Capital of Rakhine state, today Sittwe is a somewhat sleepy little tropical town.Â Formerly a garrison town in the days of the British Empire, Sittwe became an important seat of maritime commerce, especially as a port for the export of rice after the British occupation of Arakan (now known as Rakhine state), following the First Anglo-Burmese War.Â During the first 40 years of British rule it increased from a village to a town of 15,000 inhabitants, and by 1901 it was the third busiest port of Burma with the population exceeding 30,000 inhabitants. One can still find remnants of the British in Sittwe’s old colonial buildings, its colorful fish market, its clock tower, and beautiful monasteries.
The area has miles of untouched beaches and many undiscovered islands lie just offshore. The town itself is interesting to explore with the harbor area being of particular interest. Maka Kuthala Kyaungdawgyi is an offbeat museum exhibiting a mixture of colonial era and Buddhist artifacts. The museum is in a colonial mansion that is itself well worth a visit.
Sittwe is also the boarding point for the 45 mile river journey to Maruk U.