Dhaka is more than just a city, it is a giant whirlpool that sucks in anything and anyone foolish enough to come within its furious grasp. Around and around it sends them, like some wildly spinning fairground ride bursting with energy. Millions of individual pursuits constantly churn together into a frenzy of collective activity – it is an urban melting pot bubbling over. Nothing seems to stand still. Even the art moves, paraded on the back of the city’s sea of 600, 000-plus rickshaws, which throb with colour and restlessness even when gridlocked.
It doesn’t matter how many times you experience this city, the sensation of being utterly overwhelmed is always the same. Sights and experiences come at you so thick and fast that it would take a lifetime to know this mega-city’s every mood. A day spent alternating between the filthy riverbanks of Old Dhaka and the swish restaurants of Gulshan is a day spent seeing the haves and have-nots of the world in crystal clarity. We can’t guarantee you’ll fall for Dhaka’s many charms, but sooner or later you will start to move to its beat and when that happens Dhaka stops being a terrifying ride and starts becoming a cauldron of art and intellect, passion and poverty, love and hate. Whatever happens, this is one fairground ride you’ll never forget.
Best places to stay in Dhaka
Bangladesh: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Bangladesh guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip. Budding writers will be happy to hear that there is very little travel literature on Bangladesh published in the West.