Like Bagan, Mrauk U is the second most well-known site for archaeology, but not many visitors know about it. Also, due to the location in the North of Rakhine State, an area on the Western coast of Myanmar, it is quite hard to reach Mrauk U.
In contrast, Mrauk U and Bagan have some differences in terms of the temple. Pagodas in Bagan is more significant and older than those in Mrauk U. Additionally, the ones in Bagan are built from brick, while synagogues in Mrauk U have thick walls made from stones to withstand fierce winds.
Besides, the natural scenes in each place are distinct. The typical scenery in Mrauk U consists of itsy-bitsy villages, rice fields, and grazing animals scattering among temples. You will feel as if you get lost in a green rural area, rather than dipping in the crowd in Bagan.
Coming to the land, you must spend time visiting Chin Village, where you may encounter several women with their faces tattooed. You should hire a guide to take you around the town to witness the daily work of the women here and translate what the locals say. They are pretty hospitable, as they may talk to you about the tattoos and the reason why they did it. Moreover, a few of them may persuade you to purchase some of their handmade wares or ask for a small donation. You can give them small gifts or some cash, and they really welcome it.
How to get to Mrauk U: You can get on a plane from Yangon to Sittwe, then rent a private boat or get on a ferry to Mrauk U. Hotels in Both Sittwe and Mrauk U can help you to book a seat on the ship.
Two of the most sacred destinations in Myanmar, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda and the Golden Rock, have attracted numerous tourists to come. The Golden Rock is a gilded boulder stand on the top of a mountain in the South of Myanmar. The stone is so precarious that you can gently move it from side to side if you are a male. Buddhists believe that a single hair from Buddha's head is holding this enormous rock and preventing it from falling to the village below.
You can reach the Golden Rock in two ways. The first one is to catch a busy pickup truck that conveys people from the bottom to the top of the steep hill path of Kinpun. If you want to combine sightseeing and hiking, travel on foot is an ideal choice. You need to conquer more than 11 kilometers to witness the spectacular landscape. During the hiking trip, you will see various impressive natural sights, pass by a few stores selling snacks, and encounter friendly residents who are willing to tell you the right direction if you ask them.
Staying in a hotel near the temple is a good idea to admire the shimmering rock when the locals light it up at night. In the very early morning, you may catch a glimpse of people praying or going around the place.
How to get to the Golden Rock: you can take a train or a bus from Yangon to Bago, then catch a motor-taxi to Kinpun.
If you are planning to do a hike, you need to spend a night in Kinpun to begin your trek early the next day. Remember to pack some essential items to stay overnight near the pagoda. Don't bring to much luggage as you are the one to carry it to the pagoda.
If you just want to visit the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda within a day tour, the best method to save time is to hire a private car directly from Yangon to Kinpun and vice versa, then take the pickup truck to reach the peak and go down the hill.
About 338 kilometers to the West of Bagan, perhaps Inle Lake is the second most reputable attraction in Myanmar. One of the symbols of the lake is men using their feet to paddle fishing boats on the lake. If you tend to capture a few photos, give them some money as a tip.
The lake is the habitat of around 70.000 Intha residents who live in floating villages and do floating gardens.
The most common way to explore the beauty of this area is to rent a private boat, including a driver, and drift around the lake. The driver will lead you to famous destinations, so just follow his schedule. However, expect to leave before the sun goes up for the best light.
If you have more time to explore Inle Lake, try a cooking class, or hire a bike to tour around the rural area. Two sites that you don't want to miss are the Red Mountain Winery and the Kakku Pagoda, obtaining more than 2.000 stupas.
How to get to Inle Lake: take a domestic flight to the Heho airport of Nyaung Shwe town, then catch a taxi from the airport to the lake within 45 minutes. Another way is to take VIP buses from Bagan, Mandalay, and Yangon.