Foreign card-friendly ATMs exist in most big towns and cities, but may be lacking in smaller towns. Every time you pull money out of an ATM using your foreign card, be prepared to pay a convenience fee that could amount to a few hundred taka. Stock up on taka when you can, and take some US dollars for emergencies.
The local currency of Bangladesh is the taka (Tk), which is (notionally) further divided into 100 paisas. The largest note is Tk 1000. The smallest coin is Tk 1.
Bangladesh is unbelievably tolerant when it comes to accepting (and handing out) torn or soiled banknotes, although mint-fresh notes also do the rounds.
A growing number of ATMs accept foreign bank cards, particularly Visa and MasterCard. The most reliable ATMs are AB Bank, Dutch Bangla Bank, Brac Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC, all of which have branches in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.
It’s worth stocking up on taka when you can, though, because there are still a lot of places, particularly in more remote areas, where you can’t change or withdraw money.
It’s always a good idea to bring a small amount of cash, preferably in American dollars, for emergencies. In smaller towns, hotels may not accept payment by card; restaurants most certainly will not.
Visa, MasterCard and American Express are usually accepted by major hotels and restaurants in Dhaka and Chittagong.
Cash advances on credit cards can be made at Standard Chartered and HSBC banks.
|India||Rs 100||Tk 115|
|New Zealand||NZ$1||Tk 52|
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
You will find official moneychangers upon arriving at Dhaka airport. Most top-end hotels as well as banks in big cities will also change foreign currency for a small surcharge. Only the bigger border crossings such as Benapole and Akhaura have private moneychangers; at smaller crossings, you'll be at the mercy of random people offering random rates.
- Hotels Attendants are happy with a tip of Tk 50 or Tk 100.
- Standard Restaurants In most basic restaurants, it's not necessary to tip, although a Tk 20 note can light up a waiter's face.
- Top End Restaurants In expensive restaurants in Dhaka that are mostly frequented by foreigners, waiters often expect a small tip, typically about 5% (on top of the service charge and VAT).
- Taxis & CNGs Drivers don't expect tips in Bangladesh.
Baksheesh (bok-sheesh), in the sense of a tip or gift rather than a bribe (an admittedly fine line), is part of life in Bangladesh. It’s not really seen as begging here; it’s part of accepted local morality that rich people give some of their income to those less fortunate. There are some peculiarities to this system, though; if you’re going to be repeatedly using a service, an initial tip ensures that decent standards will be kept up.
Don’t feel persecuted – well-to-do locals also pay baksheesh on a regular basis. Always be conscious of the expectations that will be placed on the next foreigner in light of the amount you give and don’t feel embarrassed about not giving baksheesh to someone who rendered absolutely no service at all.
Put simply, don’t bother! Only the biggest international banks are likely to accept them and even then it will be with great reluctance. Rely on cash and cards instead.