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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!