It is possible to get to and from Mrauk U by bus.
And easier than it was. This page was created in November 2013. I’m certain (it’s nearly 2016) it needs updating because the roads between Mrauk U and Ann and Ann and Magwe / Kyaukpadaung have been upgraded / are being upgraded. I’m told you can get from Mrauk U to Kyaukpadaung and vice versa in 12 to 13 hours, only six or seven of them stomach churning and vomit inducing. Kyaukpadaung is only about an hour from Bagan.
If you can confirm any updated info please email firstname.lastname@example.org
From Yangon and Mandalay (and therefore from Bagan with a change in Kyaupadaung).
As t the time of writing – November 2013. The journeys to and from MDY and YGN take 24 hours or more – the under construction road is not great. You may have trouble buying a ticket in Yangon or Mandalay if you ask to go all the way to Sittwe as there is a view still held there by some that travellers are not allowed on some parts of the road. If there is a problem getting a ticket for the whole trip then buy one to Magwe (YGN) or Minbu (MDY and Bagan) and move on from there.
Anyhow there is no need to go all the way to Sittwe if you only want to go to Mrauk U; it’s on the way.
BEWARE .. In Mrauk U tickets to YGN and MDY are being sold for 50,000k – with an untrue claim that you need to pay for permission to travel this way – when the same tickets bought in Sittwe are under 30,000k.
There is also an option to connect with these buses in Ann (there is accommodation here – the Billionaire Special Guesthouse no less (8000k) and perhaps two others) coming from or continuing on to Taunggok (where speedboats connect with Sittwe and buses Thandwe). The 6am Taunggok – Ann or vice versa journey is by truck-bus (6500k) on a fantastic route that takes 11 hours to cover 85 miles (get a seat in the cab – extra 1000k only – for a great view of this journey).
From Sittwe (get there by plane from Yangon or Thandwe or by speedboat from Taunggok.
Not all the Sittwe bus companies will sell you a ticket on this route but at least one of the long distance companies will and so will the Sittwe-Mrauk U local buses. You will be taken to Immigration before leaving Sittwe and there is a second checkpoint en-route. Neither presented any problems for me; they were far more interested – sad sign of the times – in any Bengali / Rohingya / Myanmar Muslim / Darker people using that route. The journey (2500 to 4000k) takes only about 4 hours and passes Mahamuni Pagoda which is worth a stop.
There is also good accommodation in Mrauk U for less than the $25 Prince offer most travellers are sucking up from their guide book. Thazin guesthouse (not Shwe Thazin Hotel) 300m north of the market is a basic, friendly Myanmar guesthouse with $10 rooms. There are others in the same price range nearby. I also recommend – for lunch especially (the Myanmar food of the day, rather than off the menu) – the Dunyawaddy Restaurant on the main street opposite the market – good food at sensible local prices (1400k for better tasting food than Prince charge 5000k for).
There is one internet shop in Mrauk U. It’s just south of Dunyawaddy on the other side of the road. The connection is slow.
Take great care in Sittwe. Very unpleasant things are going on there. Following violent incidents in 2012 (and more recently) the Muslim quarter (only a few hundred metres from where you are likely to sleep) is closed and guarded by armed soldiers – no-one is allowed out – and up to 120,000 people live in IDP camps nearby supported by international NGOs. Westerners working for these organisations have been accused of favouring Muslims by offensively radical racist Buddhists. There have been protests about their presence there. MSF are not allowed to work in Rakhine following a recent government decision. Particularly if you’re western looking you are are not immune from threat or intimidation in Sittwe. If you do not know already about this situation and the situation elsewhere in Rakhine state (still all off-limits except for Ngapali according the British Embassy advice) then best to do some research first, even to consider whether you really should be going here.
Here’s a link to someone else’s blog about visiting Mrauk U. Nice photos.