Hussaini Dalan, Bangladesh © David Stanley
From elaborate clothes and ornate taxis, to crowded cities, tiny Bangladesh is bursting at its seams. Famous rivers, the world's longest beach, ancient ruins and sacred religious sites abound, all without the fingerprints of commercialised tourism.
Visitors usually venture out from the capital, Dhaka, where cramped streets connect a sprawl of low buildings in the frenetic city centre. Rain-washed colonial buildings and an ever-present cacophony of car horns and rickshaw bells lend the capital an unmistakable energy. It is as intimating as it is intoxicating. Fortunately, the locals are renowned for their friendliness, and their inquisitive streak. Both go a long way to making travellers feel welcome. Delicious Bengali cuisine helps too.
South of Dhaka, the Jamuna River leads into Sundarbans National Park: famous for its mangrove forests, and as one of the Bengal tiger's last refuges. As with the country in general, the best way to travel the jungle-choked region is by boat.
The country's lesser-known attractions include the Buddhist remains at Paharpur, and the 15th-century mosques and mausoleums of Bagerhat. Both of them are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Poor infrastructure and an undeveloped tourist industry make it difficult to move around Bangladesh with any speed. Fortunately, these realities don't hurt the adventure travellers can enjoy in the country. All told, it's a place to relax and open up to new ways of being, rather than tick off sights.
From a safety perspective, travellers should avoid the Chittagong Hill Tracts, though not the city of Chittagong or other parts of Chittagong Division. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have arrived in the south-east of Bangladesh, following ongoing violence in Burma since August 2017. The Bangladeshi authorities regulate access to the areas where the Rohingya are accommodated.
Also, terrorists are very likely to carry out attacks across the entire country. They target security forces, though they may aim future attacks at public gatherings and foreign nationals.
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