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Bangladesh

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The People's Republic of Bangladesh is a nation in South Asia, on the edge of the Indian subcontinent. It is nearly completely surrounded by India, having a small land border with Myanmar in the southeast and a coastline facing the Bay of Bengal in the south. While geographically tiny, Bangladesh is huge in terms of population, with more people than Russia in a land area smaller than the American state of Florida.

Many know Bangladesh only for its moderately successful cricket team, of which locals are very proud. However, this Muslim-majority nation has been lauded by the United Nations for its poverty reduction, swarmed by investors for its burgeoning economy and has taken the lead on global environmental issues. The next frontier for Bangladesh is tourism, and it is fast developing its facilities to prepare for visitors to its numerous archaeological sites, pristine beaches, bustling markets and ancient mosques.

Regions

Bangladesh is a very small country, with 8 administrative divisions:

Cities

Most of these cities are also the capital of the division of the same name:

  • Dhaka - The hectic capital city, an intense and thriving metropolis of around 12 million people that's growing by the day
  • Chittagong - A bustling commercial centre and the largest international seaport in the country
  • Mymensingh - A historic city located by the side of river Brahmaputa, has got a rich cultural and political history dating back to more than 200 years
  • Khulna - Located on the Rupsha River, famous for shrimp and a starting point for journeys into the Sundarbans.
  • Rajshahi - The silk city
  • Rangpur - Important city in the north-west, with agriculture and trade
  • Barisal - Southern city famous for Paddy growing and many rivers, best reached by a slow-paced and relaxing boat ride on the Rocket Steamer
  • Sylhet - The largest city in the northeast, known for the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Shahjalal, one of the holiest sites in the country
  • Jessore - A nondescript small town, and a likely transit point to or from Kolkata, famous for Gur, a form of cake-like molasses produced from the extract of the date tree

Other destinations

  • Cox's Bazar - The country's premier beach resort, filled to the brim with boisterous Bangladeshi holiday makers. It is the world's longest sea beach with 112 km of sandy sea coast.
  • Bagerhat - An important historical centre and site of several mosques including the famous Shait Gumbad Masjid.
  • Char Atra - A low lying island in the Ganges.
  • Paharpur - Ruins of an ancient Buddhist vihara.
  • Saint Martins Island - The country's only coral island with friendly locals, a laid back vibe and coconuts to spare.
  • Sundarbans - The largest mangrove in the world, with lots of bird life and some very elusive Royal Bengal tigers.

Understand

British India was partitioned by joint leaders of the Congress, All India-Muslim League and Britain in the summer of 1947, creating the Commonwealth realms of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and a Republic of India. Bangladesh came into existence in 1971 when Bengali-speaking East Pakistan seceded from its union with Punjabi-dominated West Pakistan after a bloody 9-month war. Although Bangladesh emerged as an independent country only in 1971, its history stretches back thousands of years and it has long been known as a crossroads of history and culture. Here you will find the world's longest sea beach, countless mosques, the largest mangrove forest in the world, interesting tribal villages and a wealth of elusive wild life. Although relatively impoverished compared to its burgeoning South Asian neighbour India, Bangladeshis are very friendly and hospitable people, putting personal hospitality before personal finances.

Ready-made garments, textiles, pharmaceuticals, agricultural goods, ship building and fishing are some of the largest industries. The gap between rich and poor is increasingly obvious and the middle-class is fast-shrinking, as in the rest of Asia, especially in cities such as Dhaka and Chittagong as you move around between the working class old city and affluent neighborhoods like Gulshan and Baridhara.

Climate

Bangladesh has a sub-tropical monsoon climate. There are six seasons in a year: winter (Dec-Jan), spring (Feb-Mar), summer (Apr-May), monsoon (June–July), autumn (Aug-Sep) and late autumn (Oct-Nov). The average temperature across the country usually ranges between 9°C - 29°C in winter months and between 21°C - 34°C during summer months. Annual rainfall varies from 160 cm to 200 cm in the west, 200 cm to 400 cm in the south-east and 250 cm to 400 cm in the north-east. Cyclones above category three/four are uncommon (especially in the deep winter January through March)-- but while rare, can still bring widespread disruption as expected to infrastructure and power outages, especially in the coastal areas. It is recommended that you do not travel in the southern part of the country (Khulna, Bagerhat, Chittagong, Cox's Bazar) during this season.

In summer try to wear cotton clothing as it's so humid. Take care during the rainy season: Even big cities such as Dhaka and Chittagong get submerged quickly by torrential rains, and open drains of sewage or missing manhole covers can be fatal. The best time to visit is October to February.

The current weather can be seen by hitting the 'play' button on the following interactive map: Current Bangladesh Satellite Weather Radar.

Landscape

The country is primarily a low-lying plain on the deltas of large rivers flowing from the Himalayas: the Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal. Its fertile and mostly flat farmland and, with the exception of Chittagong Hill Tracts, rarely exceeds 10 metres above sea level, making it dangerously susceptible to a rise in sea level.

The highest point is Bijoy, at 1,231 metres.

Holidays

  • Pohela Boishakh - The most widely celebrated secular national festival of the country. Here people from all walks of life participate in various cultural shows called Boishakhi Mela,wearing national dress (kurta or Shari), eating sweets and wishing every one happy new year.
  • Ekushey - National Mother Language Day - February 21. This day marks the anniversary of the martyrs that died in 1952 while protesting the imposition of Urdu, in the name of Islam, as the mother-tongue. The uprisings to support Bangla as the mother language fueled the movement towards secular nationalism that culminated in independence in 1971. The holiday is marked by (one of the most colourful events in Asia) tributes to the martyrs by political leaders, intellectuals, poets, writers, artisans and singing beginning at one minute after midnight on the 21st. Government offices are closed, and expect traffic disruption from February 20.
  • Independence Day - March 26- On this day 'Father of the Nation' Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed country's independence.
  • Victory Day - December 16- On this day Pakistani occupied forces surrendered to joint Bangladeshi & Indian forces.
  • Eid-ul-Fitr - The largest Muslim holiday of the year, it celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Food is the highlight, and if you're lucky you'll be invited into a private home for a feast. Businesses close for at least a couple days, if not a week.
  • Eid-ul-Azha - In that Eid you need to buy a cow before the Eid. When the Eid day comes you must bring a Hujur and he will cut the cow into pieces. Then you will eat the cow beef and celebrate the Eid.
  • Durga Puja - Four days around October. The largest Hindu festival in the country, it goes on for several days with festivities varying each day.
  • Christmas - December 25, This is the largest festival of Christian Community in the country which is declared as a government holiday. A prayer is held at Tejgaon Church at 11PM on 24 December. Also some other churches in Dhaka also arrange prayer at 24 December.

Get in

Visas

The citizens of the following countries do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bhutan, Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Jamaica, Guyana, Honduras, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Montserrat, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Uruguay, Vatican City and Zambia.

Australian citizens, according to the current visa database can pay US$50 for a 90 day visa on arrival. [1]

Transit passengers continuing their journey on the first connecting aircraft also do not require visas, provided they hold valid onward or return documentation and do not leave the airport.

On occasion, tourists and business travellers arriving at airports in Dhaka and Chittagong may be granted 'landing permission' by the Chief Immigration Officer for stays of up to 15 days, as long as they hold return air tickets. Although this method is fairly unorthodox, and is not available for the average traveller.

Citizens of all other countries need a visa to enter Bangladesh. It is preferred you obtain it in your home country, but it's also possible to process a visa at embassies and consulates in neighboring countries. Visas are available on arrival only if there is no Bangladeshi diplomatic mission within the country you're a citizen of, or if you're a 'privileged investor' invited by a Bangladeshi export trade body. Be ready to show paperwork indicating invitations from the said government organizations.

If you were a Bangladeshi citizen at some point in time and now hold a passport from a different country, you can contact your nearest Bangladesh High Commission for your "No Visa Required" stamp, which works as a permanent visa as long as your passport containing the stamp doesn't expire. This option is also available to the children and grandchildren Bangladeshi citizens.

If you apply in your home country you can usually obtain a 3 month visa if arriving by air, or 15 days if arriving at a land border crossing. Fees vary depending on nationality and length of visa requested.

  • Australian citizens - All visas cost Aus$150 from the Bangladesh High Commission in Canberra. For further information, visit the High Commission's official website here: [2]. See note above where apparently visa can be purchased on arrival.
  • Belgian citizens - As of August 2013 there is no website for the embassy of Bangladesh in Belgium. A single-entry tourist visa allows you to stay one month (up to three on special request) and needs to be used within three months of being delivered. It is supposed to be delivered one week after the request has been introduced. The visa office is open from 09:30 to 11:30. You need to go to the embassy in person or to send someone for you to request the visa and to retrieve it. You need to provide the following documents when introducing your request:
    • Plane tickets to/from Bangladesh (optional)
    • Hotel booking in Bangladesh (at least the first one)
    • Filled Machine Readable Visa Application Form (you can get the empty form by e-mail if you call the embassy on the phone)
    • Two photographs
    • Your passport
    • 50€
  • Canadian citizens - A single-entry visa for 3 months is C$80 and a multiple-entry visa is C$158. The visa form for Canada is here: [3] . Tourist visas are now issued upon arrival for 30 days at the airport, and may be extended for stays up to 60 days.
  • UK citizens - A single-entry visa is £40, double entry is £52, 3 entries for £75, and £104 for 4 entries. Applying for a visa from the UK is detailed here. The UK also boasts Bangladeshi consular offices in Birmingham and Manchester: [4].
  • US citizens - The embassy is in Washington D.C.: [5]. The visa fee is US$160 if obtained from within the USA, and can be applied for by mail. There are also consulates in Los Angeles [6] and New York [7] who will answer most questions; ensure you read the 'visa requirements' sections carefully. A U.S. cashier's check, money order or bank draft should be made payable to "Consulate General of Bangladesh". International money orders, personal checks and cash are not acceptable. Visas on Arrival are available to US tourists for up to 30 days (length may differ at some land borders), provided they have at least $500 in cash or travellers checks. The fee, still $160, must be paid in cash (USD, EUR or GBP).

The Bangladesh High Commission in Kolkata, Circus Ave (Just east of AJC Bose Rd), +91 (0)33 2290 5208/5209, issues only 15-day visas, ranging from free for Indians to a hefty Rs 5000 (~US $110) for American citizens. Applications are received at window #4 weekdays from 9-11AM, and visas are generally ready the next afternoon. Bring 3 passport photos and copies of passport and Indian visa.

Visa extensions

Visa extensions are possible in Dhaka at the Immigration and Passport Office on Agargaon Rd. Fees are the same as a single-entry visa, even if just trying to expand your 15 day pittance into a full-fledged 30-90 day visa, making a sidetrip from India for longer than 15 days an expensive endeavor. If you want to stay only a little longer, it's better to just pay the overstay fee of Tk 200/day for up to 15 days, which grows substantially to Tk 500/day thereafter. Some of the smaller backwater crossings such as Tamabil may not even notice that you've overstayed if you don't point it out yourself.

By plane

The main gateway to the country is Dhaka's Shahjalal International Airport, (IATA: DAC) (Bengali: ???????? ??????????? ??????????) though there are also limited international flights from regional centres Chittagong and Sylhet.

The national carrier is Biman Bangladesh Airlines, though the airline has a less-than-stellar reputation for punctuality, cleanliness, safety and maintaining routes. It underwent a major restructuring to recoup financial losses and many routes have been cancelled. See Wikipedia for a fairly updated list.

The private carrier United Airways has taken the advantage of Biman's poor service and has expanded to serve many major hubs throughout Asia. See Wikipedia.

There are good connections to Dhaka from the Middle East with Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways through which it is possible to connect to most Asian and European capitals and several North American hubs. Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are other major Asian hubs that have regular flights to the country and beyond. Turkish Airlines has daily flights from Istanbul.

Another popular route of getting to Bangladesh is via Indian carriers, of which Air India operates a non-stop flight between London and Dhaka. Although, these airlines are often plagued with mismanagement and cancellations. Nearby regional destinations like Kathmandu in Nepal, Paro in Bhutan, Kunming in China and all Indian cities are readily accessible from Dhaka in under three hours and are served by a great number of private airlines.

By bus

The only open land borders are those with India. No land crossing is possible to Myanmar (occasionally Bangladesh passport holders are allowed to cross from Teknaf, though this changes regularly).

From Kolkata

From India there are a number of land entry points. The most common way is the regular comfortable a/c buses from Kolkata to Dhaka via the Haridaspur/Benapole border post. Private Bangladeshi bus companies Shohagh, Green Line, Shyamoli among others operate daily Kolkata-Dhaka-Kolkata bus services. Govt. buses run under the label of the state owned West Bengal Surface Transport Service Corporation (WBSTSC) and the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC). WBSTSC and BRTC operate buses from Kolkata (Karunamoyee international bus terminus in the Salt Lake neighborhood) every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 5:30AM and 8:30AM, and 12:30PM while from Dhaka they leave on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7AM and 7:30AM. The normal journey time is around 12 hours with a one-way fare of Rs550 or Tk 600-800. If you're headed only to Haridaspur the fare is Rs86 (2.5 hours). Timings will vary, please confirm after arrival in Kolkata (Calcutta).

From Siliguri

"Shayamoli Paribhahan" has a bus service from Siliguri to Dhaka.Phone# +8802-8360241, +8801716942154. It cost around 1000/=(may increase later) Taka for one way ticket.

From Agartala

There is a regular bus service between Dhaka and Agartala, capital of India's Tripura state. Two BRTC buses leave daily from Dhaka and connect with the Tripura Road Transport Corporation vehicles, running six days a week with a roundtrip fare of Tk 600. There is only one halt at Ashuganj in Bangladesh during the journey. Call +880 2 8360241 for schedule.

Other entry points from India are Hili, Chilahati / Haldibari and Banglaband border posts for entry from West Bengal; Tamabil / Dawki border post for a route between Shillong (Meghalaya) and Sylhet in Bangladesh, and some others with lesser known routes from north-eastern Indian regions.

By train

Train services from India were suspended for 42 years, but the Maitree Express has started running again between Dhaka to Kolkata. The service is biweekly: A Bangledeshi train leaves Dhaka every Saturday, returning on Sunday, while an Indian train leaves Kolkata on Saturdays and returns the next day.

Get around

By plane

Air travel in Bangladesh is very affordable and convenient. Domestic airlines come and go, so it is worth checking to see who is the latest and most reliable carrier. Service quality and aircraft condition tends to drop off after a new airline opens, leaving the market open for new entrants and closure for the oldest.

There are airports in all of the division capitals and in JessoreCox's Bazar and some other small cities. Most of the domestic airports are served by either Biman Air [8] or their private competitors.

Biman had the interesting distinction of flying the half-hour Dhaka-Chittagong (DAC-CGP) leg (~400 km, 250 miles) on DC-10's and Airbus A-310's - both large wide-body jets. The DC-10's were withdrawn is 2014.

As of 2015, Novoair [9], United Airways [10], Regent Airways [11] and US Bangla Airways are the four private operators offering excellent domestic and international flights. Novoair is the latest airline to join the club and has Embraer jet aircraft giving very short flight times. There are reports that United Airlines pilots have been forced to state that planes are in good condition, even without proper maintenance checks. Most of the private operators use the Bombardier DASH-8.

GMG Airlines are the most recent operator to close.

By helicopter

There are quite a few rotor-wing craft services available for hire in Bangladesh for tourism, MEDEVAC or Film-footage services. Any reputable travel agent will know full details. As of now - one service "ATL" is at, ATL [12] or at ATL [13].

By bus

Road travel in Bangladesh is dangerous and not recommended for visitors. Air travel is cheap and serves all major destinations and is recommended for longer journeys.

Local Bangladeshi buses are generally crowded, often to the extent of people riding on the bus steps (entrance) and sometimes even the roof. The state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation [14] (BRTC) buses usually fall into this category. Avoid all of the low cost buses - they are easy to spot by their extremely poor condition. There are daily fatal accidents involving them. If you do use them, it is worth noting that they do not usually stop, but rather slow down slightly to let passengers on or off. Additionally, fare collectors, disconcertingly, do not wear uniform making them difficult to identify. If you do not speak the language you may have to simply jump on the bus (literally) and give money to the first person who asks you.

However, there are luxurious air conditioned bus services connecting major cities and popular tourist destinations. Green Line [15], Shyamoli [16], SilkLine [17] and Shohagh [18] usually have a couple different offices dotted around the cities they serve. Greenline has a few Scania buses running between DhakaChittagong and Cox's Bazar that offer a level of comfort you've probably never seen in a bus before - they cost about 1/3 more than their Volvo buses, but are comparable to business class on an airplane, at least.

By car

Driving in Bangladesh is not for the faint hearted - the road network is fairly good, but dodging irrational bus drivers and weaving in and out of rickshaws isn't easy on the nerves. Driving standards are some of the worst in the world, as notable by the many cars which have bumper bars that encircle the whole car. Traffic in Dhaka has reached unimaginable proportions, and self-driving is definitely not advised. Parking places are non-existent. It is highly advised to hire a local driver. Night time driving is substantially more dangerous as trucks/buses often ignore smaller cars; road travel at night should be avoided, regardless of who's driving. If you hire a driver be sure to get a car with heavy window tinting. Traffic is slow enough that your car will likely be surrounded by pedestrians a majority of the time, and foreigners tend to attract groups of curious Bangladeshis. To avoid this level of attention, it is better if pedestrians can't see inside the vehicle.

Officially, cars drive on the left; in reality, cars drive on any side of the road. The speed limit is 25 km/h on all urban roads, though it is highly unlikely a vehicle will even reach this speed with the traffic. Many traffic lights have been installed in recent times, but these are often disregarded by both drivers and traffic police. Traffic police direct cars on all major intersections in urban areas. On many country roads, it is illegal to overtake; but again, this is completely ignored, with locals employing extremely dangerous manoeuvres when passing the vehicle in front of them. The cities are well lit, but country roads often lack street lighting. Some new inter-city roads have tolls, especially new bridges; these are fairly cheap.

By train

Bangladesh Railways is the state and only train operator. The ticket prices are reasonable and usually similar to bus ticket prices and sometimes even cheaper. However, due to the roundabout routes and tricky river crossings, the journey durations are usually much longer. Tickets can be booked over the phone, though unless you speak Bengali you're likely to get better results at one of the computerized station booking offices.

Trains are generally comfortable, with more leg room than buses and tea, water, and snacks are readily available from vendors. Though the carriages are generally not very clean, the AC and 1st class seats are manageable. Sulob class is the highest 2nd class ticket, with reserved seating and not much different from 1st class (except in price).

Kamlapur Rail Station in Dhaka is large and modern. It serves all major cities but due to the existence of broad gauge and meter gauge tracks around the country it may be required to change trains en route.

By boat

There are over 230 mighty and small rivers throughout the country, and boats and ferries are an integral part of travel for locals and tourists alike. A journey along the river in any mode is probably the best way to see Bangladesh. There are a number of private tour operators offering river sightseeing trips of various lengths, or using the ferries to get between cities is a great way to see the country at a moderate pace.

The Rocket Steamer service connects Dhaka and Khulna via Barisal, and is a fantastic way to enjoy riverine Bangladesh, for those who prefer the scenic route. The 4 ferries are operated by BIWTC and run several times per week in each direction. It's advisable to book several days in advance if possible. While there are several different classes it's unlikely that you will end up in anything but 1st or 2nd class. Both of these consist of around 10 small berths on the upper deck of the boat with 2 beds each and a sink (no doubt doubling as a urinal), and fairly clean shared bathrooms. There's a central dining/sitting room in each class with a chef cooking Bengali meals and the odd fish-and-chips or an omelette for around Tk 50-150. Cheaper food can be bought at the vendors in the lower classes on the bottom level. First class is at the front of the boat, with the bow made into a nice sitting area. If you're traveling single you must book 2 beds if you want a berth guaranteed to yourself in either class, though unless the boat is completely full it's unlikely they'll put someone in a foreigner's room even if you just pay for one. The full journey takes anywhere from 26–30 hours and costs Tk 1010/610 in first/second class. It's best avoided during the rainy seasons and during holidays when the launches get over crowded with home-returning city dwellers. The more eco-friendly may prefer to take their trash off with them: otherwise, it's likely to end up in the river at the end of the journey.

BIWTC also operates many other more basic ferries that may be useful for smaller distances.

Talk

The national language is Bengali (Bangla) and is spoken everywhere. It's an Indo-Aryan language derived from Prakit, Pali and Sanskrit and written in its own script. While educated people may speak fluent English, many Bangladeshis understand only limited English such as basic affirmatives, negatives, and some numbers. This is especially so in rural areas and among the lower socio-economic classes. Learning a few Bengali words ahead of your trip will prove very useful.

Two centuries of British colonisation lead people to identify most foreigners as either British or Americans, and to view them with curiosity. The first question you will probably be asked is "What is your country?" ("Desh kothay?" in Bangla). If hawkers or rickshaw-wallahs are over-zealous in selling you their products or services, simply say "Amar dorkar nai" ("I don't need [this item]") or "Lagbey nah" ("No need") as a colloquial way of saying "No, thanks."

If you don't wish to give money to beggars and other unfortunates, simply tell them "Maaf koro" (with informal you) or "Maaf koren" (with polite/formal you), which means "Pardon me"; or you can apply a tricky concept by saying "Amar bangthi poisha nai", meaning "I have no change." Above all, if you're refusing a service or product, don't linger. Walk on as you say these phrases. Otherwise, your lingering may be misinterpreted by peddlers as your uncertainty about refusal.

See

Bangladesh as a vacation land has many facets. Her tourist attractions include archaeological sites, historic mosques and monuments, resorts, beaches, picnic spots, forest and wildlife. Bangladesh offers opportunities for angling, water-skiing, river cruising, hiking, rowing, surfing, yachting and sea bathing as well as bringing one in close touch with Mother Nature. She is also rich in wildlife and game birds.

  • Sundarbans — A UNESCO world heritage site, largest mangrove forest on the earth.
  • Cox's Bazar — The world’s longest uninterrupted natural sandy sea beach.
  • St. Martins Island — Bangladesh’s only coral island.
  • Mowdok Mual - The highest peak of the country.
  • Nafa-khum Waterfall - The largest waterfall of Bangladesh, and also a place to enjoy rafting on local boats.
  • Lawachara National Park - IUCN category V protected landscape, a tropical forest of Bangladesh.
  • Padma River - One of the country's main rivers

If you arrive at a historic monument after it has already closed for the day, it may be possible to "pay" a security guard an "after hours tour fee" to be quickly taken around a site.

Buy

Money

The currency of Bangladesh is the Bangladeshi taka, denoted by the symbol "Tk" (ISO code: BDT). The updated exchange rate can be found in the official website of the Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of Bangladesh[19]. But this rate can vary in different money exchange booth.

ATMs are widely available in all cities and even smaller towns. These ATMs accept all MasterCard and Visa credit/debit cards. Most international banks in the country such as Standard Chartered and Citibank also rely on the Dutch-Bangla Bank Nexus ATM network for their own clients. HSBC [20] ATMs are located at most hotels but accept only Visa debit/credit cards and HSBC GlobalAccess cards (no MasterCard).

Most ATMs are usually quite safe to use as most will be set inside a building with a security guard standing (or more likely sitting) guard at the door.

Shopping

Bangladesh is one of the largest ready-made garment manufacturers in the world, exporting clothing for famous brands such as Nike, Adidas and Levis. Though these products are usually not meant for sale in the local markets, they can be found in abundance in famous shopping areas such as Banga Bazaar and Dhaka College.

In most stores, prices are not fixed. Even most stores that display 'fixed-price' label tolerate bargaining. Prices can thus be lowered quite considerably. If bargaining is not your strong point ask a local in the vicinity politely what they think you should pay. Besides there are loads of handicraft, boutique shops. There are lots of shopping malls in and around Dhaka and Chittagong. Foreigners will usually be changed a higher cost, however you will not usually be priced gouged, with what you are changed usually being only slightly more than what the locals would pay, with the difference for small items often being only a matter of a few US cents.

Aarong [21] is one of the largest and most popular handicraft and clothing outlets with stores in DhakaChittagongSylhet and Khulna. It's a great place for souvenirs or to pick up a stylish kurta or salwar kameez at fixed prices.

Women can find a cotton shalwar kameez for around Tk 400 in a market or Tk 800-1500 in a shop. Silk is more expensive.

Eat

See also: South Asian cuisine

Bangladesh is a fish lover's paradise. Traditionally most of the country lives off of the once-bountiful fresh-water river fish, especially the officially designated "national fish" Hilsa. The Hilsa has a nice flavour but some may find the many fine bones difficult to manage; if you can master eating this fish, consider yourself on par with the locals in fish-eating and deboning expertise. Various recipes exist for cooking Hilsa, suitable for all seasons and all regions of the country. Mutton is also popular, as in most Muslim countries, as is decidedly lean or hard chicken. Rice is almost always the staple side dish. Due to Muslim beliefs, pork is a banned item in Bangladesh and is neither consumed nor sold.

Mixed vegetable curries are plentiful - potato, eggplant, squash and tomatoes are the staple ingredients. Gourds, tubers and certain root vegetables are common. In the major cities (Dhaka, Chittagong, etc.), you will find a larger variety of vegetables than in rural areas.

The idea of salad varies from the international standard. In Bangladesh, salad has not been extensively developed, and "kacha" (raw) vegetables are generally not deemed very appetizing or palatable (with the exception of cucumbers), especially in more rural or suburban areas and in less Westernized households. Traditionally, most salad vegetables (carrots, celery, lettuce, paprika, etc.) were not even grown in most agrarian households, so the use of these vegetables was extremely rare. Hence, borrowing from the Mughal traditions, a few round slices of onions and cucumbers, spiced with salt, chilies, etc., is often treated as a full plate of salad.

Dal is usually a given side dish or meal course for all households, even the poorest or most rural (who often cannot afford any other daily meal courses). Most Bangladeshi dal varies from its West Bengali counterpart, and even more so from its other Indian counterparts, primarily because it is more watery and less concentrated or spiced. An easy analogy would be that whereas most Indian dal is more like thick stew, most Bangladeshi dal is more like light soup or broth. The Hindus of Bangladesh have greater varieties of Dal recipes, just as they have greater varieties of vegetarian dishes. The Muslims have thicker and more spiced varieties of dal. Dal recipes vary regionally in Bangladesh, so be careful not to over-generalize after a brief experience.

Boiled eggs (dhim) are a popular snack (Tk 10-15), and fresh fruit is abundant, such as bananas (Tk 5-7/each), apples (Chinese, Tk 100-150/kg), oranges, grapes, pomegranates and papayas. Delicious and diverse, mangos (Tk 25-90/kg in summer) are a very popular fruit throughout Bangladesh.

Fast food restaurants and bakeries serving burgers, kababs, spring rolls, vegetable patties and just about anything else you can throw in a deep fryer are dotted around most cities. Most items will run around Tk 30-120/each.Bangladesh also has international fast food chains like Pizza Hut, KFC, A&W, Nando's.

Bangladesh also offers a variety of desserts, including chomchom (pictured).

To enjoy the tastes of Dhaka one needs to go to old Dhaka. The Haji biriyani, Nanna biriyani are a must. Also Al Razzak restaurant is famous for its Shahi food. To savour local food one must go to Korai Gost at Dhanmondi Satmosjid road, Kasturi restaurant at Gulshan & Purana Paltan area. No one should leave Bangladesh without tasting the Phuchka and Chatpati available in the streets of Dhaka,Chittagong. Also there are loads of Chinese and Thai restaurants in Bangladesh which serve localized Chinese and thai dishes.Bailey road in Dhaka is the unofficial food street of the nation followed by Satmoshjid Road. Dhaka also has Japanese, Korean and Indian restaurants located mostly in Gulshan area. For world class ice creams do visit Movenpick, Club Gelato in Gulshan. To taste kebab, Babecue tonight in Dhanmondi is the best followed by Koyla in Gulshan.

Most Bangladeshis eat with their right hand as in neighboring countries. Never use your left hand to bring food to your mouth, though it's ok to use it for bringing a glass to your mouth or to serve food from a common dish with a spoon. Every restaurant will have a handwashing station (sometimes just a pitcher of water and a bowl if they don't have running water), and you should use this before and after the meal. To eat with your hand, rake in a little portion of the rice and a bit of the curry to an open space on your plate (usually create a bit of space on the side of the plate closest to you, sufficiently inward from the rim but NOT in the center of the plate), and mix the rice and curry with your fingers. Then, create a little ball or mound (it should be compact and modestly sized, but does not need to be perfectly shaped or anything—function over form!) of the mixture and pick it up with all your fingers, and scoop in into your mouth. Your fingers should not enter your mouth in the process, and your upper fingers and palms should not get dirty either. Only toddlers and foreigners/tourists are exempted from these rules. It doesn't matter a whole lot if you don't get it all exactly right, but know that the entire restaurant is watching and waiting to see if you do. Attempting to eat with your hands and failing miserably will raise many a smile. The use of cutlery (except serving spoons for common dishes) is lacking in rural areas and poorer households, and basic cutlery (i.e., spoons, sometimes a fork) is sometimes available in urban restaurants and more Westernized, urban households. However, the use of hands is a more humble and culturally respectful gesture, especially from a tourist.

Table-sharing is acceptable and even expected in most establishments, with the exception of nicer urban restaurants. Many places have separate curtained-off booths for women and families, a nice reprieve from prying eyes.

Drink

Nightlife in Bangladesh is nearly non-existent. Being a Muslim country, alcohol is frowned upon and found mostly in the international clubs and pricier restaurants in Dhaka and in some restaurants in tourist centers like Cox's Bazar. In Teknaf and on Saint Martins Island you may stumble upon the occasional beer smuggled in from Myanmar. Some of the nicest hotels in the cities have fully equipped bars with exaggerated prices to match. However, lack of commercial availability of liquor should not always be confused with cultural aversion to alcohol in mainstream society. You'll likely find that Bengali Christians and many urbanized, upper-class Muslims privately have a more liberal, Westernized attitude toward social consumption of alcohol. However most 5-star hotels like Radisson, Sheraton. Shonargoan, Regency etc. and few clubs in Gulshan, hold DJ dance parties on frequent basis. Foreigners may bump into one of those parties if they are lucky. Usual entrance fees of such parties are around Tk 2000. Young people of upper class and higher uper class of the society are the main portion of the formed crowd. How ever in some places, western clothed hired companions are available. Foreigners looking for a clean vacation should stay away from them using common sense. Alcoholic drinks are rare.

Coffee is aperennial middle-class 'Adda' (gossip) accompaniment in this city. A popular chain is 'Coffeeworld' , of which there are several in Dhaka. Instant coffee is widely available.

Tea is everywhere. Ask for red tea if you do not want milk.

Fruit juices are plentiful, varied and delicious, though be wary of watered down or icy drinks and dirty blenders. Raw sugarcane juice is widely available during the hot season, and usually safe, as are coconuts, which are widely available.

Smoking in public places is prohibited. You can be fined Tk 50 for smoking publicly.

Do

There's a lot happening around the city. Like any large metropolis there are dramas, concerts and performances galore—both of the western and local variety. Yes it is possible to end up at a live rave event with thrash music in Dhaka!

Sleep

There's a broad range of hotels in the country, from economy hotels costing US$1 per night (sometimes filthy and sometimes reluctant to take foreigners) up to 5-star hotels in some of the major cities.

Visit

Bangladesh is a country with lots of places to visit, many of which offer unforgettable experiences but remain relatively unknown to the rest of the world.

Dhaka is a pulsing, gritty conglomerate, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It has a number of attractions for the tourists, including the Lalbagh Quilla, Ahsan Manjil, Shaheed Minar, Boro Katra, Choto Katra, the National Museum, Jatiyo Songshad Bhaban (the Parliament Building) etc. The Suhrawardy Uddan and the Ramna Park are two parks that provide green respite to city dwellers. Other tourist attractions include places like Baitul Mukarram (National Mosque), the High Court Building, the Bangabandhu Museum, etc. If you're visiting only one thing, then the LalBagh Qilla fort is a must-see, in the older part of town. The older part of Dhaka, known as "Puran Dhaka", is literally a city of history, with hundred-year-old buildings crammed on each side of hundreds of narrow lanes. Each "Moholla" (city block) of Puran Dhaka is unique with its specialized shops and artisans and gives a taste of Dhaka

The rest of Bangladesh is also ornamented with thousands of gems, most of which remain hidden and await exploration. The names are endless, but the prominent ones include, Moynamoti, Paharpur (Shompur Bihar), Mohasthangor, Kantajir Mondir, Ramshagor, Shatgombuj Mosque, Khanjahan Ali's Shrine, Shriti Shoudho etc. These sites offer architectures from various eras of the country's history, including Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim eras and date back thousand years.

The natural beauty of Bangladesh can be explored away from the hustle and bustle of Dhaka, the Capital. Cox's Bazar is home to one of the longest unbroken sea beaches in the world. Also, it has the largest mangrove forest in the world, the "Sundarbans" ("beautiful forests", named after the "Sundari" [beautiful] trees in it). The hill tracts of Rangamati, Khagrachori and "Bandarban" ("monkey forest") offer exciting trekking opportunities, while the Kaptai Lake (situated amongst the hills of Rangamati) can be considered a romantic getaway. The villages are the true countryside of Bangladesh and almost always have green paddy fields and yellow mustard fields with flowing rivers. Other natural wonders of Bangladesh include the Padma (Ganges) river, the Madhabkunda, Jaflong, the tea gardens of Sylhet/Sreemangal and Moulovibazar, etc.

Stay safe

As of 5 July 2016, the USA and Japan have issued travel alerts to Bangladesh, due to the series of attacks specifically aimed at foreigners perpetrated by Islamist militants, which started on September 2015, and another one occurring in 1 July 2016, where an attack in a cafe in Dhaka resulted in the death of 20 foreigners.

Bangladesh is a country full of friendly and open-minded people. But being a poor country with a high poverty rate, there are some impoverished or bad-natured people who may find ways to exploit a foreigner/tourist. See common scams and pickpockets for some of their methods.

Apply common sense precautions, such as not walking around unnecessarily or alone after dark. Also, if you do find yourself in trouble, create some noise and draw the attention of others who are almost certain to come to your aid. Foreigners, particularly Caucasian, will for the most part will be safe when walking around city streets as you will undoubtedly be watched by multiple curious locals at any one time. When travelling by rickshaw, CNG (auto-rickshaw) or bus, be careful to keep valuables close at hand. Don't wear expensive jewellery without precaution; most middle-class locals now simply wear imitation gold/silver and rhinestones/clay and beaded pendants.

The clothing of local women varies, according to religion and degree of religious conservatism, socio-political climate (varies from time to time), geographic region, and socio-economic status. In general, as a female tourist, it is wisest to wear at least the salwar kameez, which is both easy to wear and relatively versatile and functional, while being generally culturally respectful. If you don't own or want to buy a salwar kameez you should use a large scarf to drape around your upper body. Bangladesh is a conservative society, and as a foreign woman you will attract incredible amounts of attention. Do not wear shorts, tank tops, or anything showing much skin. However, most of Bangladesh is a relatively open-minded Muslim country, and the youth in major cities (e.g., Dhaka, Chittagong) are quite Westernized.

Nationwide strikes or “hartals” are widely employed as a means of political expression in Bangladesh. The political opposition over the past several years has called a number of these hartals, resulting in the virtual shutdown of transportation and commerce, and sometimes attacks on individuals who do not observe the hartals. Clashes between rival political groups during hartals have resulted in deaths and injuries. Visitors should avoid all political protests, demonstrations, and marches. During hartals, visitors should exercise caution in all areas and remain indoors whenever possible. Hartals, demonstrations, and other protests can occur at ANY time and can last from anywhere from a day to weeks. If you find yourself in Bangladesh during a strike, assume that any road transportation options you had booked are no longer options as protesters have a history of blocking streets and burning any vehicles that are on the road. Your alternate plan should be to take the train as protesters rarely block train tracks. If you do desperately need to get somewhere during a strike (such as the airport) you can arrange to hire an ambulance to take you through strike zones for a large fee. During strikes parts of Dhaka may be under police control, making it safe to travel by vehicle.

It's best to not eat, drink or smoke anything offered to you by strangers - there's a growing problem in many Asian countries of drugging, and you're likely to see signs warning you against it on buses, trains, etc. That's not to say you shouldn't take someone up on their offer for a home cooked meal, but you may want to think twice about that piece of candy the person in the seat next to you just handed to you. Also, be careful about the sanitation procedures of local street food and snacks.

Speeding bus/coaches/trucks cause many deaths. Road signs and traffic lights are often ignored by cars, and traffic jams are always a given, making it very difficult for pedestrians to travel. It is wisest NOT to drive yourself or to walk major roads alone. Consequently, road travel (if absolutely necessary) is best undertaken with an experienced local driver in a good vehicle with safety belts. Use rickshaws with precaution; although a very authentic local drive, it is also the most dangerous vehicle for transport, especially on major routes (now being banned).

Prison sentences ranging from 2 to 10 years are prescribed for homosexual activity between consenting adults under Bangladeshi law. LGBT travelers should exercise discretion.

Stay healthy

  • Bottled water is recommended, as the tap water is often unsafe for foreign stomachs, and some hand-drawn tube wells are contaminated with naturally occurring arsenic. This will easily pass through filters designed only to screen out bacteria. A more environmentally friendly option is to boil your own water, or use purifying tablets. However, nothing short of distillation will remove arsenic. Recommended brands: Mum, Fresh and Spa.
  • It's also wise to use discretion when eating from street vendors - make sure it's freshly cooked and hot.
  • Mosquitoes can be abundant in some areas and cities, especially during the rainy and humid seasons, and nets covering your bed at night are often provided, even in some of the cheapest hotels and in all households.
  • Consult your travel doctor about precautions against malaria and typhoid fever. Get vaccinated and take preventive and curative medication with you before you go.
  • Pollution can be a problem, and in some of the cities like Dhaka and Chittagong you may wish you'd brought along an oxygen tank. While some effort has been shown recently to clean up the country such as the banning of plastic bags, there's still a long way to go and most people use the many waterways as garbage dumps - it would be unwise to swim in most of the rivers and downright senseless in a lake.

Respect

Most Bangladeshis are religious, but fairly liberal and secular points of view are not uncommon. The people in general are very hospitable, and a few precautions will keep it this way:

  • As in most neighbouring countries, the left hand is considered unclean and is used for toilet duties, removing shoes, etc. Hence, always use your right hand to offer or receive anything, and to bring food to your mouth.
  • Men, especially strangers and foreigners, should never attempt to shake hands with or touch local women — simply put your hand on your heart and bow slightly to greet.
  • Women travelling without men may find it slightly harder to get an auto-rickshaw driver who will take them to their destination.
  • Mosques are sometimes off-limits to non-Muslims and certain areas of them off-limits to women. Inquire with someone at the mosque before entering and before taking any pictures. Cover your head and arms and legs, and take off your shoes before entering.
  • Standing from your seat and bowing slightly to greet elderly individuals will gain you respect and social approval. Do not refer to your elders or those in socially senior positions to you (i.e.: doctors, professors/teachers, religious leaders, etc.) by their first names; this is considered extremely rude and utmostly derogatory. Children do not call their parents by their first or last names, and in some regions of the country, wives do not call their husbands by their first names either.
  • Keep in mind that Bangladesh sees only a tiny number of foreign visitors, and most locals will be genuinely curious about you, watching your every move and expression. Don't underestimate how impressionable some can be, make sure you're leaving good ones!

Cope

Electricity

Electricity is 220V 50 Hz. There are three types of electrical outlets likely to be found in Bangladesh — the old British standard BS-546, the newer British standard BS-1363 and the European standard CEE-7/16 "Europlug". It's wise to pack adapters for all three.

Clothing

Most women wear either a sari or a salwar kameez [an easy/ready-to-wear, three-piece outfit, with a knee-length tunic ("kameez"), pants ("salwar") and a matching scarf ("urna")]. Foreign women may want to consider wearing at least the salwar kameez, out of general cultural respect. Having said this, rapid westernization has changed how modern city dwellers dress, especially the upper class. Jeans, shirts and t-shirts are common among the younger generation, although remember it's polite to keep your shoulders, chest and legs covered. This also goes for men – shorts are worn only by young boys, and undershirts are worn alone (without a shirt covering it) only by the lowest class in public.

Shaving

Men can easily leave their razors at home and rely on the ever-present barber shops where a basic shave will run around Tk 10-20. Make sure they use a new blade, though you won't usually have to ask. "Deluxe" shaves will run around double price and barbers will often assume foreign tourists want this, so be clear if you're just after a quick shave and don't want the dubious massage and forehead/nose shaving.

Tipping

In upscale restaurants around 7% is expected, but outside of these at informal food joints and with street food vendors, it's the exception not the rule. Consider tipping the driver and delivery men modestly.

News

  • The Daily Star
  • The Bangladesh Observer
  • The News Today
  • The New Nation

FM radio stations

  • ABC Radio (Dhaka) - 89.2 MHz
  • Foorti - 88.0 MHz (Dhaka), 98.4 MHz (Chittagong), 89.8 MHz (Sylhet)
  • Radio Today - 89.6 MHz(Dhaka), 88.6 MHz(Chittagong)
  • Radio Aamar - 88.4 MHz(Dhaka)
  • Bangladesh Betar (Relays BBC World Service) - 100.00 MHz

Overseas embassies

  • Washington D.C., 3510 International Drive NW, [22].

Connect

Telephone

The country code for Bangladesh is 880. Add a 0 to make a call to any Bangladesh city or region outside the national capital.

It is not possible to access international information (directory assistance) from within Bangladesh. If you need international directory assistance, check the Internet telephone directories.

Landlines are a rarity in Bangladesh, and aren't reliable even when you can find them. Bangladesh Telephone Company Ltd. (BTCL or formerly BTTB, known generally as T&T) is the public sector phone company and the only landline service in the country.

Mobile phones are a better bet and widely available. In most towns they'll be your only option, and many shop owners let theirs double as PCOs/ISDs. Banglalink [23] and Grameenphone [24] are the most widely available, followed by Citycell [25], Robi [26], Teletalk [27] and Airtel [28]. Except Citycell all work on the GSM network and offer prepaid packages at reasonable prices – usually about Tk 140 ($2) to get started. International calls are possible, and often more reasonably priced than you would expect if you're calling the US or major European countries although prices can rise drastically as you get more off the beaten path. E-ISD facility offered by different mobile phone service providers can reduce the cost significantly. For the E-ISD service dial 012 instead of 00/+.

Internet

Internet is available in most of the larger towns, with prices hovering around Tk 25-30/hour. Most are on broadband connections, but speed does not meet international standards. WiMAX service is now available from some internet service providers. You can also find WiFi connectivity in some places around the big cities.

You can also use mobile operator's connection. All operators such as teletalk (governmental operator) grameenphone, airtel, robi, banglink has 3G connection. You can use in your phone. If you want to use in laptop, you should buy a modem, which can cost Tk 1000-1300.

Data cost is lower here. You can find 1GB at Tk 100 or less, from any operator. Just call to operators call center. they will explain you, how to get data. Speak in English with call centre agents.

Internet calls may be possible, though the Information Ministry has outlawed them. Try Dialpad [29], Hotelphone [30], Mediaring [31] or Skype [32]. You'll likely need your own microphone/headphone.

The Amateur Traveler talks to Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll about their recent trip to Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country, but all those people are one of Bangladesh's strengths."

Kate in Senggigi

What does budget travel mean to you?

For some of my friends, it means downgrading to a three-star hotel instead of a luxury property. For others, it’s giving up their private rooms for hostel dorms.

Budget travel is unique to everyone. The broadest definition of budget travel is being financially conscious during your travels.

I asked my Facebook fans a question: how low-budget would you go? Hostel dorms? Couchsurfing? Never eating in a restaurant, ever? They had a lot of great answers and I’ve included them throughout this post.

Leon Nicaragua

Extreme Budget Travel

I define extreme budget travel — or what I like to call traveling “on the hobo” — as traveling while spending the least amount of money possible.

“I had some Couchsurfers come stay with me that are doing a long term trip with a $0 budget for accommodation. If they can’t find CS hosts they camp. One was sleeping in temples in Myanmar. He said his average is $5/day but oftentimes only spends $3. They also only hitchhike everywhere.” –Nathan

Accommodation? Free only. Couchsurfing or camping in their own tent or van. Possibly sleeping in churches, temples or mosques. Free lodging via working gigs. Hostel dorms if there’s no other option.

Transportation? Free or very cheap only. Hitchhiking or traveling in their own vehicle. If anything, an occasional bus ride or public transit.

Food? Cheap only. Supermarket fare or cheap street food. No restaurants, ever. Maybe an occasional takeaway kebab.

Attractions? Free only. In cities, walking around and taking photos, enjoying free museums and attractions. In the countryside, hiking and exploring. Forget about paying for a ticket.

How to get by? Working from time to time. WWOOFing, Workaway gigs, working in hostels or bars, busking, random gigs along the way.

And while there are occasional exceptions, the above is largely how extreme budget travelers spend their time on the road.

Here are some examples:

We Visited Over 50 Countries In Our Van Spending Just $8 Per Day

This is How a Guy Traveled Through Southeast Asia On Just $10 Per Day

I just came back from a 5-months travel. I’ve done hitch-hiked over 15 000km, and have been living as a homeless for pretty much 4 months.

Amman Skyline

The Pros of Extreme Budget Travel

Travel longer. See more. The less you spend, the more time you have to see everything the world has to offer. The price you would pay for a midrange two-week trip could grow into a multi-month extravaganza when traveling on the hobo.

Enjoying the same sights at a fraction of the price. Nobody charges you to walk through the piazzas of Florence, nor do you pay anything to enjoy the white sand beaches of Boracay. It feels awesome to look around and know that you paid far less than everyone else!

Expensive destinations aren’t off-limits. One thing I noticed was that extreme budget travelers don’t shy away from expensive countries. You find just as many extreme budget travelers in Norway and Australia as you do in Laos and India.

“Curiously enough it’s easier to spend less in expensive countries. It’s easier to say no to a $25 hotel room and camp, than to say no to a $5 hotel room and camp. In Europe I’d go camping and couchsurfing all the time out of necessity, but here in Asia I’d happily pay for accommodation, because it’s cheaper. But of course that adds up and in the end I pay more. I remember spending 6 months in the US and Canada and I spend $0 on accommodation. :D” –Meph248 on Reddit

Having more local experience. You’ll get to know locals more intimately, whether it means couchsurfing in locals’ homes, working with locals, hitchhiking with locals, or shopping at the local markets. Plenty of travelers will pass through the same town without having a conversation with someone who wasn’t a waiter or hostel employee.

The time of your life — on very little cash. You’ll have great stories to tell your kids someday!

“I did $5 a day while touring the Balkans for a month. I managed! -Free lodging and food by volunteering at a hostel (even had my own room at the top floor) -Free private beach access through a guy I was seeing -Free drinks every night at the bar across the street because the owner swore I was Serena Williams

That about covers all bases! Lol” –Gloria, The Blog Abroad

The possibility of extending your trip indefinitely. If you pick up enough paid gigs in between, you can keep on traveling forever. This especially works well if you pick up gigs, either officially or under the table, in high-paying countries like Australia.

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

The Pitfalls of Extreme Budget Travel

Reduced safety. If you don’t have funds allocated for accommodation or private transportation, what happens when none of the Couchsurfing hosts in town appeal to you? What happens if your bus is delayed, you show up in Tegucigalpa late at night, and you can’t afford a cab to your accommodation?

Not having money for instances like these sacrifices your safety.

“I would never want to absolutely rely on couchsurfing for the whole of my trip. I couchsurf where I can but when I can’t find a decent host I book a hostel. I think when you get too desperate to couchsurf you end up pushing the safety limit a bit and staying with dubious people.” –Britt, Adventure Lies in Front

Just how bad can the result be? Read this heartbreaking post by Trish on Free Candie.

Missing cool activities and social events. You meet a cool group of fellow travelers and they’re all going whitewater rafting. They want you to join — but you can’t do that. And sure, you can walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge if the $300 Bridgeclimb is out of your price range, but would you go to Leon, Nicaragua, and skip $30 volcano boarding? What about a $5 wine tasting in a Tuscan town? And even if it’s just a $4 hostel shuttle to the beach, which all your friends from the hostel are taking, you’re stuck on the much longer 25-cent local bus.

Less exposure to local cuisine. Yes, there’s fresh produce and markets and supermarkets can be their own adventure, but if you’re making pasta in the hostel every night, you’re missing out on one of the best parts of traveling — the food.

“As a student in EU having a long-term schengen visa on a third-world passport, I think I have hit the bottom after sleeping at airports, night buses, railway stations, common areas of hostels. taking pictures of food in local markets and then coming back to cook pasta in hostel kitchen :-(” –Anshul

No backup savings. In the event of an emergency — say, you need to fly home for the funeral of a dear friend — you don’t have the cash to do so. Most of the time, travel insurance will only reimburse you if it’s a member of your immediate family.

Isolation and discomfort. If you’re not comfortable in your accommodation, you have fewer options and may be far from the city center or tourist zone. If you’re limited with money, you can’t just pick up and leave — you might need to stick it out for at least a night.

“Ive couchsurfed once and they tried to convert me to their religion so i just left.” –Christipede

No alone time. If you’re a natural extrovert, this probably won’t be an issue, but traveling on the hobo requires you to socialize with lots of people on a daily basis, especially if you’re couchsurfing. If you’re an introvert, you’ll have difficulties carving out alone time to relax your mind. (Camping solo is one way around this, however.)

Mooching off others. Conversely, depending on others day after day can wear away at you. Sure, you can help cook and clean, or play music, and you know you’ll pay it back to other travelers someday, but you might get uncomfortable having strangers host and feed you for free on a regular basis.

“It’s funny. I’m open to going extremely low budget. As long as I can be self-reliant about it. Meaning I’d rather sleep (legally or semi-legally) on an abandoned beach or in a corner of a park than ask for someone’s couch. This is strange, I know, since the spirit of travel is tied so intrinsically into the good will of others. I guess I’d rather rely on others for their company (and their rum!) and then slip off to my tent for the night.” –Bring Limes

Resentment. Is this the trip you had in mind? Is this even the kind of trip you’d want? Wouldn’t you rather be in a nice hotel room, eating in restaurants, doing cool activities, and not having to work every now and then? After weeks of depriving yourself, over and over, you could end up feeling resentful. It might not be worth the savings.

“I feel like [extreme budget travel] would detract from the travel experience itself. If I was wrapped up in my head worrying about money and a budget the whole time it would take away from experiences. I certainly don’t travel luxuriously, but I choose to travel within my means without missing out on things.” –Megan, Forks and Footprints

Blue Night Shadows

A Lot of People Think They Can Do This

I’m an avid Redditor but don’t comment often. What makes me comments are posts like these:

“Me and my cousin are going on a trip in 2015 for 16 months around SE Asia. we plan on visiting 19 countries in that time: Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri lanka, Tawain, Thailand, Vietnam, Bhutan

We dont really know what months to go to the different countries and theres not much info online about it, so im asking you we kind of want summer all the time around. Also what places should we see in different countries? Im thinking that 12k USD will be enough for this trip? no including air fare, is that close to accurate?”

Oh God.

First of all, no, $12K will not be nearly enough. I really hope he meant $12K each, because even $24k for two would not be enough for a trip like that, especially with countries like Bhutan and Japan on the list. The only way it would be possible would be through extreme budget travel, and just the idea of traveling that way for 16 months makes me want to curl into a ball and hide.

I get emails all the time from travelers who want to travel as long and as much as possible, so they squish their budget down to the bare minimum. They tell me that yeah, they really want to see as much as possible, so they’re going to couchsurf and camp and they’ll be able to stretch their trip to as long as possible. I give them advice, wish them luck, tell them to buy travel insurance.

Some of them end up traveling this way — and have a fabulous, life-changing trip. Others end up miserable and return home much sooner than planned.

My worry about these travelers is that they won’t end up enjoying themselves on what should be the trip of a lifetime. I believe that far more people think they can handle long-term extreme budget travel than can actually handle this style of travel on a long-term basis.

It doesn’t help that traveling on the hobo is romanticized in popular culture, complete with scenes of waking up on a farm in Provence, harvesting olives all day, then having huge dinners with wine every night before hopping on a train to the next idyllic destination.

In short, it’s fun to travel on the hobo if you’re doing it for fun. It’s not so fun if you’re doing it because you can’t afford anything else.

Bike Lady in Ferrara

Special Concerns for Women Travelers

I feel like there needs to be an asterisk when talking about extreme budget travel as a woman. Just like there needs to be an asterisk with almost every kind of travel.

If you haven’t read Why Travel Safety Is Different For Women, please read it now.

In that piece, I talk about how women are attuned to the risk of sexual assault every minute of every day. It never leaves our minds, and each day we make dozens of micro-decisions for the sake of self-protection. For that reason, we need to be extra careful when it comes to extreme budget travel.

“extreme budget travel is a luxury that men can have I think. as a woman, I always need to have a little extra to get myself out of a bad guesthouse or take taxis rather than walk. I’m sure some women have managed it, but i wouldn’t feel safe on a low low budget. I usually budget $50/day with an extra $500/month of travel, although I rarely use it all. it gives me enough cushion to get a single room rather than share a dorm with just one man, etc.” –Lily

Camping alone or sleeping outside leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Staying in a sketchy guesthouse with a badly locking door leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Hitchhiking with strangers leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Taking public transportation in a rough city at night leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Accepting food and drinks prepared by Couchsurfing hosts leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

That doesn’t mean that women can’t do extreme budget travel — I know women who do it and love it. I know that some take extra precautions, like carrying pepper spray and a knife. And even then, many of them have done so safely; most of them have only had a few scary but ultimately non-dangerous incidents, like I have.

But it doesn’t mean that the risk isn’t there. You need to evaluate that risk closely.

Kyoto Apartment

It’s Not For Everyone

If you want to try out extreme budget travel and you think you would enjoy it, go for it! I’m happy for people to travel in any way they’d like, as long as it’s not harmful to others.

There are plenty of people for whom extreme budget travel is a great choice. And they’re a surprisingly diverse group of people.

My issue with it is that I think a lot of people underestimate how difficult it is to live this way on a long-term basis. In short, it’s not for as many people who think it’s for them. So many people attempt it, burn out, and leave their trip with regrets.

Costa Brava Mountains

Short-Term Extreme Budget Travel

What if you only did the extreme budget travel thing for a shorter time? Say, for a two-week trip or just for a month or two out of a yearlong RTW trip? What if you just did it when you traveled in Australia and went back to spending more money in Southeast Asia?

I think that’s actually a very smart idea. This way, you get to try it out, reduce costs in the most expensive destinations, and see if you are interested in doing it long-term.

“I don’t mind dorms for cheap travel, although a few weeks is the max I could do that without at least a few nights in a private. I’m planning to couch surf and WWOOFing a lot in Japan, since I want to go for a while without spending thousands and thousands. I can’t live on that low though- it’s boring to only have enough to eat and stay in the hostel!” –Alexandria

Marigolds in Pienza

How to Maintain Your Sanity While Traveling on the Hobo

Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Walking a mile out of the way for loaves of bread that cost 20 cents less is the definition of insanity. Instead, reduce your big expenses like accommodation and transportation, or stick to cheap countries.

Travel slower. Spending more time in fewer destinations will majorly cut down your costs. When you spend longer in a destination, you’ll get to know the cheaper places, you’ll spend less time sightseeing, and your transportation costs will be lower.

Stick to cheaper regions — not just cheaper countries. Most people consider Thailand a cheap country but don’t take into account that the beach resorts in the south are MUCH more expensive than the rest of the country. Stick to rural, less-visited areas for lower costs. In Thailand, you’ll find the cheapest prices in the north.

Set up a separate bank account for splurges. Use it for special activities like seeing Angkor Wat, getting scuba certified, or having a restaurant meal in a fabulous food region.

Plan on getting private accommodation every few weeks or so. Just a few days in a room to yourself will make you feel so much better, especially if you’re an introvert.

Have a re-entry fund saved up and don’t touch it. This is money to cushion your return home. How much do you need? Depends on your situation. Some people like to have enough to secure a new apartment and pay for a few months of frugal expenses; others just need a thousand dollars or so. The choice is yours.

Don’t scrimp on travel insurance. Even if you’re committed to spending as little as possible, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you weigh your health against saving money. Not to mention that it will save your ass financially in the event that you get severely injured and need an air ambulance to another country. I use and recommend World Nomads.

Leaving the Generalife

One Last Tip: Check Your Privilege

When you’ve been traveling on the hobo for awhile, there will be dark days. You’ll be down to your last few dollars and unable to eat anything but rice and pasta. You’ll be tired. You’ll be lonely. You’ll be treading water and you won’t know when you’ll earn enough to leave town.

This happens to all travelers. We all go through tough times, but extreme budget travelers are additionally vulnerable because of their lack of money.

Even when you’re at your lowest, it’s important to remember that you hold enormous privilege. You’re living this lifestyle by choice, and you’ve experienced far more than the vast majority of the world will ever be able to.

Don’t refer to yourself as poor. Don’t take food donations meant for the needy. And for the love of God, don’t compare yourself to the homeless.

Instead, practice gratitude each day. Be kind. Use what you’ve learned to create a better life for everyone you meet, both on the road and at home.

And if you choose to settle down for some time — whether it’s just for a few weeks or something more permanent — open up your home to vagabonds like yourself. Feed them, give them a place to sleep, show them your favorite spots in town. It’s time to repay the kindness that you’ve been gifted on your journey.

Have you ever tried extreme budget travel? Did you enjoy it?The truth about extreme budget travel

roundup

From the stark whiteness of Iceland in winter to the vibrant greens found in sun-kissed Bangladesh, it was all about colour in this month’s roundup of our Pathfinders’ top Instagrams.

Every month we share the most eye-catching and interesting captures from our Pathfinders community. Here are our selections for January.

Istanbul, Turkey

A photo posted by Macca Sherifi (@backpackermacca) on Jan 17, 2016 at 5:01am PST

‘Taken just days after the bombings in Istanbul, this is the everlasting beauty of the Blue Mosque, one of those places that you’ve just got to see with your own eyes regardless of what’s going on around you.’ – Macca, A Brit and Abroad.   Why we like it: We love the angle of this shot, and the way it captures the contrast of the warm glow of the lighting against a backdrop of moody shades.

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

 

A photo posted by Dan James | Travel Photography (@danflyingsolo) on Jan 11, 2016 at 9:29am PST

Iceland at the start of the new year was a blanket of snow. I thought it might wash the photos out but the beautiful blues of the rivers make for a stunning contrast.’ – Daniel, Dan Flying Solo.   Why we like it: There’s no doubt that Iceland has some epic landscapes to its name, and this aerial shot showcases just one of them. We like how the contrast in the deep blues against the stark whites help depict the full force of nature. It also makes us feel a little chilly!

Black Rock City, Nevada

A photo posted by A:M (@violetspring) on Jan 22, 2016 at 5:39pm PST

‘Amidst this grape-like haze, this magical moment was captured at Burning Man 2015. During this event, as dusk laid its blanket across the sky it would personify the calm before the storm- allowing moments of beautiful, quiet reflection before nights laced with wickedly wonderful behaviour. It was a personal and spiritual experience that will stay with me always and has taught me the essence of being completely consumed by the moment.’ – A, TRPN.   Why we like it: We love the shades of colour captured in this photo and how they progressively deepen, which gives us a sense of calm amidst the busy event.

Andalucia, Spain

A photo posted by A World to Travel (@aworldtotravel) on Jan 17, 2016 at 3:22pm PST

‘There is some magic in finding the right spot for sunset when you are road tripping your way around a new region. Gibraltar’s presence, a unique UK redoubt in the Southern tip of Spain, stands out as lights dim. So close and yet so far.’ – Inma, A World to Travel.   Why we like it: The contrast in the busy Spanish road against the darkness of the mountains and the (very still) rock of Gibraltar in the background, all bought together under a tremendous sunset. The colours really pop out of this shot.

Hum Hum Waterfall Park, Bangladesh

A photo posted by Alice Teacake (@teacaketravels) on Jan 13, 2016 at 6:35am PST

As we waded knee deep through the fresh waters of the park with our guide, our journey was full of joyous moments as the sun kept popping through the trees’ leaves in the sky. I kept back from the group for a minute to soak the natural beauty of Bangladesh up and snap this uplifting shot.’ – Alice, Teacake Travels.   Why we like it: This capture makes us want to reach for our passports, immediately. We love the way the sun filters into this shot which brings out out the gorgeous greens of the lush forestry and an overall element of fantasy.  

For your chance to be featured in our next round up, sign up to Lonely Planet Pathfinders – our programme for travel-loving bloggers and social content creators. In the meantime, you can get more Instagram inspiration by following @lonelyplanet.

Photo: Oliver Hallmann

Photo: Oliver Hallmann

A small gathering at my apartment in Austin, TX quickly turned into a political discussion.  We talked about the viability of a minor environmental protest that had seen a few picketers gather in front of the capitol building, waving at passing cars half-heartedly.  Their signs were vague, I’d almost not seen them, and even as someone who stays attuned to environmental causes I was unsure what legislation they were referencing.

My friend, a Parisian and world traveler and the only non-American present at the party, struggled to explain her confusion to us. “I just don’t get it,” she finally said. “What you do here, it’s not really protest.  When we protest in France, we protest.  We do not go to work. We do not go home. We are protesting—we are waiting for something to happen!”

Her boyfriend was quick to defend the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, even though we all knew it was much deflated from what it had once been. Someone else mentioned Occupy—but, we had to admit, she had a point.

This conversation took place before the tenacity of the DAPL protesters had been proven, but still, the movement that happened in North Dakota last year was on a level that the U.S. hadn’t seen in years. We activists in the States could stand to learn a few things from protest movements around the world.

In France, effective protests do not have a stopping point.

Photo: Olivier Ortelpa

Photo: Olivier Ortelpa

In response to a proposed bill to scale back on long-held worker’s rights last year, the French labour movement and like-minded progressives protested in the streets of Paris for nearly five months, calling for a ‘nuit debout.’  The reality of this protest would see French demonstrators spending many nights making their stand, and then protesting even after Hollande pushed through the new measures without a parliamentary vote.

If this seems a futile exercise to our American way of thinking about political protests, it is paramount to remember that the Occupy Wall Street Movement in 2011-2012 frightened our government so badly that it required the involvement of the FBI and CIA.  (And if that claim sounds like a dystopian novel to you, or your college roommate’s crack conspiracy theory—please follow the federal inquiries that are still being pursued in 2017.)  What if U.S. protests were not confined to a one-time, hour-long event?

In Mexico, protesting doesn’t always mean picketing.

Photo: Montecruz Foto

Photo: Montecruz Foto

Often when I learn about a protest, the participants have planned to meet on a college campus and the meeting will require the purchase of innumerable Sharpies. While making signs and raising them in the streets is a heartfelt and important show of public sentiment, how much more could we accomplish if we didn’t limit our definition of protest?

For many Central American women, protest means bussing through Mexico in search of missing migrant workers who disappeared on their way to the U.S.  It means fighting to raise consciousness amongst fellow citizens and apathetic government officials. Protesters in Mexico wear the photos of their sons and daughters around their necks as they trace their journey. In some cases, loved ones have been found while on this trail, but for countless more there is no real hope of finding the long lost ‘desaparecidos.’

In Brazil, even divided protest movements can bring forth change.

Photo: Douglas Pfeiffer Cardoso

Photo: Douglas Pfeiffer Cardoso

One of the most outrageous double-standards that the U.S. holds against its protest movements is that they ought to be fully unified on all matters.  And yet I’m hard-pressed to name a single political movement in American history that had complete unity even during its earliest inception.

The complaint that’s frequently made against protest movements is that any infighting will preclude success.  Yet in 2015, Brazilian protesters proved that this isn’t the case. The impeachment of former President Rousseff was called for by a series of protests with extremely disparate views.  Activists (and it can be assumed citizens, as well) couldn’t even decide if she should be impeached, or just forced to resign during this unprecedented populist movement. They could agree, however, that the administration’s misdeeds were too great to be tolerated any longer.  Protestors were even further divided by arguments over the prosecution of criminal charges, but they still irrefutably altered their nation’s history and took a huge leap forward in the name of ridding their government of corruption.

In Hong Kong, the police are not the faceless enemy.

Photo: Lamuel Chung

Photo: Lamuel Chung

During the Umbrella Revolution, pro-democracy demonstrators highlighted Beijing’s manipulation of elections in Hong Kong. The images of police officers in riot gear tear-gassing demonstrators caused tens of thousands of students to join the student protests in September of 2014.  Meanwhile, in the U.S., where we’ve grown used to reports of student activists being pepper sprayed and tear gassed, most progressive protest movements view the cops as the unequivocal enemy.

As China hurried to suppress the protests in Hong Kong and images surfaced on the internet, reminiscent of Tiananmen, the attitude toward law enforcement was not what we in the States have come to expect. Psychologists reported the extreme emotional affects the protests had on police, reminding us that we are not fighting against the officers who live among us any more than we are fighting against our fellow citizens.  We may fight to change their minds, but the ultimate goal of our movements could also be to garner sympathy and support from civil servants.  Anti-police brutality shouldn’t mean anti-police.

In Australia, protest isn’t just for progressives.

Photo: Takver

Photo: Takver

Despite the international trend, passionate, articulate protests are not reserved for proponents of human rights and civil liberties.  It is paramount to realize that a demonstration is just that: demonstrative of public sentiment. We cannot expect that a simple act of protest entitles the protest-sympathizers to a legislative response, as the Australians saw when two opposite protest movements clashed over national immigration policy. Unfortunately, these images of anti-Islam sentiment in Melbourne may become more familiar to Americans as white supremacist rallies in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.

If we expect our first amendment rights to be respected, we have to expect that freedom of speech will be protected for all people. We have to remember that protests are not their own exclusive entitlement. Progressives shouldn’t just demonstrate en masse, we should vote in national and local elections and have real conversations with the opposition, too. Counter-movements like the solidarity shown for Jewish culture in Whitefish, MT are proof that Americans can be successful at this.

In Bangladesh, there is never a promise of amnesty for protesters.

Photo: Asian Development Bank

Photo: Asian Development Bank

Not all protests accomplish their stated aims, of course.  Even Americans recognize the high potential for failure and often take solace in ideas of consciousness raising and incremental change. Sometimes the efforts of protesters not only go unrewarded, they’re punished, as was the case in Bangladesh when hundreds of striking workers were fired out of hand.

The U.S.-supported Bangladeshi textile industry serves as a rebuke for those of us who protest without acknowledging the potential consequences of our voiced beliefs.

In Russia, if you don’t exercise the right to protest, those rights may be taken away.

Photo: mark burban

Photo: mark burban

The boycott of the Winter Olympics in 2014 showed that much can be accomplished when one nation’s marginalized protests are adopted by an international forum.  But even though the pressure put on Putin led to the release of several of Russia’s notable political prisoners, unapologetic surveillance of activist groups and independent reporters shows that Russia is no more hospitable to freedom of expression than it was before the Olympics.  The challenge now is to maintain the volume of the outcry.

Amongst the freed prisoners were two young members of Pussy Riot who had been jailed for a demonstration two years earlier.  These two student artists turned activists now warn that the U.S. is headed the same way as Russia in this regard if we don’t take action while we’re able.

To say the very least, American protesters stand to learn a lot from a close study of social reform throughout the world and we have a lot to lose if we ignore these warnings.  But even if we learn nothing else from world politics—let’s please agree to stop comforting ourselves with the dangerous delusion that social media can replace real action and sustained support for the movements that all too quickly disappear from our Facebook feed. More like this: 29 powerful images from protests worldwide

The Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) is a subjective scale used for measuring the spicy heat of peppers (and other hot foods). It’s a function of capsaicin concentration, though it’s not as accurate as the actual measurement of the capsaicin content of a pepper because it’s assessed empirically by panels of testers.

In ascending order, here’s how the hottest peppers in the world rank. (Fyi, we’ve blown right past the rather tame jalapeño.)

22. Madame Jeanette (225,000 SHU)

Madame Jeanette

(via)

The Madame Jeanette hails from Suriname and is a lovely smooth, yellow pod that packs a surprising punch. Named for a prostitute from Paramaribo, it has neither fruity nor floral undertones — it’s just hot. The Madame Jeanette can commonly be found in traditional Suriname and Antillean cuisine, often tossed into dishes whole to add spice to every bite.

21. Scotch Bonnet (100,000-350,000 SHU)

Scotch Bonnet

(via)

The Scotch Bonnet is a Caribbean pepper, and it gets its name from a perceived resemblance to the Scottish Tam o’Shanter (those floppy plaid hats with the pom-poms on top). It has a little bit of sweet to go along with all that spicy and is most commonly found in hot Caribbean dishes like jerk chicken or jerk pork, though it crops up in recipes as far away as West Africa. They’re one of the main ingredients in the famous West Indian hot pepper sauces, which differ from country to country but can be found in almost every household in the Caribbean.

20. White Habanero (100,000-350,000 SHU)

White Habanero

(via)

The first of many varieties of the famed habanero to make the cut, the white is particularly rare and difficult to cultivate. These peppers grow on tiny bushes, but each one produces an exceptionally high yield. There’s some debate about whether they originated in Peru or Mexico (some people go so far as to differentiate between Peruvian White Habaneros and Yucatan White Habaneros), but regardless of their origins, these peppers can be found lending heat to traditional Mexican stews and salsas. Their influence has even extended out into the Caribbean, where they’re employed in sauces and marinades.

19. Habanero (100,000-350,000 SHU)

Habanero

(via)

This habanero is the orange kind you can buy in the grocery store, but just because they’re readily available doesn’t mean they’re less vicious than any of their cousins on this list. Originating in the Amazon, this pepper was brought northward through Mexico (where most of them are grown now). The habanero is actually a different variety of the same species as the Scotch Bonnet, though it’s used more in Mexico than in the Caribbean, lending a fruity and floral kick to Yucatanian food.

18. Fatalii (125,000-325,000 SHU)

Fatalii

(via)

The first pepper on the list from the Eastern Hemisphere, the Fatalii is a chili from central and southern Africa. Brave souls claim that its flavor is notably citrusy (though how anybody can taste anything through that much burning is beyond me), and so it’s used largely in fruity hot sauces from its native Africa through the Caribbean.

17. Devil’s Tongue (125,000-325,000 SHU)

Devil’s Tongue

(via)

Similar in appearance to the Fatalii, and a member of the habanero family, the Devil’s Tongue was first discovered growing in Pennsylvania among its habanero relatives. Nobody’s quite sure where it originated or how it came to be growing in the field of an Amish farmer, but it’s become renowned for its bright, fruity, and sometimes slightly nutty taste. Because its past is a mystery, however, there are no real ‘traditional’ uses for the Devil’s Tongue — experts recommend eating them fresh in salsas or salads, if you can take the heat.

16. Tigerpaw NR (265,000 — 328,000 SHU)

Tigerpaw

(via)

This new type of habanero pepper was scientifically engineered, rather than naturally cultivated. The “NR” in the name signifies nematode resistance, as the US Department of Agriculture’s research division (ARS) developed this particular pepper plant to be resistant to root-knot nematodes, a parasite common to many pepper and tomato plants. Because of its distinctly unnatural upbringing, the Tigerpaw, like the Devil’s Tongue, lacks traditional use in cuisine. However, its similarity to the traditional orange habanero means it’s easily substituted in any of the multitude of habanero recipes used throughout Mexico. (Be cautious: It tends to pack a bigger burn than its more traditional relative.)

15. Chocolate Habanero (aka Congo Black) (300,000-425,000 SHU)

Chocolate habanero

(via)

Chocolate Habaneros originated in Trinidad and in fact have absolutely nothing to do with the Congo. This one’s a favorite of many ‘chiliheads,’ who somehow remain conscious long enough to detect a rich, smoky flavor buried somewhere under all that heat. Chocolate habaneros have been dubbed the “ultimate salsa pepper,” though you’re more likely to find them in world-famous Jamaican jerk sauce.

14. Caribbean Red Habanero (300,000-475,000 SHU)

Caribbean Red Habanero

(via)

An upgraded version of the habanero, clocking in at almost twice the spice, this adorably small pepper approaches sinister levels of heat. Like many of the other contenders on this list, the Caribbean Red likely hails from the Amazon basin (though some argue for Yucatan origins) and is a staple in Mexican cooking, where it can be commonly found in salsas and hot sauces. More creative uses of the pepper include a guest appearance in “Caribbean Red Pepper Surprise” ice cream, though, according to one consumer, “The surprise is, your brain is on fire, and your taste-buds are in love, but your fillings have melted.”

13. Red Savina (200,000-577,000 SHU)

Red Savina

(via)

Yet another habanero cultivar, this bad boy’s been selectively bred for generations to produce larger, heavier, and spicier fruit — to give you some idea of where this list is headed, the Red Savina was the hottest pepper in the world from 1994 to 2006, and we’re not even halfway through. As a close relative of all the habanero peppers, the Red Savina shares the well-established Central American origin story but was developed further in California.

12. Naga Morich (aka Dorset Naga) (1,000,000-1,500,000 SHU)

Naga Morich

(via)

Naga Morich means “serpent chili” in Bengali. Sister of the famed Ghost Pepper (yet to come), this beauty is native to northern India and Bangladesh, where it’s often eaten green (read: unripe) and raw, as a side dish. The Dorset Naga is a particular strain of the Naga Morich pepper that was selectively bred for maximum heat — the first pepper on earth to break one million SHU (double the rating of the Red Savina). Aside from mind-numbing heat, they also boast a fruity flavor; some claim to taste notes of orange and pineapple, but personally I find the idea of being able to taste anything amidst the mouth-fire highly suspect.

11. Trinidad Scorpion CARDI (800,000-1,000,000 SHU)

Trinidad Scorpion CARDI

(via)

The Trinidad Scorpion gets its name from its homeland and its appearance; its Trinidadian origins are self-evident, as is the rest of it, once you get a look at one. They have a little stinger opposite the stem, which looks like the poisonous barb on the tail of a scorpion. The “CARDI” addendum stands for Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, the research group responsible for the breeding of this particular pepper. We’re now well within the ‘dangerously hot’ range, a fact further evidenced by the two main uses of the Trinidad Scorpion CARDI: firstly, in military-grade mace, and secondly, mixed in with marine paint to prevent barnacles from growing on the bottoms of boats. But I guess you could put it in your food if you really wanted to.

10. Bhut Jolokia Chocolate (800,000-1,001,304 SHU)

(via)

The Bhut Jolokia (aka Naga Jolokia) is more commonly known by its Americanized name, the Ghost Pepper. The chocolate variant of this pepper is a very rare naturally occurring permutation of the standard red and is named not only for its rich coloring but also for its notoriously sweet flavor. Don’t be fooled by the sweetness, though — it’s just as spicy as its red cousin, at over a million SHU. Native to India, the Ghost Pepper is responsible for some of the most brain-searing, tongue-sizzling curries and chutneys in the entire world. However, it’s also used in military weapons and smeared on fences to ward off stampeding elephants.

9. Bhut Jolokia (aka Ghost Pepper) (800,000-1,001,304 SHU)

Bhut Jolokia

(via)

There’s not much to be said here that hasn’t already been covered in the section about the Chocolate Ghost Pepper. The standard red variant of this pepper is much easier to find than the chocolate and is the fuel for restaurant challenges and idiotic YouTube videos worldwide. Fun fact: The Ghost Pepper is an inter-species hybrid between the species containing all of the habanero cultivars and the species containing the Tabasco pepper (of taco-sauce fame).

8. 7 Pot Chili (over 1,000,000 SHU)

7 Pot Chili

(via)

The 7 Pot Chili gets its name from its alleged ability to provide enough spice for seven pots of stew, and at over a million SHU, I’m inclined to believe it. Unsurprisingly, this little demon is also from Trinidad, where evil peppers grow like weeds, and you’ll find it in many of the same dishes as the other Caribbean peppers in the habanero family — stews, marinades, and hot sauces. The 7 Pot (sometimes called the 7 Pod) displays all-over “pimpling,” a texture only found in the spiciest of peppers (appearing as though they’re boiling themselves from the inside out).

7. Gibraltar (aka Spanish Naga) (1,086,844 SHU)

Gibralta

(via)

The Spanish Naga is grown, of course, in Spain but was actually developed in the UK. Like the 7 Pot, this one’s so fiendishly spicy that its skin is bubbling and wrinkled, an effect probably exaggerated by the unique conditions under which it’s grown: The plants have to be kept indoors in enclosed plastic tunnels and subjected to blisteringly hot temperatures in order to churn out peppers that spicy. Since they’re largely man-made, there aren’t any traditional dishes that use the Gibraltar chili, but they’re available in Western Europe if you’re interested in concocting a curry and then never tasting anything again for the rest of your life.

6. Infinity Chili (1,176,182 SHU)

Infinity Chili

(via)

Most of the rest of the peppers on this list have been engineered by humans. I guess once we identified the hottest pepper in the world, all we could do from there was make them hotter ourselves. The Infinity Chili was engineered in the UK by breeder Nick Woods, but it only held the world record for two weeks before it was ousted by the next contender, the Naga Viper. Like the previous two, this pepper is red and wrinkly and shriveled and horrible looking — as would you be after eating it.

5. Naga Viper (1,382,118 SHU)

Naga Viper

(via)

Nature never intended this pepper to exist. It’s so strange, so very unholy in its spiciness, that the plants can’t actually produce offspring exactly like the parent. Okay, fine, it’s not because it’s an evil abomination — it’s an unstable three-way genetic hybrid between the Naga Morich, the Bhut Jolokia, and the Trinidad Scorpion, which can’t naturally incorporate the genes from all three breeds into its seeds. If you want to grow it, you have to get the seeds from its human creator, Gerald Fowler (and the waiting list is several thousand people long).

4. 7 Pod Douglah (aka Chocolate 7 Pot) (923,000-1,853,396 SHU)

7 Pod Douglah

(via)

The mean sister of the 7 Pot Chili, the Douglah (also known as the Chocolate 7 Pot) is characterized by heavily textured dark brown or even purple skin. This pepper comes agonizingly close to 2 million SHU — so one would imagine flavor is the last thing anyone’s thinking about as they’re lying on the floor, weeping — and yet, many say the Douglah is one of the most deliciously flavorful peppers, with a full-bodied fruitiness unmatched by others of its spice level. Hailing from Trinidad, land of the brutal pepper, this variety can be found in many of the same dishes as the other Caribbean contenders.

3. Trinidad Scorpion Butch T (1,463,700 SHU)

(via)

This cultivar of the Trinidad Scorpion is the pride and joy of Butch Taylor, owner of Zydeco Hot Sauce in Mississippi. Tiny, red, and sinister, this pepper has a little stinger on the end, characteristic of the scorpion peppers. The Scorpion Butch T is so spicy you have to wear safety gear to cook with it (that means masks, gloves, full-body suits — the works), and cooks have claimed numbness in their hands for up to two days afterwards.

2. Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (2,009,231 SHU)

(via)

The Moruga Scorpion, the first pepper ever to break 2 million SHU, held the world record for spiciness for several years and hails from, you guessed it, Trinidad. Each fruit is about the size of a golf ball and contains as much capsaicin as 25 milliliters of police-grade pepper spray. This is the spiciest naturally occurring pepper known to man, but, like the Douglah, it’s also famously fruity and flavorful. Fans recommend adding a small amount to any dish for an explosion of flavor, as well as the endorphin rush that accompanies the consumption of something that spicy.

1. Carolina Reaper (1,569,383-2,200,000 SHU)

Carolina Reaper

(via)

This is it. The big one. The grand emperor of spicy peppers. The Carolina Reaper claimed its crown in November of 2013 as the spiciest pepper of all time, blowing the Moruga Scorpion’s measly 2 million SHU away by over 200,000 units. And it’s one nasty-looking pepper, fully equipped with the texture and scorpion tail of the Trinidadian heavyweights, though it lacks the natural heritage of the Moruga Scorpion. The Reaper was engineered in South Carolina by Ed Currie, owner of PuckerButt Pepper Co. They have a whole line of Reaper-based merch available on their website, if you’re brave. Personally, I like the taste of food, so I have to pass. What can I say? I fear the Reaper. More like this: 9 ways to enjoy hot chiles in Mexico

farahameen

Beth Wallace Photography

I AM AN IMMIGRANT — a brown-skinned, Muslim, South Asian woman, a minority, a U.S. citizen. But I am an outsider. I have spent a large part of my life feeling this way. I was born in Pakistan to Bangladeshi parents.

When I was four, my father was transferred to Delhi for work. I grew up in India, and my family relocated to Bangladesh when my father retired. I was 18 and angry with my parents — I didn’t want to leave the country I called home. Now, I proudly say I’m Bangladeshi but have never felt I belonged in my country; I visit because my mother lives in Dhaka. And though I’ve been in the U.S. for 25 years, I don’t feel American.

I am accustomed to feeling like an outsider, but in the current political climate, I am more afraid here than I’ve ever been.

I mostly enjoy the life I’ve made with my family in a “progressive” [read mostly white] college town in Western Massachusetts. But even here I feel like an outcast. I connect with individual friends over common interests but I do not have a strong sense of community. The feeling that I am outside looking in is constant.

When my husband and I moved here from New York City six years ago (with our then nine-month-old), I frequently was left out of the mostly white mommy circles that dominate kid activity planning here. I would hear of playdates to which my daughter and I were not invited. Or I would have a perfectly lovely conversation with someone at a party, then have the person act like we’d barely met somewhere else.

“Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” —Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963

My daughter gets this treatment, too. I have watched little light-skinned girls turn their backs on my dark-skinned daughter in the sandbox. Probably not their fault: children are sponges, behaviors are learned. I wasn’t included in conversations with their mothers. This is my reality. My Irish-American husband gives us “credibility” in Caucasian circles. That makes me angry. Despite their politics, many (mostly white) progressives in this town talk about inclusion but don’t practice it.

My daughter is a lovely shade of cocoa brown, often darker than her African American friends. She wishes she had lighter skin, no matter how often we tell her she is beautiful. This is not parental bias — she is a beautiful, dark-skinned, brave, determined Bangladeshi-American. Our town is the only home she knows. She was born in a low-income neighborhood in Dhaka, lived on the streets for two months with her birth mother, and has been with us since she was four months old. In those early days here in progressive college town USA, when she and my husband went to the grocery store, he’d often have people ask: “Where did you get her?”

Muslim in Trump's America 2

When my daughter was still a baby and we were new to progressive college town, I joined a women’s group that does amazing work. I survived my first year of parenthood and relocation because of the support I got from the women in the group.

I wanted to give back, and proposed training to run a group for South Asian women. Many South Asian women in the area face community-based challenges constantly: troubles with in-laws living with them, struggles with an unfamiliar language and culture, frustrations with acquaintances not understanding their traditions.

I had navigated some similar issues in the U.S. Granted, I come from a more liberal background, but cultural issues are common. Straddling two worlds, I was the perfect person to support these women, understand and give them space, and reassure them: “Yes, your problems are normal and valid, and time can help — or we, as a community of South Asian women, can help one another.”

At the time, my husband and I were unemployed; we had savings but no paychecks. I knew from some friends that the organization offered scholarships to train women, but they refused my request for one. I assumed that with all its “understanding” of women’s needs, the group did not think my proposal was important enough. Not long after, they asked to feature my daughter in a Mother’s Day video, because she was “photogenic, beautiful.” The unspoken request: diversity. I refused. I should have called them out for trying to use my child as a token, but I suspect they wouldn’t have taken my point. Instead, I decided to walk away.

I should have spoken up. I tried to let it go. Then a week after Trump was elected, I noticed one of the former co-founders of the group had posted on social media about “standing in solidarity with our sisters in hijab.” I could have created a safe space for “our sisters in hijab” four years ago! Who are these people who can’t see beyond their self-importance?

Muslim in trump's America 3

I think about the last six years. How often, even when “included,” I have not felt embraced. I am even more afraid now than I was post 9/11. I was in New York City when the planes hit the towers, I smelled burning bodies for days and watched my city and the world change. I had a woman wag an American flag in my face in my neighborhood. I was stopped in airport security lines and frisked, my bags opened and searched. I spent a few hours in a detention room at JFK on a trip back from Dhaka — I will never forget the elderly South Asian lady in a sari, lying on a bench to which one of her ankles was chained. She could have been my mother.

I stand out for my brown skin, my Muslim name. In the passport line I stand out for my birthplace. But I embrace who I am. I am not religious, but I proudly say I am Muslim, my daughter is Muslim. My husband is proud to say he’s married to a Bangladeshi Muslim woman.

I worry about my daughter, who struggles with her darkness, who often feels left out in a sea of white and light- and medium-brown kids. As she navigates school in Trump’s America, will she equate her dark brown skin with ostracism? Will unkind children make fun of her because of her color and name? How do I support her when I struggle every day with my own sense of self-worth?

How do those of us who fear the next four years — will there be a Muslim registry to complement the travel ban on people from majority-Muslim nations? Deportations? — make our children feel safe, help them navigate this world? We need to build an inclusive community for our children and ourselves. We need to enable our kids to proudly proclaim their ethnicities and stand up for tolerance, equality, respect! It’s time to speak up! As Gandhi said: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

This story originally appeared on EmbraceRace and is republished here with permission. EmbraceRace is a multiracial community of people supporting each other to help nurture kids who are thoughtful and informed about race. Join us here!

More like this: The profound beauty of a Muslim country

Bangladesh (Bradt Travel Guide)

Mikey Leung

This updated guidebook, with a focus on responsible tourism, offers greater coverage than any other to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and to the world's largest mangrove forest at the Sundarbans. Personal insights guide travelers to aspects of the country almost unknown to visitors – dolphin and whale watching, winter bird-watching, and golden Bengal's silk and archaeological highlights.

Lonely Planet Bangladesh (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

#1 best-selling guide to Bangladesh*

Lonely Planet Bangladesh is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Cruise the Sundarbans spotting deer and tigers; stand amid the chaos of old Dhaka; or visit the lush Chittagong Hill Tracts, all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Bangladesh and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Bangladesh:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, environment, arts, literature, cuisine, culture Over 35 maps Covers DhakaDhaka Division, KhulnaRajshahi, Rangpur, Chittagong  Division, Sylhet Division and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Bangladesh , our most comprehensive guide to Bangladesh, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, gift and lifestyle books and stationery, as well as an award-winning website, magazines, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in. TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 winner in Favorite Travel Guide category 'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times 'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

*Best-selling guide to Bangladesh. Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA

The Bangladesh Reader: History, Culture, Politics (The World Readers)

Meghna Guhathakurta, Willem van Schendel

Bangladesh is the world's eighth most populous country. It has more inhabitants than either Russia or Japan, and its national language, Bengali, ranks sixth in the world in terms of native speakers. Founded in 1971, Bangladesh is a relatively young nation, but the Bengal Delta region has been a major part of international life for more than 2,000 years, whether as an important location for trade or through its influence on Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim life. Yet the country rarely figures in global affairs or media, except in stories about floods, poverty, or political turmoil. The Bangladesh Reader does what those portrayals do not: It illuminates the rich historical, cultural, and political permutations that have created contemporary Bangladesh, and it conveys a sense of the aspirations and daily lives of Bangladeshis.

Intended for travelers, students, and scholars, the Reader encompasses first-person accounts, short stories, historical documents, speeches, treaties, essays, poems, songs, photographs, cartoons, paintings, posters, advertisements, maps, and a recipe. Classic selections familiar to many Bangladeshis—and essential reading for those who want to know the country—are juxtaposed with less-known pieces. The selections are translated from a dozen languages; many have not been available in English until now. Featuring eighty-three images, including seventeen in color, The Bangladesh Reader is an unprecedented, comprehensive introduction to the South Asian country's turbulent past and dynamic present.

Bangladesh (Bradt Travel Guide)

Mikey Leung

An authoritative gateway to the lesser-explored regions of Bangladesh, this guidebook offers greater coverage than any other to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, where 13 different ethnic groups live amid breezy hillside scenery, and to the world’s largest mangrove forest at the Sunderbans (where Bengal tigers occasionally chew on a human or two). With a focus on responsible tourism, it leads trailblazing travelers to those aspects of the country that are almost unknown to visitors—dolphin and whale watching, winter birding in the northern wetlands, and golden Bengal’s silk and archaeological highlights. The book is backed up by a sister website—www.joybangla.info—featuring podcasts, photography, travel features and updates.

Bangladesh & India East Travel Reference Map 1:750,000 / 1:1,500,000

International Travel maps

One side is Bangladesh Country and other side is India East. Included inset of Chittagong and Dhaka City.

Bangladesh - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Urmi Rahman

Bangladesh is a lush, green country situated on the fertile Ganges delta, adjacent to the Indian state of West Bengal. Although there are hilly areas in the northeast, this densely populated country is mostly flat, and criss-crossed by many rivers. Much of its coastline forms part of the world’s largest mangrove forests, the Sundarbans, home to the Royal Bengal tiger and many other flora and fauna. Bangladesh is young country with an ancient history. The province of Bengal was divided when India became independent in 1947, and its mainly Muslim eastern part became East Pakistan. This was followed by years of upheaval, and in 1971, after a freedom movement and a war, the east Bengali people finally gained independence as the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Most Bangladeshis live in rural areas, and the majority are Muslims. Historically they have lived in harmony with many other faiths. Bengali, or Bangla, is the lingua franca, and there are several regional dialects. Once the hub of the southern Silk Route, the Bengal delta region has a long and rich cultural tradition. Over the centuries it has been influenced by Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. It is a land of writers, saints, scientists, thinkers, composers, painters, and film-makers. It is famous for its music, dance, and drama; arts and crafts; folklore; languages and literature; philosophy and religion; festivals and celebrations; and its distinctive cuisine and culinary tradition. Bangladesh has been regularly hit by floods and cyclones, but, contrary to what the world usually hears about natural disasters and poverty, there is positive economic growth and the country is one of southeast Asia’s largest exporters of garments to Western markets. Despite the hardships they endure the Bangladeshis are resilient, friendly, and hospitable, and welcome all visitors with a warm smile. This book introduces you to the people beyond the headlines, and offers invaluable advice on what to expect and how to behave in different situations, whether you are a tourist or traveling on business.

Lonely Planet Bangladesh (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Bangladesh is your passport to all the most relevant and up-to-date advice on what to see, what to skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Search for a Royal Bengal tiger in the Sundarbans, cycle the gentle rolling hills of Srimangal, or spend a night in Bangladesh's famous paddle-wheel 'Rocket'; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Bangladesh and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Bangladesh Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries show you the simplest way to tailor your trip to your own personal needs and interests Insider tips save you time and money and help you get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - including hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, and prices Honest reviews for all budgets - including eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, and hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer and more rewarding travel experience - including history, art, literature, cinema, music, politics, landscapes, wildlife, and cuisine Over 32 local maps Useful features - including Month-by-Month (annual festival calendar), Border Crossings, and Boat Trips Coverage of DhakaBarisal, Srimangal, Kuakata, Khulna, the  Chittagong Division, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sylhet, Sunamganj, the Dhaka Division, Birisiri, Cox's Bazar, Bagerhat, and more

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet and Daniel McCrohan.

About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in.

TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012 and 2013 winner in Favorite Travel Guide category

'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times

'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

Bangladesh 1:750,000 Travel Map (Travel Reference Map)

ITMB Publishing Ltd.

1:750,000 scale 1st Edition. This is a very interesting country, not touristy, but very friendly. This is the only map published of the country and is quite detailed; inset maps of Dhaka and Chittagong. Map size: 27"X39"

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times, particularly on Fridays after afternoon prayers as well as in the lead-up to and on days of national significance, such as Mother Language Day (February 21), Independence Day (March 26), Bengali New Year (April 14) and Victory Day (December 16).

Follow the advice of local authorities, monitor local media, and avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.

English language television news broadcasts are available as follows:

ATN Bangla – 09:00 and 18:00
Bangla Vision – 18:00
BTV – 10:00, 16:00 and 22:00

News websites with updated content include:

Bdnews24.com
www.thedailystar.net
www.theindependentbd.com

BBC Radio has periodic English news broadcasts at 100.0 FM in Dhaka

Demonstrations, hartals, blockades and politically motivated violence

Demonstrations, nationwide hartals (enforced general strikes), and politically motivated violence occur frequently, often causing injuries, even deaths. Violent demonstrations occurred in the lead up to and during the January 5, 2014 general elections, and are expected to continue for some time.

Attacks using explosive devices have increased throughout the country, including in the cities of DhakaSylhetKhulna and Chittagong. Attacks have taken place in crowded public places, hotels, movie theatres, railway stations and at political rallies. These attacks do not specifically target tourists or foreigners, but the danger of being in the wrong place at the wrong time is always present.

Be particularly vigilant in Dhaka around the Parliament building, the Secretariat Area, the National Mosque, Dhaka University, Purana Paltan, Naya Paltan, Motijheel, Mirpur, Kawran Bazar and Shahbag. Explosive devices and firearms have been used during confrontations between groups including rival political factions, police and demonstrators. Be aware of the potential for sudden demonstrations and violent clashes following Juma prayers (after noon) on Fridays.

Hartals effectively shut down all businesses and disrupt transportation, including in the diplomatic/expatriate areas. Passengers at Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport may be stranded without transportation. During hartals, travel within Dhaka outside the Gulshan, Baridhara and Banani areas and all travel outside Dhaka is strongly discouraged due to the high incidence of violence. Road 86 north of the Gulshan 2 circle, as well as Road 79 at the corner of Gulshan Avenue, should be avoided during hartals, demonstrations or during election periods as large gatherings are frequently held there, making it difficult to pass safely.

Blockades have been held to protest the upcoming general elections. You should avoid travelling during blockades as road, rail and marine transportation may be attacked or blocked. Protesters have set fire to vehicles, including trains, and damaged railway tracks, leading to derailments and injuries. As scheduled blockades are often extended, prepare to have sufficient food, water and fuel available as shortages may occur.

Since January 2013, International War Crimes Tribunal (ICT) trials have prompted demonstrations by both supporters and opponents. These demonstrations have been occurring in Dhaka and other parts of the country with increasing frequency and violence, often with only a day’s notice. Clashes between law enforcement and groups opposing the trials have increased, resulting in multiple injuries and deaths.

While the majority of verdicts from the ICT have been handed out, a few remain. In addition, a number of appeals have yet to be concluded. The first execution of a political leader sentenced to death occurred on December 12, 2013. Given that violence has often surrounded previous verdicts and appeals, further violent confrontations are expected to take place. Protestors have detonated small bombs, thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails, and set fire to vehicles.

Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, as well as areas where they are taking place, keep well informed of the situation as it unfolds by monitoring local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Chittagong Hill Tracts region (see Advisory)

You should register at the Divisional Commissioner’s Office in Chittagong City before making your way to the Chittagong Hill Tracts region. Exercise extreme caution, maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times, monitor local developments, and avoid crowds and demonstrations.

Crime

Violent crimes such as armed robberies and rapes occur. Foreigners are not particularly targeted, though crimes of opportunity have taken place against them in various areas, including DhakaChittagongSylhet, Feni and Khulna.

Pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging are common and have increased recently, especially in areas frequented by tourists and expatriates. Thieves target rickshaw,  CNG (motorized rickshaw) and taxi passengers, particularly around dusk. They are also present on trains.

Exercise caution when travelling outside urban areas. Do not show signs of wealth and do not wear jewellery. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.

Avoid walking alone or taking public transportation after dark. Victims of crime should contact the High Commission of Canada in Dhaka for assistance before filing a police report.

Women’s safety

Unaccompanied women face the highest risk of being victims of crime. Physical and verbal harassment of women occurs. Avoid travelling alone, including on public transportation, especially at night. Do not go to police stations alone. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.

Forced Marriage

Canadians have been forced into marriage without their prior knowledge or consent. For more information, consult our Forced Marriage page and our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide.

Scams

Travellers have reported being scammed by security officials in the departures section of the Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport in Dhaka. During security pat downs, security officials have asked travellers if they had any money in their pockets. When travellers presented local currency, they were advised that it is illegal to export Bangladeshi taka and were asked to turn over their money. If you are confronted with this situation, you should refuse to comply and ask to speak with the Chief of Airport Security. You are also encouraged to report such incidents to the High Commission of Canada in Dhaka.

Transportation

Traffic drives on the left. Road conditions are poor. Road travel is dangerous and should be avoided after dark since many vehicles operate without headlights or with full high beams. Traffic in urban areas is extremely congested and chaotic. Road accidents causing injuries or death are common.

Ferries and long-distance buses on major roads between towns have been targeted by gangs of thieves. Exercise caution when using these means of transportation. Ferry accidents are not uncommon in Bangladesh due to the overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.

Rail travel is slow and derailments occur. Ensure your compartment is locked when travelling at night.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Tourist facilities are inadequate.

The work week in Bangladesh is from Sunday to Thursday.

Planned power cuts, termed “load shedding,” are a common daily occurrence in most parts of the country and can last for many hours. Water is also not supplied on a consistent basis and several areas of the country can go for days without any water.

Piracy

Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Japanese encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending time outdoors in rural areas) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in South Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, leptospirosis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Cholera

There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.

Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Southern Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, and malaria.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.
Leishmaniasis, viceral

Visceral leishmaniasis (or kala azar) affects the bone marrow and internal organs. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. It can also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sharing contaminated needles. If left untreated it can cause death. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine available for leishmaniasis.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Southern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.

Avian Influenza

There have been human cases of avian influenza ("bird flu”) in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread by contact with infected birds or surfaces and objects contaminated by their feces or other secretions.

Avoid unnecessary contact with domestic poultry and wild birds as well as surfaces contaminated with their feces or other secretions. Ensure all poultry dishes and eggs are thoroughly cooked.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are generally inadequate compared to Western standards. Medical evacuations to Thailand or Singapore are often required for serious conditions. Doctors and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Laws

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can face life imprisonment or a death sentence.

Muslims are prohibited from consuming alcohol. Transgressions could be punished by detention or other penalties.

Homosexual activity is illegal.

You should carry a photocopy of your passport in case local authorities ask to verify your identification.

An International Driving Permit is required.

Dual citizenship

If your parents are Bangladeshi, authorities may consider you a Bangladeshi citizen, regardless of your place of birth or whether you have obtained Bangladeshi citizenship. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.

Culture

Bangladesh prides itself on being a secular nation with a predominantly Muslim population. Local laws reflect the fact that Bangladesh has strongly conservative social norms.

Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. Women in particular should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless garments.

Public displays of affection are not socially acceptable.

Money

The currency is the taka (BDT). Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted; however, exercise caution when using them. Incidents of credit card fraud have been reported at automated banking machines (ABMs) and with merchants in Dhaka. Traveller's cheques can be exchanged at banks and at the airport in Dhaka. U.S. dollar traveller's cheques are recommended.

Climate

Bangladesh is located in an active seismic zone. It is not unusual for Bangladeshi authorities to issue tsunami warnings immediately following a significant earthquake.

The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from June to October. Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged. Every year during the monsoon season, a third of the territory is seriously affected. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.