The city was established by the British around 1858. It became an important place for trade and communications. A railway workshop was opened in 1870, which brought much employment to the local populace. The workshop meant the industrialisation of the town, making it a centre for manufacturing. The workshop still operates today, as the largest in the country. By 1971, Saidpur had become the third largest city in the country. During the 1971 Liberation War, hundreds of Hindu residents were massacred by Urdu-speaking Muslims and Pakistanis close to Saidpur, resulting in a killing fields site being erected. Today, Urdu still has some prominence in the city, with some schools continuing to teach it to students.
The town is fairly laid back in comparison to other major cities, offering an opportunity to escape the usual Bangladeshi chaos. Some old red-brick buildings exist in the southern end of town, originating from the latter period of the British Raj. Many of these are till occupied as private homes.
An airport is situated on the southern outskirts of the city, just off Airport Road. While it was once an important mode of travel in the region, the airport is barely used with limited services. Airlines frequently suspend services due to low passenger numbers. As of August 2012, United Airways flights are operating to and from Dhaka and Rajshahi.
A major railway station also sits on the northern end of the town, with services to and from Dhaka, Khulna and sometimes Rajshahi. The Official Bangladesh Railway website  lists the schedules of all services, with the opportunity to purchase tickets online. Prices vary depending on destination and class, although only first-class is recommended for a passenger with Western standards.
The town is spread over some distance. As per the rest of Bangladesh, the best method for getting around is simply calling upon a rickshaw or CNG auto-rickshaw to take you where you need to be. Some drivers will struggle to speak English, but will be knowledgeable of local roads and businesses.