Bangladesh is a country defined by water and though the country does experience flooding and some extreme weather, the rivers of Bangladesh (the Padma, Jamuna and the Meghna as well as hundreds of smaller waterways) bring fertility to this lush part of the world.
This densely populated nation of nearly 150 million people has had its hard times since becoming a country in 1971. But today, investment is being placed in its education and health sectors, and the country is seen as progressive with a promising emerging economy.
The capital city of Dhaka is a teeming metropolis in perpetual motion. It's one of South Asia's mega cities, known by some as the City of Mosques and by others as the Rickshaw Capital of the World. Dhaka’s old quarter is fascinating -- a swirl of narrow streets and bustling bazaars, mosques and Hindu temples.
Visitors can venture out to the highlands and take a trip up to the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Those looking for a beach can visit the longest natural sandy sea beach in the world - Cox's Bazar. The Sundarbans -- the world's largest mangrove forest – is home to exotic flora and fauna including the Royal Bengal Tiger.
Bangladesh is often a jumping-off point for jaunts around India, Nepal, Thailand or Cambodia.
Bangladesh has a tropical climate with mild weather from October through March and hot, humid days from March to June. Monsoon season runs from June to October. Those planning to travel to Bangladesh are generally advised to make sure their travel insurance covers extreme weather events.
When to fly to Bangladesh
November to April is a popular time to visit Bangladesh as these are typically the driest and coolest months of the year.
March to June is considered the off season in Bangladesh when fewer people visit the country.
Getting around Bangladesh
Domestic flights within Bangladesh are affordable, with domestic airlines linking Dhaka with Sylhet, and Chittagong and Cox's Bazar. Taking local buses can be an adventure but there are air-conditioned coaches that connect the country’s most popular destinations. The country’s trains are slow, but rail travel can be a wonderful way to see the countryside.
The best way to see Bangladesh is, of course, from a river, and many operators offer boat and ferry trips. In Dhaka, rickshaws (cycle and auto) are the most popular way of getting around but make sure you settle on a price before your trip begins. Yellow and black taxis are also readily available.
Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (DAC), located just outside Dhaka, is the largest airport in Bangladesh. Shah Amanat International Airport (CGP) is in Chittagong, southeastern Bangladesh. It's Bangladesh's second-largest airfield. And Osmani International Airport (ZYL) is located northeast of the city of Sylhet in northeastern Bangladesh. For more information on airports in Bangladesh, visit www.caab.gov.bd.
Bangladesh insider information
- Bangladesh is a Muslim country and it’s illegal to serve alcohol in restaurants (except in hotels).
- The north of Bangladesh has many fascinating archeological sites such as the Puthia Temple Complex in Rajshahi. The complex includes the Shiva Temple, the country's biggest shrine dedicated to Shiva.
- The Sompur Vihara is an eighth century Buddhist Monastery in Paharpur, northwest Bangladesh. It's a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Bashundhara City in Dhaka is the 12th-largest shopping mall in the world. It's considered to be the most visited attraction in Bangladesh and everything is for sale here, from Western brands to Bangladeshi souvenirs.
- The Irrawaddy dolphin (they're cute, but related to killer whales), was thought to be approaching extinction in Bangladesh but about 6,000 were later discovered in the waters of the Sundarbans mangrove forest and Bay of Bengal.
- Srimangal is a beautiful part of Bangladesh. It's the tea capital, featuring rolling green hills, tea and pineapple plantations, lemon orchards and national parks.
- One of the most festive events in Bangladesh is the Janmashtami festival when children dress up as Lord Krishna to mark the birth of the Hindu God.