- Written by Dan
Outpost Travel Planner: Bangladesh
The Outpost travel planner with the what, where, when, why and how of all things travel to Bangladesh
When To Go
Most sources will tell you to visit Bangladesh, in South Asia, during its winter months to better avoid intense humidity and the cyclone season -- but travelling to the country in the rainy season, which runs from June to August, means the opportunity to take in the vastly rural country’s natural beauty at its peak. Those brave enough to weather Bangladesh’s more intense weather periods will be rewarded with the chance to experience rich celebrations like Pohela Boishakh, Bengali new year, which takes place in mid-April of every year.
Flying to Bangladesh from any Canadian city is a lengthy process, with connecting flights taking as long as 35 hours from Toronto or Vancouver. From Toronto to Dhaka, the country's capital, expect a stopover in Europe, followed by another in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emerates, in Doha, Qatar, or Calcutta (Kolkata), India.
As the rickshaw capital of the world, it can be a cheap way of getting around a congested city like Dhaka, but it can also be somewhat hazardous due to the sheer volume of road traffic. Rickshaws are a great city adventure for any foreign traveller in and of themselves, so you don't have to avoid them -- but definitely apply caution!
Government initiatives have attempted to curb the number of rickshaw drivers in efforts to improve road safety. Travelling around Dhaka by bus is another option and adventure; but the ride is not for the claustrophobic type— buses are often jam-packed, which of course can be half the fun!
To escape the city, take a ferry boat from Dhaka to one of Bangladesh’s many ports. Bangladesh is divided by two rivers: the Padma (the Ganges) and the Brahmaputra, with various "ghats" (or ferry docks) along their shores. Bangladesh also has a railroad network that is a cheaper option for travelling between major city centres, but railcars are often crowded and uncomfortable.
What to See and Do
Bangladesh remains one of the more unexplored countries in South Asia. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985, the Mosque City of Bagerhat is situated 250 kilometres southwest of Dhaka. It was built in the 15th century, and known for its clusters of mosques. The Sixty Pillar Mosque, for example, has more than 60 pillars and 81 domes.
At the mouth of the Ganges, the sundarbans is one of the largest mangrove forests in the world, with a network of waterways, islands and mudflats that extend over 140,000 hectares. Residents of the forest include some 260 types of bird and many endangered species, such as the Bengal tiger and the Indian python.
Tea lovers will want to visit the rolling tea plantations in the Sylhet Valley. Dotted with shrines and lakes, the region is known for millions of migratory birds as well as for its 150 tea gardens.
Then return to Dhaka, where the locals live alongside their heritage. Some points of interests include the Lalbagh Fort and the Ahsan Manzil. Built in 1872, the pinkish-hued building is one of the most interesting in the capital city. But to really experience the hustle and bustle of the city, take a rickshaw ride through the chaotic streets of Old Dhaka for cultural sensory overload.