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Rakhine State’s capital, Sittwe, sits in an incredible spot where the wide, tidal Kaladan River kisses the big, fat Bay of Bengal. It's a historic place, although there's little of that past still around or accessible. There are some lively markets, and when the new port is finished an economic boom might liven things up, but for now there's little of real interest here. The impact of ongoing sectarian violence in Rakhine State, along with the town's generally scrappy vibe, means that most visitors approach the city as little more than a transit point to the ruins at Mrauk U.

Best time to visit

The dry season in Myanmar runs from November to May and this is widely believed to be the best time to go to Sittwe.

November and December in particular are a good pick as the weather is dry but not too hot. The rainy season lasts from June to October and it can rain every day although you can expect sudden downpours as opposed to hours of drizzle. That said, it can make for a rather unpleasant experience, although the air is clean and fresh as the rains wash away much of the dust that tends to plague Myanmar.

Check the below table for the general idea of Sittwe weather throughout the year.

Month Avg. High (°C) Avg. Mean (°C) Avg. Low (°C)
Jan 28.7 22.4 14.7
Feb 30.5 24.3 15.7
Mar 32.1 27.2 19.7
Apr 33.4 29.7 23.8
May 32.9 29.9 25
Jun 30.7 28.3 25
Jul 29.6 27.4 23.9
Aug 29.7 27.6 23.6
Sep 30.5 28.1 23.1
Oct 31.8 28.5 22.7
Nov 31.6 26.8 19.3
Dec 29.3 23.6 16.1

Sittwe’s current weather and 7-day forecast

SITTWE WEATHER

Sittwe may not be as popular as other cities in Myanmar, but don’t let that fool you. Sittwe is a smaller but beautiful upcoming tourist destination that is worth a visit. You will be surprised by some of the unique things to do and places you can explore at this hidden destination.

Shwezedi Kyaung

Partly housed in a picturesque, ramshackle colonial-era building on a backstreet, this was the monastery of U Ashin Ottama (1880–1939), a leader of the Burmese independence movement during British colonial rule who died while imprisoned for his political activities. In September 2007, monks at this monastery followed in his footsteps and took part in protest marches happening across the country.

View Point

Strand Rd leads about 1.5 miles south to a location called View Point, a paved urban park with a small lighthouse built over the point where the Kaladan River empties into the Bay of Bengal, popular with locals for sunset views. Thoun bein (motorised trishaws) will take you there and back for K5000; taxis for K10,000.

Rakhine State Cultural Museum

This museum is grand looking from the outside, but much less so inside, and features two floors of dusty Rakhine cultural goodies. On the 1st floor are displays on local customs such as models showing off some of the 64 traditional Mrauk U royal hairstyles, and drawings illustrating Rakhine wrestling moves. The 2nd floor features diagrams and artefacts detailing Rakhine’s origins (around 3000 BC) and four key periods (Dhanyawadi, Vesali, Lemro and Mrauk U), complete with useful renderings and models.

Maka Kuthala Kyaungdawgyi

Monk U Bhaddanta Wannita spent 49 years collecting old coins and buddha images from monasteries to protect them from thieves. Some of his collection is displayed in his former monastery, which is housed in a grand, century-old British colonial mansion just north of the centre. The dusty, eclectic museum contains cases of old banknotes, buddhas, votives (candleholders) and coins from the Mrauk U and other ancient periods, plus many bone relics of head monks, kept in small tins.

Central Market

Focused on the 1956 municipal market building, Sittwe's market has lots of action from dawn to noon and beyond – it’s well worth popping by before your boat or plane leaves. Head straight past longyi (sarong-style garment), fishing-net and vegetable stands to the fish and meat area, where stingrays, gutted eels and drying sharks make quite a scene. In the bay, small boats jostle for space to unload their catch.

Fish Market 

This is actually more a See than a Buy. If you like seeing various kinds of fish by the thousands, this is your place. Busy and fascinating.

Lokananda Paya

You can’t miss this big golden pagoda between the airport and the city centre. Its cavernous gilded worship hall, held aloft by decorated pillars, is pretty spectacular. On the western side of the compound is a small ordination hall, which houses the intriguing Sachamuni Image, a bronze buddha with its surface entirely encrusted with mini-buddhas. Apparently the image dates from 24 BC and is said to have been found by Mrauk U fishermen.

Jama Mosque

This impressive 1859 building – the oldest mosque in Sittwe – could have been lifted out of the pages of Arabian Nights. Sadly, since the 2012 sectarian riots, it's been strictly off limits, with barbed wire and armed guards preventing access (photography of the exterior is also discouraged), and has fallen into a state of disrepair. But its impressive white minarets still poke above the trees and the wall that surrounds it.

Budget options

Prince Guest House

Add: 7 Main Rd., Yupar North Qtr (in the centre)

Price: US$6-20. 

The guesthouse offers simple rooms with fan and shared bathroom, as well as more expensive ones with AC, en-suite and fridge. 

Palace Hotel

Add: 5 Main Road

Price: US$10-15. 

The rooms have fan and en-suite bathroom. 

Kiss Guest House

Add: No.145, Main road, South Rupa Quarter (just south of the central market)

Price: US$15-20. 

A decent budget option with 20 rooms with en-suite bathrooms and some have AC. 

Mid-range options

Noble Hotel 

Add: Northeast of U Ottama Park

Price: Single/double US$25-30. 

Air-con; private bath; generator. 

Shwe Thazin Hotel

Add: 250 Main Rd. Kyaebingyi Qtr. (just south of U Ottama Park)

Price: US$20-50. 

New hotel, decent, clean and business-style rooms with TV. Air-con; restaurant; private bath; generator. Restaurant on the upper storey. 

Shwe Myint Mho Guest House

Add: Just north of Shwe Thazin Hotel)

Price: From US$25

A decent guesthouse. 

Hotel Memory

Add: 19. Akauk Yone Street

Price: From US$50

New and fresh, including everything a not so tight budget longs for. The restaurant on top is recommended. 

Royal Sittwe Resort

Add: West of San Pya Quarter (about 1 km west of The Point)

Price: US$30-120

AC, en-suite bathroom, big rooms, pool and restaurant.

Sittwe is a much better place for trying Rakhine food than Mrauk U. Rakhine food is spicy and is a nice change from the blander Burmese curries. Mondi, the Rakhaing version of the Burmese mohinga, is thinner and spicier. Rakhaing fish curries, catfish is the local favourite, are fiery and can be enjoyed at several hole-in-the-wall (or rather shack-on-the-ground) eateries that dot the main street and side streets of Sittwe. 

River Valley Seafoods Restaurant

Add: Main Road, next to U Ottama Park.

To enjoy the fresh fish you saw at the market, try this restaurant. 

Gisspanadi

Add: Min Bar Gyi St, near City Hall.

Similar to River Valley Seafoods, but mostly cheaper. 1,500-6000 kyat per platter.

Get in

By car or bus

The road to Sittwe (via Pyay) is quite comfortable if you have your own car. Buses also travel the route. Either way, set aside two days for the journey from Yangon. The coastal route is still long and arduous.

Sittwe Bus Station (almost 4 km out of the city on the way to Mrauk U). There is also a bus stand near the central market available, which should be good for short distances. 

From specific destinations:

Yangon – 26 hr, 25-35,000 kyat.

Mandalay – The bus from Mandalay stops at Magway near the bridge across the Irrawaddy river.

Bagan – If you starting from Bagan, you have to take a bus to Magway and switch to the bus to Sittwe (or Mrauk U) near the bridge across the Irrawaddy river or in front of the K.H.M. Fashion store. The bus from Bagan to Magway leaves the bus station near the airport at 10:00, 12:30 and 23:00, and costs 4,000 kyat. The bus from Magway to Sittwe is about 25-30,000 kyat and 18 hr. A similar trip is possible via Kyauk Padaung, best ask your guesthouse or travel agent of choice.

Ngapali – The bus from Thandwe bus station starts at 11:30 & 13:30, and takes 17 hr to Mrauk U and is about 20,000 kyat.

Taungup – Mostly the same buses that start in Thandwe bus station (Ngapali). They will stop at 14:30 & 16:30 in Taungup and take 14 hr for about 17,000 kyat to Mrauk U.

Pyay – Served by the Yangon buses that stop in Pyay. Advisable to book in advance. 18 hr, 22,000 kyat.

Mrauk U – There are various local buses, pickups and vans available for the 70 km. 1½ hr, 2-3,000 kyat.

We recommend you check the latest bus schedule and price via rome2rio.com

By boat

The journey through the backwaters and then up the river is a wonderful trip. There are some concerns regarding the security on the boat, robberies have occurred. Please get updated information on-site.

Sittwe <> Taungup

The boat leaves Wednesday & Saturday, 06:30 from Taungup harbour, and arrives at 15:30. Tickets are sold at Malikha Transportation office at the street north from the bus station by the guesthouses towards the market, just after the wide open junction.

Sittwe <> Mrauk U

A boat between takes only 3 hr and runs every day. It leaves Mrauk U at 14:00. 20,000 kyat.

By air

Air Bagan and Air Mandalay fly to Sittwe from Yangon for US$135 to US$140. Some of the flights go via, or on to Thandwe (Sandoway). The airport (nothing more than a Second World War airstrip) is only a couple of miles from the city and taxis are available but it is cheaper to take a trishaw for the short ride to the city (Trishaws wait outside the airport gate).

Contact us for the latest flight schedule and price. Or you can check via some online platform such as SkyScanner.com or Kayak.com

Here you can find some tips to book the cheapest flight

Get around

Trishaws, readily available, are the easiest way to get around. It is also possible to walk (if you are not going far!) or to rent a bicycle (available at most hotels).

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