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 and America. 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 Monipuri 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 & love. The Monipuris perform their famous dance, based on allegorical love themes of the ancient mythology.
Sylhet is one of the richest cities in Bangladesh, with the vast majority of rich residents have money sent from the UK and America, along with some of the most affluent residential areas in the country, third to only Dhaka and Chittagong.
Osmani International Airport (ICAO: ZYL) is served by all major domestic carriers, Biman Air , United Airlines and Regent Airways . Please check the airline's website for latest schedule. There are no international flights, but most of the flights in Sylhet are destined to the capital and largest city of Bangladesh, Dhaka.
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 7:30 am to 10:30 pm. For latest schedule it is recommended to contact with particular company.
For budget travelers , 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 6 am to midnight. Efficient budget bus service companies are Hanif, Unique Service etc. Ena non AC bus service available from Uttara(Dhaka) to Sylhet.
There are train services from Dhaka, Chittagong and Comilla to Sylhet everyday. From Dhaka, there are three trains named Joyontika, Parabat and Upoban depart at morning, noon and evening.There is a new train named Kalni depart at afternoon from Dhaka. From Dhaka, it takes 8-9 hours.
Rickshaws are a common mode of transportation throughout the small town, along with the CNGs (auto-rickshaws). Don't take buses as they are usually unreliable for foreign tourists. If you stay with a friend or family member, they usually have atleast 1 driver who drives a car for them. Do not take taxis if you are a foreigner, as crimes may happen. The traffic is relatively light to moderate in contrast to Dhaka's long jams.
Tea Gardens, shrines of Hazrat Shah Jalal Yamani and Hazrat Shah Farhan, Shahi Eidgah, Chandni Ghat, Ali Amjad's Clock Tower, Kean Bridge, Shah Jalal Bridge, Osmani Museum, Jaflong, Parjatan, Shah Jalal University, Osmani Medical College and Hospital, Sylhet Polytechnic Institute, Theme Parks, etc.
At day time you can visit all the major attractions . There is not much night-life in Sylhet compared to Dhaka, 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 Amjad 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 malls are located. For famous local fabric Monipuri fabric, the 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:
Eatopia East Zindabazar (amazing chicken reshmi)
Sylhet has many hotels which offer decent accommodations at reasonable prices.