Dhaka (formerly Dacca in English) is the capital of Bangladesh and one of the most populous cities in the world. It is Bangladesh's seat of government and a major economic and cultural center, along with the port city of Chittagong. Dhaka is often nicknamed as the Rickshaw Capital of the World, due to its daily traffic of over 600,000 cycle rickshaws. Historically located on the Buriganga River, Dhaka emerged as a cosmopolitan and religiously diverse city in the 17th century, when it was proclaimed as the capital of Mughal Bengal. It became the capital of independent Bangladesh following the country's war of independence in 1971.
Today, Dhaka is one of the fastest growing megacities in the world.
Home to the National Capital Complex, including the National Parliament designed by Louis Kahn. It also includes the prestigious University of Dhaka campus, the historic Suhrawardy Park, the Institute of Fine Arts, the Bangladesh National Museum, the Dhaka Club, the colonial Ramna Park, the Liberation War Museum, the Motijheel Commercial Area and the Kawran Bazaar Business District. It is also the city's financial heart and center of the national press and media.
Includes Gulshan and other affluent areas, with the diplomatic zone, corporate avenues and international hotels and restaurants. The city's zoo, botanical gardens and cricket ground are also located in the north.
The historic and riverside quarter of Dhaka. The area is characterized by centuries-old tangled streets and alleyways. It is filled with hidden historic gems, including mansions of Dhaka's old aristocracy and merchant class; Mughal and British colonial ruins; mosques, tombs; and the former Armenian district. Old Dhaka has a distinctive cuisine, including its special Bakharkhani biscuits, kebabs and biryani. The Sadarghat is Dhaka's waterfront and one of the busiest river ports in the world. A hub for ferries, boats and steam ships, it is the gateway to Dhaka for millions of people traveling between the city and the countryside each year.
Site of the international airport; as well as satellite towns and a large industrial and rural area in the north and east
Modern Dhaka is a thriving, colourful and congested metropolis with a population of some 18 million people in the Greater Dhaka Area. Being one of the world's most densely populated cities, Dhaka can be one of the most frenetic places on the planet. Its streets and canals are filled with colourful chaos, playing host to the highest number of rickshaws in any city in the world. Dhaka is also the center of Bangladesh's textile industry, the country's principal foreign exchange earner. Experiencing the city for the first time may be overwhelming.
Dhaka has a prime strategic location in the riverine network of Bangladesh. It is surrounded by the most dynamic hydro-logical system in the world, as mighty rivers churn the landscape of the Bengal Delta. The city straddles crisscrossing canals and waterways which are the lifeline of the majority of its inhabitants. Founded in 1608, Dhaka has played an important role in the history of the Indian subcontinent. It was the Mughal capital of Bengal in the 17th-century and the British capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam from 1905 to 1911. It was a focal point of the Indian independence movement and formation of Pakistan; and became the premier center of Bengali nationalism which led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. For centuries, the region was renowned for its high-quality muslin, and later as a center of the world jute trade during the Industrial Revolution.
The literal meaning of the city's name is "concealed". It might have originated from the dhak trees once found in the area; or from the name of the 12th-century Dhakeshwari Temple.
The earliest settlements in the region date back 2,500 years. Dhaka was the capital of Bengal during the Mughal Empire in the 17th century. As the seat of administration and commerce in the Bengal Delta, the wealthiest and most fertile region in the Empire, it became one of the largest and most prosperous cities in Asia. Proclaimed as the provincial capital in 1608, Mughal Dhaka had a population of one million, with well-laid out gardens, monuments, tombs, forts, mosques, temples, caravansaries and churches. The city was home to Armenian, Persian, Greek, Arab, Portuguese, French, Dutch and English merchants. The Dhaka District was famous worldwide for its fine cotton muslin fabric. Its riverbanks were once dotted with numerous stately mansions and the city was described as the Venice of the East.
Dhaka passed to the control of the British East India Company in 1793. It continued to flourish in trade and commerce after being plugged into the imperial trade networks of the British Empire. The region was the premier center of jute production center, contributing significantly to the Industrial Revolution. But the city later began to decline due to the rise of the colonial capital Calcutta. One traveler described Dhaka as a city of magnificent ruins in 1824. It became the second largest city in British Bengal after Calcutta, as modernization eventually followed in the late-19th century.
Dhaka and Calcutta played a tale of two cities in the region which greatly affected the course of events in the British Raj. While Calcutta was dominated by a Hindu elite; Dhaka, known as the City of Mosques, emerged and projected itself as the leader of the Muslim heartland. The Mutiny of 1857 saw revolts by the infantry of the Bengal Army in the city. The short-lived Partition of Bengal in 1905, that established Dhaka as the capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam, incubated the broader Indian independence movement. The All India Muslim League was born in Dhaka in 1906. The prestigious University of Dhaka was established by the British government in 1921. It gained prestige as the Oxford of the East in its early years and hosted many prominent scholars and scientists of the subcontinent.
Dhaka became the capital of East Pakistan after the Partition of British India in 1947. Increasing political and cultural friction with West Pakistan gave rise to the secularist Bengali nationalist movement in the 1950s, including parties parties like the Awami League and the National Awami Party. The Bengali Language Movement reached its peak in 1952. Dhaka was subjected to long periods of martial law by Pakistani military regimes. The Six Point Movement led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman demanded greater autonomy and democracy in 1966. This struggle for self-determination culminated in the nine-month long Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. During the war, Dhaka endured a genocide by the Pakistan Army, including attacks on its university area, the old city and minority neighborhoods. The city was liberated by Bangladesh-India Allied Forces on 16 December 1971.
Post-independence, Dhaka has seen rapid growth as the nation's political, economic and cultural focal point. The city has greatly expanded in the last three decades, with the inauguration of Louis Kahn's capital complex in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, the rise of posh modern neighborhoods in North Dhaka and densely populated satellite towns in the east. It was the birthplace of SAARC in 1985. The growth of the Bangladeshi economy has brought greater trade and foreign investment to the city. However, Dhaka faces many challenges endemic to a developing country's metropolis, including poverty, pollution, crime, congestion and environmental degradation. The gap between rich and poor is widening. A thirty minute rickshaw ride can take you from the impossibly crowded shantytowns near Old Dhaka to the glitzy neighborhoods of Gulshan and Banani, where a meal costs more than what most people earn in a day.
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The weather is subtropical - hot and very humid during the summer monsoon season (April–September) and drier and cooler in the winter (October–March). Visitors from colder countries might want to visit in the winter when temperatures are around 20C and humidity is low (around 60-70%). Most rainfall occurs between May and October. Increasing air and water pollution emanating from traffic congestion and industrial waste are serious problems affecting the city. Dense fog is usually seen between November and January, and can disrupt flights and ferry transport.
The following is a selection of prominent works set in the city:
- Tahmima Anam's award winning novel A Golden Age is set in Dhaka during the 1971 Liberation War, depicting the tumultuous era through the eyes of one family.
- Dilruba Ahmed's Dhaka Dust won the 2010 Bakeless Prize for Poetry. Ranging from Europe and America to the streets of the Bangladeshi capital, her sharp-edged poems mix the voices of global citizenry with Dhaka's city dwellers.
- K. Anis Ahmed's Goodnight, Mr. Kissinger traces the modern history of Dhaka from its status as a provincial capital in 1970 to today's densely populated megacity.
- Bengali author Akhtaruzzaman Elias's The Soldier in the Attic details the journey of a man during the turbulent period prior to Bangladeshi independence. The novel also contains what is arguably the most authentic description of life in Old Dhaka.
- Translated works of poet laureate Shamsur Rahman.
- Amitava Ghosh's The Shadow Lines includes a vivid description of Dhaka in the early 1960s, set against the backdrop of Hindu-Muslim riots in 1963-64.
- Shazia Omar's Like A Diamond in the Sky chronicles drug abuse among Dhaka's youth and an environment abandoned by a corrupt self-seeking government.
Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (DAC/HSIA) is the primary airport serving Dhaka with international flights from most continents. Major flights come from London, Istanbul, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Karachi, Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Yangon and Kathmandu. There are also flights to Paro in Bhutan, Male in the Maldives and Guangzhou and Kunming in China. The airport has significant traffic with the Middle East, including Muscat, Jeddah, Doha, Bahrain and Kuwait. The national airline Biman operates flights to 21 cities in Europe and Asia; while private Bangladeshi carriers operate several regional flights. HSIA is a relatively modern and efficient airport. However, immigration can take notoriously long during peak hours, as the system is manual.
Domestic services link Dhaka with seven airports in Chittagong, Sylhet, Cox's Bazar, Saidpur, Barisal, Jessore, Rajshahi and Ishwardi. Aside from Biman, domestic carriers include United Airways Bangladesh, Regent Airways, US-Bangla Airlines and Novo Air.
Trains arrive from Kolkata in India (11-12 hours) and most cities in Bangladesh, including Chittagong and Sylhet. Dhaka's central railway station in Kamlapur is a hub for all regional and intercity trains. The international airport terminus is also a key station. Major cities and towns are connected daily by 2-3 services with Dhaka.
Tickets can be bought online from the Bangladesh Railway website.
Buses are a popular mode of cross country transport in Bangladesh. Luxury AC buses fare daily between Dhaka and other Bangladeshi cities, including Chittagong, Khulna, Bogra, Jessore, Rajshahi, Cox's Bazar and Sylhet, as well the Indian cities of Kolkata and Agartala. Tickets cost between 800-1200 Taka. Ticket counters are located across the city, particularly in the Panthapath and Arambagh areas. Non-AC buses travel to every major town in the country. There are several terminals located across Dhaka serving a different region of Bangladesh. Sayedabad serves buses traveling between Dhaka and the eastern divisions of Sylhet and Chittagong. Gabtali is for buses traveling between Dhaka and the western divisions of Rajshahi, Rangpur and Khulna. Mohakhali serves buses traveling around Dhaka Division, including the districts of Mymensingh and Tangail.
Shohagh, 63 DIT Road Malibagh, ☎ . Daily services with Chittagong, Sylhet, Khulna, Cox's Bazaar, Jessore and Kolkata
Green Line, 9/2, Outer Circular Road, Momen Bagh, Rajarbagh, ☎ . Daily services with Chittagong, Kolkata, Sylhet, Cox's Bazaar, Khulna and Bogra
Baghdad Express, Counters in Arambagh and Kalabagan, ☎ . Daily services with Chittagong and Cox's Bazar
Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), 21 Rajuk Avenue, ☎ . BRTC operates the International Bus Service twice daily with Kolkata and scheduled services with Agartala
Dhaka is the focal point of the national highway system in Bangladesh. The nearest international borders to the city are the Akhaura/Agartala Border Crossing with Northeast India and Haridaspur/Benapole with the Indian state of West Bengal. Cars can be used to travel from the Indian border; but the border with Myanmar remains closed.
Most ferries arrive and leave from the port of Sadarghat. This area and its surrounding streets are unbelievably crowded, so allow plenty of time and keep an eye on your valuables. If arriving at the port, fight your way to the left on the frontage road and then make your first right; this turns into Nawabpur Road and leads north to the hotels. Even if you aren't staying in this area, it's easier to walk several hundred metres north to catch an onward rickshaw or taxi; the ones near the port are at a constant standstill.
Colonial-era rocket steamers depart from Dhaka to Barisal and Khulna several times per week, leaving Sadarghat at 18:00. Fares to Barisal cost between 500-300 Taka for first and second class; while for Khulna, prices range between 1200-600 Taka. The Khulna trip takes 26–30 hours. Tickets should be booked with the BIWTA office in Motijheel , just east of Dilkusha Circle I. It's open until 17:00 between Sunday and Wednesday and until 14:00 on Thursdays; while closed on Friday.
If you're planning to cross rivers while heading to southern Bangladesh by car from Dhaka, head to the ferry ports in Mawa and Aricha on the Padma River.
Given the plethora of all forms of transport, if you're having trouble getting a decent fare with a driver walk a few metres to the next one. Not all are out to gouge you, so better to find the honest ones and give them your business. Occasionally a driver will demand more money on arrival; the best way to deal with this is to hand over the agreed or metered fare and walk away. Make certain from the start that the driver knows where you're headed (unless you can direct him yourself) - they often have limited local knowledge, but will always say that they know where somewhere is, and take you 'round the whole city searching whilst the meter ticks. Make sure that you take a card with your hotel or hostel written on it so that you can actually get home. Having a card for the hotel with the actual address makes this a whole lot easier.
The trains in Bangladesh only operate between major regional cities. There is no suburban or metro rail system in Dhaka, although there are plans to build an elevated inner-city line by mid-2013. Due to the lack of proper public transit, Dhaka suffers from choking traffic. Often, some areas of the city can become deadlocked for a number of hours.
Cycle-rickshaws or simply, rickshaws, are the most popular form of transport, and good for short distances, mainly on side streets. They make up the bulk of the city's horrendous traffic, and charge around Tk 15 per kilometre. Negotiating a fare beforehand is essential as a foreigner. Rickshaws in wealthy areas such as Banani and Gulshan often must pay local mafia men for the privilege of servicing the high-price areas. This can sometimes mean drivers are apprehensive to take passengers to these areas. Additionally, foreigners should also be warned that rickshaws will sometimes begin the ride with a pitch to sell drugs or prostitutes. This is very rare. One or two simple, but firm, declines will generally solve the situation. If you're a woman, it's particularly inadvisable to ride around alone in rickshaws after dark; you're a slow-moving target asking for trouble from thugs and muggers. Take a yellow taxi instead.
Driving a car in the capital can be a nerve-wracking experience. Officially, cars drive on the left, although the reality can be different. Locals will often zoom down the wrong side of the road in an attempt to overcome the traffic. Traffic police monitor most intersections in the city, in an attempt to keep the traffic flowing. Many intersections have been upgraded with traffic signals, but these are often ignored by both drivers and traffic police, who will direct cars as they see fit.
There are some options for car rental, with Europcar being the notable Western brand name. The government's Virtual Bangladesh website has more options. Many companies may also offer the option to rent-a-driver for a number of days; it is common for most middle to upper-class locals to have their own drivers.
Auto-rickshaws, locally known as 'CNGs' (named after compressed natural gas, their fuel source) are also abundant and have meters, which drivers can sometimes be persuaded to use. They're the cheapest way to cover longer distances; an 8 km ride from Old Dhaka to Gulshan should cost around Tk 150-200. The meters start at Tk 13.50, but you'll likely have to negotiate a fare instead. The city does become very congested at times, so allow plenty of time for getting around.
Taxis ply the roads, some yellow and some black, all with meters. Black taxis start the meter at Tk 15 while yellow taxis have slightly higher standards in terms of comfort, and start at Tk 20. Black taxis are typically in notoriously poor condition and lack air conditioning. Yellow taxis are required to have air conditioning; the fleet consists mostly of Toyota Corollas, with some Mitsubishis and Hondas. The yellow taxis are also considered far safer, in comparison to black taxis and auto-rickshaws.
Buses run routes on the main roads, but are horribly crowded and noisy, signed only in Bengali and aren't likely to be of much use to travellers. The buses are also frequently involved in collisions. Save yourself a headache and take a rickshaw, or for long distances, a comfortable, air-conditioned bus or train.
Many locals of lower-classes often use bicycles as a primary form of transport. They can be useful in their ability to squeeze through tight situations, where traffic may prevent a large vehicle from moving. Some newer roads in the capital have dual bike/rickshaw lanes. Although, there is little opportunity to buy or rent a bike, plus the roads and traffic are in such bad condition that the chance of an accident is high.
Sometimes, walking may actually be the fastest way to get from point A to B. Always ensure you walk on the footpath, or if one isn't available, as far to the side of the road as possible. The road is a dangerous place in Dhaka, and many pedestrians are often injured by passive drivers. Those who are squeamish to pollution or have asthma may need to wear a mask; the air pollution from passing trucks and buses, combined with the searing heat and humidity can be overwhelming at times.
- National Capital Complex The parliament district, home to the National Parliament House and the official residence of the Prime Minister. It is one of the largest legislative complexes in the world and has a huge area with gardens and lakes. The complex is one of the celebrated works of the American architect Louis I Kahn, who combined regional modernism with the ancient architectural heritage and riverine geography of Bangladesh. The Parliament is open for visiting foreign tourists from Sunday to Thursday between 9 am and 5 pm. Visitors must carry a copy of their passport and visa and submit a fee of 600/- Taka to the Parliament reception in the main building.
- Liberation War Museum A leading private museum which documents the liberation struggle of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, including the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide and the political and armed resistance movement of the Bangladeshi people. The museum is open on weekdays from 9 am to 5pm.
- Bangladesh National Museum Home to a good collection ancient art from the Hindu-Buddhist period of pre-Islamic Bengal.
- Lalbagh Fort A 17th century unfinished Mughal fort in Old Dhaka, with a museum, pavilion, mosque and the tomb of Pari Bibi.
- Ahsan Manzil Palace The former official residence of the Dhaka Nawab Family and site of many important political and social events during the British Raj, including the first All India Muslim League conference and many balls hosted in honor of the Viceroy of India.
- Dhaka University Area The historic university campus was an epicenter of Bangladesh's struggle for self-determination. The University of Dhaka was established by the British government in 1921 and was once called the Oxford of the East. It has several notable colonial buildings, including the Curzon Hall, named after Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India (1899-1905). The Hall is a masterpiece of European-Mughal architecture that evolved after the first Partition of Bengal in 1905. The Burdwan House is home to the Bangla Academy. The campus also hosts the Central Shaheed Minar, the national monument dedicated to the Bengali Language Movement; as well as the tomb of the National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.
- Suhrawardy Udyan A major historic park in Ramna which hosts several sites; including the Shahbaz Khan Mosque, built by a rich merchant in 1679; the tombs of the three Prime Ministers of Bengal- A. K. Fazlul Huq, H. S. Suhrawardy and Sir Khawaja Nazimuddin; and the Independence Memorial, where the Surrender of Pakistan took place on 16 December 1971 to Bangladesh-India Allied Forces, marking the end of the Bangladesh Liberation War.
- Bangabandhu Memorial Museum The residence of Bangladesh's founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (popularly known as Bangabandhu or Friend of Bengal), who was assassinated in this house along with most of his family on 15 August 1975. Now a museum, Mujib's house showcases the life of Bangladesh's first president.
- National Martyrs Memorial The national war memorial is located on the outskirts of Dhaka in Savar. It is a modernist monument with gardens and lakes where the national flower water lily often blooms. The memorial grounds offer a peaceful getaway from frenetic chaos of Dhaka.
- Armenian Church of Holy Resurrection Located in the former Armenian quarter of Dhaka, the Armenian Church was built in 1781. The church compound is heritage of Dhaka's once cosmopolitan merchant class. It has a cemetery with European sculptures and art.
- Dhakeswari National Temple A 12th century Hindu temple dedicated to the Goddess Shiva. Located in Old Dhaka and is the seat of Bangladesh's Hindu priesthood.
- Hussaini Dalan Built in 1642, the Husaini Dalan is the seat of the Imam of Dhaka's Shia community
- Bara and Choto Katras The Katras were the caravansaries of the city under Mughal rule. The most prominent were the palatial Bara Katra (Great Caravansary) and the smaller Choto Katra (Young Caravansary). Built in 1643 and 1663 respectively, they hosted merchants and travelers for centuries. Today, only a small portion of the original structures remain standing and are large dilapidated.
- Khan Mohammad Mridha Mosque A well-preserved historic mosque on Lalbagh Road. It lies on a raised platform with a stairway on the east, an arched gateway and a central doorway. Persian inscriptions on its arch and Mihrab speak of its construction in 1705.
- Star Mosque An ornate early 19th century mosque in the Armenian quarter decorated with blue star-motifs.
- Binat Bibi Mosque is the oldest surviving mosque in Dhaka, dating back to the Sultanate of Bengal. It was built in 1454 by Bakht Binat in the reign of Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah. It is located beside the Hayat Bepari Bridge in the Narinda area.
- Kartalab Khan Mosque Situated in the Begum Bazar area of Old Dhaka. It was built by Murshid Quli Khan, the last Mughal governor and first Nawab of Bengal.
- Chowkbazaar Imperial Mosque One of the largest mosques in Old Dhaka. It was originally built by the Mughal goveror Shaista Khan in 1676.
- Gurdwara Nanak Shahi Built in 1830, it is the largest Sikh temple in Bangladesh and commemorates the visit of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, to Bengal in the 14th century.
- Dhammarajika Buddhist Monastery Located on Atish Dipankar Road in Badda, it is Dhaka's largest Buddhist monastery.
- Ramna Park or Ramna Green One of the largest parks in Dhaka, seen as the city's equivalent to Kolkata's Maidan and New York City's Central Park. This huge sprawling area was the site of Mughal gardens and tombs before becoming a public park and race course during British rule. The wider Ramna area also includes the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and the Dhaka Club.
- Baldha Garden Established in 1909 by a Hindu zamindar, the Baldha Garden in Wari, Old Dhaka has a collection of 672 species of plants and is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the country.
- Hatirjheel A regional modernist transport system in central Dhaka with numerous bridges, flyovers and viaducts over a huge natural lake.
- Dhaka Zoo The city's zoo has several Bengal tigers.
- Dhaka Planetarium A state of the art planetarium named after Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is located near the Parliament.
Visit the following famous places in Dhaka, see the 'Buildings' see above.
There are a number of amusement parks for children as well as elders in and around Dhaka City.
- Shahbag Shishu Park
- Shaymoli Shishu Mela
- Fantacy Kingdom
- Nandan Park
- Novo Theatre (Planetarium)
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre is a planetarium located on Bijoy Sarani Avenue of Tejgaon area in Dhaka. The theater opened to public on 25 September 2004. Built on 5.46 acres of land, its spaces range in size from its 21-metre dome, seating 275 people; to three-metre inflatable and portable domes where people sit on the floor. The Planetarium dome simulates Earth and its cool blue sky. This dome-shaped theatre was built with the latest equipment, enabling visitors to soar into space as well as experience the thrills of an interplanetary journey in a three-dimensional environment. The curved ceiling represents the sky and shows moving images of planets and stars through projection onto a large-screen dome at an angle of 120 degrees.
This planetarium features three kinds of exhibits. They Journey to Infinity presents a celestial show of stars, planets and other heavenly bodies in virtual reality. The ai amader Bangladesh features Bangabandhu Sheik Mujibur Rahman`s 7 March lecture, while The Grand Canyon describes North America`s settlement clan, Garikhad, which existed in The Grand Canyon four thousand years ago. The planetarium also has a 30 seated Space Ride Simulator.
The Planetarium is open on Thursday to Tuesday - 6 days a week; Wednesday is weekly holiday. Shows starts from 10:30 to 16:30 on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and from 10:00 to 18:30 on Friday. Ticket price is 50 Taka per ticket for the Planetarium and Taka 20 for Ride Simulator.
If you go shopping ready to bargain then there are certainly bargains to be had among the bazars and markets of Dhaka. To get a feel for what things should cost in the local markets check prices in the western-style fixed price shops and then deduct 10%. If you prefer hassle free shopping then head to Bashundhara City, a huge shopping centre with more modern shops and other ameniteis you would expect to find in a mall.
Garment seconds, Banga Bazar and Pallwell Market (BB: Gulistan area, just West of Motijheel); PM: Purana Paltan area (just beside Jonaki Cinema Hall). Many items only have minor defects, but do not meet export requirements.
Aarong. A well known chain with several outlets around Dhaka and one in London. It is owned by BRAC (the largest Development Organisation in the world) and sells handicrafts and clothing at moderately high prices.
Dhaka has an enormous variety of food catering to all budgets. Old Dhaka is overflowing with cheap Bangladeshi food where a meal can cost from Tk 50. In the upscale areas such as Gulshan and Banani are Chinese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek and Mexican restaurants, and franchises such as Pizza Hut and KFC - all at prices that the majority can't afford. Reservations are usually not required in most restaurants. A lot of the Buffet-style restaurants in this area have Taka: 250 to 400, fixed price menu.
Local sweets (misti/mishti) like rasogollah and golap jam/pantuya/ledikeni are excellent, these are bite-sized soft milk curd balls dipped (drenched) in syrup, and come in white and red varieties. Shops throughout the town (and especially near Gulshan) sell imported condiments from Dubai, Europe Malaysia and the USA at a premium. Imported chocolate is especially expensive - and usually not in the best condition as it gets melted and re-solidified daily in the tropical heat. Fresh is better.
Be careful when buying food from street vendors as health and hygiene standards are not always top notch. Unlike Bangkok—street food in Dhaka is only for locals. Foreigners should stick to larger, organized (and unfortunately a little expensive) food outlets.
There is a party network between the different expat clubs (Dutch Club, Canadian Club, Nordic Club, International Club, American Club, etc.) and some Bangladeshi clubs (Heritage, Privilege, etc.). These clubs usually require membership to enter, or befriend a member and have them sign you in. From there, you can purchase a book of tickets or a cash card and then use it to order your drinks.
Although alcohol is most easily available at the international clubs and top hotels, there are quite a few local places to find a drink for the enterprising traveller. Local bars are to be found in most neighbourhoods but can be difficult to locate due to lack of advertising. Popular brands of beer (Heineken, Carlsberg, Tuborg, Foster's etc.) and major types of spirits are available at these places, and at much lower prices than at hotel bars.
You can try:
- La Diplomat at Road 20, House number 7, near Gulshan 1. Don't expect to be rubbing shoulders with any French ambassadors, however.
- The Dip, like most other Bengali bars, is a smoke-filled darkened room where many of its patrons would rather not be recognized too easily. Definitely an experience, nonetheless. Beers cost upwards of Tk 150 and "tots," which are single ounce servings of gin, vodka or whisky, are available from Tk 70 (local brands)-Tk 200. Female patrons may feel slightly uncomfortable.
There is a duty paid shop in Mohakhali (the name of the company is H. Kabir & Co., Ltd.) which is only permitted to sell alcohol to passport-bearing foreigners or their drivers who bring their passports in when they purchase. The address is 12 Abbas Garden, New Airport Road, phone +88 2988 1936-9. Their stated opening hours are from 09:30 - 16:30, and closed on Fridays and Saturdays. To get there you need to go towards the flyover as if you were going to Banani, but instead of going on to the flyover, you take the second left after it begins. You will see a small sign labelled "Abbas Garden." Turn left and tell your transport to wait while you purchase.
North End Coffee, Kha-47-1 Pragati Sarani, Shahzadpur, North Badda (Around the corner from US Embassy, across from Cambrian College and above the DBBL ATM), ☎ . Seven days 8AM-9PM, except Tuesday closed and Friday 14:00 to 21:00. Definitely the best coffee in Dhaka. With foreign ownership, an onsite roasting machine and big huge sacks of coffee in the back, this is definitely the place to get your caffeine fix. Prices reasonable. No meals yet, just muffins and brownies. cappuccino Tk125.
There are a huge variety of options for accommodation in the city, varying from unkempt dormitory beds for only a few US dollars, to huge multinational hotels that have penthouses for thousands of US dollars per night.
If you happen to arrive at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at night, it is best to remain there until morning. While the chances of anything bad happening upon exit are somewhat low, incidents such as kidnappings by taxi drivers are known to have happened to tourists who have tried to leave the airport in the small hours of the morning.
Otherwise Dhaka isn't terribly unsafe, but as in any huge city you should keep aware of your surroundings and try not to walk around at night. People are friendly and ready to help. The chance of fraud is low.
There has been a recent rash of incidents (as of July 2007) in which some foreigners have been targeted for bag snatchings while riding rickshaws. Often these have occurred at night, after 23:00. If you must be out after this time please do your best to leave your valuables at your friends' places or hotel and you can pick them up in the morning. The simplest way to reduce your potential loss is to not leave with valuables in the first place if you anticipate the need to travel after 23:00. The safest mode for travel for a tourist is to hire a yellow cab. These can be rented for a trip as well as by the day. Be sure to write down the licence plate number.
The greatest danger probably comes from speeding buses and rickshaws - keep well alert when walking along main roads.
Being the capital, it's the area most affected during hartals, and you should do your best to keep a low profile during times of political unrest. Avoid any sort of large gatherings, even positive ones, as there's a good chance you'll become the center of attention and you probably don't want that from a group of raucous chanters.
Pollution, like most other cities in the subcontinent, is high. It's not uncommon to see people with face masks on. At the very least, you should carry a handkerchief with you to cover your mouth and nose during rickshaw rides or particularly humid days.
Internet is now widely available in all over Dhaka at Internet cafes hidden in the various shopping complexes - ask around. Tk 20-30 per hour.
CoFi 11 Cafe in Gulshan offers free high speed internet service & Real Bean Coffee to its customers, Call 01713364499 for directions.
Another one new restaurant in Mohakhali, opposite the East West University, named Newsroom Cafe - provides free Wi-Fi and Internet kiosks for their customers. Free Wi-Fi is also available in Kozmo Lounge situated in Dhanmondi.
FM Radio Stations
- Radio Foorti - 88.0 MHz
- Radio Amar - 88.4 MHz
- ABC Radio (Dhaka) - 89.2 MHz
- Radio Today - 89.6 MHz
- Bangladesh Betar (relays BBC World Service) - 100.0 MHz
There are five local newspapers in English:
Embassies & Consulates
Brazil, Road 142, Symphony Tower, Gulshan 1, ☎ , fax: +880 2 881 3000.
Canada, House # 16A, Road # 48 Gulshan-2, ☎ +880 2 988 7091~7.
France, ☎ +880 2 881 38 11~4, fax: +880 2 882 33 20.
Greece, Reliance Insurance Ltd, 11th Floor, 8 Rajuk Avenue, ☎ , fax: +880 2 956 3297.
India, ☎ . , (Dhaka)
Italy, ☎ .
Japan, ☎ .
Germany, ☎ .
Republic of Korea, ☎ .
Malaysia, ☎ .
The Netherlands, ☎ , fax: +880 2 8823326.
Russia, ☎ .
United Kingdom, United Nations Rd, Baridhara, ☎ , fax: +880 2 882 3437.
United States, Diplomatic Enclave, Madani Ave, Baridhara, ☎ , fax: +880 2 882-3744.
- The Ashulia Lake - North of Dhaka
- Bogra - 220 km away from Dhaka, the capital of ancient Bangla
- Comilla - World War Cemetery, Kotbari Baddha Bihar, BIRD, Salban Bihar
- Cox's Bazar - World's longest sea beach.
- Gopalgonj - birthplace of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
- Rejendrapur National Park — 40 km north of Dhaka, vast (1,600 acres) national recreational forest with much wildlife
- Sundarbans, Satkhira, 350 km from Dhaka.
- Sonargaon If you feel the need to escape and take a break from the chaos of Dhaka, Songargon, about 29 km. from Dhaka offers you the chance to do just that. The town has a few worthwhile sights that are separated from one another and whilst going from sight to sight, you have the opportunity experience rural life and take in the less chaotic surroundings.
- Hajiganj is another place of historical interest, situated about 10 km from Mograpara bus stand. However, the above mentioned places usually take up most of the day and it is best to return to Dhaka before evening. Sonargaon and Hajiganj may be combined into a single day if one sets off very early from Dhaka.