Bangladesh isn’t on most people’s radar. I mean, could you honestly tell me 2 things about Bangladesh? Could you point it out on a map?  Do you know what the flag looks like?

bangla

Don’t feel bad if you are clueless about Bangladesh, because I was too before I traveled there in February 2017. I went to Dhaka (the capital city) without doing any research or having any idea what to expect… I wanted to challenge myself to see if I can figure it out on my own (which I did, of course)!

Dhaka is not exactly what you’d call a pretty city by any means.  It’s chaotic. It’s dirty. It’s over populated. It’s lacking good infrastructure and tourist attractions. It’s not geographically located in a convenient place to visit, and there aren’t many airlines that fly there.

But all things considered, I actually enjoyed my time in Dhaka and I hope that you will consider visiting after reading this article.  It’s a really good place to visit if you like going “off the beaten path” beacuse I can guarantee that most of your family and friends haven’t been before.

Without further adieu – here are 10 Things to Expect from Dhaka.

10 Things to Expect From Dhaka

*Please note that everything you read is coming from my personal experience in DHAKA only (I am not taking about other places in Bangladesh)…  That being said, all thoughts, comments and opinions are mine*

1. Traffic is Unbearable

dhaka-traffic

I put Dhaka in my Top 5 worst traffic cities, alongside Manila, Bangkok, Mumbai and Delhi. There isn’t much else to say other than expect to wait hours and hours without moving an inch.  It’s really frustrating, but you have to embrace it beacuse it’s part of the Dhaka experience

I’ll just let this photo do the talking.

2. You Will Get Stared At

dhaka-richshaw-driver

If you physically stand out (white skin, blonde hair or ESPECIALLY red hair) — then expect to be stared at everywhere you go in Bangladesh.  I am pretty used to this after traveling all over India and living in rural village in Korea, but if you are not used to this, then you will have to adapt quickly. They don’t mean to be rude when they stare at you, they are simply surprised to see you and they will always smile at you if you nod your head in acknowledgement.

I can’t count how many times people came up to me on the street and asked to take a photo with me. So I took selfies with them 🙂

3. People are Friendly

bangla-friend

My favorite part about visiting Bangladesh was the people. Almost everyone I came across was super friendly and they always went out of their way to help me. I was stopped on the street dozens of times everyday from people who asked if I needed any help with anything. I was offered to go inside people’s homes for chai (tea) and food. If I stood on a street corner looking around, someone would come up and ask me if I knew where I was going. It seemed that people were just as interested to get to know me as I was to know them.

In addition, I never once felt harassed or unsafe. I really enjoyed the kind hospitality of Bangladeshi people.

4. Pollution is Rampant

dhaka-chaos

As you probably could have guessed from my traffic photo above — Dhaka is very polluted.  It’s probably the most polluted city I’ve ever been to… So you’ll want to get yourself a mask when walking outside, to avoid breathing in dirt and chemicals from the excess amount of people, cars, tractors and factories.

5. It’s a Foodie Paradise

mutton-leg-roast

I was surprised to see how much food was offered in Dhaka! Not only Bangladeshi food, but so many chains that I recognized from the U.S. such as KFC and Burger King.   There were loads of Korean, Japanese and Thai restaurants as well.

Bangladeshi food is similar to Indian food. Lots of curry-based dishes, soups, vegetables, roti and chai. Although contrary to in India, Bangladeshis eat a lot of meat (mutton, chicken, beef).   My favorite dish that I ate in Dhaka was Mutton Leg Roast, as you see in the above photo.

I even ate at a Bangaldesh-Chinese fusion restaurants, which was fantastic and I can’t even describe what I was tasting.

6. It Might be the Cheapest Country in Asia

coconut

It’s hard to say for sure, because I still haven’t been to every country in Asia… But Bangladesh is amongst the cheapest countries in Asia and the world.  Yes, even cheaper than India, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

This makes it much less stressful beacuse I didn’t have to worry about budgeting myself.  I could splurge a little more on a nice dinner!

7. There Are Many Forms of Transportation

rickshaw-bangladesh

Tuk tuks, bicycles, taxis, buses, private cars, 3 wheeled rickshaws, and more — you have the option to decide how to get around.  I took almost every form of transportation, and I enjoyed most the 3 wheeled rickshaws as I could get a great view of the city along the way.

If it’s rush hour and you’re in a hurry, then you might be better off walking instead of sitting in traffic.

8. It’s Mostly Cash Only

panam-city

While most fancy restaurants & hotels will accept card (visa and mastercard), almost everything else in Bangladesh is cash only.  Therefore, I recommend taking out a bunch of extra money at the ATM machine when you arrive at the airport, so you will be fully equipped on your trip.  You can always exchange back the money when you’re leaving Dhaka 🙂

9. Most People Can Speak English

bangladeshi-friends

I was surprised to see the majority of people speaking (or understanding) English. This broke down cultural barriers and made it easier to make friends and do daily activities like ordering in a restaurant or riding in a taxi.  When I was visiting some ruins (above), these young ladies came up to me and asked for a photo and we talked for a few minutes!

Many people will want to practice speaking with you if they see you, so be open to that and help them out!

10. Nothing Runs on Time

rickshaw-dhaka

This is mostly due to the horrific traffic. Don’t expect to get anywhere on time. If you are meeting someone for dinner at 7, that really means 8. There is no way around it.

What can $10 Get you in Dhaka?

Find out in my video, which happens to be the most viral piece of content I’ve ever created!

What Can $10 Get You in Bangladesh?New Record! I got 10 items for less than $10 in #Bangladesh! It’s been a crazy fun (and overwhelming) experience here in #Dhaka, but I had a blast putting this video together. I also haven’t slept much beacuse I spent more than 15 hours editing this over the past 2 days.

Would love to get your thoughts and feedback so I can improve for my next episode in #Nepal TOMORROW (please comment what you liked or didn’t like)…

LIKE Drew Binsky on Facebook for more 🙂

Posted by Drew Binsky on Wednesday, February 8, 2017

 

Final Thoughts

Bangladesh is really a unique country and I recommend giving it a try if you find yourself in South Asia. My best and final piece of advice that I’ll give you is to go in with an open mind and get ready to experience something brand new.

Please contact me or comment below if you have any questions about Bangaldesh!

Drew Binsky

A graduate from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Drew Binsky has visited 190+ Countries since 2012.He first caught the travel bug while studying abroad in Prague, then taught English in Korea, and now he's on a mission to visit every country on earth.Follow his journey on YouTube & Instagram @drewbinsky 🙂

Latest posts by Drew Binsky (see all)

151 thoughts on “10 Things to Expect From Dhaka, Bangladesh

  1. I really liked your blog. I didn’t expect most people in Dhaka to speak English at all. However, I did expect that there would be overpopulation and, for the same reason, that the hygienic conditions would not be appropriate. In my opinion, the government should take care of the problem immediately. I know that there are plans to change the pipes and implement a new water filtration system. This is expected to improve the quality of the water, as the heavy metals will seep out of the water.
    I was also particularly interested in the fact that there were various forms of transport. I did not know that in Bangladesh, as in India, 3-wheeled trolleys were used for transportation.
    Finally, I am very happy that people are kind. I think it is very important that people behave well with tourists as most of them will get to know their culture. On the other hand the fact that people treat you well, makes it a much more pleasant experience.
    As I told you, I really liked your blog. I found it very entertaining and learned about Dhaka in a very entertaining way. That’s why I share it, because I think it can be to the liking of many people I know. 🙂

  2. i am a us citizen and i travel to dhaka ever two years.i love this place .yes its crowded and overpopluated but the hospitality and friendly people make up for it.

  3. My wife and I arrived in Dhaka last night. I talked the others into coming. I enjoy this kinda travel, but I haven’t gotten a reaction from the others yet (they’re asleep).
    Our plane arrived at 11:40 PM with tired people. Almost all men, very few women. I’ve been to only 50 some countries, but it took us over 4 hours to get a “Visa-on-Arrival”, which the website promises. That was after I made a scene. I hated to leave the pleasant young Chinese businessman selling “re-bar” behind in line. I’ve never seen such bureaucratic ineptitude.
    We’ve rented an AirBnB apartment. It is lovely, but the street is frightening. Unfortunately, the promised air conditioning is unhooked. Did I mention that my wife and I and the other couple are in our 70s?
    We’ll find out more.

  4. Hey Drew Binsky , please visit Bangladesh once again . Everyday new things are creating here and you will get entertained .Please visit chittagong , sylhet also as these are our main tourist spots .This is a beautiful country . If you come here again I would like to accompany with you .I’ll show all the places of my country because I just love you man….Love all the videos made by you…..I want you to be In my country once again !!

  5. Hey Drew Binsky
    Thanks for traveling to Bangladesh ‍and write an article about Dhaka.
    Really. Traffic, high population and pollution are the main problems of Dhaka City.
    But there are many beautiful places outside of Dhaka like Sundarban, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Sylhet, and Bandarban etc. which might be a great travel experience.

  6. You should visit other parts of Bangladesh like Chittagong, Coxs Bazaar, Sylhet, the Sunderbans and Bandarbans. Very nice places to visit.

      1. I’m planning to visit Bangladesh in October with a friend. I’m almost blind, but really want to visit this country. If someone can help me to make my travel more easy, I would appreciate it. My e-mail is [email protected]

  7. Amazingly this “poor” nation is now building very impressive (even by western standards) a cross country network of modern toll roads, a 20 KM long “Padma Bridge” for both road and rail traffic as part of the highway system, and a modern elevated mass transit system for Dhaka. Hopefully the projects will be finished in five years or less (one of the Dhaka rail projects is likely to open next year). They need to educate people on the need for smaller families due to the ever increasing numbers in a confined nation. Climate change is another problem that is reducing livable land area.

  8. It is great to see you visited Dhaka, Bangladesh. Your writing is absolutely right. Over populated in Dhaka, traffic jam and air pollution. But people are friendly. I just suggest you to know more things about Bangladesh onhttp://orientecotourism.com/dhaka-tourism/ . This carries information for tourists coming to Bangladesh. Thanks to Drew for a nice post about Bangladesh that I appreciate.

    1. Razbe, I don’t know if you see this message. But I’ll try to get in touch with you and your company. I need some help for my holiday in October this year. It will be a trip of 2 weeks in Bangladesh.

  9. In 2015 my child and I were invited to a Muslim wedding in Sylhet by some Bangladeshi friends. Even though I had been to India before I was very excited about the prospect of visiting Bangladesh. We were treated so well where ever we went. In fact my friends who are British Bangladeshis complained that we were being treated better than them. Lol. We also got the chance to visit Dhaka as we were there for a Month. We have been back since, and will be returning in December 2018. Great Country, Great People.

  10. Hey Drew Binsky. I just type bangladesh on google and i found you. This is nice job Binsky. I mean it this is a great job. I’m Bangladeshi. I love my Country. thank you so much. You visit my country! This is my blog site (www.goArif.com). I’m trying to share my country views.

  11. I think the Bangaldeshi’s were eager to take pics w/ you b/c they thought you were a celebrity or something and they didn’t want to miss out on a potential opportunity lol

  12. Do visit Pakistan sometimes and do include the city of Karachi when paying a visit and the best thing is that it’s totally safe

    1. I am invited to live in dhaka with a man I met online. I live in USA small town 5000. I hate curry. Hate India. Hate noise . I am shy. I have children , divorced. Very blonde. Will I be able to handle it. Am I meeting sex slave trade or nice man from fb,. Please reply

  13. Hi!
    Mr. Binsky thank you for your wonderful article about Dhaka. I hope you ge to explore other parts of the country. I am originally from Dhaka but I live in El Paso, Texas. If you ever visit either of these places and need any sort of assistance, feel free to email me. All the best for your endeavours!

  14. Hi! Actually, you are so nice, man. You honestly described our Dhaka. But outside Dhaka can be so nice for you! So you can come back again for your holiday & visit Cox’s Bazar, Sylhet, Bandarban Sundarban.I’m sure you will love us more.Thanks a lot.

  15. Dear Sir,
    Its come to my attention that this site seems a little basic, simple. Sorry but its not helpful and….. yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  16. Hi, i will be transitting in dhaka for about 12hours. But technically i have 9hours to be safe. With 9hours would u suggest that i go out to dhaka city and what to do in 9hours only.

    Thnks man!:)

  17. You have nicely portrayed Bangladesh. Thank you very much. The others will be inspired by your writing to visit Bangladesh which is really beautiful and unique in this world. The people are very much friendly.

  18. First of all, Thanks Drew!
    You portrayed Bangladesh one in a whim though it was only on Dhaka even then the least travel destination like Bangladesh would become a better tourist attraction.
    You got the real flavour in Dhaka city which Signifies the entire country with every bit of its life and culture and make believe for the new tourists that Bangladesh is the place of diversity and colorful life.
    Thanks once again and for the first time visitors i suggest to follow the link below:
    http://www.deshghuri.com/things-to-do-in-bangladesh/

  19. Nice to hear good thoughts of yours about my country, but u just visited Dhaka, in Bangladesh! U could have visited other cities which are more popular than Dhaka which are like Coxs Bazar(longest sea beach on earth), Mangrove forest Shundar Ban( largest mangrove forest on earth), Bandarban.

    The other thing is, airlines fly their but u need to come over by many transits if u r very far .

    I’m not a frequent flyer but my dad is , till now he traveled 22 countries in Asia and one in Africa but I experienced only 4 as I’m still a student, but in future I would want to travel the whole world like u and want to feel the creation of God, so for that The question that i had in my mind was . How do u manage getting visas instantly staying anywhere ? I mean do u have any international stamped passport? How do u get visa of somewhere else staying somewhere else other than ur motherland ?

  20. Hi Drew,

    A nice list of facts about the things to expect in Dhaka for the foreigners! Surely it will help the first time visitors in Dhaka getting more prepared. Thanks for visiting Bangladesh, which is the least travelled destination in the world!

    For the interested readers, here is a list of the best places to visit in Dhaka which you must try on your first time visit: https://nijhoom.com/dhaka-tourist-attractions/

    Regards from Bangladesh!

    Hasan

  21. Awwwwwww <3 We love you Drew Binsky <3
    Really appreciate your mission to visit every country on earth …wish I could do the same!
    Best of luck ahead!

  22. Can tell you’re a very positive person overall! I am American, but family came from Bangladesh. I’ve only visited a few times and still haven’t seen the beautiful places of Bangladesh that I hear of or much else besides mostly Dhaka. Felt happy reading your article. And glad you were able to enjoy your adventures safely.

  23. You did it perfectly. Thanks for coming.

    And you can expect unlimited things from us if you expect accordingly.

    🙂

  24. Thanks for the review on a highly positive way. Yes we have problems, in fact many problems, but still progressing in many index. Hopefully we can overcome issues gradually and welcome many of you as always. Hopefully your comments will inspire many to explore Bangladesh. We will celebrate 50 years of Independence in 2021 & hope you would come again to join us…
    Take care friend!

  25. Loved your review….whereas most of the tourists are in a negative mood, your positive vision made my day. Thanks a lot. I love my country very much…Live long Bangladesh! 💜💜

  26. hey, why didn’t you meet me man,, I could show you another 100 things to expect fron dhaka,, any way thanks for visiting our city and making an article on it.

  27. I feel bad for you bro. Without going to good places like Cox’s bazar, sylhet, Bandarban you went through the most populated place Puran dhaka and dhanmondi area of dhaka, bangladesh. We bangladeshi people usually go there for purpose only. Hope you will come back and study before coming where to visit in dhaka or bangladesh. I am sure you will love us more ^_^

  28. Thank u for visiting our beautiful country. hope u’ll come here again and visit specially cox’s-Bazar. The largest sea bich in the world.😀

  29. Thank you so much for visiting our beautiful country bruh😊 If you want to visit again you can contact with me. I can help you to travel all over the Bangladesh and can give you much more memorable,splendit,remarkable and enjoyable travel😜

  30. Man, I really appreciate your visit to our city and your honest review on it as well. You told about Dhaka exactly how it is. I want to recommend you to visit coxsbazar in Bangladesh, as you are a passionate traveler I believe you know we have the longest sea beach at coxsbazar. You will also get to see hills and a couple of water falls over there. You will get a ton of foods you probably not tasted yet… and it is also very cheap for example you can book a good hotel room for 1 night for 10 dollars (but you have to know a local person like me to bargain for the cheapest price you can get) quite interesting, no? So please give a visit to coxsbazar.

  31. You should visit Sundar ban, Coxsbazar & Bandarbans Rural Area! Those AAre the best place of Bangladesh! Anyway Thank you so much for visting Our Beautiful Country! Love!!!! 👌

  32. Hello,
    I love what you have written about Bangladesh and Bangladeshies. I am a Bangladeshi and I wanna thank you for posting such an overview. All I wanna say is, you are always welcome to our country and here is a request to you, “please, encourage your friends and family and even other people to have a visit in Bangladesh.
    Thanks……. <3

  33. Though dhaka isn’t a beautiful city, there are so may places in Bangladesh are beautiful. If you would want to see the beauty of nature you might go to Coxsbazar(Sea beach), Rangamati, bandarban( Hill-tracks, water fountain, Kuakata sea beach), north bengal, bagerhat, sylhet. Ctc. There are so many places you could enjoy the beauty of Bangladesh. You will be gladly welcomed if visit our country again. Thanks for giving such a loving review for Bangladesh. We poor people are working for our country to reduce the difficulties in traffic jams, pollution and all those things. Near in future world will see developed and organized country. Thanks on be half of My country people for visiting us 🙂

  34. Your love for Bangladesh has showed you many things. I presume you have not visited north and south which has mixed blending with ethenic culture. You will certainly feel loved.

  35. If you have a poetic-mind then you will find a lot of metaphor in Bangladesh. pls come Bangladesh to see the beauty of the soul.

  36. Dhaka doesn’t represent the beauties of Bangladesh. If you had visited Sundarbans or Cox’s Bazar, you would know.

  37. As you visited only Dhaka, you failed to realize the amazing beauty of the country and its people. Mainly the beauty of southern and eastern part of the country. wish you to visit here again!

  38. It’s a great honor for us that you present exact picture of Dhaka……..lots of positive things with some bad things. Definitely Dhaka people will encourage to get reed of this bad things. Love you for your open mind. I hope you will come again to bangladesh and explore the other cities here. Thanks again.

  39. Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip to Dhaka. Pretty accurate description. I would however encourage you and others reading this blog to visit other parts of Bangladesh, particularly the countryside, along with some popular tourist destinations, such as the Sundarbans (the largest mangrove forest in the world), Cox Bazar (a tourist spot along the longest uninterrupted sea beach in the world), Saint Martin’s Island (a picturesque coral island offshore in the Bay of Bengal), the Sylhet tea gardens, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Sonargaon (ruins of the ancient capital of Bengal), Paharpur (a 7th century 27 acres Buddhist monastery complex with a museum), Mahastangarh (an 8th century 5 miles radius archaeological site with a museum), Mainamati (a vast archaeological site consisting of stupas, temples, courtyards and a museum), etc. Keep an open mind. You won’t be disappointed.

  40. This is a very accurate description of Dhaka, my hometown. Thanks for the blog. I hope many other will be inspired travelling to Bangladesh after reading your blog and will have similar experience. Besides Dhaka there is more place to visit in Bangladesh, others have mentioned in the comments above. However like you – food and people are top to attractions for me!!!

  41. it was great seeing our country in your article my friend…. i recommend u next time pls do visit our rural areas and tourist spots like Cox’sBazar, St.martin’s island, Sundarbans any many more to google!!!!… thanks again….

  42. Thank you for that splendid article. It means a great deal to our country. Many foreigners think that our country is not safe. This will boost their morale of coming here. I hope you will be visiting our country more. You will be mesmerized if you see our villages. 🙂 <3
    I'll give you a list of places to visit if you need one. 🙂

  43. Wow this Amazing. welcome our Country . Hope you will visit next time in Bangladesh.
    ⊙ Just I want to say strongly Our country is totally Safe for every Nation.
    #WelcomeToBangladesh.

  44. well I didn’t expect lots of good point that u mentioned about dhaka where its the worst place in Bangladesh.. next time try to vist outside of dhaka- the villages… u will find real Bangladesh there. If u r thinking dhaka is good Idk what u will say if u visit our villages. And yap we are very much interested and friendly to foreigners that’s true. 😀

  45. Thank you for visiting our country 🙂
    Hope you will come once again our country and must visit these places
    Cox’s bazar,Chittagong, Sylhet, Bandarban.
    You will then find more attractive places to visit here.

  46. Please next time make a trip to Bandarban, Sylhet (esp. Jaflong), Ratargul swamp forest, Cox’s Bazar, Birishiri (Netrokona).

  47. Thanks for coming Bangladesh and your appreciation for Bangladesh. Traffic and other problems are mixed with our regular life. But we are trying to develop our cities and all over the countries. If you see we have the world longest Sea beach which naturally very beautiful, you will find the our Hill Tracts which is a green paradise. You can see the world biggest mangrove forest in Bangladesh. Please stay with us and support us from your heart, definitely we will give you a better Bangladesh soon.

  48. I agree with all these things you mentioned except Cheap country. Even the price you have shown in this video is not ture in my experience. 😀 For example, I could never buy a coconut in that price, it was always double than that. And if you use autorickshaw or taxi you have to pay 3 to 5 euro for 3/5 to km distance, depending on time. And price of dresses and shoes are very expensive if you buy from a showroom. I have been to Bangladesh in Dec 2016 and I am a Bangladeshi living in Finland. I have been to India and some other countries as well. Anyway, thanks for your interest to Bangladesh and welcome again. And yes, we are friendly!.. It’s 100% true. 🙂

  49. The video you made was really amazing!!! Hope that you could’ve gotten a chance to see more places like Cox’s Bazar, Sent Martin , Shylet, Sonargaon & so on.

  50. Bangladesh being on the list of the least known country in the world . Someone putting some effort even to represent a small part of our culture fills my heart with pride . Thank you so much for visiting Bangladesh and please do let me know if destiny lead you to Bangladesh in future.

  51. I’m happy to see you went to my motherland. Basically you are right overall about Bangladesh. The traffic is the worst, food is soo yummy and people are the sweetest.

  52. Haha…loved your review of my city….but seriously visit Bangladesh during a rainy season….

    You’ll find a totally different country….and hope you saw places outside Dhaka too….like cox’s bazar, bandarban, Rangamati, sylhet….

  53. Thanks for visiting our beautiful land Bangladesh.What you say about Dhaka is absolutely correct.But Dhaka is’t only city to represent Bangladesh.We have Cox’s Bazaar,Sylhet,bandarbun,rangamati and so many places to visit.I think if you come again and visit these places you will definitely enjoy the most.I warmly welcome you to visit “The Land Of Beauty”again.

  54. Your article is actually really accurate about Dhaka. But you should consider visiting the other places these people have mentioned if you ever get the opportunity. Bangladesh is Beautiful, Dhaka isn’t, it’s just super crowded and polluted 😛

  55. Hi There,
    Glad to see your nice write up about Dhaka but Dhaka is not all about Bangladesh. In fact you have not seen the true Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar, Syleth, Sundarbans, Kuakata etc. are very beautiful , google it you then will get to know about these places. Besides the villages of Bangladesh are fantastic. Give it a try if you come here again.
    The people are friendly and hospitable. You are always welcome to my beautiful Bangladesh.
    Thanks.

    1. Exactly, Dhaka is not beautiful and welcoming. Banderban is the best place in Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar might be the longest sea beach in the world but its very polluted and the crowd is very perverted to foreigners, also better looking and well maintained sea beaches already exists from where they come from.

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