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: epically long bamboo rafts, steered by a solitary boatman, drift leisurely downstream, while country boats make slow trips to neighbouring villages.
Frustratingly, Bandarban also tends to be the place where officialdom is at its most restrictive. As elsewhere in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, all foreigners need a permit to visit. However, at times the authorities may choose to restrict where you can go in or outside the town – talk to a guide company before planning your trip to get an idea of where you'll be allowed to visit.