we plan to go to Arakan State: Sittwe and Mrauk U - feb.2014. know it's hard to get up-to date news on the situation there tru official channels.
anyone went there recently cares to share their opinion? when we were in Burma last year the access was closed for a while. we are into booking (expensive) flights Yangon-Sittwe so i'd like an update on the situation from tourists travelling there.
I heard some bad reputation about Oway Travel from other source such as Fodor's and Lonely Planet. I hope you haven't given OWAY your credit card info. There are lots of warnings on Thorntree about this "agency" which seems to simply be a way to part travelers from their money. People get tempted by OWAY because it looks like you can book online using a credit card.
Could you give some information about your trip? Was it smooth?
#3 dannyjacob has been a member since 10/2/2014. Posts: 21
well, thanks for the warning. but i haven't had any problems with Oway for the payments by credit card because first it wasn't possible and later they have directed me to a protected bankiing page especially for foreign credit cards. so this part went smooth. they made a mistake with our departure dates but have corrected everything without surcharge and moreover they brought the tickets to our guest house the day we arrived in Yangon like we agreed by email. so i can't say anything bad about Oway!
Arakan Sttate: just got back and we miss it already! great food and like all over Myanmar very friendly people. we felt pampered like everywhere in this country and had a super time there. we managed to stay one whole week in Mrauk U and by the time we left many villagers recognised us and greeted us on our way to the jetty. we were often in the town, especially around the market. there's always something going on there. moreover we spent an afternoon with the guide who worked for our hotel visiting various artists at their homes and got to see many interesting works. Sittway is less interesting, it is already a "pass-tru" city and it's hard to get a decent room for a fair price thanks to the many GMO's lving there. can't say they were very friendly either.
here you go.
one last thing: i have the impression it's not necessary to book a flight to Sittway in advance. there's plenty of flights every day with several companies.also there's the possibility to take a bus to Thandwe, go to Taungok and get on a boat to Sittway from there. sounded interesting but unfortunately we only saw this possibility once we were here.
another thing: many people managed to get on a boat from Mrauk U to Sittwe and have their flight on the same day And there's boats every day contrary to what is written in the several guide books we saw and consulted.
plus don't take the lonely planet with you, it's so far outdated, you could leave it behind in the museum in Sittwe and no one would notice!
if you want more info just ask me!
Thanks for sharing us your very useful experience.
Glad to hear that you did enjoy your trip to Arakan State.
#5 dannyjacob has been a member since 10/2/2014. Posts: 21
Thanks for the info; glad to hear you had a great time.
How busy did you find Mrauk U? Does it see lots of tourists in peak season now, or is it still reasonably quiet?
Mrauk U is probably never overcrowded, there`s not that many guest houses and it`s still fairly difficult or expensive to get there.
i must add to what i`ve written above that all the guest houses and hotels can help you with your bookings for boats etc.
either by phone (many don`t have internet connection) or by mail you can inquire and will get all the info you ask.
we stayed at the Prince Hotel, an excellent option if you wish to stay for a longer time. it`s not one of the brand-new places but because of this has lots of character and the host speaks excellent English. the people living there are very friendly and helpful and try their best to learn and speak English. we have been there 8 days and left with sadness in our hearts. we`ve been pampered and taken care for like we were VIPs