This is a guest post from Jonny Ward who runs a blog at onestep4ward.com
Bangladesh is a country that simply gets ignored on the backpacker trail across Asia and I have no idea why! India is hugely popular, Nepal too and SE Asia is overrun with tourists but Bangladesh – almost no one. Although I shouldn’t complain, it means we can have the place to ourselves! Bangladesh is a staunchly Muslim country and the Bangladeshi people are some of the friendliest people I have ever come across in all my travels. Because of the sheer lack of tourists, the locals are delighted that you have made the effort to visit their country – you’ll be inundated with offers of lunch, dinner, tea and a bed to sleep on at their family home. Day in, day out you’ll be shaking people’s hands and answering their bellowing ‘Hello Sir’ from across the street.
Bangladesh offers so much to anyone who really wants to feel like their traveling again. If you’ve had enough of Thai islands, English breakfasts and air-conditioned tourist buses – fear not, you won’t find any of that here. You’ll find some unheard of gems, warm hearts, delicious food and an excitement running through you knowing that you’re seeing things that most people will never set eyes on. Let’s have a look at backpacking in Bangladesh:
Cost: There are no two ways about it Bangladesh is cheap, I’ve been on the road for almost 5 years and it’s probably the cheapest country I’ve ever visited. Cheaper even than India, comparable to Pakistan. The standard $30 per day backpacking budget need not apply here – you can get by on $10 if you’re broke, $15-$20 is more than enough to travel in relative comfort.
Accommodation: Inexpensive and basic. Electricity is constantly cutting out across Bangladesh so don’t rely on that. Air con is available in Dhaka ($30+) but if you’re happy with a fan and running water, there are endless options for $5 and under around the whole country.
Food: Delicious – it’s a Muslim take on Indian food and is quite simply delicious. A lot of rice, a lot of curries and not so much meat due to the levels of poverty. A huge dish of rice and veg curry in a standard local restaurant will set you back around $1. Just don’t expect any cutlery, so get that right hand poised (remember the left and is not to be used for eating, it’s saved for ‘other actions’!).
Sights: Depending on how long you have in Bangladesh, there’s a multitude of awesome things to see and do. Here are a list of 5 things you should try to visit:
- Lalbagh Fort in Dhaka – the fort played an integral role in Bangladesh’s vite for independence.
- Ahsan Manzil in Dhaka – the famous ‘Pink Palace’ of Bangladesh is a great site to see.
- Cox’s Bazar – world’s longest sea beach at over 120km long
- Hazrat Shah Sufi Amanat Khan (R) Mausoleum in Chittagong. Renowned as one of the greatest saints in the history of Bangldesh, joing the locals in paying respect.
- Rajshahi – found north of Khulna, Rajshahi has loads of religious sites to wander around. Also, according to the ‘World Happiness Survey’ this was the happiest city in the world to live in! That makes it worth a visit alone!
Activities: 2 activities that should not be missed:
1) Taking the old rocket steamer boat from Dhaka, down to the Bay on Bengal, to Barisal and then on to Khulna. The journey takes around 30 hours, a first-class ticket runs around $15 and the journey is a sight to behold.
2) After your rocket steamer trip you end of in Khulna, at the start of the Sundarbans. From Khulna you can arrange a safari (around $30 for everything) where you can try your luck at seeing one of the 400 wild Royal Bengal tigers amongst a host of other impressive wildlife. No guarantees on any sightings but if you’re lucky enough to see one, it’ll be worth 100 times what you paid.
I hope my enthusiasm for this amazing country has come through in force. It’s a country where you could spend weeks wandering around, just soaking up its unique atmosphere and you don’t have to worry about your wallet so much! Get here fast, before the tourist hordes! Happy travels!
*Johnny Ward, founder of OneStep4Ward.com, has been on the road since graduating in 2006. Backpacking, studying and working in more than 50 countries around the world he uses his blog to show people how easy it is to live the life of your dreams, you just have to really want it!