Bangladesh is relatively small, but unless you’re spending a couple of months here, you’ll still have to pick and choose which regions to visit.
The megacity of Dhaka sits conveniently at the centre of the country and acts as a gateway to almost everywhere.
Southwest of Dhaka is Bangladesh’s biggest draw: the tiger-filled mangrove forests of the Sundarbans National Park.
To the northwest are the history-rich divisions of Rajshahi and Rangpur, home to forgotten kingdoms and dusty ruins, while the east of the country dispels the myth that Bangladesh is completely flat. Here you’ll find the gently rolling hills of Sylhet’s tea estates and, further south, the stunning forest-covered mountains of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Biryani & Kebabs
You’ll almost certainly have your best food in Dhaka. Biryani houses rule the roost, but you’ll also find some excellent kebab joints as well as some decent Western fare.
Galleries & Museums
Unsurprisingly, Dhaka also packs in the country’s best museums, theatres and art galleries. Try to catch a show or an exhibition while you’re in town or, at the very least, check out the National Museum.
For some it’s too much to handle, but for others the mind-boggling chaos of Old Dhaka is what makes a visit to this most manic of megacities such an experience.
Especially in the far north, it’s glistening paddy field after glistening paddy field as you bus it through this gloriously green region. Rural bliss.
There are around 25,000 villages in Dhaka division, including some in the far north where the population is predominantly Garo. Birisiri is a great place to start.
This is no Rajshahi, but there is a smattering of crumbling ruins to explore in Dhaka division. The pick of the bunch are those at Sonargaon, although Muktagacha is also worth a trip.
Khulna & Barisal
You’ll see birds galore, spotted deer and maybe some monkeys in the Sundarbans, but the hardest creature to spot is also the one people are most keen to see – the Royal Bengal tiger.
Kuakata is a wonderfully natural beach, and the trip down there is full of lush farmland, but it’s the pristine mangrove forests of the Sundarbans that steal the show.
Chances are you’ll ride more boats in this river-drenched region than anywhere else in Bangladesh, but if you fall in love with any of them, it will be the old paddle-wheel steamer known as the Rocket.
Rajshahi & Rangpur
History buffs get ready. The lost city of Gaud, the ruined kingdom of Mahastangarh and the remains of what was once the largest monastery south of the Himalaya.
Temples, Mosques & Monasteries
The ancient buildings of this region are an eclectic bunch. You’ll find Bangladesh’s most exquisite Hindu temple, its largest Buddhist ruins and some of the oldest and most unusual mosques.
Many of Bangladesh's poorest people make their homes on sand islands in Bangladesh's rivers, and visiting is a fascinating, challenging window onto their way of life.
This region is full of off-the-beaten-track adventure. Whether it be searching for wild elephants or hiking to waterfalls and tribal villages, Chittagong is a place for those who love the outdoors.
Chittagong Hill Tracts
Chittagong has coastal beaches, enormous lakes, forest reserves and even a coral island, but it’s the rugged mountains of the Chittagong Hill Tracts that dominate the landscape.
Bandarban & Rangamati
Your chances of meeting Adivasi groups and learning about their ways of life are greater here than anywhere in Bangladesh.
Almost as diverse as Chittagong, Sylhet is home to thick forest reserves, bird-filled wetlands and the majority of the country’s 163 tea estates.
Birders will love the wetlands of Sunamganj, and there are a number of types of monkeys to be found in the forests around Srimangal, but the jewel in the crown of Sylhet’s wildlife is the very rare Hoolock gibbon.
Bangladesh's largest freshwater marshes at Ratargul are perfect to explore by boat – an easy day trip from Sylhet through the silent waterways of a rich tropical forest.