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Travel Guide: Discover and Explore Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a South-Asian country with historical value and scenic beauties. It offers excellent attractions of its own.  The tourist trade seems to emphasize luxury things rather than the actual charms. This might be one of the reasons that Bangladesh remained unexplored.

Top 10 Facts to Know Before Traveling to Bangladesh?

  1. One of the most densely populated countries in the world, housing more than 165 million.
  2. People are welcoming and hospitable. They might even ask to invite a stranger to their home.
  3. Taka is the national currency. And $1 equals to 85tk.
  4. More than half of the total population is farmer, yet Garments Industry is the leading sector.
  5. The Bengal Tiger is almost extinct.
  6. Islam is the state religion with 90% Muslims.
  7. 200 years of British rule, got independence after a bloody 9-month war with Pakistan in 1971.
  8. On average, per day salary is $5.
  9. Public affection displays between are OK men and women in Bangladesh up to a limit. Kissing in public is unimaginable!
  10. People don’t smile too often because it is seen as immature.

Bangladesh Travel Intro: Customs & Culture

A little History: After the “Divide and Rule” policy by the British, Bangladesh became a part of Pakistan. Bangladesh was named East Pakistan and governed by the West Pakistanis. Although the majority of the population was East Pakistanis, yet the significant power was held by West Pakistani leaders. East Pakistan became an independent country after a 9-month war and became Bangladesh.

Bangladesh, a country with a  massive population of 160 million in just a small area of 1,47,570 sq. Km. The number is getting bigger day by day, and people are moving towards the capital, in search of a better living.

Religious Diversity: With a 90% Majority Muslim population, Bangladesh is a land of other Religion’s people like the Hindu, Christian, and Buddhists as well. Other than that, minority groups like Chakma, Marma, Khasia are living in Chittagong, Sylhet, Mymensingh, and other places in Bangladesh.

A friendly HelloIt is often difficult to distinguish between people among different religions. Muslims greet one another through “Assalam-Alaikum,” whereas “Namashkar” is used by Hindus. But, simple Hi, Hello, are also OK with people.

Offers of Hospitality:The best thing about Bangladeshis is its hospitality. Amiable and jolly people, won’t be a surprise if they offer for a cup of tea. Sparing a few minutes for a cup of tea, I can guarantee it will be one of the best memories!

Travel in Bangladesh: Practicalities

Money. The currency is Bangladeshi Taka. It is only available in Bangladesh. However, there are exchange shops. You can convert your currency in exchange shops present in borders and airports. And usually, $1 equals to 85tk. Not all ATM’s accept foreign cards, and there are reports of cards being frequently swallowed (eek) so check before pushing your card in the slot. I used Standard Chartered bank ATMs with my visa debit card and found that to work OK.

Language. The mother-tongue is Bangla(or Bengali). Besides, English is used as well. Younger people (e.g., students) are more likely to speak English than the older generation.

Timings and weekends. Bangladesh is on GMT+6, making it 0.5 hours ahead of India. The weekend is either one or two days (depending on what job you do) – everyone has Friday (the muslim sabbath) off, and government, bank and (some) office workers also have Saturday off.

Political Demonstrations and Strikes. Political unrest is seen in Bangladesh sometimes. Opposition parties call for strikes (Hartals). Do check the political situation before visiting. In case of any unrest situation, stay in your hotel. If necessary, contact your Embassy.

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a country with historical value and beauty. Some of them are very famous, while others, not so much. Historical places like the Sundarban, Buddhist kingdoms, tea gardens, stunning beaches, artistic temples with terracotta works, grand mosques, and its people – most generous and welcoming you’ll meet. Read the article till the end to know more.

  1. Coxs Bazar:

World’s largest sea beach, Coxs Bazar, is the go-to place for any tourist. The mesmerizing sunsets and the fresh air can steal anyone’s heart. They will thrive on visiting this place again and again. The beach and Sunsets make a man fall in love with the place.

  1. Sundarbans Forest:

The world’s largest mangrove forest, Sundarban, is located in the Khulna division. It is home to the last remaining Bengal tigers in the world. Visiting this forest could be a once in a lifetime experience. The environment of Sundarbans is calm and soothing.1

  1. Chittagong Hill-Tracts:

The home to many tribal groups of Bangladesh.,Chittagong Hill-Tracts area is naturally a beautiful place. The best place in Bangladesh for adventure travel.  You can trek deep inside the hills under the permission from the local authority. Also, you can meet different tribal groups in this region and get to know their lifestyle. The most beautiful river in Bangladesh called Sangu river is located in this area.

  1. Srimangal:

Srimangal is situated in the north-eastern part of the country. It is the tea capital of Bangladesh. Walking through the trails inside the tea plantations gives you one of the best experiences. Visit the Lawachhara National Park and trek to Hamham for experiencing more natural beauty.

  1. Paharpur:

Paharpur holds the most important archaeological site in Bangladesh called Somapuri Bihar designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. It situated in the north-western part of Bangladesh. Paharpur was the second-largest Buddhist monastery in the 8th century. Monks from all over the world used to come here for higher education.

Other top 10 Place to See in Bangladesh

1. Lalbagh Fort: Lalbagh Fort is a 17th-century Mughal fort complex that stands before the Buriganga River in the southwestern part of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
2. Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace) – Residence of the Dhaka Nawabs built in the 19th century.
3. Armenian Church – Beautiful church built in the 18th century.
4. Khan Muhammad Mridha Mosque – Beautiful mosque from the early 18th century built by the Mughals.
5. Dhakeswari Temple – National Hindu temple of Bangladesh dating back to the 12th century.
6. National Assembly building – Finest work of world-renowned architect Louis Kahn.
7. Sonargaon – The old capital of Bengal is still one of the places to visit as it holds the ancient heritage of the then Bengal.
8. Shait Gombuj Mosque – One of the most exquisite architectural beauties that tourists will thrive on seeing.
9. Guava Garden – Locally known as “Peyara Bagan.” Situated in the Barisal division. A floating Guava market where the finest of guavas are sold.
10. Kaptai Lake – Scenic beauty surrounded by water. One of the best natural attractions in Bangladesh.

Don’t Miss When You Visit in Bangladesh

Eat your weight in Biriyani:  The Biriyani in Dhaka is not the same as what you’ll find in other places. Providing various types of Biriyani, whether you are a biriyani lover or not, you’ll love it!

Explore Old Dhaka: The Old Dhaka possesses many historic buildings and architecture. Exploring the Old Dhaka will surely amaze you.

Rickshaw rides:  Dhaka is a jam-packed city. A Rickshaw ride will give you one of the pleasing experiences you will ever get.

Visit Lalbagh Fort: Dhaka’s main historical attraction is the sprawling fort in the heart of Old Dhaka. The view from the A.C. rooftop cafes overlooking the complex is enjoyable.

Launch/ Steamer journey:  You don’t want to miss the thrilling experience of a launch journey. The atmosphere will undoubtedly change your mood. The calmness and serenity will amaze you.

Cuisine: This country offers a variety of local foods that you’ll not get anywhere else. Sweet, Sour, Spicy; ANYTHING! Each region has its kind of delicacy. The delicious meals will leave you to spell bounded.

Most Popular Holidays/Festival/Event in Bangladesh

The festivals keep Bangladesh lively throughout the year. Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha are the two most prominent festivals of the Muslims. There are other religious festivals for different religious communities; Durga Puja for the Hindus, Christmas for Christians, and Buddha Purnima for the Buddhists. Bangla New Year’s Day, Mother Language Day, Independence Day, and Victory Day are celebrated nation-wide.

01. EID-UL-FITR: The biggest Muslim festival, Eid-ul- Fitr, is observed throughout the world. Muslims observe Eid-ul_Fitr after a full month of fasting.

02. EID-UL-AZHA: Eid-ul-Azha is the second biggest festival of the Muslims. Large Eid congregations are held in public prayer grounds. Animals are sacrificed. The day is a public holiday.

03. MUHARRAM: Muharram is one of the most significant festivals among the Muslim community. It marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year.

04. PAHELA BAISHAKH: On the first day of the Bengali Year, Pahela Baishakh is a colorful event in the cities and villages throughout the country. The day is a public holiday. The most attractive event in Dhaka,” Mongol Shobhajatra,” starts from the Fine Art Institute of Dhaka University. Artists organize colorful pageants where paper made animals and masks figure prominently. Many fairs are held all over the country to welcome the New Year.

05. INDEPENDENCE DAY: Independence Day (March 26), is observed throughout the country. It is a state festival. All cities wear a festive look. The citizens of Dhaka wake up early in the morning to the sound of booming guns. Government officials, political and social organizations, and ordinary citizens place floral wreaths at the National Martyrs’ Memorial at Savar. The main public buildings are illuminated.

06. 21ST FEB. : WORLD MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY: February 21 of every year is observed throughout the country in remembrance of the martyrs of the Language Movement of 1952. The Martyrs’ Monument is the symbol of the supreme sacrifice for the mother tongue. The day is a public holiday. The event of the day includes processions, placing of flowers at the Minar, and prayer at the graves of martyrs’ at Azimpur.

UNESCO has declared this day as the “International Mother Language Day.”

07. CHRISTMAS: Christmas, known as “Boro Din” or The Big Day in Bangla, is celebrated with festivities in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. Several day-long congregations are held at different churches. Colorful lighting and programs give the whole country a joyous look.

08. DURGA PUJA: Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the Hindu community – the festivities culminate with the idol of the goddess Durga immersed in the river. Big celebrations are held throughout the country. Dhakeswari Temple, Ram Krishna Mission, and other temples are given a grand look.

Bangladesh Travel Costs

 Food: Food is very cheap in Bangladesh. Local street vendors will cost you about $1-2 per meal, and basic restaurant meals will cost between $4-5. Western meals at restaurants go between $8-12 per person.

 Accommodation: Rooms in budget hotels start at around $10-12 per night. Free WiFi is the norm for hotels these days. But if you want to get comfortable guesthouse, room rents range from 20$ to 30$, with air-condition, T.V., and other facilities.

You’ll find luxurious hotels as well where you need to spend some extra cash. Little luxurious hotel rooms can get in $40-50.

 Transportation: Public transportation is cheap, costing under a dollar. Public transportations like bus are available for any place, and it is very affordable. But if you want to use private transports like Rickshaw, cab, or CNG, then you have to spend extra dollars between $3-5. Besides, there is Uber as well.

 Activities – If you are planning to visit a particular place, research about that place first, the opening and closing timing of the places. You have to know about the costing, placements, and schedules. There are touts here who try to charge extra money. So use your bargaining quality well.

Backpacking in Bangladesh Suggested Budgets

Bangladesh is pretty cheap & the living cost is low, but since it’s such a diverse country, there’s something here for every budget and preference!

Here are some example budgets to help you get a sense of what to expect when you arrive:

On a backpacking budget, you should plan to spend $30-35 per day. I am suggesting this budget assuming you’re staying in a budget hotel, eating fast food, using public transportation, and participating in regular activities like visiting museums or just roaming around the city.

On a mid-range of the budget of $60-80 per day, you can stay in nice hotels, take private transportations between destinations, eat fast food, and do more excursions.

For a luxury budget of $180-200 per day, you can afford to stay in luxury hotels, hire a private driver and guide, and eat out for every meal.

Bangladesh Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Bangladesh packs a lot of activities into a small amount of space. It solely depends upon you, how you want to spend your bucks. If you are short on budget, here are some tips you’ll want to implement to keep your budget intact:

Eat at the Local restaurants– Eating in a local restaurant will cost you less than $3 per meal. This meal can be a quarter grilled chicken with nan( a kind of bread) or a plate of Biriyani. You can even have a meal of rice, and chickens, or beef.

Staying on budget hotels– If you want to cut a budget, then you should try the local hotels. It will save some bucks for you.

Avoid the super shops– Visit the local markets for buying groceries. You can buy fruits or snacks from there at a lower price than the super shops.

Use networks – I suggest you should hire a tour guide for one day or two. A local guide might take some money from you, but he knows the way around to help you out with everything.

Skip the private transports– Public transports are cheap in Bangladesh, and available. Using private transportation is costly.

But if you are in dire need of private transport, then take a CNG ride. They cost less than a taxi cab or Uber.

Where to Stay in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a country with a historical and cultural backdrop. The nation offers many luxurious, enjoyable, and world-class five-star hotel options for tourists.

1. Pan Pacific Sonargaon: The Golden Luxury Class

If you are looking for a high-class luxurious hotel, then this is the place. This located at the heart of Dhaka city. This place will refresh your senses.

It provides space to breathe in the concrete jungle by giving its guests green options. It has a combination of scenic beauties with swimming pools, spa, and other amenities.

2. Grand Sultan Tea Resort and Golf: Ultimate luxury

The Grand Sultan Tea Resort only a five-star hotel in the Sylhet division. This resort equipped with modern amenities. It is just like as its name suggests; “Grand.” One of the luxurious hotels in the country with a swimming pool, gym, spa, and the only one with a golf course.

Guests get everything they want on the campus—just a perfect place to relax from the monotonous of life and energize.

3. Ruposhi Banga Hotel: The First and The Very Best

The very first renowned five-star hotel in Bangladesh. Previously called “Dhaka Sheraton Hotel.” The service and hospitality of this hotel are world-class.

Whether it is a family trip or a business trip, people find calmness as it is their own home. Their top-class services as the swimming pool, fitness club, sports facilities, and many other services provide relaxation.

4. Le Méridien Dhaka: Crown of luxury

Le Méridien one of the topmost luxurious hotels in Bangladesh. It has everything a person would ask for. Luxury and Elegance; offers high-class accommodations, swimming pools, spa, fitness club, and sports facilities.

5. Westin Hotels and Resorts: Get renewed in a cool way!

Compared to other five star hotels in Bangladesh, Westin Hotels and Resorts is a new entrant. This Hotel located in Gulshan, Dhaka. However, guests have seen the value it provides.

Best time to Travel Bangladesh

The best time to visit Bangladesh is from November to March for the tropical and subtropical climate. During this time, the weather remains pleasant, making it an ideal time for visiting.

The summertime is not at all pleasing for tourists. As the temperatures rise to 35°C, people face extreme heat and inconvenience.

The best time for visiting is between November to March. So the tourist-attracting places get many visitors. So, to be on the safer side, you have to make reservations well in advance.

Getting Around in Bangladesh

By Air: Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is the most convenient place to enter the country by air, and the starting point for many tourists in Bangladesh. You can avail of a visa on arrival at Dhaka airport. Besides Dhaka, there are other airports in Chattogram, Sylhet, and Barishal.

By Land: You can visit Bangladesh on land from India. Here are some things that would be helpful for you if you are visiting from India-

Petrapole-Benapole: For those heading to/from Kolkata, India, or anywhere beyond in the Indian mainland. The only land border where visa on arrival is possible.

Changrabanda – Burimari: For those heading to/from Darjeeling, India, or up to Sikkim.

Tanabil – Dawki: For those heading to/from Meghalaya or Assam in Northeast India, or wanting to leave from Sylhet in Bangladesh.

Train: The Maitree Express train runs between Kolkata, India, and Dhaka. You can enter as long as you have a visa for Bangladesh already.

The whole process (train ride and immigration) takes about 12 hours, and it’s the most beautiful and comfortable way to enter Bangladesh.

Transportation of Bangladesh:

• The fastest way to travel between cities is by train. It is the cheapest, also.
• For waterways, launches are the cheapest transports.
• “Rickshaws” is one of the common transports.
• “Autos” or “CNGs” are the private transports
• In big cities like Dhaka, Chittagong, Uber is available.

Packing List – What to Wear in Bangladesh

During the summer, light clothes are preferable due to the intense heat. And during winter, the temperature remains around 17°C on average. So lightweight jackets are enough in most cases.

Clothing:
In Bangladesh, it’s not common to see men in shorts, let alone women. Decent clothes, covering the majority of the body, are worn by men and women. The typical dress for men is shirt and pant, and Salwar kameez or Saree for women.

Toiletries:
 Ladies – Sanitary napkins are available in all pharmacies or superstores. But tampons might not be available except some super shops in affluent areas like Gulshan, Banana.
 Soaps, shampoos, toilet tissues, facial tissues are available in any super shops.

Electronics
 Bangladesh’s power sockets are a fun mix, different than the rest of the world. So bring a universal adapter with you!
 For backup, carry a powerbank with you.

Staying Healthy in Bangladesh:
 Always carry a first aid kit with you, containing bandages, antiseptic cream, mosquito repellant, and meds for stomach upsets or vomiting.
 Avoid eating roadside foods. You might get stomach upsets or stomach pain.
 Always drink filtrated water.
 Wear masks to avoid pollution.

Bangladesh Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

Below are my favorite companies to use when I travel around Hong Kong. They are included here because they consistently turn up the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors.

Momondo – This is my favorite flight search engine because they search such a wide variety of sites and airlines. I never book a flight without checking here first.

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engine which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.

Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments. The big cities have tons of listings! (If you’re new to Airbnb, get $35 off your first stay!)

Amarroom – Provide the best value services for tourists—one of the renowned agencies in Bangladesh for booking hotels online.

Shohoz – Shohoz lets you book bus tickets online. They sell advance, hassle-free online tickets. They accept all kinds of the payment system.

US-Bangla Airlines – Well, one of the trusted and long term service providers in the market. They offer cheaper deals than others, and their service is satisfactory as well.

Novoair – For air service, Novoair is a place you are looking for. Frequent flights, excellent customer service, and cheaper rates make them different than the others.

Priceline – I like this website because it allows you to bid on hotels and save a lot more money than by booking directly. When used in conjunction with the bidding site Better Bidding, you can substantially lower the cost of your hotels — by as much as 60%.

How to Stay Safe in Bangladesh

Safety should be the utmost priority from the beginning. Take care of your belongings while roaming around streets, markets, or shops.

If any stranger offers any food, politely decline. They use medicines in foods that will fall you asleep, and they would take your belongings. Be careful while traveling in public transports.

There are bag snatchers or pick-pockets here and there. If you face any danger, file a complaint at the police station. The police are very helpful and cooperative.

Always keep your valuable papers like passport, personal diaries, or cash in a safe bag closer to you. It’s better not to roam around after 10 pm because there is petty theft all round. As long as you stay away from them, you are safe.

Travel to Bangladesh: VISA

First things first: Do check the current political situation and travel advisories of your country for Bangladesh before booking your trip. The country has experienced political turmoil in the past, and the situation can change quickly.

Visa on Arrival: Passports and Visas Passports must be valid for three months or more following departure. For entering the country, VISA is necessary. Members from certain countries can obtain a thirty-day visa when they arrive. Tourist and business VISA’s are issued besides this. The High Commission or Embassy handled the VISA application, takes three to seven days, or more gets the VISA.

Good to Know About Bangladesh