Bangladesh is in South Asia sometimes converging with Southeast Asia, bordering the Bay of Bengal to the south, mostly surrounded by India and bordering Myanmar in the southeast.
British India was partitioned by joint leaders of the Congress, All India-Muslim League and Britain in the summer of 1947, creating the commonwealth realms of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and a Republic of India. Bangladesh came into existence in 1972 when Bengali-speaking East Pakistan seceded from its union with Punjabi dominated West Pakistan after a 9 month bloody war. Although Bangladesh emerged as an independent country only in 1972, its history stretches back thousands of years and it has long been known as a crossroads of history and culture. Here you will find the world's longest sea beach, countless mosques, the largest mangrove forest in the world, interesting tribal villages and a wealth of elusive wild life. Although relatively impoverished compared to its burgeoning South Asian neighbour India, Bangladeshis are very friendly and hospitable people, putting personal hospitality before personal finances.
Ready-made garments, textiles, pharmaceuticals, agricultural goods, ship building and fishing are some of the largest industries. The gap between rich and poor is increasingly obvious and the middle-class is fast-shrinking, as in the rest of Asia, especially in cities such as Dhaka and Chittagong as you move around between the working class old city and affluent neighborhoods like Gulshan and Baridhara.
Bangladesh has a sub tropical monsoon climate. There are six seasons in a year; Winter (Dec-Jan), spring (Feb-Mar), Summer (Apr-May), Monsoon (June-July), Autumn (Aug-Sep) and Late Autumn (Oct-Nov). The average temperature across the country usually ranges between 9 C - 29 C in winter months and between 21 C - 34 C during summer months. Annual rainfall varies from 160 cm to 200 cm in the west, 200 cm to 400 cm in the south-east and 250 cm to 400 cm in the north-east. Cyclones above category three/four are uncommon (especially in the deep winter January through March)-- but while rare, can still bring widespread disruption as expected to infrastructure and power outages, especially in the coastal areas. The weather pattern is akin to the Gulf Coast in the United States (Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana).
The current weather can be seen by hitting the 'play' button on the following interactive map, Current Bangladesh Satellite Weather Radar
The country is primarily a low-lying plain of about 144,000 km2, situated on deltas of large rivers flowing from the Himalayas: the Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal. It’s fertile and mostly flat farmland and, with the exception of Chittagong Hill Tracts, rarely exceeds 10 meters above sea level, making it dangerously susceptible to a rise in sea level.
Highest point: Bijoy (1,231 meters).
The festival of Eid ul-Fitr is held after the end of Ramadan and may last several days. Exact dates depend on astronomical observations and may vary from country to country.
Bangladesh is a very small country, broken into 6 administrative divisions:
Most of these cities are also the capital of the division of the same name:
Citizens of all countries need visa to enter Bangladesh. They prefer you to obtain it in your home country, but it's also possible at a few embassies and consulates in neighboring countries. Visas are available on arrival only if the country you're a citizen of has no Bangladeshi diplomatic mission in your home country, or if you're a 'privileged investor' invited by a Bangladeshi export trade body. Be ready to show paperwork indicating invitations from the said government organizations.
If you apply in your home country you can usually obtain a 3 month visa if arriving by air, or 15 days if arriving at a land border crossing. Fees vary depending on nationality and length of visa requested. Citizens must obtain visas from their home countries in most cases unless an Embassy/High Commission does not exist there. In the latter case a Visa will be issued in Bangladesh on arrival.
For all other countries please see the visa fee list .
The Bangladesh High Commission in Kolkata, Circus Ave (Just east of AJC Bose Rd), +91 (0)33 2290 5208/5209, issues only 15 day visas, ranging from free for Indians to a hefty Rs 5000 (~$110) for American citizens. Applications are received at window #4 M-F from 9-11AM, and visas are generally ready the next afternoon. Bring 3 passport photos and copies of passport and Indian visa.
If you were a Bangladeshi citizen at some point in time and now hold a passport from a different country, you can contact your nearest Bangladesh High Commission for your "No Visa Required" stamp, which works as a permanent visa as long as your passport containing the stamp doesn't expire. This option is also available to the children of former Bangladeshi citizens.
Visa extensions are possible in Dhaka at the Immigration and Passport Office, Agargaon Rd. Fees are the same as a single-entry visa, even if just trying to expand your 15 day pittance into a full-fledged 30-90 day visa, making a sidetrip from India for longer than 15 days an expensive endeavor. If you want to stay only a little longer, it's better to just pay the overstay fee of Tk 200/day for up to 15 days, which grows substantially to Tk 500/day thereafter. Some of the smaller backwater crossings such as Tamabil may not even notice that you've overstayed if don't point it out yourself.
Shahjalal International Airport (formerly Zia International Airport) (IATA: DAC, ICAO: VGZR) (Bengali: শাহজালাল আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দর), in Dhaka is the main gateway to the country, though Chittagong and Sylhet also receive international flights.
The national carrier is Biman Air , connecting with a few hubs in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. It has a less-than-stellar reputation for punctuality, cleanliness and safety. It is now under re-organization and most international routes have been canceled -- so look at other airlines for now.
The private carrier GMG Airlines operates domestic and regional flights to Dhaka from Bangkok, Delhi, Dubai, Karachi, Kathmandu, Kolkata, and Kuala Lumpur, and is far better managed than Biman. It is the best local/regional carrier currently based in Dhaka and may start intercontinental routes soon.
Connecting from the Middle East:
There are direct flights to Dhaka from Qatar (Qatar Airways) and the United Arab Emirates or Etihad Airways ) through which you can connect to most Asian and European capitals and several North American hubs. Emirates, for instance, serves New York, Toronto and Houston from their Dubai (DXB) hub non-stop -- and then connects to Dhaka via a short four-hour hop.
Connecting from East Asia:
Hong Kong (Chek Lap Kok) and Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) are the most convenient nearby hubs to reach Bangladesh from Eastern Asia (Beijing, Tokyo) and points further East (Western United States).
Dragonair flies non-stop from Hong Kong to Dhaka (4~5 hours). Hong Kong as a major international hub has very good connections to the rest of the world.
Connecting from South East Asia:
AirAsia, the region's low-cost carrier, flies direct to Dhaka from Kuala Lumpur.
Connecting from North America (East Coast):
No direct flights to Dhaka yet. Cathay Pacific has a non-stop route from New York (JFK) to Hong Kong over the North Pole (CX830/831). Then you take a short Dragonair flight to Dhaka.
Continental flies to Hong Kong non-stop using the same 16-hour polar route, flying from Newark Liberty (New Jersey). Again - the connection is by Dragonair.
Connecting from North America (West Coast):
Cathay Pacific, Thai & Singapore Airlines now have non-stop flights from Hong Kong, Bangkok & Singapore (their respective hub cities) to Los Angeles. Singapore Airlines may also have a direct flight to San Francisco as well. These airlines all have direct connecting flights to Dhaka from their respective hubs.
Connecting from Australia or South Africa:
You're better off connecting via the Bangkok or Singapore hubs (which are served by almost every airline -- it seems).
Connecting from Western Europe:
British Airways no longer serves Dhaka non-stop from London. Air India now serves Dhaka-London via a short stopover in nearby Kolkata.
Connecting from the region (Indian subcontinent or China):
Connecting through Indian hubs (Delhi or Mumbai) to Dhaka, because of the proliferation of Indian airlines, can involve delays - though as of early 2008 these are not significant. A large number of Indian airlines (e.g. Jet Airways, through several code-share agreements) have direct flights to Europe, and provide convenient connections to Dhaka.
Some regional flights like those operated by Thai Airways stop in Chittagong or Sylhet en route to/from Dhaka.
Nearby regional destinations like Kathmandu (Nepal), Paro (Bhutan), Kunming (China) and all Indian cities are readily accessible from Dhaka in under three hours and are served by a great number of private airlines. The most exotic destination from Dhaka is to Paro (Bhutan's Capital) and is served by Druk-Air , the national Bhutanese airline on Sundays (9:00 AM flight taking an hour). The approach to Paro Airport (PBH) is an adventure in itself.
Kunming is the other newest exotic addition to Dhaka's air-linked cities and has one flight a week (Thursdays). China Eastern Air Flight 2035 arrives in Dhaka from Kunming (KMG) at 12:40 PM. Flight 2036 then departs at 1:40 PM and takes two and a half hours to reach Kunming - a relaxed hinterland Chinese city which is the capital of Yunnan province. At present (November 2007) this is the only direct air-link to the Chinese mainland from Bangladesh (other than Hong Kong).
The only open land borders are those with India. No land crossing is possible to Myanmar (occasionally Bangladesh passport holders are allowed to cross from Teknaf, though this changes regularly).
From India there are a number of land entry points. The most common way is the regular comfortable a/c buses from Kolkata to Dhaka via the Haridaspur / Benapole border post. Private Bangladeshi bus companies Shohagh , Green Line , Shyamoli among others operate daily Kolkata-Dhaka-Kolkata bus services. Govt. buses run under the label of the state owned West Bengal Surface Transport Service Corporation (WBSTSC) and the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC). WBSTSC and BRTC both operate buses from Kolkata (Karunamoyee international bus terminus in the Salt Lake neighborhood) every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 5:30AM and 8:30AM, and 12:30PM while from Dhaka they leave on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00AM and 7:30AM. The normal journey time is around 12 hours with a one-way fare of Rs550 or BDT600-800, roughly $8-12. If you're headed only to Haridaspur the fare is Rs86 (2.5 hours). Timings will vary, please confirm after arrival in Kolkata (Calcutta).
"Shayamoli Paribhahan" has a bus service from Siliguri to Dhaka.Phone# +8802-8360241, +8801716942154. It cost around 1000/=(may increase later) Taka for one way ticket.
There is a regular bus service between Dhaka and Agartala, capital of India's Tripura state. Two BRTC buses leave daily from Dhaka and connect with the Tripura Road Transport Corporation vehicles, running six days a week with a roundtrip fare of BDT600 ($10). There is only one halt at Ashuganj in Bangladesh during the journey. Call +880 2 8360241 for schedule.
Other entry points from India are Hili, Chilahati / Haldibari and Banglaband border posts for entry from West Bengal; Tamabil / Dawki border post for a route between Shillong (Meghalaya) and Sylhet in Bangladesh, and some others with lesser known routes from north-eastern Indian regions.
Train services from India were suspended for 42 years, but the Maitree Express started running again between Dhaka to Kolkata in April 2008. The service is biweekly: A Bangledeshi train leaves Dhaka every Saturday, returning on Sunday, while an Indian train leaves Kolkata on Saturdays and returns the next day.
Air travel in Bangladesh is very affordable and convenient.
There are airports in all of the division capitals and in Jessore, Cox's Bazar and some other small cities. Most of the domestic airports are served by either Biman Air , the national airline, or GMG Airlines , their private competitor.
Biman had the interesting distinction of flying the half-hour Dhaka-Chittagong (DAC-CGP) leg (~250 miles) on DC-10's and Airbus A-310's - both large wide-body jets.
United Airways , Regent Airways and Royal Bengal Airlines are three private operators offering excellent domestic and international flights. Regent is a new operator in 2010 and has new aircraft. Most of the private operators use the Bombardier DASH-8.
There are quite a few rotor-wing craft services available for hire in Bangladesh for tourism, MEDEVAC or Film-footage services. Any reputable travel agent will know full details. As of now - one service "ATL" is at, ATL or at ATL .
Local Bangladeshi buses are generally crowded, often to the extent of people riding on the bus steps (entrance) and sometimes even the roof. The state run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) buses usually fall into this category. Avoid all of the low cost buses - they are easy to spot by their poor condition. There are daily fatal accidents involving them.
However, there are luxurious air conditioned bus services connecting major cities and popular tourist destinations. Green Line , Shyamoli , SilkLine and Shohagh usually have a couple different offices dotted around the cities they serve. Greenline has a few Scania buses running between Dhaka, Chittagong and Cox's Bazar that offer a level of comfort you've probably never seen in a bus before - they cost about 1/3 more than their Volvo buses, but are comparable to business class on an airplane, at least.
Driving in Bangladesh is not for the faint hearted - the road network is fairly good, but dodging irrational bus drivers and weaving in and out of rickshaws isn't easy on the nerves. Driving standards are some of the worst in the world. Traffic in Dhaka has reached unimaginable proportions, and self-driving is definitely not advised. Parking places are non-existent. Night time driving is substantially more dangerous as trucks/buses often ignore smaller cars. It is highly advised to get a local driver.
Bangladesh Railways is the state and only train operator. The ticket prices are reasonable and usually similar to bus ticket prices and sometimes even cheaper. However, due to the roundabout routes and tricky river crossings, the journey durations are usually much longer. Tickets can be booked over the phone, though unless you speak Bengali you're likely to get better results at one of the computerized station booking offices.
Trains are generally comfortable, with more leg room than buses. Though the carriages are generally not very clean, the AC and 1st class seats are manageable. Sulob class is the highest 2nd class ticket, with reserved seating and not much different from 1st class (except in price).
Kamlapur Rail Station in Dhaka is large and modern. It serves all major cities but due to the existence of broad gauge and meter gauge tracks around the country it may be required to change trains en route.
There are over 230 mighty and small rivers throughout the country, and boats and ferries are an integral part of travel for locals and tourists alike. A journey along the river in any mode is probably the best way to see Bangladesh. There are a number of private tour operators offering river sightseeing trips of various lengths, or using the ferries to get between cities is a great way to see the country at a moderate pace.
The Rocket Steamer service connects Dhaka and Khulna via Barisal, and is a fantastic way to enjoy riverine Bangladesh, for those who prefer the scenic route. The 4 ferries are operated by BIWTC and run several times per week in each direction. It's advisable to book several days in advance if possible. While there are several different classes it's unlikely that you will end up in anything but 1st or 2nd class. Both of these consist of around 10 small berths on the upper deck of the boat with 2 beds each and a sink (no doubt doubling as a urinal), and fairly clean shared bathrooms. There's a central dining/sitting room in each class with a chef cooking Bengali meals and the odd fish-and-chips or an omelette for around Tk 50-150. Cheaper food can be bought at the vendors in the lower classes on the bottom level. First class is at the front of the boat, with the bow made into a nice sitting area. If you're traveling single you must book 2 beds if you want a berth guaranteed to yourself in either class, though unless the boat is completely full it's unlikely they'll put someone in a foreigner's room even if you just pay for one. The full journey takes anywhere from 26-30 hours and costs Tk 1010/610 in first/second class. It's best avoided during the rainy seasons and during holidays when the launches get over crowded with home-returning city dwellers. The more eco-friendly may prefer to take their trash off with them: otherwise, it's likely to end up in the river at the end of the journey.
BIWTC also operates many other more basic ferries that may be useful for smaller distances.
Bangladesh as a vacation land has many facets. Her tourist attractions include archaeological sites, historic mosques and monuments, resorts, beaches, picnic spots, forest and wildlife. Bangladesh offers opportunities for angling, water-skiing, river cruising, hiking, rowing, surfing, yachting and sea bathing as well as bringing one in close touch with Mother Nature. She is also rich in wildlife and game birds.
The national language is Bengali (Bangla) and is spoken everywhere. It's an Indo-Aryan language derived from Prakit, Pali and Sanskrit and written in its own script. Many Bangladeshis understand only limited English such as basic affirmatives, negatives, and some numbers. This is especially so in rural areas and among the lower socio-economic classes. Learning a few Bengali words ahead of your trip will prove very useful.
Two centuries of British colonisation lead people to identify most foreigners as either British or Americans, and to view them with curiosity. The first question you will probably be asked is "What is your country?" ("Desh kothay?" in Bangla). If hawkers or rickshaw-wallahs are over-zealous in selling you their products or services, simply say "Amar dorkar nai" ("I don't need [this item]") or "Lagbey nah" ("No need") as a colloquial way of saying "No, thanks."
If you don't wish to give money to beggars and other unfortunates, simply tell them "Maaf koro" (with informal you) or "Maaf koren" (with polite/formal you), which means "Pardon me"; or you can apply a tricky concept by saying "Amar bangthi poisha nai", meaning "I have no change." Above all, if you're refusing a service or product, don't linger. Walk on as you say these phrases. Otherwise, your lingering may be misinterpreted by peddlers as your uncertainty about refusal.
There's a lot happening around the city. Like any large metropolis there are dramas, concerts and performances galore -- both of the western and local variety. Yes it is possible to end up at a live rave event with thrash music in Dhaka!!
What will it cost?
The currency of Bangladesh is the Taka (Tk). As of September 2010, US$1 = Tk 69.7.
Bangladesh is one of the largest ready-made garment manufacturers in the world, exporting clothing for famous brands such as Nike, Adidas and Levis. Though these products are usually not meant for sale in the local markets, they can be found in abundance in famous shopping areas such as Banga Bazaar and Dhaka College.
In most stores, prices are not fixed. Even most stores that display 'fixed-price' label tolerate bargaining. Prices can thus be lowered quite considerably. If bargaining is not your strong point ask a local in the vicinity politely what they think you should pay. Besides there are loads of handicraft, boutique shops. There are lots of shopping malls in and around Dhaka and Chittagong.
Aarong is one of the largest and most popular handicraft and clothing outlets with stores in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Khulna. It's a great place for souvenirs or to pick up a stylish kurta or salwar kameez at fixed prices.
Women can find a cotton shalwar kameez for around Tk 400 in a market or Tk 800-1500 in a shop. Silk is more expensive.
ATMs can be found in most metropolitan areas. Dutch Bangla Bank has the largest ATM network in Bangladesh and finding one isn't hard (there is one at the airports of both Dhaka and Chittagong). These ATMs accept all Mastercard and Visa credit/debit cards. Most international banks in the country such as Standard Chartered and Citibank also rely on the Dutch-Bangla Bank Nexus™ ATM network for their own clients. HSBC ATMs are located at most hotels but accept only Visa debit/credit cards and HSBC GlobalAccess™ cards (no Mastercard).
Bangladesh is a fish lover's paradise. Traditionally most of the country lives off of the once-bountiful fresh-water river fish, especially the officially designated "national fish" hilsa. The hilsa is a flavourful but very boney (with many fine bones) fish; if you can master eating this fish, consider yourself on par with the locals in fish-eating and deboning expertise. Various recipes exist for cooking hilsa, suitable for all seasons and all regions of the country. Mutton is also popular, as in most Muslim countries, as is decidedly lean or hard chicken. Rice is almost always the staple side dish.
Mixed vegetable curries are plentiful - potato, eggplant, squash and tomatoes are the staple ingredients. Gourds, tubers and certain root vegetables are common. In the major cities (Dhaka, Chittagong, etc.), you will find a larger variety of vegetables than in rural areas.
The idea of salad varies from the international standard. In Bangladesh, salad has not been extensively developed, and "kacha" (raw) vegetables are generally not deemed very appetizing or palatable (with the exception of cucumbers), especially in more rural or suburban areas and in less Westernized households. Traditionally, most salad vegetables (carrots, celery, lettuce, paprika, etc.) were not even grown in most agrarian households, so the use of these vegetables was extremely rare. Hence, borrowing from the Mughal traditions, a few round slices of onions and cucumbers, spiced with salt, chilies, etc., is often treated as a full plate of salad.
Dal is usually a given side dish or meal course for all households, even the poorest or most rural (who often cannot afford any other daily meal courses). Most Bangladeshi dal varies from its West Bengali counterpart, and even more so from its other Indian counterparts, primarily because it is more watery and less concentrated or spiced. An easy analogy would be that whereas most Indian dal is more like thick stew, most Bangladeshi dal is more like light soup or broth. The Hindus of Bangladesh have greater varieties of Dal recipes, just as they have greater varieties of vegetarian dishes. The Muslims have thicker and more spiced varieties of dal. Dal recipes vary regionally in Bangladesh, so be careful not to over-generalize after a brief experience.
Boiled eggs (dhim) are a popular snack (Tk 3-5), and fresh fruit is abundant, such as bananas (Tk 2/ea), apples (chinese, Tk 80-100/kg), oranges, grapes, pomegranates and papayas. Delicious and diverse, mangos (Tk 50-150/kg) are a very popular fruit throughout Bangladesh.
Fast food restaurants and bakeries serving burgers, kababs, spring rolls, vegetable patties and just about anything else you can throw in a deep fryer are dotted around most cities. Most items will run around Tk 10/each.Bangladesh also has international fast food chains like Pizza Hut, KFC, A&W, Nando's.
To enjoy the tastes of Dhaka one needs to go to old Dhaka. The Haji biriyani, Nanna biriyani are a must. Also Al Razzak restaurant is famous for its Shahi food. In order to savour local food one must go to Korai Gost at Dhanmondi Satmosjid road, Kasturi restaurant at Gulshan & Purana Paltan area. No one should leave Bangladesh without tasting the Phuchka and Chatpati available in the streets of Dhaka,Chittagong. Also there are loads of Chinese and Thai restaurants in Bangladesh which serve localized chinese and thai dishes.Bailey road in Dhaka is the unofficial food street of the nation followed by Satmoshjid Road.Dhaka also has Japanese, Korean and Indian restaurants located mostly in Gulshan area. For world class Ice creams do visit Moven pick, Club gelato in Gulshan. To taste Kebab, Babecue tonight in Dhanmondi is the best followed by Koyla in Gulshan.
Most Bangladeshis eat with their right hand as in neighboring countries. Never use your left hand to bring food to your mouth, though it's ok to use it for bringing a glass to your mouth or to serve food from a common dish with a spoon. Every restaurant will have a handwashing station (sometimes just a pitcher of water and a bowl if they don't have running water), and you should use this before and after the meal. In order to eat with your hand, rake in a little portion of the rice and a bit of the curry to an open space on your plate (usually create a bit of space on the side of the plate closest to you, sufficiently inward from the rim but NOT in the center of the plate), and mix the rice and curry with your fingers. Then, create a little ball or mound (it should be compact and modestly sized, but does not need to be perfectly shaped or anything--function over form!) of the mixture and pick it up with all your fingers, and scoop in into your mouth. Your fingers should not enter your mouth in the process, and your upper fingers and palms should not get dirty either. Only toddlers and foreigners/tourists are exempted from these rules. It doesn't matter a whole lot if you don't get it all exactly right, but know that the entire restaurant is watching and waiting to see if you do. The use of cutlery (except serving spoons for common dishes) is lacking in rural areas and poorer households, and basic cutlery (i.e.: spoons, sometimes a fork) is sometimes available in urban restaurants and more Westernized, urban households. However, the use of hands is a more humble and culturally respectful gesture, especially from a tourist.
Table-sharing is acceptable and even expected in most establishments, with the exception of nicer urban restaurants. Many places have separate curtained-off booths for women and families, a nice reprieve from prying eyes.
Nightlife in Bangladesh is nearly non-existent. Being a Muslim country, alcohol is frowned upon and found mostly in the international clubs and pricier restaurants in Dhaka and in some restaurants in tourist centers like Cox's Bazar. In Teknaf and on Saint Martins Island you may stumble upon the occasional beer smuggled in from Myanmar. Some of the nicest hotels in the cities have fully equipped bars with exaggerated prices to match. However, lack of commercial availability of liquor should not always be confused with cultural aversion to alcohol in mainstream society. You'll likely find that Bengali Christians and many urbanized, upper-class Muslims privately have a more liberal, Westernized attitude toward social consumption of alcohol. However most 5 Star Hotels like Radisson, Sheraton. Shonargoan, Regency etc and few clubs in Gulshan are arranging DJ / Dance parties on frequent basis. Foreigners may bump into one of those parties if they are lucky. Usual entrance fees of such parties aare around BDT 2000/- (USD 30). Young people of upper class and higher uper class of the society are the main portion of the formed crowd. How ever in some places, western clothed hired companions are available. Foreigners looking for a clean vacation should stay away from them using common sense. Liquires does not flow freely in these parties most of the time.
Coffee is -- like the rest of the world, a perennial middle-class 'Adda' (gossip) accompaniment in this city. A favourite haunt for coffee-lovers (those with a 'Starbucks' bent) is 'Coffeeworld' , Dhaka branch addresses (about seven so far) given here, Dhaka Coffeeworld joints . Most coffee aficionados here rate their 'Caramel Macchiato' better than the plain Starbucks variety and cheaper to boot (about US$2)!
Fruit juices are plentiful, varied and delicious, though be wary of watered down or icy drinks and dirty blenders. Raw sugarcane juice is widely available during the hot season, and usually a safe, sanitary bet. Other safe bets are coconuts, popular in the southeast tourists spots like Cox's Bazar and Saint Martins Island.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
There's a broad range of hotels in the country, from economy hotels costing $1 per night (sometimes filthy and sometimes reluctant to take foreigners) up to 5-star hotels in some of the major cities, including chains like Radisson Dhaka , Sheraton Dhaka ,Westin Dhaka .Another comfortable place is Lakeshore Hotels and Apartments.
Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, .
Bangladesh is a country full of friendly and open minded people. But being an underdeveloped country with a high poverty rate, there are some impoverished or bad-natured people who may find ways to exploit a foreigner/tourist. Please stick to common sense precautions, such as not walking around unnecessarily or alone after dark. Also, if you do find yourself in trouble, create some noise and draw the attention of others who are almost certain to come to your aid. When traveling by rickshaw, CNG (auto-rickshaw) or bus, be careful to keep valuables close at hand. Don't wear expensive jewelry without precaution; most middle-class locals now simply wear imitation gold/silver and rhinestones/clay and beaded pendants.
The clothing of local women varies, according to religion and degree of religious conservatism, socio-political climate (varies from time to time), geographic region, and socio-economic status. In general, as a female tourist, it is wisest to wear at least the salwar kameez, which is both easy to wear and relatively versatile and functional, while being generally culturally respectful. However, most of Bangladesh is a relatively open-minded Muslim country, and the youth in major cities (e.g.: Dhaka, Chittagong, etc.) are quite Westernized.
Nationwide strikes or “hartals” are widely employed as a means of political expression in Bangladesh. The political opposition over the past several years has called a number of these hartals, resulting in the virtual shutdown of transportation and commerce, and sometimes attacks on individuals who do not observe the hartals. Clashes between rival political groups during hartals have resulted in deaths and injuries. Visitors should avoid all political protests, demonstrations, and marches. During hartals, visitors should exercise caution in all areas and remain indoors whenever possible. Hartals, demonstrations, and other protests can occur at ANY time.
It's best to not eat, drink or smoke anything offered to you by strangers - there's a growing problem in many Asian countries of drugging, and you're likely to see signs warning you against it on buses, trains, etc. That's not to say you shouldn't take someone up on their offer for a home cooked meal, but you may want to think twice about that piece of candy the person in the seat next to you just handed to you. Also, be careful about the sanitation procedures of local street food and snacks.
Speeding bus/coaches/trucks cause many deaths. Road signs and traffic lights are often ignored by cars, and traffic jams are always a given, making it very difficult for pedestrians to travel. It is wisest NOT to drive yourself or to walk major roads alone. Consequently, road travel (if absolutely necessary) is best undertaken with an experienced local driver in a good vehicle with safety belts. Use rickshaws with precaution; although a very authentic local drive, it is also the most dangerous vehicle for transport, especially on major routes (now being banned).
Amar dike takaben na!
Foreign tourists are still very much a novelty to many Bangladeshis - kids see you as a toy to play with, while others see you as their opportunity to practice their English with endless enthusiasm. Most however, are content to just look... and look... and look. If it becomes too much, Amar dike takaben na roughly means "please stop staring at me!!"... but use the !! sparingly, since most Bangladeshis will think they are favouring you by admiring you so much publicly.
Most Bangladeshis are religious but fairly liberal and secular points of view are not uncommon. The people are in general very hospitable, and a few precautions will keep it this way:
The country code for Bangladesh is 880. Add a 0 to make a call to any Bangladesh city or region outside the national capital.
It is not possible to access international information (directory assistance) from within Bangladesh. If you need international directory assistance, check the Internet telephone directories.
Landlines are a rarity in Bangladesh, and aren't reliable even when you can find them. Bangladesh Telephone Company Ltd. (BTCL or formerly BTTB, known generally as T&T) is the public sector phone company and the only landline service in the country.
Mobile phones are a better bet and widely available. In most towns they'll be your only option, and many shop owners let theirs double as PCO's / ISD's. Banglalink and Grameenphone are the most widely available, followed by Citycell , Aktel , Teletalk and Warid . Except Citycell all work on the GSM network and offer prepaid packages at reasonable prices – usually about Tk 140 ($2) to get started. International calls are possible, and often more reasonably priced than you would expect if you're calling the US or major European countries although prices can rise drastically as you get more off the beaten path. E-ISD facility offered by different mobile phone service providers can reduce the cost significantly. For the E-ISD service dial 012 instead of 00/+.
Internet is available in most of the larger towns, with prices hovering around Tk 15-20/hour. Most are on broadband connections, but speed does not meet international standards. WiMAX service is now available from some internet service providers. You can also find WiFi connectivity in some places around the big cities.
Internet calls may be be possible, though the Information Ministry has outlawed them. Try Dialpad , Hotelphone , Mediaring or Skype . You'll likely need your own microphone/headphone.