BANGLADESH: The Country of Bengali
Located on the subcontinent of India, Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশ) gained its independence in 1971 and enacted a constitution the following year. An extensive network of montane rivers, including the Surma-Meghna river system and the Karatoya-Atrai River, which flow into the Ganges Delta, make up the riverine country and its geography. Bengali features about 300 active rivers, tributaries, wetlands, and fresh water swamp forests, including 30-plus islands along the Bay of Bengal.
Bangladesh offers travelers a variety of attractions to explore, such as 48 protected areas, including sanctuaries, eco-parks, ruins, reefs, game reserves, and bio-reserves. Moreover, the country boasts several UNESCO World Heritage sites, 58 museums of national significance, and 17 national parks.
Although tourists can visit a large number of beautiful and historical attractions and sites, tourism is not heavily emphasized. Therefore, Bangladesh represents the ideal tourist spot – one where you can discover unknown regions and visit some of the world’s most magnificent religious sites without distraction. The Buddhist viharas, Hindu temples, and gold-domed mosques will give you a taste of the diverse cultures and traditions of the local people.
Choose from diverse places of interest, such as Shaheed Minar and other architectural masterpieces. If you love the great outdoors, our regional guide offers must-see destinations featuring mangroves, beaches, and mountain woodlands. Water sports activities, skiing, and hiking provide adventure-seekers with plenty of sites and attractions to visit.
Your Own Special Destination
Formerly known as East Pakistan, Bangladesh sits east of India, at the mouth of the Jamuna River. Many of the attractions or wildlife you will see, such as Mughal palaces, growling Bengal tigers, glistening domed mosques, or palm-lined beaches, can be all yours to see and explore. While it was believed that the tourist trade would gain momentum after the country’s civil war and independence, it has yet to surface, so far.
Getting Familiar with the Culture
Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, once was a busy port for the country of Bengal. Now, the bustling city features rickshaw-crammed thoroughfares, boat-thronged piers, movie posters on rain-washed buildings, and a general cacophony of rickshaw bells and car horns. While this type of activity may, at first, shock your cultural senses, the friendliness of the locals will soften your first impression.
South of Dhaka, the Jamuna River divides into a network of jungled streams and tributaries, where the Sundarbans forest awaits – a mangrove refuge and home for the Bengal tiger. To get to the Sundarbans, many travelers go by boat. Adventures can find boat transport – from a coracle to a powered paddle boat. The coracle, designed for one person, provides a way to travel, but is primarily made for fishing. Boat travel regularly takes place between Dhaka and Khulna, which is Bangladesh’s third largest city.
The City of Khulna
Khulna, which sits at the mouth of the Rupsa River, is known for its newsprint production and shrimp processing. It is also the only place in the country that features telephone cabling. The city, which is home to jute mills and ship-building activities, features a medical center, university, and naval base.
Speaking the Language
Because English is not widely spoken, it helps to learn a little of the local language Bangla, also called Bengali, before you travel to Bangladesh. While the Bengali in Bangladesh compares closely with the Bengali spoken in India, the main difference concerns the degree in which it is spoken. Outside of Bengali cities, English becomes obsolete. Moreover, the Bengali script is used for numbers, which can be a challenge if you are checking a seat number on a train or the prices in a store.
As an uncommon travel destination, Bangladesh has gained the reputation as an undiscovered gem on the Asian continent. Because the country does not experience a great deal of tourism, a person from another country draws interest and attention – most of which is kind and friendly. Many of the locals will ask politely, “Excuse me please – What is your country?” In fact, you may have to answer that question a lot.
Getting Around the Country
Because the country lacks a touristy reputation, it can be difficult to get around. Some roads may be unpaved and independent travel to remote areas can be difficult if you are not somewhat familiar with the Bengali language. However, travel from city to city can be accomplished by train and you can journey by boat as well.
While you can see beautiful landscapes and attractions in Bangladesh, the country can also display a raw side – one that contains poverty, dirt, and pollution. Therefore, you may need to go to a more travel-friendly venue if you are not comfortable with experiencing several types of conditions. Many people describe Bangladesh as a less refined version of India. However, that description does not extend to the country’s cultural richness and the small surprises that it holds for inquisitive travelers.
Therefore, the main concern you will have as a traveler in Bangladesh is, again, in getting around – which often means going by train or boat. What you will discover, at least, if you travel by train, is that most of the tracks seem to lead back to the capital, Dhaka.
However, you can go by train from the North West (such as the Rangpur and divisions) to the South West without stopping in Dhaka. You can also journey from Sylhet in the North East to Chittagong in the same region without passing through the capital. Buses connect divisions to Dhaka, but not usually to one another. Therefore, as a traveler to Bangladesh, it helps to plan your itinerary around attractions in the capital.
Shankharia Bazar: Hindu Street
One of the must-see streets to visit in Dhaka is Shankharia Bazar. The avenue, also known as Hindu Street, bursts with colors and incense, revealing a generally friendly atmosphere. Matchbox-sized workshops and shops invite exploration and shankharis (Hindu artisans) create products, such as kites, bangles made of conch shells, wedding hats, and grave markers. The noted craftspeople come from an ancestry that has lived in the city for 300 years. During the city’s Hindu festivals, the area is especially flamboyant. However, the street is colorful, regardless of when you plan a visit.
What do you think? Are you ready to explore Bangladesh? If so, mark your travel calendar for a visit now. Stop in Dhaka first, explore the sites and attractions and then plan your excursion from there.
Bangladesh is home to the world’s 8th largest population. It shares borders with two countries: Myanmar (to the south east) and India and the Bay of Bengal (south). The topography is varied and divided into three geographic regions yet characterized by predominately rich farmland. Most of the land is situated at sea level but the tallest point reaches about 1,065m (3,500 ft) at Keokradong. Bangladesh has an abundance of wildlife and is home to much of the world’s largest mangroves forest, or Sundarbans which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Bangladesh has one of the world’s fastest growing and emerging economies with a robust textiles and manufacturing sector. Its major trading partner is India and together form South Asia’s largest trading partnership. The country has 9 significant maritime ports with one of the world’s most extensive and largest inland network of waterways, and three international airports.
The Bangladesh government a representative democracy and is a unitary parliamentary republic with a multi-party system. It has a President and Prime Minister together three branches of government: Executive (headed by the Prime Minister), Judicial (with a Chief Justice) and Legislative (National Assembly or Jatiya Sangshad). Bangladesh is divided into 8 regions or administrative divisions, each named after a major city and further divided into 64 districts.
The Chittagong Division has the largest land area (33,910 km²) with the Dhaka Division having the largest population (40.1 million). Amongst other international organizations, Bangladesh is a member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization (WTO), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Commonwealth of Nations, International Monetary Fund and is a founding member of the “Developing 8 Countries”.
Below is our country profile containing facts and information to familiarize you with Bangladesh.
Country name: Bangladesh (গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রীবাংলাদেশ – Bengali)
Official Name: People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Country Motto: No official motto
National Slogan: “Joy Bangla” or “Victory to Bengal” (Bengali)
Formation: Declaration of State Sovereignty (1971)
Historical Nicknames: None
Location: South Asia
National Anthem: “Amar Sonar Bangla” (Bengali);“My Golden Bengal” (English)
Official Language: Bengali
Capital and Largest City: Dhaka
Select Cities: Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet, Rangpur
Selected Points of Interest: Mohera Jomidar Bari, Nava Ratna Temple,
Government: Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Republic
Major Religions: Islam (89.5%), Hinduism (8.5%), Buddhism (1%), Christianity
Population: 161,500,000 (2018 est.)
Life expectancy: 70.4 years (males) and 73.9 years (females); 72 years of age (overall)
Largest Ethnic Groups: Bengali (98%) and 12 additional ethnic groups
National Colors: Green and Red
National Dress: Sari (female) and Kurta (mails)
National Symbols: Royal Bengal Tiger (animal), The Mango (tree), The Shapla (flower)
National Sport: Kabadi (contact team sport)
Area: 147,500Km² (56,900mi²), 6.4% water
Average Temperature: Varies significantly depending on region with temperatures between 11°C (53°F) [Saidpur and Rangpur] and 42°C (108 °F) [Dhaka]
Climate: November-March (dry season) 13°C (55°F), October (Monsoon season), December (Winter begins)
Highest Point: Saka Haphong – Mowdok Taung –1,050m (3445ft)
Lowest Point: Bay of Bengal (sea level)
Longest River: Karatoya-Atrai-Gurgumari-Hursagar, length 615km (383mi)
Deepest Lake: Bogakain Lake153m(502ft)
Largest Lake: Kaptai Lake 11,122Km² (4,293 Sq mi)
Alphabet: Bengali: বাংলাবর্ণমালা
Calling Code: +880
Geographic Coordinates: 23.685° N 90.3563° E
Currency: Bangladeshi Taka (BDT); denominated by symbol (৳)
Driving Side: Left
Time Zone: Greenwich Mean Time (UTC+6)
Internet TLD: .bd
Where should I visit in Bangladesh?
Bangladesh has many wonderful destinations to visit whether you are seeking to tour urban centers or immerse yourself in the vast countryside dotted with rural villages. Bangladesh has many dozens of historical sites, landmarks and national treasures such as religious sites and art galleries. Some popular attractions include museums such as the Liberation War Museum or the National Museum in Dhaka. Religious sites like the Star Mosque, Dhakeshwari Temple or historical sites such the Tajhat Palace are highly recommended by astute travelers. Performing arts centers and galleries such as National Art Gallery or the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts also offer unique and memorable insights into the rich culture and heritage of the Bangladeshi peoples.
When is the best time of year to travel to Bangladesh?
Bangladesh has a varied climate but is mostly subtropical. The annual weather is comprised of six seasonal cycles with rainfall averaging between 160 cm and 400cm, in the West and Northeast respectively. Depending on the time of year, the country is susceptible to flooding and monsoons with runoff from the Himalayas. Across the country temperatures can range from 9° C (49° F) – 29° C (84°F) (from December through February, to as high as 20° C (68 °F) – 33° C (92° F) in the summer months. The monsoon season usually starts June and ends in October. Generally, the dry season between November to March and December considered to be the best time of year to visit.
Do I need a visa to visit Bangladesh?
All foreign visitors are required to possess a valid visa issued by a diplomatic Bangladesh mission to enter the country. Depending on your country of origin, Bangladesh allows an application for a visa upon arrival from all European Union countries, Canada and the United States. There are 23 countries from which a visitor is exempt from a visa. Most visitors, business travelers and investors can obtain a single-entry visa upon their arrival provided they possess a valid passport, $500.00 in cash or credit and have a return ticket. The length of stay permitted on a single-entry visa is 30 days. It is strongly recommended that visitors determine and secure the required documentation before attempting to enter Bangladesh.