Rakhine State is located on the western coast of Myanmar. It has a long coastline on the Bay of Bengal in the west. The Arakan Mountains, rising to a height of 10,049 feet at Victoria Peak separate Rakhine State from central Burma. The state has some fairly large islands off the coast such as Cheduba and Myingun Islands. Rakhine hosts the Ngapali Beach, one of Myanmar’s premier beach destinations, located only 45 minutes by air from Yangon. Although the beach is quite popular, it is not very crowded. It is famous for its turquoise waters, wide stretches of white sand, palm tree groves and fishing village, it is relatively unspoilt. Rakhine offers a number of tourist spots such as Mrauk U, the ancient city of the Rakhine dynasty, Sittwe, Shitthaung Pagoda, Dukkanthein Pagoda, Kothaung Pagoda, Laymyatnha Pagoda, Andaw Pagoda and many more.
AMAZING BEACHES AND ISLANDS
Rakhine State has a long coastline along the Bay of Bengal and hence is home to some of the best beaches of Myanmar. The most notable among them is Ngapali Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia. With turquoise blue water and white soft sand, this beach is a perfect place to relax and unwind. Lined with palm trees all along the coastline, Ngapali beach is still untouched and uncrowned, making it tourists’ favorite. Kanthaya Beach is a peaceful and quiet beach in Myanmar, located about 100 km off Ngapali Beach. Tourists can enjoy the beauty of unspoilt nature here. Tourists visiting Rakhine State can also visit Cheduba Island, an island mostly inhabited by the Arakanese and Burmese people. It is one of the early discovered places in Myanmar. Another island to visit is Myingun Island, located 5 kilometers to the south of Sittwe. It is separated from the continental shore by a 2 km wide strait.
The beautiful hilly landscape of the Rakhine State is home to a number of pagodas and temples. The most notable among them is Mrauk U, an archaeological site in Western Burma. Mrauk U is a small town with innumerable century old monuments. The archaeological zone covers an area of 7 sq.km and houses pagodas and temples built between 15th to 18th century and the ruins of a royal palace. Koethaung Pagoda is the largest temple in Mrauk U which was built by King Dikkha between 1554 and 1556. One of the most prominent monuments here is the Shaitthaung Temple, also known as Temple of 80,000 Buddha images or the Temple of Victory. Another notable temple of Mrauk U is Le-myet-hna Temple, located at the northwest corner of Shite-thaung Temple. It has four entrances with eight seated Buddha statues.
RICH CULTURAL HERITAGE
Rakhine offers a comprehensive glimpse of the rich cultural heritage of Myanmar. Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine state. It is a beautiful city located at the estuarial land created at the confluence of Kaladan, Mayu and Lay Mro rivers. Sittwe has a viewpoint from where one can catch an incredible view of the Bay of Bengal and the mouth of the Kaladan River. Sittwe has a number of pagodas and temples of importance. The Shwezedi Monastery is hundred-year old monastery with an amazing architecture. Sittwe Pharagri is another monastery of importance, which is sometimes considered as the focal point of Sittwe’s Buddhist environment. The Lawkananda Pagoda is the largest Buddhist temple in Sittwe. Rakhine is home to the Rakhine or Arakanese people, one of the major ethnic groups of Myanmar. They constitute around 5% of Myanmar’s population. They are primarily Theravada Buddhists and follow a culture similar to the general Burmese culture.
Ngapali Beach The clear turquoise blue water and the white soft sand of this 7 km long beach have stolen the heart of thousands of tourists all over the world. Ngapali Beach is counted as one of the best beaches in the world. It is lined with palm trees all along the coastline and is ideal for spending a quiet vacation. Although it is a tourists’ favourite, it is not crowded.
Mrauk U is an archaeological site in Western Myanmar extending across a 7 sq. km. area. The site was the capital of the Mrauk U kingdom between 1430 and 1785. A small town has developed surrounding the city where tourists can experience the local Burmese way of life. Mrauk U houses pagodas and temples of all shapes and sizes – from temple-like structures to stone and brick built ones.
Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine state. It is a beautiful city located on the estuarial island created by the confluence of Kaladan, Mayi and Lay Mro rivers. Sittwe has a lot to offer to tourists such as a viewpoint to catch a breathtaking view of the scenery, innumerable monasteries and pagodas and a Rakhine State Cultural Museum.
Le Myet Hna is a temple in Mrauk U, located toward the northwest of Shite-Thaung Temple. This temple has four entrances; one on each cardinal point and 8 seated Buddha Status are positions around a central column. The temple was built by King Min Saw Mon in 1430 AD. The temple has been constructed using sandstone.
Koethaung Pagoda is the largest temple of Mrauk U. The name means ‘Temple of the 90,000 Buddha Images’. The temple was built by King Dikkha between 1554 and 1556. It is a massive monument with stone walls and stone terraces measuring 76 meters by 70 meters and resembles a fortress with thick stone walls.
Htukkanthein Pagoda This pagoda was built by King Minphalaung in 1571 AD. It is located at a height of 30 feet on a hill and is structured like a flat surface in the form of a drum. The pagoda has several carvings and idols etched on its walls. It is a beautiful historic structure to visit.
Kantharyar Beach is the one of the Rakhing pleasant beaches. Kantharyar by its name meaning the pleasant beach in Myanmar and is about 2km long. The out-standing features of ‘Kann-tha-ya’ beach are the blue sea. a very long stretch of silvery sands. a dark green line of coconut palm groves along the wide coast almost level beach about 8000 yards long and massive rock slabs and boulders. People with a penchant for fishing may go out angling in the sea reefs and rocks providing a natural fence for the beach in safety. Life-guards have been posted along the beach.
Andaw Thein Pagoda The Andaw Pagoda of Mrauk U is the pagoda enshrining the tooth-relic of Buddha. The Pagoda is located about 86ft (26m) from the Shitthaung Pagda in the north-east direction. Min Hla Raza wa the original builder of this Pagoda in AD 1521.
Shaitthaung Temple A famous temple of Mrauk U, the Shaitthaung Temple is a notable temple in Mrauk U. The meaning of the name is Temple of the 80,000 Buddha images or the Temple of Victory. It was built by King Min Bin around 1535-1536 to commemorate his conquest of Bengal. It is located on the north of the Royal Palace.
Tazaungmon Full Moon Festival: This festival is celebrated in November throughout the country when sets of new robes and other offerings are presented to monks. It is also called Kha Htein monastery. Cash offerings for monasteries are also collected during this time and displayed on wooden frames built in the shape of a tree.
Thadingyut Light Festival: Around the full moon day of Thadingyut, this festival is celebrated for 3 days throughout the country to commemorate the time when Buddha returned to earth after preaching in the above of celestials. People decorate their houses with candles and coloured lanterns to symbolize this event. The festival of Light marks the end of Lent.
Thingyan Water Festival: This is the most interesting and greatest occasion for merry-making in the country. Difference from other Culture from Myanmar, Rakhine Thingyan Water Festival is celebrating around the Laung Hle (a long boat) which girls are sitting around the Hle and boys come at some distance to ask permission to throw water on girls. During these auspicious days, Myanmar people perform a lot of meritorious deeds to usher in the New Year.