Best time to visit - January,February,March,November,December
The largest and the busiest city in Bangladesh, Dhaka may seem like a regular, commercial city to you in the first glance but it's much more. It's a place that grows on you with time, and when it does, it's difficult to forget its many experiences. If this is your first visit here, you can choose among the many Dhaka day tours. The tours will help you see the city in its entirety and one can also choose customised tours according to individual preferences. Lal Bagh Fort, Liberation War Museum and Ahsan Manzil are some of the must-visit spots in Dhaka. Do include Baitul Mukarram Mosque in your itinerary. It is the 10th largest mosque in the world and is a sight to behold. Sonargaon is another wonderful place to include in your itinerary. An erstwhile administrative centre of Bengal, the site makes for an interesting visit outside Dhaka. Sitara Mosque is named so because it is decorated with a million stars and is a delight to explore. There are a number of options to stay in Dhaka and you can choose one according to your budget or preference.
Greater Chittagong consists of the south easternmost parts of Bangladesh, with a total population of over 28 million. No Bangladesh itinerary can be complete without a trip to this region. It comprises Chittagong city (the second-largest city in Bangladesh), Chittagong Hill Tracts and other neighbouring districts, including Cox's Bazar. Dhaka to Chittagong city is about a 5-hour drive or a 6-hour bus/train ride. Frequent flight options between the two cities also exist. If travelling by land, leave early in the morning in order to arrive in Chittagong city in time for a late lunch.
Best time to visit - June,July,August,September
Sylhet, lying on the banks Surma River, is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Bangladesh. With lush, refreshing greenery, it is known as the Land of Fairies! Keane Bridge is the gateway to Sylhet and also a prominent landmark. Ratargul is another lovely spot to visit when you are in Sylhet. This swamp forest is one-of-its-kind and the views here are absolutely stunning! One of the few freshwater swamp forests in Bangladesh, it's a must visit. Visit the forest during winter to enjoy the beauty at its peak. Tambil-Jaflong is where you'll witness inspiring views of the surrounding greenery and also get a chance to visit the waterfalls. Do also visit Sree Mangal, considered to be the largest tea gardens in the world. Pangthumai Waterfall and Satchari National Park are some of the other places you can visit when you are around Sylhet. If Sylhet is the only place on your itinerary, be aware that only a few hours are sufficient to explore and learn about the place.
Best time to visit - May,June,July
Primarily a university town, Rajshahi is a bustling little town that has much to do and see. Lying on the banks of River Padma, the Indian border is only 2 km away and it's quite a sight to see the swiftly flowing River Ganga. The Puthia Temple complex is a delight to explore and though the temple structure is a little scattered, the main temple will delight history lovers and art fanatics. Mahasthangarh is another lovely spot though it's a little tricky to reach. The place is a little mismanaged but it's still worth a visit. Kantajew temple is definitely another popular spot in Rajshahi. This rich historical site is a must visit for those who enjoy a peek into the past. The rich terracotta work in the temple is a delight to explore and the intricate work is fascinating. Among other places to visit, Ghoramara and Shrine of Hazrat Shah Makhdum definitely deserve a visit. There are several hotels and resorts here in Rajshahi and you won't have a problem finding a suitable place to stay.
Best time to visit - January,February,October,November,December
What stands out about Comilla in Bangladesh is its historical significance. However, most of the town is under military surveillance, so you can only partly enjoy what this town has to offer. The most striking feature is the Buddhist ruins of Mainimati and in it the Salban Vihara; the lovely structure is luckily situated outside the surveillance area. Do take prior permission to come here, just in case you have to head back disappointed. War Cemetery, Lalmai Hills, Maynmati hills are other must-visit attractions in Comilla. It's best to visit this lovely town for a day and not plan a longer holiday here. The ancient ruins are a delight for explorers and make for an intriguing trip.
The natural, scenic beauty of Cox's Bazar has enthralled tourists for years and made it an almost-permanent fixture on any Bangladesh itinerary. Stretching out to a distance of 120 kms, it is the world's longest sea beach and a particularly must-visit destination if you enjoy coastal life. From Chittagong city, it is around a three-hour drive to the town of Cox's Bazar, and an early start will get you there by noon.
Best time to visit - September,October,November,December
If you want to understand and explore what life is like in Bangladesh, Bogra is the place for you. This is where travellers mostly stop when they are enroute to other holiday spots in Bangladesh. The oldest river settlement can be found around Bogra and it's an hour's journey from the main center. You may find Bogra a little crowded and chaotic and though there is not much to see here, it's one of the most significant cities in Bangladesh. Mahasthangarh and Paharpur are two essential tourist spots that are located in close proximity to Bogra, where Paharpur is home a Buddhist monastery, which is the biggest in the country. If history and architecture are on your mind, you must visit these two cities. There are tons of hotels in Bogra, and you should have no trouble picking one that fits your budget.
Day 7: Trek from Tibb to Shingra Kogma. Camp at Shingra Kogma
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,May,October,November,December
Known as the Daughter of the Sea, Kuakata is located at the southernmost tip of Bangladesh. Famous for its stunning beaches and glorious sunsets, it is also a popular religious destination. Thousands of people visit this town during the festivals of Rush Purnima and Maghi Purnima and take a dip in the bay along with participating in the scores of festivals that take place during the time. Kuakata is the second largest beach in Bangladesh and a visit here will assure you of inspiring views of the setting and rising sun. Jhaubon, Lemur Char and Misripara are some of the must visit places in and around Kuakata. Though if you are here for the weekend, you'll find yourself spending a lot of time at the beach! There are tons of hotels and resorts in Kuakata and each hotel offers you unobstructed views of the surrounding views.
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Satisfied we were happy with a trawler, the eco-resort advised that they'd send a guide to meet us at Teknaf. He'd help us find a trawler, escort us to the island and to the eco-resort. In hindsight we wished we'd done this independently because when we got to the island the guide insisted on sticking with us for our whole stay. He even slept in the room next to us and was there everytime we turned round. Whilst he was a lovely chap, we prefer not to have unnecessary guides, especially when we could have easily managed by ourselves if we'd been had the logistical information.Just for the record, I'm not saying having a guide is the wrong thing to do, just that it's not for everyone. It does of course have it's benefits such as less hassle from locals, it's easier to arrange meals and transport, and it's cheaper to buy things from the stores and markets.If you prefer to travel independently and would rather visit Saint Martin's Island without a guide in low season it's likely that like us you'll struggle with the lack of readily available resources out there. Therefore I've pulled together some useful information on how to get there.Most journeys to Saint Martin's Island will start in Dhaka and all go via Cox's Bazar to Teknaf. From there you have to get some mode of ocean faring vessel to the island. The route looks something like this:Dhaka > Cox's Bazar > Teknaf > Saint Martin's Island You can get a direct taxi from Dhaka to Teknaf for about 11,000 Taka (£110 GBP), taking about 6.5 hours. You could also take a direct bus for up to 1,700 Taka (£17 GBP), depending on the class, taking up to 12 hours. I suspect however that the majority of people would choose to break the journey up with a stop off in Cox's Bazar so the options below are based on that.Bus - From Mohakhali Bus Station (you can get a taxi there from the airport), catch a bus to Cox's Bazar. Numerous buses from many different companies leave Dhaka towards Cox's Bazar daily and some drive throughout the night. Prices range from about 700 Taka (£7 GBP) for a non-airconditioned chair coach (not very comfortable) to 3,000 Taka (£30 GBP) for an airconditioned sleeper coach (the comfiest option). Beware the buses can take anywhere from 10 to 15 hours depending on the route, traffic and road conditions.Flight - A short one hour domestic flight to Cox's Bazar like we took costs from about 5,000 Taka (£50GBP) one way or 10,000 Taka (£100 GBP) return. It's difficult to buy flight tickets online in Bangladesh with a foreign credit or debit card, so we bought our tickets on the day from a ticket office located outside the front of the domestic airport, next door to the Shahjalal International Airport.Cox's Bazar to Teknaf
Hardly a five minute ride away is the Tamabil border, connecting India and Bangladesh. People at both sides of the border were peeking into other's state. We both do the same–one step ahead–we're looking for a difference between the citizens in our gossip manner. Eavesdrop one of the Indian-Bangladeshi crazy talk at the border – 'Are you from Bangladesh?','Yes yes','Let's take a selfie'. It was hilarious. You can see a small migration office closeby and a lot of trucks that import and export goods between the countries.