Dhaka is a thriving megacity of 18 million people, located at the heart of Bangladesh. The capital city is the 9th largest city in the world, and is also known at the city of Mosques. The blend of modernity and tradition has been the allure of the city, as well as the rickshaw-filled streets, the vibrant colors and the wonderful food. Most foreigners are required to enter the city with visa. Tourists can get into Bangladesh through Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. There are border entries from Kolkata India which may take up to 12 hours to get to Dhaka by train or bus.
Dhaka’s roads are congested at all times due to the lack of an effective transport system. Rickshaws litter the streets of Dhaka and its numbers make up most of the traffic. Negotiating with the driver before getting in the rickshaw is very important. It’s always advisable to take a hotel card and map along with you for your rickshaw driver’s sake. Taxis are almost non-existent on the streets of Dhaka. Tourists will be heckled for more money so just negotiate before getting in a cab. The buses are horribly crowded and being a foreigner, you’re likely to attract a pickpocket. Trains only operate in and out of the city. Walking would be your best option but make sure you have on your mosquito-repellent lotion and just wear flip flops. You are also strongly advised to walk on the footpath to avoid road accidents which are not so rare in this city.
Old mosques and churches are found all around Dhaka. The 18th century Armenian Church still stands at the Old Dhaka and it is frequented by Christian visitors. Look for a ‘Mr. Martin’ so he could arrange a tour for you. The only cash out is a small tip for Mr. Martin. Chawk Shai Mosque was built in the 17th century and it is conveniently located in Chowk Bazaar, the business district in Dhaka. The chaotic Chowk Bazaar is also known as the city’s shopping center where spices, pink pearls, silk, sarees and handicrafts abound. Bangladeshi food is one of the treats in almost everywhere in Old Dhaka. One can have a local food experience for under a dollar. Tourists must not miss the sweet, soft milk curd balls that are not found anywhere else in the world. The 100-year old Baldha Garden in Wari, Old Dhaka is another tourist attraction. It is home to a wide collection of indigenous plants that nature lovers will like.
Photo Credit: Towfiq BD @flickr