Nestled in the picturesque Surma Valley amidst scenic tea plantations and lush green tropical forests, greater Sylhet is a prime attraction for all tourists visiting Bangladesh. Sylhet has developed due to remittances from the expatriates living in Britain. Laying between the Khasia and the Jaintia hills on the north, and the Tripura hills on the south, Sylhet breaks the monotony of the flatness of this land by a multitude of terraced tea gardens, rolling countryside and the exotic flora and fauna. Here the thick tropical forests abound with many species of wildlife, spread their aroma around the typical hearth and homes of the Mainpuri Tribal maidens famous for their dance.
The Sylhet valley is formed by a beautiful, winding pair of rivers named the Surma and the Kushiara both of which are fed by innumerable hill streams from the north and the south. The valley has good number of haors which are big natural depressions. During winter these haors are vast stretches of green land, but in the rainy season they turn into turbulent seas.
These haors provide a sanctuary to the millions of migratory birds who fly from Siberia across the Himalayas to avoid the severe cold there. Sylhet has also a very interesting and rich history, Before the conquest by the Muslims, it was ruled by local chieftains. In 1303, the great Saint Hazrat Shah Jalal came to Sylhet from Yemen with a band of 360 disciples to preach Islam and defeated the then Raja Gour Gobinda.
An interesting feature of Sylhet region is the aboriginal tribes such as the Tipperas, the Monipuris, Khasis and Garos who still live in their primitive ways in the hills, practising their age-old rites, rituals, customs and traditions. During festivals such as Rash Leela (Full-moon night in February) and Doljatra, the attractive young girls dressed in colorful robes, dance with the male members of their choice and love. The Monipuris perform their famous dance, based on allegorical love themes of the ancient mythology.
Osmani International Airport (IATA: ZYL) is served by all major domestic carriers, Biman Air, GMG Airlines, Regent Airways, and Royal Bengal Airlines. Please check the airline's website for latest schedule.
There are many luxury coach and bus services from Dhaka to Sylhet. Some notable services are Hanif, Shohag Poribahan, Green Line, etc. These services are available from 7:30AM to 10:30PM. For latest schedule it is recommended to contact with particular company.
For budget travellers, there are non-AC bus services available from the Sayedabad bus terminal (locally known as a Jonopath mor, near sayedabad hujur's mosque) which depart every half hour from 6AM to midnight. Efficient budget bus service companies are Hanif, Unique Service etc.
There are train services from Dhaka, Chittagong and Comilla to Sylhet every day. From Dhaka, there are four trains named Joyontika, Kalni, Parabat and Upoban that depart at morning, noon and evening. From Chittagong there are two trains named Udayan and Paharika that depart at morning and night.
1 Sylhet railway station (সিলেট রেলওয়ে স্টেশন) on the south side of river Surma.
Tea Gardens, shrines of Hazrat Shah Jalal Yamani and Hazrat Shah Farhan (rahmt.), Shahi Eidgah, Chandni Ghat, Ali Amjad's Clock Tower, Keen's Bridge, Shah Jalal Bridge, Osmani Museum, Jaflong, Parjatan, Shah Jala University, Osmani Medical College and Hospital, Sylhet Polytechnic Institute, Theme Parks, etc.
- 1 Ali Amjad's Clock, Hadarpar, Goainghat (from Amberkhana Point of Sylhet City to Hadarpar Bazar By CNG Taxi, or any Behicle then By Boat to Bichanakandi). It is known as "the Big Ben of Sylhet", is the oldest clock tower located on the bank of Surma River. The tower was constructed around 1895 under the supervision of Nawab Ali Amjad Khan, the landlord of former Prithimpasha estate in Sylhet.
- 2 Bichanakandi, Hadarpar, Goainghat (from Amberkhana Point of Sylhet City to Hadarpar Bazar by CNG taxi, or any vehicle then by boat to Bichanakandi). This is the excellent place for travellers who love nature. Near Bangladesh-India border; famous for crystal water, stone, hills, green & wide landscape.
- Greeva Peet - Mahalakshmi peet: About 4 km south of Sylhet is a place named Joinpur (Dakshin Surma - Surma is the river that flows through Sylhet). Sri Mahalakshmi temple is situated there. As every shakthi peet has its bhairav temple and for this peet Bhairav temple is situated 1 km away from this sakthi peet.
- Kalibari @ Jaflong: Kalibari temple which is one of the 51 Sakthi peet is situated near Jaflong. This place is not maintained, due to the reduced local Hindu population.
- Lawacherra Rain Forest: Lawacherra Rain Forest is one of the important & well-reserved forests in Bangladesh. Here visitor may see gibbons swimming through the trees and birds like bee-eater owls parrot. It is a good habitat of deer, leopard, wild chicken, squirrel, and python. Don't miss it especially if you are bird watcher. The terrain is hilly and vegetation is fairly thick. Only one rare Chloroform tree of Asia is here and a prime attraction of travel
- Madhabkunda: Madhabkunda surrounded by lush tea estates and full of waters lilies is a unique one. Magurchara ruined gas & oil reserved field, which was inadvertently blown up while digging and was burning a 500 ft (150 m) height for more than 3 months. A lot of burnt trees now carrying the symbols of disaster. Ever where a lot of rubber & lemon plantation form a beautiful landscape. And you can have a visit to Madhobkundo waterfall.
- 3 Museum of Rajas', Raja-Kunjo, Zinda Bazar (folk museum in Sylhet). Huge and rare collection of folk musical instruments, artifacts of Hason Raja movie (recipient of the best movie award 2002) and various folk and mystic poets.
- Sri Mangal: Sri Mangal is famous for the largest tea gardens of the world covered by lush green carpet. One can have a look into the spectacular tea processing at Tea Research Institute. Bangladesh produces and exports a large quantity of high quality tea every year. Most of the tea estates are in Sri Mangal. It is called "The land of two leaves and a bud". It is also called camellia, green carpet or Tea Mountain. There are a lot of tea estates including the largest one in the world. Make sure to take the taste the seven layer tea at Sri Mangal. The terraced tea garden, pineapple, rubber and lemon plantations from a beautiful landscape. It is known as the tea capital in Bangladesh. Just offer entering into the tea estates the nice smells and green beauty will lead you many kilometres away. Also, visit the Mini Zoo created by Sirishranjan in 1972. The best time to see the tea plantations is during rainy season, which is when the tea is harvested by women in bright saris. Photographers often visit during this time.
- Tamabil-Jaflong: Situated amidst splendid panorama, Tamabil is a border outpost on Sylhet-Shilong Road about 55 km away from Sylhet town. Besides enchanting views of the area one can also have a glimpse of the waterfalls across the border from Tamabil. Jaflong is also a scenic spot nearby amidst tea gardens and rate beauty of rolling stones from hills.The natural view has gotten effected due to rock quarring. It's located in the Bangladesh-India border
- Tilagor. It is a place with small and big hills which are cut or not. There are poultry farms, and dairy farms and houses on cut hills. There is a tea garden also there.
- Ratargul (2nd Sundarban), North side of Saheb Bazar of Goainghat (From Amberkhana Point of Sylhet city by CNG taxi or any vehicle.). Ratargul Swamp Forest is a freshwater swamp forest located in Goainghat, Sylhet. It's known as 2nd sundarban of Bangladesh. It is the only swamp forest located in Bangladesh and one of the few freshwater swamp forest in the world.
At day time you can visit all the major attractions. There is no night-life in Sylhet although some bars are available in major hotels and the Station club. Drinking is strictly prohibited in public areas.
At evening it is a must see recommendation to visit Chadnighat area where you will enjoy a beautiful view of Surma river, Ali-Amazad clock along with iron made Kean bridge built in 1854.
Sylhet has a variety of malls and bazaars which offer shoppers plenty of goods for sale. The relatively new influx of expatriate money has rapidly transformed Sylhet into a shoppers city. Hand-made textiles are a speciality. Zindabazar is the shoppers paradise where most of the big mall are located. For famous local fabric manipuri fabric, all the good shops located in Lamabazar area. Be aware of your personal belongings as you walk around, pickpockets are rampant and unnoticeable among large crowds.
Places to shop:
- Al Hamra
- Blue Water
- London Mansion
- Manipuri Bazar, Lamabazar. A big area with lots of shopping mall for famous hand weave Manipuri Shari and fabrics.
- Sizzling Restaurant, Rose View Hotel.
- Silver Palace, noya sorok.
- Eatopia, Barutkhana, Zindabazar.
- Chiangmai Chinese Restaurant.
- Chicken Hut.
- Pizza Shop.
- Alpine Restaurant (traditional).
- Prithiraj (traditional).
- Paktoon, Rose View Hotel.
- Pearl Orient, Rose View hotel.
- Four Season, Rose View Hotel.
- Sizzling Restaurant, Rose View Hotel.
- Exotica Restaurant, Hotel Supreme.
- Dinette Restaurant, Hotel Fortune Garden.
- Manipuri bazar, Lamabazar Point. A big area with lots of shopping mall for famous hand weave Manipuri Shari and fabrics.
- Woondal Restaurant, east Zindabazar Free wifi!.
Eatopia East Zindabazaar (amazing chicken reshmi)
- Spicy Restaurant, Sylhet City Centre, 10th floor, Zindabazar.
- , Lamabazar Point, ☎ . 10AM-10PM. All types of monipuri sarees, salwar & other clothes for both man & woman.Quality of clothes are high & medium & price is not much.
- Panshi Restaurant, Zindabazar. It is located at the heart of the city and is known for its cheap and delicious food.
- Cafe La Vista, Zindabazar.
- Sylhet Station Club. Good for drinking water and juice only.
- Club Royale, Rose View Hotel.
- Panshi, Mirzajangal,Sylhet (Near Zindabazar). It is one of the most popular restaurant at Sylhet. It is located at Mirzajangal, near Zindabazar at the heart of the city.vIt is known for its cheap and delicious local food. It has large space to welcome huge number of customers.
Sylhet has many hotels which offer decent accommodations at reasonable prices. Bargaining always helps.
- Hotel Supreme
- Hotel Palash
- Hotel Gulshan
- Hotel Western
- Hotel Anurag
- Hotel Al-Amin
- Hotel Garden's Inn
- Hotel Firdous
- Hotel Panama
- Hotel Hilltown
- Hotel Rose View
- 2 Nirvana Inn, Mirza Jangal Rd, ☎ . Modern hotel in centre of town. Air conditioned. Air conditioning in rooms can be too effective and beds are a little hard. Restaurant has very good reasonably priced food. Indoor pool on ground floor. Wireless Internet is available throughout.
- 3 Richmond Hotel & Apartments Sylhet, Al Hamra Tower (In Zindabazar district), ☎ . Hotel suite and apartment with restaurant.