Myanmar, divided by high mountain ranges from the mainland called Rakhine Yoma. This long and narrow state with many islands and unspoilt beaches faces the Bay of Bengal. Highlights places to visit are Sittwe (Akyab), Mrauk Oo and Thandwe (Sandoway). Sittwe (formerly called Akyab) is situated in the Rakhine State, a long narrow coastal region to the west of Myanmar, separated from the mainland by the Rakhine Yoma (mountain range). Sittway is the capital of the state and a seaport with a rich hinterland producing crops, fish and Rakhine Longyis. Though Sittwe itself has few places of interest, a popular tourist destination in the Rakhine State, Mrauk Oo, can be reached only via Sittwe. Mrauk Oo, an ancient royal capital known for its old temples with wall paintings of Indian cultural influence, teems with interesting historical sites, cultural edifices, antiques and articles of archaeological value.
Mrauk U (Mrauk Oo)
The abandoned city and hundreds of temples and pagodas at Mrauk U (also spelt Mrauk Oo and pronounced ‘Myow Oo’ or ‘Mrow Oo’, depending on Burmese or local Rakhine pronunciation) lie across rolling northern Rakhine State hilltops and form an awe-inspiring sight, whilst providing an experience quite unlike anything else in Myanmar. From the 15th to 18th centuries, Mrauk U was the capital of a mighty Arakan kingdom, frequently visited by foreign traders (including Portugese and Dutch), and this is reflected in the grandeur and scope of the structures dotted around its vicinity. But after the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1826, the British moved the regional trading centre down the Kaladan river to Sittwe, and Mrauk U went into decline. Today part of its allure lies in its isolation from the rest of the country; the lack of development; and that (for the moment) you are more likely to bump into a cow or a goat than into another tourist.
Ngapali is indeed a pleasant beach resort for those who want to get away from the noise, hustle and bustle of living in crowded cities. Located on the Rakhine coast and known as the "Naples of the East", supposed to have been named after by Italians who had been there during the first Angelo-Burmese war, Ngapali is one of the beautiful beaches in Myanmar. This unspoiled beach streatching over 3 km with blue sea, white sand and swaying palm trees is 35 minutes' flight from Yangon. By overland, 14 hours' drive along the narrow winding road over the Rakhine Yoma after crossing the Ayeyarwaddy River at Pyay (Prome). There is an 18-hole golf course about 15 minutes' drive from the beach.
Sittwe is a port city on the Bay of Bengal at the mouth of the Kaladan River, and was an important trade centre during colonial times. For most travellers it is a stop-off point on their way to Mrauk U, but its sea views over the Bay of Bengal, markets and spicy local dishes are interesting diversions. Sittwe’s central market is recognisable by its uniquely styled iron clock tower. The fish market can be found directly to its east; it is enjoyable to simply walk through and soak up the atmosphere, and arriving at the seafront you are faced with the pleasant contrast of a quiet jetty with views out to the mouth of the Kaladan river.