The Best Tips For Travel To [Dhaka Gulshan 2022]

©Nafiz Sadik 

 Bangladeshi care and hospitality is outstanding.  At the time of writing this we haven’t even left Bangladesh and already I am feeling a pang of sadness knowing we will move on soon.  If you are thinking about travel in Bangladesh and wondering whether to take the leap and book that trip or not… Book it now.  

Travel in Bangladesh is unique.  It’s not easy nor a mainstream destination to travel.  But if getting off the beaten track is the kind of travel you like, that is exactly what makes Bangladesh so special. 

Here is our complete travel guide for Bangladesh including all of the details of where we stayed in each city, how to get around Bangladesh, how to (and whether to) travel in Bangladesh with kids and a whole bunch of other tips to make your Bangladesh adventure as smooth as possible… 

About Bangladesh; first just quickly

  • Full name: People’s Republic of Bangladesh
  • Capital: Dhaka
  • Language: Bengali (Bangla) 
  • Main Religion: Islam
  • Currency: Bangladeshi Taka (code: BDT; symbol: Tk)
  • Population: 167,000,000
  • Time Zone: National Standard Time (UTC+6)
  • Calling Code: +880
  • Drives On: Left
  • Credit Cards: Visa/MC/AmEx accepted
  • Emergency Number: Ambulance/Police 999
  • Outlets:  Plug Type C, D, G and K (220 V / 50 Hz)

And a little bit of history about Bangladesh 

On our first day out in Dhaka we learnt some very interesting history about Bangladesh.  

Our guide told us that his grandfather was born in India; his father was born in Pakistan; and he was born in Bangladesh.  But they were all born in the same village

Until 1947, Bangladesh was part of India.  The region that is now marked out as the country of Bangladesh was known as ‘East Bengal’. 

In 1947 India gained independence from British colonial rule and the sub-continent was partitioned into India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  The partition led to the largest migration crisis in history with over 14 million people becoming refugees.  Many Hindu families moved from Pakistan to India and Muslims from India to Pakistan. 

Bangladesh was known at this time as ‘East Pakistan’ and was governed from Islamabad (in ‘West Pakistan’) – something that was unpopular with many Bangladeshis and ultimately spurred the struggle for Bengali rights. 

In 1971 Bangladesh (with the support of India) fought Pakistan for independence in what was known as the Bangladesh Liberation War and became the independent country that is Bangladesh today. 

Best time of year to visit Bangladesh

The best time visit Bangladesh is during the ‘cool season’ (effectively considered winter in Bangladesh) from November to February.  Days are warm averaging a comfortable 25°C and nights are cooler. 

From March onwards the days get rapidly hotter and monsoon generally arrives sometime in June.  

But hey; we ignored the suggested best time to visit Bangladesh and travelled for a month during May with a few (welcomed) afternoon rain showers and otherwise great (hot) weather. 


Ugh.  Getting visas for Bangladesh… This is seriously a bit of a nightmare (caused me multiple headaches!).  

Bangladesh has previously had an easy visa on arrival (VOA) option at Dhaka’s international airport and the Benapole land border crossing with India.  Since the pandemic though, Bangladesh is no longer issuing VOA.  Instead you need to apply for a pre-arranged visa. 

However, in New Zealand there is no Bangladesh consular or High Commission.  The closest for us is in Canberra, Australia.

But albeit despite the geographical logistics, the visa application process is relatively straightforward (even I admit that).  We had to fill out and submit the online application, print out 18347298 pages all the pages of documentation (application form, passport copies, booked accommodation, flights) and courier it all – including passports – by DHL to the visa office.  

Our application took nine working days to process.  We then booked return DHL services. 

Standard tourism visas (and VOAs) are for 30 days and cannot officially be extended.  

Definitely do your research and make sure to allow plenty of time before you fly.  

Currency and cash in Bangladesh

Bangladeshi Taka (BDT) is the currency of Bangladesh.  

There are banknotes of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 BDT (although 2 and 5 taka notes are rare).   

At the time we travelled (May 2022) these are the exchange rates for Bangladesh:

  • 100 BDT = 1.16 USD
  • 1000 BDT = 11.59 USD
  • 10000 BDT = 115.88 USD

ATM’s and money

All ATMs we tried offer an English menu.  And more than that, in the big cities they also offer a few minutes of peace (and air conditioning) inside away from the bustle and chaos… 

These bank ATM’s accept international cards: 

  • AB Bank Limited
  • Dutch-Bangla Bank
  • Premiere Bank 
  • One Bank 
  • EBL 

And note the ATM’s were not working at the arrivals hall of the airport when we landed in Dhaka.  (None of them!).  We exchanged some USD to purchase a SIM card and found an ATM close to our hotel the next day. 

Language for travel in Bangladesh

Bengali (or Bangla) is the official language in Bangladesh and is the 8th most-spoken language in the world.

Globally there are over 230,000,000 speakers of Bengali.  

English is not widely spoken in Bangladesh.  And even train and ticket numbers are commonly written in Bangla.  Outside of the cities it can be tricky to find someone to translate.  But those who can speak English (even if it’s patchy) always come forward to help. 

Bangladeshis are hospitable and will try their best to help regardless of barriers to verbally communicate.  

The most common greeting you will hear is the traditional Islamic greeting ‘Asalaam Aleikum’.  Hindus use the Bengali greeting ‘Nomoshkar’.  And admittedly it can be tricky to distinguish religion at first glance (not all Muslim women cover their hair, and some Hindu women do). But play it safe with a smile and you will be happily received.  

Useful Bangla words to learn

  • Hello: Assalamu alaikum/Nomoshkar
  • How are you? Kemon achen? Kemon acho? 
  • I am well: Ami bhalo achi 
  • What is your name? Apnar naam kee? 
  • Which country? Kona desa (desh)
  • Thank you: Dhonnobad
  • Thanks a lot: Onek dhonnobad
  • Yes: Hae
  • No: Na
  • Water: Pani
  • Good morning: Shubho shokal
  • Goodbye: Khuda hafez / Allah hafez 

The phrase you will get most used to hearing is ‘Kona desh?’.  Which country?  ‘Desh’ means land/country (as in, Bangladesh).  And trust me; you will quickly begin to pick up on people asking you that…

Once you tune in you will hear that phrase more than any other Bangla words around you.  (Tourists are not common – not in the city; not anywhere really – and everyone wants to know where you are from).

Men commonly shake hands and further respect is expressed with a hand over heart.  [Note though that women and men rarely shake hands with one another so don’t extend a handshake first as a traveling female]. 

And a further note without regard to the upcoming challenge of language barriers…  More so be prepared and ready for the stares/staring/stares and selfie requests…

Our itinerary in Bangladesh

Contemplating an itinerary for travel in Bangladesh is like opening a can of worms.  The direction you can take in this country are endless.  But the tricky thing is that many routes around Bangladesh end up stopping back in at Dhaka.  (I told you Dhaka is ceremoniously like the beating heart of this incredible country). 

Here’s our slightly jumbled but brilliant itinerary for Bangladesh. 

  • Dhaka > launch > Barisal 
  • Barisal > minivan  > Mongla
  • Mongla > minivan  > Morrelgonj
  • Morrelgonj > launch > Dhaka
  • Dhaka > train > Sreemangal
  • Sreemangal > train > Sylhet
  • Sylhet > flight > Cox Bazaar
  • Cox Bazaar > bus > Chittagong
  • Chittagong > train > Dhaka 
  • Dhaka > minivan > Ekduaria
  • Ekduaria > minivan > Dhaka 

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