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Introducing Bangladesh

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Hussaini Dalan, Bangladesh © David Stanley

Anyone visiting Bangladesh can look forward to a storybook setting of famous rivers, ancient ruins and arresting religious sites. The country's tourism infrastructure is still relatively undeveloped, so adventurous travellers can expect a captivating and authentic experience.

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 structures and an ever-present cacophony of car horns and rickshaw bells lend the capital an unmistakable energy that is as intimidating as it is intoxicating. Fortunately, locals are renowned for their friendliness and their inquisitive streak, which, along with delicious Bengali cuisine, go a long way to making travellers feel welcome.

The Sundarbans National Park lies south of Dhaka and is famous for its mangrove forests, and for being 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 remains of the Buddhist monastic complex at Paharpur (the most spectacular pre-Islamic monument in Bangladesh), 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, but travellers can still enjoy themselves. All told, it's a place to relax and open up to new ways of being, rather than tick off sights.

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