Bandarban Hill District is the most remote and least populated district in Bangladesh. The lure of the tallest peaks of Bangladesh, treks through virgin forests and chance to meet more than 15 tribes of the region up close is growing both among Bangladeshis and tourists from other countries. Since the insurgency ceased in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (a cluster that includes all three hill districts of Bangladesh) it has opened up for tourists more than a decade back, though some of the western tourist guides may still describe the area as a major security risk.
she-ra rental car
Bangla (official); Marma, Bawm and Mru (local)
There are three ways to get to Bandarban. The easiest is a direct bus ride from Dhaka which takes 6 hours. The few services available are Dolphin at Kalabagan, Unique service, Shyamoli Paribahan at Gabtali, Asad gate, Fakirerpul, Kamlapur, Saydabad and S Alam at Kamalapur. On the high tourist season it is advisable to buy tickets in advance.
There are a few services available that offer a bus ride from Chittagong which takes 2 hours (the most available is Purbani at Bahaddarhaat). To reach Chittagong from Dhaka there are three options - taking a flight (Bangladesh Biman or GMG airline), a bus ride (Sohag is undoubtedly the best service, available at Kalabagan and Mahakhali) or a train ride from Kamalapur (Turna Nishitha, Mahanagar Godhuli and Subarna).
From Cox's Bazar, it is a 3-hour busride (the most available is Purbani at Laaldighi). To reach Cox's Bazaar from Dhaka it is possible take either a 10-hour bus ride (Sohag is the best) or a flight (Bangladesh Biman or GMG airlines). From Chittagong it is 4-hour bus ride (apart from Dolphin, Purbani is the most available).
Purbani Bus Srvice, Phone:01820412800 (Chittagong), 0361-62508 (Bandarban)
It is possible to get to Bandarban directly from Rangamati by way of Chandraghona, but the perilous route is not advisable at all.
Car rented from Chittagong, readily available from
Bangladesh Enterprise (phone: +880 (0) 31 670512) at Chandgao, Al-Amin Enterprise (phone: +880 (0) 31 720600) or Alam Enterprise (phone: +880 (0) 31 714566) at Hazi Para in Agrabad, Bismilla Fashion (phone: +880 (0) 31 612749) at Reazuddin Bazar or Samara Fashions (phone: +880 (0) 31 615925) at Azimir Super Market at Monim Road, would take anyone to Bandarban. Though it is possible to rent a car at Dhaka to go all the way to Bandarban, it is not advisable in any way. Plainland drivers are generally lousy in the hills and they don't know the locality at all. It would be prudent to hire a driver who comes from Bandarban.
Inside the town, which can be easily covered on feet, the most available mode of transport in the rickshaw. For places out of town there are three-wheeler taxis near the Traffic Mor (circle or intersection), four-wheel drive vehicles for hire near Hotel Green Hill, and a rent-a-car station near Hotel Hill Bird. There also are the regular public transit system of ancient four-wheel-drive vehicles, known locally as Chander Gari (meaning the Moon Car) available Ruma and Rowangchhari Bus Stations, as well as near the Sonali Bank. Major road routes are Chimbuk-Ruma, Bandarban-Rowangchhari-Ruma, Aziznagar-Gojalia-Lama, Khanhat-Dhopachhari-Bandarban, Bandarban-Chimbuk-Thanchi-Alikadam-Baishari-Dhundhum, and Chimbuk-Tangkabati-Baro Aoulia. It is also possible to travel by native boats by the river Sangu, from either the Bazaar Ghat or the Kyaw Ching Ghat.
- Buddha Dhatu Jadi. The largest Buddhist temple in Bangladesh, located in Balaghata, 4 km from the town, is one excellent place to visit locally known as 'Swarna Mandir'. This Theravada Buddhist temple. set atop a 60 meter hill, is made completely in the style of South-East Asia and houses a sacred relic and the second largest statue of Buddha in Bangladesh.
- Shoilo Propat, Meghla and Nilachal. The waterfall named Shoilo Propat at Milanchari, 4 km from the town on the road to Thanchi, is also excellent site maintained by Bangladesh Parjatan, the national tourism promotion corporation.The Parjatan Motel is not a small thing at all. It has a huge three-storey building on a high place. The room rent here a little high compared to other places The site maintained by the Distrcit Administraion is Meghla, 4 km from the town on the road to Keranihat, which features a mini-safari-park, a zoo, and a hanging bridge. The District Administration has also developed the Nilachal tourist site near Meghla, in Tigerpara
- Raj Vihar and Ujanipara Vihar.The numerous Buddhist temples, known as kyang in local toungue, and vihars in the town include the highly notable the Rajvihar (royal Monastery) at Jadipara. The monastery at Ujanipara, known as Ujanipara Vihar, is also a major place of interest.
- Chimbuk Hill and Tribal Villages. Chimbuk is one of the tallest peaks in Bangladesh and lies some 14 km from the town. Bawm villages around Chimbuk and Mru villages a little further off are also lie within a day's journey from the town.
- Nil Giri and Thanchi. Nilgiri is one of the tallest peaks and beautiful place in Bangladesh and lies some 46 km from the town. there is beautiful resort in the top of the mountain maintain by the Bangladesh Army. Booking to be done through army officer. There are three well furnished cottages ranging from Tk.4000-7000. There are also three tents having 4 beds each@2000 per tent. Foreign tourist will be restricted there. there is restaurant, helipad,
- Other Places. Prantik Lake, Jibannagar and Kyachlong Lake are some more places of interest.
- Boga Lake (1200 ft), ☎ 12222. A beautiful lake surrounded by high hills and a small village just beside the lake. Boga Lake is the most beautiful natural lake in Bangladesh. It is also known as Bagakain Lake or Baga Lake. Boga lake is 18 kilometer away from Ruma Sadar Upozilla in Bandarban. The area of this lake is about 15 acres. It is about 3000 feet above sea level. The color of water of this lake is blue and very nice. There are many mythological stories behind the creation of this lake. There are many tourists make their way to Boga lake every year, specially in the winter season. Small tribe community like Bawm, Khumi have localities besides the Boga lake. In the rainy season, it is quite difficult to stroll beside the boga lake. The road from Ruma to Boga lake is still under construction. There waiting lots of pleasure and delight for you at Boga lake. You will definitely be amazed looking at the big rocks lying in and out of the Boga lake. You can have a camp fire beside the lake, that will be unbelievable and mind-blowing memory in your life.
- Cruise on River Sangu. One highly admired activity here is a boat trip in a sampan (a double oared boat with a blunt aft and a flat bottom) or a regular boat down the River Sangu. The trip can vary from a 1-hour trip, including a stop-over to take tea, to a whole day cruise including stop-overs to have food.You will find people working on river with bamboos. The river is not very deep in the dry season. Many times your boat might get stuck with the soil under the river.
- Take a Guided Tour. The only available regular guided tour package, offered by Guide Tours, takes tourists through Buddha Dhatu Jadi, Meghla, Shoilo Propat, Raj Vihar and Ujanipara Vihar, two tribal villages, Chimbuk Hill and a couple of more sites. An irregular guided tour package by Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation takes tourisst to Nilachal and Meghla, the artificially created government owned "tourist attractions" generally shunned by serious travelers.
A hike to either Keokaradong (883 m) or Tahjindong (967 m), the two tallest peak is an exhilarating experience. On the side of both the peaks reside the remotest tribes-people of Bangladesh - the Khumi and the Kuki. Boga Lake, one of the two highest lakes in Bangladesh lie directly on the trek, while the other one, the Raikhiang Lake lies only a little off the way.
There is an abundance of Brumese, Thai and Chinese trinkets, textile and other stuff in the town. But, the best buy is definitely the products of local handloom - cloth fabric, shawls, blankets and more - as well as products of bamboo, cane and wood - buskets, flutes, hats, mask and more. Prices are amazingly low, and textile qualities are amazingly high. The designs are refreshingly exotic and extremely geometric. Only the textile from Myanmar (called Burma here) have floral or fire patterns, and are made by machine looms.
- Master Shopping Complex and Burmese Market: Full of Thai, Chinese & Burmese products. This market is always busy with throngs of buyers, sellers and onlookers. Marma shopkeepers, mostly women, are easy to deal with with, and ma provide with information on the place and the people.
- Bonolota Textile and Rangamati Textile: These shops at the Traffic Mor sells handloom products from Rangamati, another area of the Hill Tratcs, here. Since the Chakma people are very different from the Marma, Bawm and Mru people of Bandarban, the products may bring a fresh break.
- The BSCIC Shop: Various handloom and cottage products. It is the sales center for the cottage industry development project of Bangladesh government.
- Shoilo Propat: Shawls, blankets and buskets made by the Bawm people are sold by them by the side of the waterfall.
- Farukpara: Flutes, hats, pitchers and other stuff made by the Bawm people are sold in little shop crammed full with exotic and wonderful products. Bargaining while sipping on a cup of tea is a wonderful activity here.
- Marmabazaar: All the local food and textile products, as well as wet grocery vendors selling fresh hill produces. Look for Nappi, a local delicacy, to take home here. But, don't forget to pack it tight when carrying. This market bustles with activity in the earl morning, with tribes-people coming down the hills to sell vegetables of every color, as well as roots, tubers, fruits, berries and nuts.
Both the Bandarban Bazaar and the Marma Bazaar sell, hawk and peddle an incredible number of floral-patterned Burmese cloths that are used to make dresses in Marma style. A thicket of tailoring shops line the streets of both markets to cater to buyers of these cloths. It is a fun activity for women to buy cloth and take it to a tailoring shop. Custom fit Thami (sarong) and Angi (Blouse) are tailored in a day.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
|| Under $1
|| Over $3
There are good restaurants in Bandarban Bazaar where local cuisine can be sampled, which is mostly too hot for unaccustomed palates.
The best places to eat are Khaoa Daoa (a Muslim restaurant, meaning they serve beef) and Adarsha Bhaatghar (a Hindu restaurant, meaning they don't serve beef).
Chinese or Continental food, though available and expensive by local standards, is of poor quality here. Check with Ree Song Song in the town or Kyank Ching at Parzatan Motel Megla.
Cuisine of at least four different tribes - Marma, Chakma, Bawm and Mro can be sampled. A few of the more common ones:
- Chumat kurahura
- Chicken steamed inside a bamboo shell.
The local tribespeople consider almost everything that walks, flies or swims as food, so with a little luck it is possible to sample dog meat, and even dried snakes or deer meat (both are protected species in Bangladesh). Nappi, a semi-dried fish-paste with powerful flavor, is one of the top delicacies. Most of the hotels in Bandarban do not have any restaurant attached.
Though there are no designated bars or pubs, alcoholic drinks are widely available due to the culture of the tribes-people. A local rice wine called Arraa is a potent drink. It is often flavored with stone-apples, pineapples and elachi. It is best drunk with coconut juice. Ching Rey is a beer made from the first brew of Arraa. Tea is a fairly common drink in the daytime, and available at plentiful hot tea shops. Tea here is well-cooked and served with thin milk and salt instead of sugar.
There is no formal nightlife here. But, if you stay outside the town, it may be possible to sit at a gathering of tribal village fold for a little music and lot of drinking.
With a little luck, it is possible to stay at one of the numerous government rest houses, especially in quiet seasons. The most notable is the District Circuit House, followed by Hill Top Rest House, maintained by the District Administration, and the Forest Department rest House. Department of Roads and Highways have two rest houses of fair standards - one near Chimbuk, the other near the circuit house. But, these can not be booked in advance, unless the traveler is on government business or a government guest or employee.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
|| Under $2
|| Over $5
In Bandarban Town itself there are numerous inexpensive hotels, all of which are at Bandarban Bazaar, the market district of the town. The most prominent are:
- Bilkis Hotel, At the traffic ''Mor'' junction., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62061. checkout: Negotiable. Very cheap, with a fine view of River Sangu. Tk 30-80.
- Jamal Boarding, Between the pouroshabha (municipality) and the Press Club., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62431. checkout: 12PM. Mostly preferred by mainstream Bengali Muslims who come for business or work here. Tk 50-100.
- Prue Abashika, Near the ''pouroshabha'' (municipality) at Bandrban Bazaar., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62257. checkout: 12PM. Maintained by the Royal Family, preferred by the indigenous people. Tk 50-100.
- Hotel Authiti, Marmabazaar., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62535. checkout: 12PM. Maintained by the Press Club. Strategically located at town center, on top of the Press Club, and has a magnificent view of river Sangu. Tk 120-400.
- Hotel Green Hill, In the Press Club building at traffic ''Mor'' junction., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62574. checkout: 12PM. Maintained by the Press Club. Strategically located at town center, on top of the Press Club, and has a magnificent view of river Sangu. Tk 150-350.
- Hotel Hill Bird, Bandarban Bazaar., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62431. checkout: 12PM. The oldest in the category, with a rent-a-car station at hand. Tk 150-350.
- Hotel Royal, At Marmabazaar., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62431. checkout: 12PM. Newly made, and supposedly the best in the category. Flanked by a the only "Chinese" restaurant in town. Tk 150-350.
- Paharikia Guest House, after G.P.O (Chimbuk Road) at Hafez Ghona., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62565. checkout: 12PM. Preferred by the indigenous people and long staying guests. Tk 250-300.
- Purabi Hotel, Between traffic ''Mor'' junction and Ruma Bus Station., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62531. checkout: 12PM. Recently updated and improved. Tk 150-350.
- Hill Side Resort, Milonchari., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62414, +880 (0)1199275691. checkout: 12PM. Maintained by the Guide Tours. The best place to stay in Bandarban on top of Shoilo Propat. Maintained by Guide Tours this resort has a majestic view of Sangu River and features a cottage layout, Dhaka office Darpan Complex, 1st floor, Plot 2, Gulshan 2, Dhaka, +88029886983,+88029862205, +8801711696337. Tk 2000-2600.
- Holiday Inn, Near Meghla., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62896. checkout: 12PM. Maintained by District Administration. Not to be confused with the famous hotel chain. Tk 1500.
- Hotel Four Star, Near DC office, VIP road., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62466, +880 (0) 1553421089. checkout: 12PM. Maintained by Mr. Manik Choudhury. Tk 450-1500.
- Parjatan Motel, Near Meghla., ☎ +880 (0) 361 62741, +880 (0) 361 62742. checkout: 12PM. Maintained by Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation. Tk 750-3750.
Bandarban is now under mobile network. It may be mentioned that all the 5 mobile operator Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel, Citycell has meanwhile already established network coverage in Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban Districts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, bringing all 64 Districts of the country under its network.
361 is the area code for Bandarban. For further details see Bangladesh.
The telecom watchdog, Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC), has permitted Rankstel and QC Telecom, two privately owned phone companies, to provide telular (Fixed Wireless Transceiver based phones) services in Bandarban, which is about the equal to connections provided by Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB), the government owned monopoly on fixed-line telephone service, and are far more available.
There are a couple of cybercafes that offer internet services. But, since they are not connected to the information superhighway via submarine cables, the connections are pretty slow, often dipping below 0.4kb. These usually remain open from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Postal codes for Bandarban are - 4600 (Bandarban Sadar), 4630 (Thanchi), 4641 (Lama), 4660 (Nikhongchhari), 4650 (Alikadam), 4610 (Rowangchhari), and 4620 (Ruma). The surface mail is notoriously slow and undependable. There also is a possibility of mail from foreign nationals getting opened and checked by civil or military authorities.
NOTE: All non-Bangladeshis are required to register with the local police in Bandarban.
As malaria is a major health threat in the region, malaria prophylaxis is highly advisable. Avloquin and Malacide are two popular local brands of the drug, purchasable from major Dhaka, Chittagong or Bandarban drugstores that are known as a "pharmacy" in Bangladesh. Incidentally, Bandaraban District Hospital has arguably the best treatment and research facilities for malarial treatment in Bangladesh.
Drinking water often comes from hillside streams. Therefore, insist upon water from tube wells, or carry your own supply of water bottles or water purification tablets. Halotab is the popular local brand of purification tablets. Bandarban pharmacies may not have any in stock, so it is advisable to purchase some in Dhaka or Chittagong beforehand.
- Bandaban District Hospital Phone: +880 (0) 361 62544
- Matree Sadan and Shishu Kalyan Kendra Phone: +880 (0) 361 62591
- Bandarban Police Station
- Bandarban Cantonment Phone (exchange): +880 (0) 361 62266/62284/62285/62290
There are a few laundries (local name for washing shops) in the town, but no dry cleaner. These would wash your clothes by the river. Photoprocessing is easy, as there are quite a few shops at Marmabazaar. The photoprocessing experience can become an exciting experience if you try a shop that has photo studio attached.
- Rangamati - wrapped in hills and a massive serene lake
- Cox's Bazaar - proud of having the longest beach in the world
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