Put simply, there is no better place in which to experience the magic of the Hill Tracts than in the lively small town of Bandarban, which lies on the Sangu River, 92km from Chittagong. The river is the centre of local life: bamboo rafts up to 500m long, steered by a solitary boatman, drift leisurely downstream, while country boats make slow trips to neighbouring villages. Many of the inhabitants belong to the Buddhist Marma tribe, and there are villages in the hills, which you can easily hike to. The town itself, which has a couple of interesting sights, isn’t overly attractive, but the surrounding countryside is some of the finest in Bangladesh and offers one of the few opportunities to really escape the masses.
At the time of writing, all foreigners needed a permit to visit Bandarban. This could be arranged in Chittagong. At the checkpoint before coming into town, officials may request that you call upon the district commissioner in town.