|Bangladesh- the world capital city of rickshaws, 700,000-800,000 rickshaws operating in a crowded Dhaka city|
|This rush hour train in the afternoon near the Cantonment train station in suburban Dhaka - locals called it Roof riding|
|Traffic in Dhaka is chaotic, noisy & congested !|
" The biggest adventure you can take is to live the LIFE of your dreams "
" One way to get the most out of LIFE is to look upon it as an adventure "
" My 8 days free & easy visit to Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh & ancient Panam City, Sornagaon, with my travel buddy, KC Leong from USJ, Selangor in the winter month of 13-20 Dec 2017 - my first adventure visit to Bangladesh "
|Map of Bangladesh|
In 2009, Dhaka was voted by Lonely Planet as one of the Best 100 Cities in the world ! Seeing is believing hence my reason to do this free & easy visit to Dhaka during the cool winter month of December (average temperature is 17-20c)
Dhaka is about 3.45 hours by air from Kuala Lumpur. Air Asia has a regular daily flight from Kuala Lumpur to Dhaka but arriving after mid-night ! So I suggest you pre-booked a taxi with your hotel to avoid a last minute booking of a taxi at the airport.
Due to a Victory Day anniversary celebration in Bangladesh, we were not able to buy a train ticket from Dhaka to Chittagong so we stayed put in Dhaka city for 5 days. This gave us sufficient time to explore the old & new Dhaka in greater depth.
For the first 2 days, we hired a rickshaw & private car to take us the various touristy places & historical sites in and around Dhaka & Sornagaon area. For the rest of the days, we used our smart phone's GPS to guide us for our free & easy walking tours around the Dhaka city.
Bangladesh has a population of 146 million of which 18 million is found in greater Dhaka area and 8 million in the Dhaka city. 90% of the population are Muslims ! Bangladesh is the 4th largest Muslim population in the world followed by Indonesia, Pakistan & India !
Dhaka is often called the Rickshaw Capital of the World with more than 700,000 rickshaws operating daily on the roads. So in most parts of the densely populated Dhaka city, the daily traffic is said to be chaotic, noisy & messy ! Walking may be the fastest way of getting from point A to point B (within 2-3 km radius), if not use a rickshaw or CNG (local tuk tuk) for short rides to any areas in downtown Dhaka. Due to communication problem, it may be hard for foreign tourists to take public buses to places you intend to visit. We observed in the evening, traffic was particularly bad due to after office hours so some of the roads in Dhaka could jam for hours !
We were fortunate to hire an English speaking rickshaw guy recommended by our hotel in Dhaka and this traditional rickshaw day tour took us to some 10 touristy & historical sites in old Dhaka so a great start on our 1st day. For the 2nd day, our rickshaw guy arranged a private car day tour to the old Panam city, Sonargaon, located 35km from Dhaka. But due to a festive weekend, the traffic was so bad along the main trunk road that it took us 4 hours to arrive at Sonargaon !
For our final days, we stayed in a hostel in Showra area, about 20 minutes by auto rickshaw to Dhaka airport. As this area is within walking distance to Bashundra & Guishan model towns, this gave us the opportunities to see a modern township in Dhaka.
As our hotels provide free buffet breakfast, we were able to savor some Bengali spicy food which we enjoyed eating. For lunches & dinners, we stick to eating the popular local biryani rice with chicken & egg ! We did some simple cooking ie noodle soups with leafy vegetables, tomatoes & eggs at our hostel's kitchen and relaxed our time chatting and sharing our travelling experiences with fellow backpackers in the hostel.
If you are contemplating of visiting Dhaka, I suggest you treat your visit to Bangladesh as an adventure. Have the courage to overcome the major challenges along the way. If all the while you are living in a comfort zone, doing a free & easy visit to Bangladesh may turn out to be not your cup of tea ! If life was easy where would all the adventures be ! As a serious traveler, you do not grumble & rumble, you just show up and been there and done that !
Total expenses incurred (8 days): Rm2,185 (US$534)
- Hotel 71 (3 nights x US$48.50 for a twin sharing room)
- Hotel Ornate ( 2 nights x US$40 for a twin sharing room)
Tuk tuk: 325taka
Entrance fees: 100taka
- rickshaw old Dhaka tour - 1,000 taka per pax
- private car hire day tour to Panam City, Sonargon - US$50 per pax
Travel itinerary: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia > Dhaka > Sonargaon > Dhaka > Kuala Lumpur
Travel Highlights :
1) Curzon Hall & Dhaka University Area
14) Sadarghat River Front & Buriganga River Dhaka
20) Baitul Mukarram Mosque (National Mosque), Dhaka
28) USA Embassy - Guishan 2
30) Cantonment Railway Station, DOHS Bypass Rd, Matikata, Baridhara, Kuril, Dhaka Division
Though Dhaka weather was cool & hazy most of the days we stayed, we were pleased to see some flowers blooming in gardens & parks and that cheer up & brighten our days in Dhaka !