Bangladesh Travel Guide – Everything You Need to Know

Welcome to the captivating world of tourism in Bangladesh, a land of natural wonders, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. Nestled in South Asia, Bangladesh offers a unique blend of picturesque landscapes, from the world’s largest river delta to lush green hills and pristine beaches. Rich in history and tradition, this country invites you to explore its vibrant markets, taste its delectable cuisine, and immerse yourself in the beauty of its landscapes. Join us on a journey through the heart of Bangladesh’s tourism treasures.

What’s the Best Time to Visit? 📅

The best time to visit Bangladesh as a tourist depends on your preferences for weather and the specific activities you plan to engage in. Bangladesh experiences three primary seasons: winter, summer, and monsoon. Here’s a breakdown of the best time to visit based on each season:

  1. Winter (November to February):
    • The winter months are considered the best time to visit Bangladesh for most tourists.
    • The weather is cool and dry, with average temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F).
    • This is an ideal time for outdoor activities, exploring historical sites, and enjoying the natural beauty of the countryside.
  2. Spring (March to April):
    • Spring offers pleasant weather, with temperatures gradually warming up.
    • It’s an excellent time for cultural and religious festivals, including Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New Year) and traditional fairs.
  3. Summer (May to October):
    • The summer months are characterized by hot and humid weather, with temperatures exceeding 30°C (86°F) in many parts of the country.
    • While this period may not be as comfortable for outdoor activities, it’s the best time for visiting the hill stations of Sylhet and Chittagong Hill Tracts, where the climate is more temperate.
    • The summer months also coincide with the monsoon season, which brings heavy rainfall to much of the country, causing flooding in some areas. If you plan to visit during the monsoon, be prepared for wet conditions.
  4. Monsoon (June to September):
    • The monsoon season can be challenging for tourism due to heavy rains and potential flooding in low-lying areas.
    • However, the lush landscapes and vibrant greenery during this time can be appealing to some travelers.
    • If you plan to visit during the monsoon, prioritize destinations less affected by flooding, such as the hill areas.

Keep in mind that weather conditions can vary across different regions of Bangladesh, so it’s essential to consider the specific locations you plan to visit. Additionally, check for any travel advisories, as heavy rains and flooding can impact transportation and accessibility in some areas during the monsoon season. Overall, the winter months offer the most comfortable and enjoyable weather for exploring Bangladesh’s diverse attractions.

What’s the Best Way to Get Around? 🚌

Getting around Bangladesh as a tourist can be an adventure in itself. The country offers various modes of transportation, each with its own advantages and considerations. Here are some of the best ways to get around Bangladesh:

  1. Domestic Flights:
    • Domestic flights can be the quickest way to cover long distances between major cities like Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet.
    • Biman Bangladesh Airlines and other local carriers operate domestic flights.
  2. Buses:
    • Buses are the primary mode of intercity travel in Bangladesh and are widely available.
    • There are different types of buses, ranging from basic to luxury, with varying levels of comfort and speed.
    • Traveling by bus is an affordable option, but be prepared for potentially long and bumpy rides, especially on rural routes.
  3. Rickshaws and CNG Auto-Rickshaws:
    • In cities and towns, cycle rickshaws and CNG (compressed natural gas) auto-rickshaws are common means of short-distance transport.
    • They are an excellent way to navigate congested urban areas and explore local neighborhoods.
  4. Trains:
    • Bangladesh has an extensive railway network that connects major cities and towns.
    • Trains offer a comfortable and relatively affordable way to travel, especially for longer distances.
    • Consider booking tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
  5. Boats and Ferries:
    • Bangladesh is known for its extensive network of rivers, and boats and ferries are common modes of transport in riverine areas.
    • Consider taking a river cruise or a ferry ride to explore scenic riverways and visit riverine villages.
  6. Cycle Tours:
    • In some cities and rural areas, you can rent bicycles to explore at your own pace, providing an eco-friendly and immersive way to experience the countryside.
  7. Taxi and Ride-Sharing Apps:
    • In major cities like Dhaka and Chittagong, you can use traditional taxis or ride-sharing apps like Uber and Pathao for convenient and reasonably priced transportation.
  8. Walking:
    • In cities and towns, walking can be an excellent way to explore local markets, historic sites, and neighborhoods.
    • Be prepared for crowded and chaotic streets, especially in urban centers.
  9. CNG-Run Three-Wheelers:
    • In some cities, CNG-run three-wheelers (similar to tuk-tuks) are available for short trips within the city.
    • Negotiate fares in advance or use ride-sharing apps when available.
  10. Renting a Car:
    • While not the most common choice for tourists, you can rent a car with a driver for added convenience and flexibility, especially for longer journeys or remote destinations.

Keep in mind that traffic congestion can be a challenge in major cities like Dhaka, and road conditions may vary. Always plan your routes in advance and consider the mode of transportation that best suits your itinerary and comfort level. Be aware of local customs and safety precautions when traveling in Bangladesh.

What’s the Official Language?

Official Language: The official language of Bangladesh is Bengali, also known as Bangla.

Here are some basic Bengali words and phrases that can be useful for tourists in Bangladesh:

  1. Helloহ্যালো (hyālō)
  2. Good morningসুপ্রভাত (suprabhat)
  3. Good afternoonশুভ অপরাহ্ণ (shubh aparahn)
  4. Good eveningশুভ সন্ধ্যা (shubh sondhya)
  5. Good nightশুভ রাত্রি (shubh raatri)
  6. Yesহ্যাঁ (hyā) / হাঁ (hān)
  7. Noনা (nā)
  8. Pleaseদয়া করে (dayā karē)
  9. Thank youধন্যবাদ (dhōnyabād)
  10. Excuse me / Sorryদুঃখিত (dukkhita)
  11. How are you?আপনি কেমন আছেন? (āpni kēman āchēn?)
  12. I’m lostআমি হারিয়ে পড়েছি (āmi hāriẏē poṛēchi)
  13. Where is…?… কোথায়? (… kōthāẏ?)
  14. How much does this cost?এটি কত খরচ হয়? (ēṭi kata kharōch hay?)
  15. I need helpআমার সাহায্য দরকার (āmār sāhāyya darakār)
  16. I’m a touristআমি একজন পর্যটক (āmi ēkjana paryatak)
  17. Can you recommend a restaurant?আপনি কোন রেস্তোরাঁ সুপারিশ করতে পারেন? (āpni kōna rēstōraṁ supāriś karatē pārēn?)
  18. Bathroomবাথরুম (bātharum)
  19. Waterপানি (pani)
  20. Foodখাবার (khābār)
  21. Hotelহোটেল (hōṭēla)
  22. Airportবিমানবন্দর (bimānabandara)
  23. Bus stationবাস স্থান (bāsa sthāna)
  24. Train stationরেলওয়ে স্থান (rēlaw’ē sthāna)
  25. Taxiট্যাক্সি (ṭẏākṣi)
  26. Hospitalহাসপাতাল (hāspātāla)
  27. Policeপুলিশ (puliś)

Learning a few basic Bengali phrases can be a great way to connect with locals and enhance your travel experience in Bangladesh. While English is widely spoken, making an effort to communicate in the local language is appreciated by the people you meet.

Where to Stay? 🏨

As a tourist in Bangladesh, you’ll find a variety of accommodation options to suit your preferences and budget. Here are some recommended places to stay while visiting Bangladesh:

  1. Dhaka:
    • Gulshan and Banani: These upscale neighborhoods in Dhaka are known for their luxury hotels, including international chains like Radisson Blu and Westin.
    • Old Dhaka: If you want to experience the historic side of the city, consider staying in the old part of Dhaka. There are heritage hotels like Pan Pacific Sonargaon and budget options as well.
  2. Cox’s Bazar:
    • Known for having the world’s longest natural sea beach, Cox’s Bazar offers a range of beachfront hotels and resorts. Popular options include the Hotel Sea Crown and Sayeman Beach Resort.
  3. Chittagong (Chattogram):
    • As Bangladesh’s second-largest city, Chittagong has several hotels catering to both business and leisure travelers. The Peninsula Chittagong and The Agrabad Hotel are well-regarded options.
  4. Sylhet:
    • Sylhet is famous for its lush green tea gardens and scenic landscapes. Stay in a tea estate bungalow for a unique experience or opt for comfortable hotels like Rose View Hotel.
  5. Cox’s Bazar:
    • Known for having the world’s longest natural sea beach, Cox’s Bazar offers a range of beachfront hotels and resorts. Popular options include the Hotel Sea Crown and Sayeman Beach Resort.
  6. Sundarbans:
    • For those exploring the Sundarbans mangrove forest, you can find eco-friendly lodges and boat accommodations that offer a unique and immersive experience.
  7. Sreemangal:
    • If you’re a tea enthusiast, Sreemangal in the Sylhet Division is the “Tea Capital of Bangladesh.” You can stay in tea garden bungalows or guesthouses for an authentic experience.
  8. Rajshahi:
    • Rajshahi, known for its archaeological and historical sites, offers various hotels and guesthouses, including the Parjatan Hotel and Hotel Nice International.
  9. Kuakata:
    • Kuakata, known for its panoramic beach and sunrise/sunset views, offers a range of hotels and resorts along the coast.
  10. Bandarban:
    • In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bandarban offers guesthouses, eco-lodges, and homestays for those exploring the beautiful hill landscapes.
  11. Khulna:
    • Khulna serves as a gateway to the Sundarbans. There are hotels and guesthouses available for travelers before embarking on a Sundarbans tour.
  12. Barisal:
    • In southern Bangladesh, Barisal has hotels and guesthouses for those exploring the region’s rivers and waterways.

When booking accommodation in Bangladesh, consider factors such as location, budget, and the type of experience you want. It’s advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Additionally, check reviews and ratings from fellow travelers to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

What to Eat? 🍽️

Bangladeshi cuisine is known for its diverse flavors, generous use of spices, and a rich culinary heritage influenced by South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian cultures. When visiting Bangladesh as a tourist, here are some must-try dishes and foods to savor:

  1. Biriyani: Bangladesh is famous for its fragrant and flavorful biriyani. It’s a rice dish cooked with aromatic spices and typically served with tender pieces of marinated meat (chicken, beef, or mutton) or fish.
  2. Hilsa Fish: Hilsa is considered the king of fish in Bangladesh, and it’s often prepared in various ways, including as jhal (spicy curry) or paturi (wrapped in banana leaves and grilled).
  3. Pitha: Pitha are traditional Bengali rice cakes, often sweet or savory. They come in various shapes and flavors, including patishapta, bhapa pitha, and sandesh.
  4. Rice and Fish Curry: A staple of Bangladeshi cuisine, rice served with a variety of fish curries is a delicious and comforting meal.
  5. Fuchka (Pani Puri): These crispy, hollow shells filled with a mixture of spicy tamarind water, mashed potatoes, and chickpeas are popular street snacks.
  6. Halim: A hearty and nutritious dish made from wheat, lentils, and various spices, often enjoyed during special occasions.
  7. Shingara: These deep-fried, triangular pastries are filled with spiced potatoes, peas, and sometimes minced meat.
  8. Bhapa Ilish: This is a traditional preparation of steamed hilsa fish with mustard paste and spices, creating a unique and flavorful dish.
  9. Kacchi Biryani: A distinct version of biriyani where marinated meat is layered with rice and cooked together, infusing the flavors.
  10. Chingri Malai Curry: A creamy and mildly spiced curry made with prawns (shrimp) cooked in coconut milk.
  11. Mithai (Sweets): Bangladeshi sweets are a treat for those with a sweet tooth. Try roshogolla, sandesh, ras malai, and chomchom.
  12. Luchi with Alur Dom: Luchi are deep-fried, fluffy bread, and alur dom is a spicy potato curry. This combination makes for a popular breakfast or snack.
  13. Kacchi Beef Curry: For adventurous eaters, try beef curry made with marinated raw beef cooked with spices and herbs.
  14. Bhorta: Bhorta refers to mashed dishes, and they can be made with various ingredients like eggplant, spinach, or fish, mixed with spices and mustard oil.
  15. Machher Jhol: A simple and spicy fish stew often served with rice, common in Bengali households.
  16. Chitol Maach: This is a unique and delicious fish known for its sweet taste and distinct flavor.
  17. Samosa: Similar to Indian samosas, these savory pastries are filled with spiced potatoes and sometimes minced meat.
  18. Desserts: Apart from traditional sweets, explore desserts like firni (rice pudding), kheer (rice porridge), and shahi tukra (bread pudding).
  19. Bhuna Khichuri: A rich and hearty dish made from rice, lentils, and meat or vegetables, cooked with spices and ghee.
  20. Panta Ilish: A traditional Bengali dish made with fermented rice and hilsa fish, often enjoyed during the Bengali New Year (Pohela Boishakh).

When trying these dishes, consider the level of spiciness, as Bangladeshi cuisine can be quite hot. Also, don’t forget to pair your meals with refreshing beverages like lassi or borhani to balance the flavors. Enjoy exploring the diverse and delectable food scene in Bangladesh!

What to See? 🔍

Bangladesh offers a wealth of natural beauty, historical sites, and cultural landmarks for tourists to explore. Here are some must-see places in Bangladesh:

  1. Sundarbans Mangrove Forest: Explore the world’s largest mangrove forest, home to the Bengal tiger. Take a boat tour through its winding waterways and witness diverse wildlife, including crocodiles and various bird species.
  2. Cox’s Bazar: Visit the picturesque Cox’s Bazar Beach, the world’s longest natural sea beach, known for its golden sands and stunning sunsets. Nearby, you can also explore Inani Beach and Himchari National Park.
  3. Srimangal: Experience the serene beauty of Srimangal, known as the “Tea Capital of Bangladesh.” Visit tea gardens, sample fresh tea, and explore the Lawachara National Park.
  4. Sylhet: Discover the scenic landscapes of Sylhet, including the Ratnodweep, Jaflong, and Lalakhal areas, famous for their tea gardens, waterfalls, and crystal-clear rivers.
  5. Kuakata: Known as the “Daughter of the Sea,” Kuakata offers stunning sunrise and sunset views over the Bay of Bengal. It’s a peaceful and less crowded beach destination.
  6. Paharpur: Explore the ruins of the ancient Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and learn about its historical significance.
  7. Sonargaon: Visit the historic city of Sonargaon, home to ancient buildings, museums, and the Folk Art and Craft Museum, showcasing traditional Bangladeshi art and culture.
  8. Mahasthangarh: Discover the archaeological site of Mahasthangarh, one of the earliest urban settlements in Bangladesh, known for its ancient ruins and historical importance.
  9. Rangamati: Explore the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, where you can enjoy boat rides on Kaptai Lake, visit tribal villages, and experience the picturesque landscapes.
  10. Cox’s Bazar Marine Aquarium: Learn about marine life at this fascinating aquarium located in Cox’s Bazar, featuring a variety of aquatic species.
  11. Lalbagh Fort: Explore Lalbagh Fort in Dhaka, an incomplete Mughal-era fort featuring intricate architecture, gardens, and a museum showcasing historical artifacts.
  12. Ahsan Manzil: Visit the pink palace, Ahsan Manzil, in Dhaka, which served as the residence of the Nawabs of Dhaka and is now a museum showcasing colonial-era artifacts.
  13. Sixty Dome Mosque: Explore the historic Sixty Dome Mosque (Shat Gombuj Masjid) in Bagerhat, an architectural marvel and UNESCO World Heritage site.
  14. Baitul Mukarram National Mosque: Visit Dhaka’s largest mosque, known for its impressive modern architecture and significance in Islamic culture.
  15. Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban: Marvel at the striking National Parliament House in Dhaka, designed by the renowned architect Louis Kahn.
  16. Rajshahi Silk City: Explore Rajshahi’s silk industry and visit the Varendra Research Museum to learn about the region’s cultural heritage.
  17. Puthia Temple Complex: Discover a collection of ornate Hindu temples in Puthia, known for their intricate terracotta decorations and architecture.
  18. Pahela Boishakh Celebrations: If you visit during the Bengali New Year (Pohela Boishakh), join in the vibrant celebrations, including colorful processions and traditional fairs.

These are just a few of the many remarkable places to visit in Bangladesh. Whether you’re interested in natural wonders, historical sites, or cultural experiences, Bangladesh offers a diverse range of attractions to explore.

What to Do? 📸

As a tourist in Bangladesh, there are plenty of exciting and enriching experiences to immerse yourself in. Here are some must-do things to make the most of your visit to this culturally rich and naturally diverse country:

  1. Explore the Sundarbans: Take a boat tour through the Sundarbans mangrove forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to spot Bengal tigers, saltwater crocodiles, and unique wildlife in their natural habitat.
  2. Attend a Rickshaw Art Workshop: Learn about the vibrant art and culture of Bangladesh by attending a rickshaw art workshop. Try your hand at painting the colorful designs that adorn cycle rickshaws.
  3. Climb Sangu Waterfall: Located in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Sangu Waterfall offers a stunning natural setting for a hike and a refreshing swim.
  4. Sample Street Food: Try local street food specialties like fuchka (pani puri), chingri vorta (shrimp paste), and muri (puffed rice) from street vendors for a taste of authentic Bangladeshi flavors.
  5. Visit the Bengali New Year Celebration: If your visit coincides with Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New Year), join in the colorful celebrations, including processions, traditional music, and fairs.
  6. Explore the Lalbagh Fort: Discover the historical Lalbagh Fort in Dhaka, an architectural gem with its own museum that showcases the history of the area.
  7. Visit a Tea Garden: Explore the serene tea gardens of Srimangal or other tea-producing regions in Bangladesh. Take a guided tour to learn about the tea-making process and enjoy a fresh cup.
  8. Take a River Cruise: Experience the tranquil beauty of Bangladesh’s rivers and waterways by taking a boat or river cruise. Popular routes include the Padma River and the Meghna River.
  9. Shop at Local Markets: Explore bustling local markets like New Market in Dhaka, Chawk Bazaar in Chittagong, and Raja Bazar in Sylhet for traditional crafts, clothing, and souvenirs.
  10. Visit Tribal Villages: Explore the tribal cultures of the Chittagong Hill Tracts by visiting remote villages and interacting with indigenous communities like the Chakma, Marma, and Tripura.
  11. Participate in Traditional Dance: Join a local dance class or attend a traditional dance performance to learn the graceful movements of Bangladeshi dance forms like Manipuri and Baul.
  12. Visit the Varendra Research Museum: Discover historical artifacts and cultural heritage at the Varendra Research Museum in Rajshahi.
  13. Attend a Cricket Match: Cricket is a beloved sport in Bangladesh. If there’s a match happening during your visit, attend it to witness the passion of local fans.
  14. Explore Off the Beaten Path: Venture to lesser-known destinations like Kuakata, Kuakata Sea Beach, or Boga Lake for a unique and peaceful experience.
  15. Enjoy a River Island Stay: Consider staying on one of Bangladesh’s river islands, like Bhola Island or Manpura Island, to experience rural life and scenic beauty.
  16. Participate in Local Festivals: If you have the chance, participate in local festivals, cultural events, and religious celebrations to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture.
  17. Learn About Traditional Crafts: Visit artisans’ workshops to see the creation of traditional crafts such as jute products, pottery, and handwoven textiles.
  18. Volunteer or Engage in Community Projects: Contribute to local communities by participating in volunteer projects or community development initiatives.
  19. Explore Historical Mosques: Visit ancient mosques like the Sixty Dome Mosque in Bagerhat and the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in Dhaka, known for their architectural significance.
  20. Enjoy Bengali Sweets: Satisfy your sweet tooth with Bengali sweets like rasgulla, sandesh, and mishti doi (sweet yogurt).

These experiences will allow you to connect with the people, culture, and natural beauty of Bangladesh, creating lasting memories of your journey.

Culture and Safety 🦺

Traveling to Bangladesh offers a rich cultural experience, but it’s important to be aware of the local customs and safety considerations to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some cultural insights and safety tips for traveling in Bangladesh:

Culture:

  1. Respect Local Customs: Bangladesh is a conservative country, so it’s important to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or rural areas. For women, covering your shoulders and knees is advisable.
  2. Greetings: Greet people with a smile and a polite nod. When meeting someone, a friendly “Salaam alaikum” (peace be upon you) is commonly used as a greeting.
  3. Hospitality: Bangladeshis are known for their warm hospitality. If invited to someone’s home, it’s customary to bring a small gift or sweets as a token of appreciation.
  4. Eating Etiquette: When dining, use your right hand for eating, as the left hand is considered impolite. It’s customary to wash your hands before and after a meal.
  5. Religious Respect: Bangladesh is predominantly Muslim, so it’s important to respect Islamic traditions. During Ramadan, it’s polite to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours.
  6. Shoes: Remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or a mosque. It’s also customary to take off your shoes when entering certain shops and offices.

Safety:

  1. Health Precautions: Before traveling to Bangladesh, consult a healthcare professional for recommended vaccinations and health precautions. Ensure you have necessary medications and travel insurance.
  2. Food and Water: Be cautious about street food and ensure that you consume food and water from reputable establishments to avoid foodborne illnesses.
  3. Traffic Safety: Bangladesh’s roads can be chaotic, and traffic rules are not always followed. Exercise caution when crossing streets and consider using reputable transportation options.
  4. Natural Disasters: Bangladesh is prone to natural disasters like cyclones and flooding, particularly during the monsoon season (June to September). Stay informed about weather conditions and follow local authorities’ guidance.
  5. Crime: While Bangladesh is generally safe for tourists, petty crime like pickpocketing can occur in crowded areas. Keep an eye on your belongings and avoid displaying valuable items.
  6. Local Laws: Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs. Possession and use of drugs are illegal, and penalties can be severe.
  7. Emergency Contacts: Know the local emergency numbers, including the police (999) and medical emergency services (999). Consider having a local SIM card for communication.
  8. Travel Advisory: Check for travel advisories and updates from your government’s embassy or consulate before and during your trip.
  9. Travel Insurance: Purchase comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen events.
  10. Language: While English is spoken in urban areas, learning a few basic Bengali phrases can be helpful for communication.

Remember that cultural norms and safety conditions can vary between regions and cities in Bangladesh. It’s a good practice to research your specific destination and stay informed about local customs and safety recommendations before and during your trip. By respecting local culture and taking necessary precautions, you can have a safe and culturally enriching experience in Bangladesh.

Conclusion

As your journey through Bangladesh comes to a close, you’ll carry with you the memories of a land where nature’s beauty meets rich culture and history. From the tranquil waterways of the Sundarbans to the bustling streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh offers a tapestry of experiences. The warmth of its people and the flavors of its cuisine will stay with you long after your visit. Until we meet again, “Shagotom” (welcome) to Bangladesh, a destination waiting to reveal more of its treasures on your next adventure.