The SAFEST of the world's most densely-populated countries
For those looking to experience humanity, Bangladesh is nothing short of an adventure.
Despite common preconceptions, travelers often find Bangladesh to be peaceful, secure, and hassler-free, using the country as a surprise reprieve from its chaotic neighbours.
Surrounded by a unique culture of hospitality, you will no doubt be invited for a cup of tea, dinner, or even a wedding, by people with a genuine interest in you.
Untouched by commercial tourism are culture, historic sites, villages, rivers, mountains, beach, and teagardens. You can make a huge impact through community-based tourism.
Visa on Arrival
Max Validity: 30 days, single entry
Available at all borders as of 2016
Passport, hotel booking, intended return flight, proof of funds (Remember to bring copies!)
Special Permits: Needed for Chittagong Hill Tracts. Must be arranged in-country at least 10 days in advance, with a mandatory local guide
As a Traveler...
Expect overwhelming friendliness and curiosity (read: You might be asked for photos!)
Religion Muslim (majority), Hindu (largest minority), Christianity, Buddhism
Dress code For both men and women, be modest, try to cover knees and shoulders. It's also highly appreciated when ladies use a shawl.
Solo female travelers No problem! Generally speaking, people treat solo women with the utmost respect.
LGBT Please note this is a highly taboo topic that is not often acknowledged.
Couples travelling Be aware that unmarried couples, especially interracial couples, are often scrutinized. Sometimes, you may be asked to book separate rooms.
Vegetarians or vegans Ask for shobji, which means vegetables. For pros, you can say Ami maangsa kha-ii na for "I don't eat meat." Dairy and eggs are pricey and generally not included unless you ask specifically.
Your Concerns, Answered.
Is it safe to go to Bangladesh? YES!!! You'll find Bangladesh to be one of the safest, friendliest destination you've ever been. Although many foreign governments issue misguided travel warnings / alerts for "political instability, violence, or terrorism", the reality is that all of our visitors have reported only wonderful experiences: heartwarming support from locals, friendly attention, genuine conversations and memorable cultural exchanges.
Furthermore, the Rohingya crisis and refugee camps are in a restricted zone, requiring extensive special permits and quite far away from any tourist areas. The worst that can happen is some local vendors may ask for extra money if you're a representative of the "rich" Western world. BUT, even then, travelers experience much less hassling here than any other country in the region (ie. India, Nepal).
Despite all negative stories going out of the country, all visitors are touched by the warm hospitality of the Bangladeshi.
What vaccinations do I need? As with anywhere in the world, we recommend getting vaccinated for Hep-A, Hep-B, and TB. Rabies shots are up to you (or avoid touching animals) as remote areas may not have treatment shots readily available. Other vaccines, such as for polio or for Japanese encephalitis, may be needed only if you intend on traveling to extremely remote areas for long periods of time (ie. aid work). Otherwise, these cases are virtually unheard of.
Do I need malaria pills? No. Instead, we highly recommend carrying heavy-duty bug spray as dengue fever and chikagunya are the major concern. As such, check that all rooms have mosquito nets. Malaria itself is extremely, extremely rare (think like in Southeast Asia), but dengue and related viruses can be a risk.
Must I cover my head or wear a hijab? No, however a head scarf is great for protecting against dust and strange looks.
How much money should I bring? The local currency is Bangladeshi Taka (BDT). ATMs accepting international cards are widely available, and most major currencies can be exchanged nearby. Do keep in mind that the country doesn't see many tourists, and eating at restaurants or staying in hotels is not common apart from the wealthy or men working away from home. Without a booming tourist scene to yield economies of scale, prices in Bangladesh may be higher than in, say, Nepal or India. If you travel with Golpata, we always try our best to maintain price integrity that directly profits local communities. Feel free to contact us if you have more questions.
Can I book bus, train, or boat tickets online? No, despite the promotion for online ticketing, most websites don't work properly, or you need a Bangladeshi bank card or local Bkash number to pay. You'll have to visit the ticket offices when you're here.
Ok, I'm convinced. Now, where should I go? Everywhere!
Getting Here & Away
By air: Shahjalal International Airport - Dhaka (DAC)
Cheapest flights: Calcutta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok
By land: All borders with India are open given a valid visa, no special permits needed.
NOTE: India e-Visa is NOT accepted at land borders.
via train: Dhaka-Calcutta line
via bus: Change at any of the land borders
Buses: No need to buy in advance. Leave from Gabtoli station (largest station), Shajahanpur (for Greenline bus to Cox's Bazar), or Kalabagan.
Ferries: Aside from the the Rocket, you have no need to buy ahead. Launches (long-distance cabin ship) and other local boats leave from Sadarghat pier
Trains: Most accessible station to us is Airport Station. Buy tickets at least one day in advance.
- A Backpacker's Guide to Bangladesh
- Lonely Planet: Bangladesh for First Timers
- Wikitravel: Bangladesh
- A Beginner's Guide to Bangladesh
Note: Golpata is unaffiliated with any of above. These are simply links we found useful and would like to share.
Rickshaws Most common transport within cities and around villages. Outside Dhaka, may be electric-powered or van-sized to seat more people.
The artwork on these beautiful cycle rickshaws is one of the main highlights of Bangladesh.
CNG (auto-rickshaws or tuk-tuks) Common within Dhaka city (be sure to haggle!). Outside of Dhaka, shared CNGs are also used for intercity connections between towns.
Uber Best prices for downtown Dhaka, an alternative to CNGs. Drivers may take a bit long to find you,
Motorbike taxis Hire via mobile app (ie. Pathao, SAM), but keep in mind the traffic inside the city is chaotic, leaving you vulnerable between all other vehicles (pro: time, con: safety risk).
Taxis Dhaka only, rare to find downtown, but can hire private cars for better rates to Dhaka suburbs
Bengali (Bangla) is the main language. English is not always known.
assalamu aleikum hello (to Muslims)
waleikum assalam response to "hello"
nomoshkar hello (to Hindus)
dhonnobad thank you
apnar naam ki? what's your name?
koto? how much?
ami buhji na i don't understand
ami janina i don't know
taka nai i don't have money