Una spiaggia solitaria sul litorale di Cox's Bazar
For Bangladeshis it doesn't get much better than Cox's Bazar, the country's most popular beach resort. Sort of a Cancun of the east, it's choc-a-bloc with massive cement hotels and gaudy over-development catering largely to the country's elite. As a foreigner it likely won't compare to other beach vacations you may have taken, but it's still interesting to see how the Bangladeshis live it up. The beach is crowded, especially near the Hotel Motel Zone, a large cluster of more upmarket hotels. Expect lots of attention, and expect to stay fully clothed.
30km south is Inani Beach, the world's longest and widest with over 100 miles of unbroken sand. Things should be quieter here, but still expect to draw some attention.
Cycle-rickshaws are plentiful, and the ride between Hotel Motel Zone and the Laldighi Lake area on the main road should cost Tk 12, though foreigners will have to fight hard for that price. They'll ask for at least Tk 20, Tk 15 is a fair enough middle ground.
Miles of golden sand, towering cliffs, surfing waves, colorful pagodas, Buddhist temples and tribes, delightful seafood — this is Cox's Bazar, the tourist capital of Bangladesh.
There are also a few very old wooden Buddhist temples at Ramu, a few kilometers from Cox's Bazar, well worth visiting.
A drive to Teknaf, which is the southernmost tip of the mainland of Bangladesh, is a memorable journey. A day trip to either Moheshkhali or Sonadia, the deltaic islands nestled among the gentle waves of the Bay of Bengal, will also be really interesting.
Other attractions for visitors are conch shell market, tribal handicraft, salt and prawn cultivation.
Himchari: It is about 32 km. South of Cox's Bazar along the beach, a nice place for a picnic and shooting. The famous "Broken Hills" and waterfalls here are rare sights.
Inani Beach: It is about 32 km south of Cox's Bazar and just on the beach, with the sea to the west and a background of steep hills to the east. Inani casts a magic spell on those who step into that dreamland. It is only half an hour's drive from Cox's Bazar and an ideal place for sea-bathing and a picnic.
Maheskhali: An island off the coast of Cox's Bazar. It has an area of 268 square kilometers. Through the centre of the island and along the eastern coast line rises a range of low hills, 300 feet high; but the coast to the west and north is a low-lying treat, fringed by mangrove jungle. In the hills on the coast is built the shrine of Adinath, dedicated to Shiva. By its side on the same hill is a Buddhist Pagoda.
Ramu: This is a typical Buddhist village, about 16 km. from Cox's Bazar, on the main road to Chittagong. There are monasteries, khyangs and pagodas containing images of Buddha in gold, bronze and other metals inlaid with precious stones.
The village has a charm of its own. Weavers ply there trade in open workshops and craftsmen make handmade cigars in their pagoda like houses.
Sonadia Island: It is about seven kilometer from Cox's Bazar and about nine square kilometer in area. The western side of the island is sandy and different kinds of shells are found on the beach. Off the northern part of the island there are beds of window pane oysters. During winter fisherman set up temporary camps on the island and dry their catches of sea fish.
Teknaf: Southernmost tip of Bangladesh, Teknaf situated on the Naaf river and just at the end of the hilly regions of the district. Myanmar is on the opposite bank of Naaf river. Wild animals and birds are available but the most interesting thing is a journey on the river. Wide sandy beach in the backdrop of high hills with green forests is an enchanting scene never to be forgotten.
There are lots of shops in the Hotel Motel Zone catering to Bangladeshi tourists. Things made of sea shells are very popular and also sold by vendors on the beach, but think twice about encouraging such a non-eco friendly practice.
There's a ton of restaurants along Sea Beach Rd and in the Hotel Motel Zone, most serving Bangladeshi standards.
Jhawban Restaurant and Poushee Restaurant, next door to each other on Hotel Sayeman Rd just south of Sea Beach Rd, serve similarly excellent Bangladeshi food including fried fish, a Cox's Bazar specialty. Both are wildly popular, especially at lunch time - go with the flow. Meals Tk 60-130.
Mermaid Café, Sea Inn Beach, (in Hotel Motel Zone), 01815 672855, . Lunch and dinner until 7PM. Overlooking the beach south of Hotel Media International, this newer cafe is super friendly and laidback and probably the coolest place to hang out in the area. With its natural-ish vibe of wood and bamboo, it hints at the direction that Cox's Bazar coulda shoulda woulda taken way back when. If it were anywhere else it's prices would put it out of business, but here it's taka well spent. It has several sitting areas and hammocks, and a creative menu including crepes and savory pancakes, and seafood-heavy mains like shrimp salad, pastas and fish pizza for Tk 250-400. Delicious fresh juices are around Tk 80 and filter coffee and espresso around Tk 50. The music is occasionally dubious but they're very open to requests.
Most of the budget hotels are in the area surrounding Laldighi Lake in the main town area. The massive cement beasts are closer to the beach, getting bigger and grander as you move the 2km south to the Hotel Motel Zone.
Isola di Saint Martins - This small coral island about 10km (6mi) south-west of the southern tip of the mainland is a tropical cliché, with beaches fringed with coconut palms and bountiful marine life. There's nothing more strenuous to do here than soak up the rays, but it's a clean and peaceful place without even a mosquito to disrupt your serenity.
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