Being a third world country, Bangladesh faces poverty as one of the main issues in the country. The traffic conditions are bad and they have a large population therefore you might not get your personal space. Despite these conditions, Bangladeshis are one of the friendliest and helpful people you can find. They extend a helping hand even when you don’t expect it and will be go the extra mile to help, especially if you ask.
Ninety percent of the population is Muslim so you’ll expect prayer calls at any time of the day. Bangladeshi women are seen in headscarves while men will be clad in t-shirts and sarongs, also called lungi, to beat the heat in their humid climate. Fun fact: Lungis are often a form of casual wear, worn with pride indoors and outdoors. But they are also given presented as gifts or wedding gifts to the groom in a Bangladeshi wedding. Head to a lungi store and the seller will recommend you the right colours to wear based on your age group!
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If you’re in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, which is approximately a 4-hour journey from Singapore, be prepared for a major traffic condition. Travelling by car can take you hours, 3 to 4, depending on your luck (really), to get to your destination. Even if your destination is 20 minutes away on Google Maps, plan your routes and time well. Also ensure not to squeeze too many itineraries on your list for one day to avoid disappointment.
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Shopping in Bangladesh usually takes you to the many warehouses and factory outlets selling quality jeans. Remember that your clothes from popular street labels like H&M and ZARA are mostly manufactured in Bangladesh. You can also find a sea of fabric stores in town as the garment industry is big in Bangladesh.
If you’ve never been to Bangladesh before, do some touristy sightseeing at the mini replica of Taj Mahal of India, Lalbagh Fort and the Hindu temple Dhakeshwari Mondir. Otherwise, you can buy a domestic plane ticket out to fly you to Cox’s Bazaar, only 45 minutes away from Dhaka.
Cox’s Bazar is a city and fishing port, housing the second longest beach in the world at 120km. The city of Cox’s Bazar has become a prime tourist spot in Asia. But ever since the fleeing of Rohingyas into Cox’s Bazar, the place is crowded and overwhelmed with NGOs and other non-profit organizations that are providing aid for the refugees.
However, fret not, you can still enjoy the beach life at Cox’s Bazar. Get cosy in their luxurious resorts and beach hotels! For the more adventurous ones, explore the more rural areas and meet the villagers to immerse in their culture. Expect a different kind of hospitality with people living in these areas as they are more welcoming and helpful.
Travellers tip: Avoid hanging around those areas after sundown though, as the military security is very tight. Those who are found walking around after 8pm will be screened and escorted back to the city. The military officers are on high patrol to prevent any Rohingyas from entering areas away from their designated campsites. To enter the campsites, you’ll need a permit from the Bangladeshi government. However, if you wish to do your part in providing aid and relief, visit here for more information.
Other useful information:
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Hot hot heat: Weather in Bangladesh is similar to Singapore’s tropical heat. Pack light and dress comfy, coupled with a jacket for the unpredictable showers. Temperature during the monsoon seasons, usually from mid September to December, can tip as low as 10 to 14 degrees Celsius.
Tip for tippers: As the culture in Bangladesh isn’t as fast paced as what you experience in Singapore. They take their time and are quite slow in meeting requests. But it’s only because we are used to everything being done at the snap of our fingers. And tipping does not get the job done fast, really. Generally it’s not customary to tip, but receiving a few takas would be nice for them.
Communication: English is widely understood, although not everyone can speak the language. Other than English, Bangladeshis speak Urdu or Tamil. But don’t worry, it won’t be much a problem getting around should you get lost or need help.
Generally, Bangladesh is for travellers who enjoy the taste of the backpacker’s lifestyle. If you need to travel with sanitary toilets, breathe clean and crisp air, or wants to enjoy solitude or a quiet place, this might not be the ultimate destination. Travelling to a developing country like Bangladesh sure has its gems and would definitely be an eye-opening experience.
Will Bangladesh be one of your travel destinations? Let us know how you feel!