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Bangladesh Guide & Travel Advice

Getting there

Getting to Bangladesh is not difficult – the national airline, Biman, operates a daily non-stop service from London Heathrow. Emirates also flies from the UK to Dhaka with a stopover in Dubai and Etihad goes from Manchester via Abu Dhabi or from Edinburgh through Abu Dhabi and Delhi.

Flight times from UK

A direct flight from London Heathrow to Dhaka should take around 11 hours. Indirect flights usually take around 14 hours.

Time zone

Bangladesh is +6 hours ahead of GMT.

Visa requirements

Before you travel you will need to obtain a valid visa. These are available from the Bangladesh High Commission in London but visitors can get a one-month visa on arrival which is valid for business and tourism. Ensure your passport is stamped when you arrive to achieve a smoother departure when you are heading home.

Dos and don’ts

Do take a rickshaw ride – while they are common in many parts of south Asia, in Bangladesh the rickshaws are the most colourful and beautifully designed. Riders take great pride in decorating their vehicles and you can even take home a hand-painted panel as a souvenir. They are the most environmentally friendly, convenient and unashamedly fun way to negotiate the country’s busy streets.

Bangladesh is a largely Muslim country and visitors should respect local traditions and customs during their visit, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Ladies are advised to cover their shoulders and wear modest skirts or trousers.

It is a good idea to carry a photocopy of the data page from your passport and your visa in case you are asked for proof of identity.

When eating, only the right hand should be used. Bangladeshi culture considers the left hand to be unclean.

Money

The currency in Bangladesh is the Taka and, while you will find ATMs in most towns and cities, it is best to stock up on currency when you can.

Tipping

This is left to your discretion, however, tipping for good service in Bangladesh is part of everyday life. In expensive restaurants, waiters may expect a small tip of around 5% but otherwise, tipping in restaurants is unnecessary as most hotels add a service charge, as well as VAT, to their regular rates. A guideline for tipping drivers and guides will be advised prior to travel.

Food and drink

Bengali cuisine combines the staple of rice with aromatic spices and the freshest local produce. Freshwater fish feature heavily, with catfish, barramundi and butterfish often found on the menu, while meats include beef, mutton, venison, duck and chicken. Vegetarians will delight at curries of egg, potato, spinach, aubergine and tomato as well as delicious dhals and a plethora of breads and chapatti, chickpea stews, vegetables and spices. Specialities include korma, bhuna, masala gosht and shami kebabs, made from minced meat. Accompany your meal with chai, a sweet, milky tea, coconut water or lassi, a refreshing yoghurt drink perfect for taking the sting out of the most potent spices.

Holidays, festivals and celebrations

As in all Muslim countries, the festival of Eid is widely celebrated and are the happiest time of the year for local people, with offices and schools closing for a week during the festival. Bangla New Year falls around the western world's Easter time whilst other holidays include a celebration of the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday on 3rd January.

Shopping

When shopping, be prepared to barter. However shopping in Bangladesh is inexpensive and you can find gorgeous local crafts and textiles to take home, as well as exquisite bangles and colourful beaded jewellery. To pick up a souvenir with a difference, head to the Bangshal Road in Old Dhaka to buy rickshaw art. Painted on thin pieces of tin, it can be rolled up to fit snugly inside a suitcase and it is possible to pick up something really special for around £5.

Suggested reading

Aside from the Lonely Planet and Bradt travel guides, William van Schendel's ‘A History of Bangladesh’ gives a well-rounded, contextual look at the country's colourful past, while Tahmima Anam's ‘A Golden Age’ is set against Bangladesh's fight for independence from first the British Empire and then Pakistan.

Health

Your doctor is the best person to advise you on staying healthy whilst abroad but current recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Diphtheria. Yellow Fever is compulsory, but only if you have visited an affected Yellow Fever area within 5 days prior to your arrival. In some instances anti-malarial tablets may also be needed. For current information on health advice you may wish to visit the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) Web Site on www.masta.org. The NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website (www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk) is also a useful resource.

Travel advice

For current information on Bangladesh the best resource is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) which is a comprehensive resource and updated regularly. We would also recommend visiting the Safer Tourism Foundation website (https://safertourism.org.uk/) before you travel and will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Bangladesh Holiday Ideas

Bangladesh Holiday Review

I have just got back from the above tour and want to let you know I had excellent service.

The boat was pristine and the food incredible and the staff and guide friendly polite and could not do too much for me.

On every part of the tour I was always met on time and throughout the service was second to none.

The hotel in Dhaka was well placed so that minimum time was wasted in the Dhaka traffic.

The tour content was good, varied and interesting and my guide added more things to see wherever possible in addition to what was on my itinerary, rearranging visits to maximise what was to see.

I will certainly recommend your services to others and Bangladesh as a country to visit.

DG - Bangladesh - November 2016

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