Accessible Travel

Outside Dhaka’s five-star hotels, facilities for travellers with disabilities are almost non-existent in Bangladesh, and conditions in general make travelling extremely challenging. Some footpaths are difficult for even the able-bodied to traverse. In fact, with its squat toilets, overcrowded buses and absence of elevators in all but the finest buildings in Dhaka, the country is largely hostile in its conditions for all but the most fit and able.

On the other hand, hiring private transport and guides, and enlisting the services of a tour company to help you get around, is much cheaper than in other countries. Remember, however, that there are no Bangladesh-based travel companies that specialise in travel for travellers with disabilities.

For more information about accessible travel, download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from


Haggling is the norm in Bangladesh when buying from markets, but most shops have fixed prices, though some bargaining can be expected in souvenir shops. As elsewhere in the region, the trader will ask for more than the going rate, and the buyer will offer less, then the two parties will work towards something in the middle.

Dangers & Annoyances

Bangladesh is far from being a volatile or dangerous country, and Bangladeshi citizens are some of the most hospitable and friendly people you'll ever meet. But that said, nasty incidents do happen, sometimes without warning or anticipation. Always keep your ears to the ground and your wits about you, and avoid getting into a sticky situation if you ever sense one coming your way.

Staring & Harassment

Foreigners are still extremely rare in Bangladesh (although less so in Dhaka) and, as such, are a source of fascination for many locals. This usually manifests itself in people being extremely friendly, but it can become overly intrusive at times, particularly for female travellers. People taking photos and videos of you is something you will just have to accept, and on occasion you may find yourself being stared at by large groups of people, all eager to see what you’re doing (even if you’re actually doing very little). Sharing your food around, particularly if you’re being stared at on buses and trains, is always a good ice-breaker, but other than that you will just have to arm yourself with a great deal of patience and indifference. Getting angry will only focus greater attention on you.

Road Safety

The most real danger when travelling around Bangladesh is road safety, which is extremely poor, especially on intercity highways. Bus travel is, quite frankly, scary, and road deaths are all too common. Travel by train when you can, or take domestic flights if your budget allows.

Within larger towns and cities, take extra care when walking as a pedestrian because city-centre roads – and pathways – can best be described as hectic, and are often downright dangerous. Many roadside pavements are laid directly over sewer culverts so be wary of broken slabs.


Bangladesh is generally safe and few tourists experience serious crime. Pickpocketing and snatching on crowded buses and at busy markets is not as endemic as in some other Asian countries, but it does happen.

Some foreigners have been mugged, some at gunpoint, in upmarket areas of Dhaka, such as Gulshan – be careful after dark.

There have also been reports of theft committed by both touts and officials at Dhaka and Sylhet airports. Keep a very close eye on your passport and other papers and make sure luggage zips are secured, preferably with a lock.

Rickshaws present theft and mugging opportunities (keep your handbags out of sight). Women especially should be extremely careful of any taxi containing a driver and his ‘friend’.

We have had some rare reports of harassment of foreigners in the form of pushing, stone throwing and spitting, but such incidents are very uncommon.

Pollution & Illness

Pollution levels are very high in Dhaka and Chittagong and may affect people prone to allergies.

Stomach upsets are common for visitors to Bangladesh, and malaria is a serious risk in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region.


Tourism has not really established itself in Bangladesh, and neither have tourist-related scams. Generally speaking, people are incredibly honest. The most common problem is that of being over-charged, but in a non-fixed price market, this can hardly be called a scam.

There are the usual hassles with rickshaw, CNG (auto-rickshaw) and taxi drivers, though even here the level of harassment is minimal compared to some nearby countries, and in many towns it’s possible to just hop on a rickshaw without pre-negotiating a price and not suffer the consequences.

Political Violence

Bangladesh has a history of terrorist activity, targeted assassinations, politically motivated attacks and, sometimes, violent religious rivalry. The most recent significant attacks were in 2015, when resident foreigners were killed or shot at in places such as Dhaka and Rangpur, and bombs targeting Hindu and Shia Muslim religious events in Dhaka, Bogra and Dinajpur. Travel advisories issued by the government following these incidents have warned foreign nationals to stay away from large gatherings as well as to avoid travelling unescorted in rural areas.

When in Bangladesh, you’re quite likely to get tangled up in a hartal (strike). These can turn violent and it’s not unusual for locals who are involved in them to be killed or seriously injured as a result. In the event of a hartal, stay away from the action, ideally inside your hotel.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts is the only part of the country where there is a continuous security concern, because of an ongoing insurgency against government control of lands belonging to Jumma, Chakma and other tribal people. The problem areas here are usually out of bounds to foreign tourists, so check the situation locally before travelling to the Hill Tracts.

Government Travel Advice

The following government websites offer travel advisories and information on current hot spots.

● Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (

● British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (

● US State Department (


If you are travelling with a laptop or some other electronic device, remember to bring a 220V, 50 Hz AC adaptor. Some top-end hotels provide universal power adapters in rooms, but outside of these places, you’ll need to bring your own. If you forget to bring one, you may be able to track one down in Dhaka. Stadium Market would be a good bet.

Embassies & Consulates

Emergency & Important Numbers

To call from outside Bangladesh, dial the country code, the city code (minus the leading zero) then the number.

Country Code00880
Apollo Hospital (Dhaka)02-843 1661

Entry & Exit Formalities

To enter Bangladesh, you will need a passport that’s valid for at least six months beyond the duration of your stay. An onward/return ticket is preferred, although not always essential.

Rules and procedures for entering and exiting Bangladesh seem to be in a constant state of flux. Since 2011, Bangladesh has offered visas on arrival to citizens of USA, Canada, Australia and the bigger European countries, but check with your local Bangladesh embassy or consulate to see if you are still on that list before arriving.

Customs Regulations

The usual ‘200 cigarettes, 1L of alcohol’ rule applies, though a relatively casual approach is employed at border crossings. Foreigners are permitted to bring in US$5000 without declaring it and Bangladeshis can bring in US$2500.

On departure, tourists are allowed to reconvert 25% of the total foreign currency encashed in the country. This is only possible at the airport in Dhaka, and you will need to have your encashment slips with you as proof.


Note that Bangladesh currently refuses entry to Israeli passport holders.


With some obscure exceptions, visas are required for citizens of all countries, but note that Israeli passport-holders are forbidden from entering Bangladesh. Maximum stay is usually two months, but can be extended. Travellers from several Western nations can obtain a one-month ‘visa on arrival’ upon arriving at Dhaka airport.

Visa validity and the granted length of stay seems to vary from embassy to embassy, but typically you will be issued with a visa, which is valid for three months from the date of issue, and good for stays of one to two months. Visa fees vary according to nationality, whether you are seeking single or multiple entry, and which embassy you are applying through.

Visa on Arrival

If you are coming from USA, Canada, Australia or Europe and just want an ordinary one-month, single-entry tourist visa, you may get them on arrival at the airport (although not at land borders).

You’ll see a visa payment counter just before you reach the immigration desks. You can only get a one-month visa on arrival, and you have to pay for one full month even if you plan to stay for less time. It costs the same as a one-month visa would have cost you at the Bangladesh embassy in your home country. You can pay in any major currency, or in taka, but you get the best rate if you pay in American dollars.

The whole process takes five minutes. There’s no need for any photos, photocopies or application forms. You just need your passport and some cash.

Note that visas on arrival were only reintroduced in 2011, and immigration rules in Bangladesh are changeable. Before you leave, double-check your visa status with the Bangladeshi embassy or consulate in your country.

Visa Extensions

To apply for visa extensions, you will need to visit the Immigration & Passport Office in Dhaka. This is also the office where long-term visitors are required to register.

Extending a tourist visa is relatively painless: fill in the relevant form, pay the fee (this should be the same as the fee for a one-month visa), and pick up a receipt, which will tell you when to return (usually three or four days later – you can keep hold of your passport during this time).

If you just want an extension of a few days, it may be simpler to pay the penalty fee at the airport for overstaying your visa, although that's not something we recommend. It’s Tk 200 per day, for up to 15 days. If you stay more than 15 days, though, this rises to Tk 500 per day, from day one.

Change of Route Permits

Officially, if you exit Bangladesh by means other than that by which you entered (ie, you flew in, but are leaving by land), you will need a change of route permit, also sometimes referred to as a road permit. Change of route permits can be acquired at the Immigration & Passport Office in Dhaka. They are free and shouldn’t take more than 24 hours to process. You will need a couple of passport photos.

However, it’s worth noting that in recent years, very few travellers have been asked to show this permit, so in practice, you may be able to get by without it. To be absolutely sure, though, check the Thorn Tree forum ( to see what other travellers have had to do recently.


Bargaining It's alright to bargain hard in public markets, but not at stores selling fixed-price goods and services.

Eating Food is always consumed with the right hand. It's considered courteous to say grace before meals. Wash your hands with water after eating.

Social Behaviour Apologise if you accidentally touch someone with your feet. It's impolite to point your feet at a person or a religious institution while sitting.

Travel Do not place soiled shoes on seats or berths. Try and queue while boarding an unreserved train or bus (although few of your co-passengers will!).

Worship Shoes must be taken off before entering religious institutions. Visitors must be modestly dressed. Women are expected to cover their heads with a scarf.

LGBT Travellers

Homosexuality is illegal in Bangladesh, and homosexual acts are punishable under Bangladesh law with deportation, fines and/or prison. Such harsh laws are rarely enforced, but nevertheless, gay travellers would be wise to be discreet in Bangladesh.

Boys of Bangladesh ( is the oldest and largest organisation of self-identified Bangladeshi gay men.

Sakhiyani ( is Bangladesh’s first online group for lesbian and bisexual women.


Any policy you get should cover medical expenses and an emergency flight home. Always check the fine print. Some policies exclude coverage of ‘dangerous activities’, which can include motorcycling and trekking.

For theft and loss, you will require documentation from the Bangladeshi police. Getting it can be a hassle and often requires a ‘fee’.

Worldwide travel insurance is available at You can buy, extend and claim online any time – even if you’re already on the road.

Checking insurance quotes…

Internet Access

Internet Cafes

Internet cafes are found in every town and city, although their numbers are gradually diminishing given the rapid spread of 3G enabled smartphones. Connections are generally good, but don't quite stand up to 3G speeds, both for browsing and downloading. Note that internet cafes, like most business, are always closed on Fridays.


Wi-fi services are widespread in Bangladesh. In Dhaka, it's hard to spend a day without coming across hotspots in cafes, restaurants and private homes. All top-end and most midrange hotels in big cities provide free wi-fi and/or internet connections through a cable for laptop users. In smaller towns, the better hotels all have free wi-fi access, although speed may be an issue.

Remote Modems

If you’re staying for a few weeks or more, it’s worth considering buying a remote modem (called an 'internet dongle') for your laptop, so you can connect to the internet anywhere you have phone reception. They come in the form of a USB stick and can be bought from any of Bangladesh’s major mobile telephone providers. We recommend Grameenphone, which has reliable coverage and well-run retail outlets. One month’s unlimited use costs around Tk 1400.


The best map publisher, Mappa (, produces English-language maps for Bangladesh, Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Cox’s Bazar. You can find them in some bookshops and the better handicrafts shops in Dhaka.


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.

More Information

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.

Credit Cards

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.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1Tk 58
CanadaC$1Tk 58
Europe€1Tk 85
IndiaRs 100Tk 115
Japan¥100Tk 69
New ZealandNZ$1Tk 52
UK£1Tk 111
USAUS$1Tk 78

For current exchange rates see


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.

Feature: Baksheesh

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.

Travellers Cheques

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.

Opening Hours

Opening hours vary throughout the year. We've provided high-season opening hours; hours will generally decrease in the shoulder and low seasons. Note that Friday is the official weekly holiday in Bangladesh. Depending on the type of office or business, Saturday may either be a holiday (in full or part) or a full working day.

Banks 10am–4pm Sunday to Thursday

Government Offices 10am–4pm Sunday to Thursday (sometimes 12pm–4pm Saturday)

Corporate Offices 9am–5pm Saturday to Thursday

Restaurants 7am–11pm (sometimes noon–3pm and 7pm–11pm)

Shops & Markets 10am–8pm Sunday to Thursday


Bangladesh’s postal system is slow and unreliable, although you should be fine if you use Dhaka’s main post office, which is also the poste restante.

If you want to be certain that the item you are sending will actually reach its destination, we suggest you use a courier company. DHL and FedEx both have branches in Dhaka.

Public Holidays

International Mother Language Day 21 February

Sheikh Mujibur Rehman's Birthday 17 March

Independence Day 26 March

Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New Year) 14 April

May Day 1 May

Buddha Purnima Full moon phase usually in May

Eid ul-Fitr Dates vary according to lunar and Islamic calendar

National Mourning Day (death anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman) 15 August

Eid ul-Adha Dates vary according to lunar and Islamic calendar

Durga Puja September/October. Dates vary according to lunar calendar

Victory Day 16 December

Christmas 25 December


  • Smoking Prohibited on most forms of transport and in most indoor public places, but some restaurants allow smoking.

Taxes & Refunds

There is a 15% sales tax on many consumer items in Bangladesh. There is no formal scheme for tourists to reclaim sales tax.


Mobile Phones

You can easily obtain a local 3G SIM from carriers such as Grameenphone ( and Banglalink ( as long as your phone is ‘unlocked’.

More Information

Mobile coverage including 3G is good across the country, and hooking up to the local network is both easy and cheap. Make sure your phone has been unlocked before you come, so that you can use it on a foreign network, then just buy a local prepaid SIM card (Tk 100) when you arrive. You’ll need a passport photo and a photocopy of your passport to do this. Micro- and nano-SIMs for use on smartphones are widely available too.

Grameenphone, which has the best coverage nationwide, has a counter selling SIM cards as you exit customs at the airport (even at 3am!). It also has branches across the country. If you haven’t brought your phone from home, or it’s locked, then just buy a cheap mobile phone in Dhaka for use on the road here. They cost from around Tk 1500.

Local calls and text messages from a local SIM cost next to nothing. International rates depend on the country, but can be as cheap as Tk 7 per minute, or Tk 2 per text.

You can go to almost any phone shop to top up on prepaid credit (you don’t have to go to the provider whose network you’re using), and some corner shops also do top-ups. The phrase used here for topping-up your phone is ‘flexi-load’.

Internet Calls

Internet cafes generally don’t have headphones or cameras available to allow you to use free-call services such as Skype, but it’s worth asking the manager who might at least have headphones to lend you. On a smartphone, calling through apps such as Skype, Line, Viber or Whatsapp is both quick and convenient.


Only top-end hotels, and small business centres, which are dotted around the country, will have international lines, but using them will be much more expensive than using your mobile phone with a local SIM. The numbers for long-distance information are 103 (domestic) and 162 (international). International operators speak English; others usually don’t.

Phone Codes

To call a number in Bangladesh from outside the country, dial the country code 880, followed by the city code without the leading zero, and then the number. To call a different city from within Bangladesh, dial the city code including the leading zero, followed by the number.

Mobile phone numbers come prefixed with a zero, which you must dial even if you're calling a local phone within the country. To call a local mobile phone from outside Bangladesh, dial 880 and then the mobile number excluding the leading zero.

To call another country from Bangladesh, dial 00 followed by the country code and city code.


Bangladesh is six hours ahead of GMT.

Apart from the Gregorian calendar, Bangladeshi society also follows the Islamic calendar, as well as the lunar calendar that is dictated by moon phases. Certain religious festivals (Islamic, Hindu or even Buddhist) that are aligned with the lunar calendar can thus fall on varying dates between years.


In midrange and top-end establishments, you’ll find sit-down toilets. Otherwise it’s squat loos the whole way.

The ablution ritual in Bangladeshi toilets involves the use of your left hand and water, rather than toilet paper. A strategically placed tap and jug are usually at hand. If you can’t master the local method or don’t even want to try, toilet paper is widely available to buy, although not available in public bathrooms themselves. Sometimes a basket is provided where paper and tampons can be discarded.

There are very few facilities at bus stations and other public places, and whatever facilities exist are pretty horrific. It pays to do your thing back at your hotel. Hotel rooms usually have a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom.

By and large you will find that Bangladeshi hospitality extends to letting you use a toilet, if you ask nicely enough.

In rural areas, it can be difficult to find both toilets and privacy. For women in a desperate situation, a long skirt will make this awkward position a little less so.

Tourist Information

The national tourist office is the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, although it has more of a presence simply in terms of nationwide hotels than useful information or infrastructure. Its hotels are overpriced, but they do offer reliable levels of comfort and cleanliness, and in smaller towns they are often the best place to sleep in terms of quality as well as safety.

In general, though, for anything other than the most basic tourist-related questions, it’s better to consult a private tour company. Run by the enthusiastic Mahmud Hasan Khan, Trip 2 Bangladesh is a good source of local information.

Travel with Children

Travelling with young children in Bangladesh is tough because of low levels of hygiene and general health and safety issues, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Bangladeshis, who are among the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet, are fascinated by foreign children and everyone will go out of their way to help you if you have kids in tow.

  • From a food standpoint, dishes of boiled rice and unspiced dhal (yellow lentils), scrambled or boiled eggs, oatmeal and the huge variety of fruits and vegetables should be enough to keep kids happy.
  • Snacks like biscuits and crisps are also widely available.

Feature: Travel With Children

Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children is a collection of tips and experiences from our team of parent-authors, and includes practical advice on how to avoid hassles, keep boredom at bay and have rewarding travel experiences with kids. Also has a special section on staying healthy.


  • It may be worth bringing a child safety seat from home, though seatbelts do not always work in local vehicles.
  • Cots are generally only found at top end hotels, but most hotels can provide an extra bed for families.
  • High chairs are generally only seen in more expensive restaurants in larger cities.
  • Nappy changing facilities are non-existent.
  • Disposable nappies and formula milk can be found at some supermarkets in towns and cities.
  • Public breast-feeding is extremely frowned on for foreigners.


NGOs and other charitable organisations have a big presence in Bangladesh and many welcome help from foreign visitors. The following organisations may be able to provide information on volunteer opportunities, but Lonely Planet does not endorse any organisations that we do not work with directly, and you should carry out your own research to make sure that organisations are operating according to accepted best practice.

Banchte Shekha Fights to improve the quality of life for poor women and children in and around the Jessore region.

BRAC One of the world’s largest NGOs; has a range of internship programs.

BRIF Works to raise the socio-economic conditions of poor people across the area. May have volunteer opportunities for skilled workers in fields such as agriculture, business, IT, teaching and childcare.

CRP The only organisation of its kind in Bangladesh; focuses on a holistic approach to rehabilitation. May offer short-term volunteer opportunities as well as longer-term positions for medically trained professionals such as physiotherapists.

RDRS Works on health, education and agricultural projects in Bangladesh’s far northwest. Has a formal internship program.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures The metric system is used. Local units of measurement you may hear include the lakh (equal to 100,000) and the crore (equal to 10 million).

Women Travellers

By and large the default response to the unusual sight of a Western woman travelling in Bangladesh is respect; try not to do anything that would make you less than worthy of it. Bangladesh is safer than a lot of other countries around the world, but it’s wise to be careful. How you carry yourself subtly determines how you are treated. A woman who is politely assertive can ask for space and usually gets it. The other side of the harassment coin, and almost as much of a nuisance, is that people are constantly making elaborate arrangements to protect you from harassment.

Keep in mind that in this society women are not touched by men when in public, but because you’re a foreigner, it might happen. A clear yet tactful objection should end the matter.

What to Wear

Dressing like a local is not obligatory, or even expected, but it will certainly impact on the way you are treated. You will still get attention, but people will be more respectful and appreciative of the fact that you have made the effort to blend in. Many foreigners invest in a salwar kameez (a long dress-like tunic worn over baggy trousers). A dupatta (long scarf) to cover your head also increases the appearance of modesty and is a handy accessory in the Bangladesh heat. You can get away with wearing baggy trousers and a long loose-fitting shirt in most parts of the country. Long, loose skirts are also acceptable and provide the added advantage of a modicum of privacy in the absence of a public toilet. Make sure you wear a headscarf at places of worship. Most mosques don’t allow women inside, although some have a special women’s gallery. If in doubt, ask.


In a Bangladeshi middle-class home, you would most likely be expected to eat first with the men while the women of the household dutifully serve the meal. In rural areas, you might not eat with either; instead, you would be served first and separately, as a gesture of respect. Accept either graciously. Protest would cause great embarrassment on the part of your host.

In restaurants, you may be shown to the curtained women’s rooms (if there are any) to one side of the dining area. This is a courteous offer that you can decline, though you may find that the curtain provides something of a respite from the eyes that will be on you if you sit elsewhere.

Getting Around

On buses, unaccompanied women are expected to sit at the front. If you are travelling with your ‘husband’ you are expected to sit on the window side, away from the aisle. Avoid travelling alone at night; Bangladeshi women avoid going out alone at night as much as possible.

Where to Stay

Women, with or without men, are sometimes unwelcome in budget hotels, usually because the manager thinks the hotel is not suitable. This knee-jerk reaction can sometimes be overcome if you hang around long enough. On the other hand, staying in one of these cheaper establishments, especially if you are going solo, can be more trouble than it is worth. Midrange hotels that are accustomed to foreigners are the best bet. Unmarried couples are better off simply saying they’re married.


Tampons are available at some upmarket supermarkets (like Agora or Unimart in Dhaka). Sanitary napkins and panty liners are widely available, but be sure to carry adequate supplies if you’re travelling away from major cities.


Most foreign workers in Bangladesh are involved in aid and development. To work in Bangladesh, a Bangladeshi company must apply for a work permit on your behalf.