In Bangladesh, you’ll find the bustling city streets and vibrant markets of Dhaka, the tranquil tea gardens of Sylhet, the mystic ruins of ancient Buddhist monasteries in Paharpur, and the longest unbroken sandy beach in the world at Cox’s Bazar. Yet, it’s more than just its destinations; it’s the friendly locals, the mouth-watering cuisine, and the rich traditions and history that make Bangladesh a truly unique travel experience.
Why You Should Visit Bangladesh
Bangladesh, fondly known as the land of rivers, is an off-the-beaten-path destination offering an array of unique experiences for every traveler. Here are some reasons why you should consider Bangladesh for your next travel adventure:
Natural Wonders: From the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, to the picturesque landscapes of Bandarban and the serene beaches of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh is blessed with stunning natural beauty.
Historical Sites: Bangladesh’s rich history is reflected in its myriad of archaeological sites, historic mosques, and ancient ruins.
Diverse Culture: Bangladesh has a multi-ethnic society with over 45 different ethnic groups, each with its unique customs, traditions, and languages, offering a rich cultural immersion.
Gastronomic Delights: Bangladeshi cuisine, known for its unique blend of sweet and spicy flavors, is a culinary journey on its own. Sampling the local dishes like Hilsa fish curry, Biriyani, and Pitha is a must-do experience.
Top Destinations in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a treasure trove of diverse experiences, from bustling urban cities to serene natural landscapes. Here are some must-visit destinations that you should include in your itinerary.
Dhaka: The Bustling Capital
The capital city, Dhaka, offers an intoxicating mix of the old and new. Known as the city of mosques, Dhaka’s skyline is dotted with numerous historical mosques such as the Star Mosque and the Lalbagh Fort. Don’t miss the chance to explore the vibrant streets of Old Dhaka, where you can immerse yourself in the local culture, enjoy street food, and shop for traditional crafts. The National Museum, Liberation War Museum, and the Ahsan Manzil are other significant attractions that tell the story of Bangladesh’s rich history and heritage.
Cox’s Bazar: World’s Longest Sea Beach
Cox’s Bazar is home to the world’s longest unbroken sea beach, stretching an incredible 120 km. This seaside town is the perfect place for relaxation and adventure, offering opportunities for beach activities, water sports, and witnessing mesmerizing sunsets. Nearby, you can explore the Himchari National Park and the Inani Beach, known for its unique coral stones.
Sundarbans: Home to Royal Bengal Tigers
The Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the world’s largest mangrove forest. It’s also home to the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger. Embark on a boat safari to explore this vast wilderness, witness the rich biodiversity, and if you’re lucky, spot the elusive tiger.
Sylhet: The Tea Capital
Nestled in the northeastern part of Bangladesh, Sylhet is famous for its sprawling tea gardens. Explore the lush tea estates, visit the tea factories, and learn about the process of tea making. The region is also known for its beautiful landscapes, featuring rolling hills, waterfalls, and serene rural settings.
Chittagong: The Port City
Chittagong, the country’s main seaport, is known for its natural beauty and historical attractions. Visit the Foy’s Lake amusement park, explore the colonial-era architecture in the city, or take a day trip to the nearby Patenga beach. The Ship Breaking Yard, one of the largest in the world, is also a unique attraction here.
Rajshahi: City of Silk and Mangoes
Famed for its silk production and delicious mangoes, Rajshahi is also home to some of Bangladesh’s most impressive archaeological sites. Visit the ancient city of Gauda and Mahasthangarh, one of the oldest archaeological sites in the country, to dive deep into the region’s history.
These destinations are just a glimpse into what Bangladesh has to offer. The country’s varied landscapes and rich cultural heritage make it a fascinating destination for travelers seeking an offbeat adventure. In the next section, we’ll dive into practical tips to help you plan your trip to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Travel Tips
Traveling to a new country can be exciting, but it also requires some planning. Here are some practical tips to help you navigate your journey to Bangladesh.
Best Time to Visit Bangladesh
The best time to visit Bangladesh is during the dry season, which typically runs from October to March. This period sees less rain and milder temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
Currency in Bangladesh
The official currency of Bangladesh is the Bangladeshi Taka (BDT). It’s always handy to have some local currency, especially for local markets, street food vendors, and small businesses. Credit cards are generally accepted in hotels, upscale restaurants, and shopping malls in the city. ATMs are widely available in urban areas, but ensure to carry enough cash when visiting rural or remote locations.
Bangladeshi Taka current exchange rates
- 100 BDT = $0.91 or $1 = 110.08 Bangladeshi Taka
- 100 BDT = €0.84 or €1 = 118.70 Bangladeshi Taka
- 100 BDT = 0.72 British Pounds
- 100 BDT = 1.38 Australian Dollar
- 100 BDT = 1.23 Canadian Dollar
- 100 BDT = 9.48 Swedish Krona
- 100 BDT = 3.65 Polish Zloty
- 100 BDT = 20.52 Czech Koruna
- 100 BDT = 1,191.87 South Korean Won
- 100 BDT = 6.49 Chinese Yuan
- 100 BDT = 131.22 Japanese Yen
Bangladeshi Cuisine You Must Try
Bangladeshi cuisine offers an array of flavors, from sweet to fiery hot. Don’t miss trying the national dish, Hilsa fish curry, which is cooked in mustard sauce. Other popular dishes include Biriyani, a flavorful rice dish with meat, and Pitha, a sweet or savory cake typically enjoyed during winter.
Local Customs and Etiquette
Bangladeshis are known for their hospitality, and respect for local customs is greatly appreciated. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. The typical form of greeting is the “Salam” (handshake), usually initiated by the older or more respected person. Learning a few phrases in Bengali, the national language, can also enrich your travel experience.
Mobile connectivity is generally good in cities and major towns. You can purchase a local SIM card at the airport or from shops in the city. Free WiFi is often available in hotels, cafes, and some public spaces.
Health and Safety
Ensure to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers any medical expenses. It’s also recommended to have vaccines for Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Tetanus before traveling. Always drink bottled water and take precautions with street food.
Accommodation in Bangladesh
From luxury resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses, Bangladesh offers a wide range of accommodations to suit all types of travelers. No matter where you go, you’re likely to find a comfortable place to rest your head after a day of exploration.
Luxury Hotels in Bangladesh
If you’re looking for a touch of luxury, the major cities like Dhaka, Chittagong, and Cox’s Bazar host a range of high-end hotels. Brands like The Westin, Radisson Blu, and InterContinental offer top-tier services, including spa facilities, fine-dining restaurants, and even golf courses. There are also local luxury resorts, particularly in tourist hotspots like Cox’s Bazar and the Sundarbans, where you can enjoy world-class amenities amidst breathtaking natural beauty.
Budget-Friendly Hotels in Bangladesh
For the budget-conscious traveler, Bangladesh has a range of affordable accommodations. Budget hotels and guesthouses are available across the country, offering basic amenities at a lower price point. These often include free WiFi, air conditioning, and sometimes a complimentary breakfast. Hostels are less common, but you’ll find a few in Dhaka and other tourist areas.
Homestays in Bangladesh
For a more immersive experience, consider a homestay with a local family. This gives you a unique opportunity to learn about Bangladeshi culture, customs, and cuisine firsthand. Homestays are popular in rural areas and can be a truly enriching part of your travel experience.
Eco-Resorts in Bangladesh
For those interested in sustainable travel, there are several eco-resorts in Bangladesh. These properties focus on minimizing their environmental impact and often offer nature-based activities. They can be found in various parts of the country, including the Sundarbans and the hilly regions of Sylhet and Chittagong Hill Tracts.
How to Get Around Bangladesh
Exploring Bangladesh can be an adventure in itself. The country offers various modes of transportation, each offering unique experiences. Here are some popular ways to get around:
Traveling by Bus
Buses are the most common mode of transportation in Bangladesh. They connect all major cities and many remote areas of the country. There are both state-run and private buses, with the latter offering a range of options from basic to luxury services known as “AC coaches”. While bus travel can be crowded and a bit hectic, it’s an inexpensive way to travel and offers a chance to experience local life.
Traveling by Train
Train travel is a more comfortable and scenic way to travel long distances in Bangladesh. The country has an extensive rail network that connects Dhaka with major cities like Chittagong, Sylhet, and Rajshahi. Train journeys offer a unique opportunity to witness the stunning landscapes of the countryside. Remember to book your tickets in advance, especially for first-class or air-conditioned compartments.
Traveling by Boat
Given the country’s vast network of rivers, boat travel is a quintessential part of the Bangladesh experience. Regular ferry services connect Dhaka with southern and northeastern regions. For a more traditional experience, you can travel on smaller wooden boats, known as “sampan”. Exploring the Sundarbans by boat is a popular tourist activity.
Traveling by Rickshaw and CNG Auto Rickshaw
In urban areas, cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws (known as CNGs) are the most common means of transportation for short distances. They are affordable and offer a fun way to navigate the bustling city streets. Always negotiate the fare before starting your journey.
For those short on time, domestic flights are available between major cities like Dhaka, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, and Sylhet. Several airlines operate these routes, including Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the national carrier.
Renting a car with a driver is another option for getting around, especially if you prefer flexibility in your travel plans. International and local car rental companies are available in major cities.
Navigating transportation in a new country can be challenging, but it’s all part of the adventure. With a little patience and a sense of humor, getting around Bangladesh can be a rewarding experience. Remember, local people are generally friendly and willing to help if you need directions.
- Bangladesh Tourism Board – The official tourism website of Bangladesh provides comprehensive information on various tourist attractions, things to do, travel guidelines, and more.
- Lonely Planet – Bangladesh – Lonely Planet offers detailed travel guides for Bangladesh, including advice on top experiences, places to visit, food and drink, and practical travel tips.
- TripAdvisor – Bangladesh: TripAdvisor provides user-generated reviews of hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more.
- Booking.com – Bangladesh – You can use Booking.com to find and book accommodations ranging from luxury hotels to budget guesthouses.
- Skyscanner – Bangladesh: Skyscanner can help you find the best deals on flights to Bangladesh.
- World Travel Guide – Bangladesh: This travel guide offers practical travel information on Bangladesh, including visa requirements, health advice, and more.
- CDC Travelers’ Health – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides health advice for travelers to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh, with its unique blend of cultural heritage, captivating landscapes, and warm-hearted people, is a gem waiting to be explored. From the bustling streets of Dhaka to the tranquil tea gardens of Sylhet, the roar of Royal Bengal Tigers in the Sundarbans to the serene beauty of Cox’s Bazar’s beach, each experience is sure to leave an indelible mark on your memory.
Plan your trip keeping in mind the practicalities of traveling in this beautiful country—be it the currency, local customs, transportation, or accommodations. And don’t forget to indulge in the rich Bangladeshi cuisine and try out local favorites. Utilize the resources provided to craft your journey and make your travel experience smooth and enjoyable.
Remember, Bangladesh isn’t just a destination; it’s an adventure that encapsulates an array of experiences. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or a food enthusiast, Bangladesh has something to offer you. Embark on this journey and unravel the beauty of this untapped South Asian destination.