Bangladesh: Dhaka – Land of the Rickshaw

Dhaka (formerly Dacca) is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. Located in the geographic center of the country in the great deltaic region of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, Dhaka has one thing most other Bang cities do not: rickshaws. Hundreds of thousands of rickshaws.

Rickshaws are one of the most famous sights in and Dhaka. And whether you stay a few days or a few weeks, it is impossible not to see or literally run into one. Recent estimates peg the number of Dhaka rickshaws at over a quarter million — making this convenient and smog-free mode of travel one of the cities main sources of income for nearly 5 million individuals.

Brightly colored and a heck of lot more pleasing to the eye than the motorized and annoying “tuk-tuk”, the rickshaw is practically a national institution. Far from appreciated, but used by citizens up and down the social ladder, Dhaka rickshaws are not just a poor man’s taxi. Often personalized and decorated with colorful paintings and murals of everything from famous Bollywood actors, cricket players and global politicians to animals, birds and flowers. Some have pictures of mosques, village scenes or famous buildings. Some might even carry political statements. A few tell stories but most are just there to look colorful.

A rickshaw ban proposed by the World Bank in 2005 almost singled the end of the rickshaw in Dhaka. But the proposed ban lost out when it was sighted that vehicular traffic only accounts for about 9% of the daily traffic flow in and around Dhaka.

So the next time you’re in Dhaka, forget about a pricey taxi or even getting around on foot. The rickshaw is the ay to go. And while you’re touring the city, check out the hotels and accommodations links for great resources regarding places to stay, eat and most of all – have fun.