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Revision as of 16:28, 28 November 2007
Parliament Building in Dhaka
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh.
Dhaka is a thriving, colorful, chokingly polluted and congested metropolis of some 12 million people, and growing steadily. Many people loathe Dhaka at first sight - it has to be one of the most frenetic places on Earth. The streets are rivers of chaos filled mostly with very colorful rickshaws - around 400,000 to be exact, the highest number of any city in the world.
According to recorded history it was founded in 1608 A.D. as the seat of the imperial Mughal viceroy of Bengal. Dhaka has been developing fast as a modern city and is the country's center of industrial, commercial, cultural, educational and political activity. The gap between rich and poor is widening throughout the country but it's at its most glaringly obvious here. A 10 minute rickshaw ride can take you from impossibly crowded shantytowns near Old Dhaka to the glitzy high-class neighborhoods of Gulshan and Banani where a meal costs more than most people make in a week.
Motijheel is the main commercial area of the city. Dhaka's main waterfront, Sadarghat, is on the banks of the river Buriganga in Old Dhaka and is crowded with various ferries, yachts, paddle steamers, fishermen's boats and floating dhabas all bustling with activity.
The weather is tropical - hot and very humid during the monsoon season (April-August) and drier and cooler in the winter (October-March). Visitors from colder countries might want to visit in the winter when temperatures are around 20C and humidity is low (around 60-70%).
Visa extensions are available at the Immigration and Passport Office on Agargaon Rd in Central Dhaka. Most drivers know it, an auto-rickshaw from Old Dhaka will run about Tk 50. Su-Th 10AM-1PM receiving applications, 3-5PM delivery.
Zia International Airport (ICAO: DAC) is well served by international flights from most continents.
British Airways has direct flights from London, Thai Airways has direct flights from Bangkok (also flies to Chittagong direct. There are also gateways from Nepal on GMG Airlines, Hong Kong on Dragon Air, Malaysia, Singapore, Delhi, Kunming and Kolkata. You can also travel to Dhaka from Middle East by Gulf Air, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Iran Air, Yemenia, and to Chittagong by Oman Air and Air Arabia.
Being the capital and geographical center of the country, Dhaka is the natural hub for the countries bus companies. There are several bus stations around Dhaka, and which one you need to be at depends where you want to go, so ask around before heading out to one of them. Most are as crowded as you would expect them to be(because of population).
Sayedabad bus station is useful for buses to the eastern half of the country including Sylhet Division and Chittagong Division.
Gabtali bus station serves most of the western half of the country including Jessore, Rajshahi Division and Khulna Division.
Luxury buses like Green Line, Shyamoli, Silk Line and Shohagh serve the major cities and tourist attractions. They all have a few offices around town, the most central being those near the Eastern Hotel on Inner Circular Rd in Central Dhaka, just north of the Motijheel area. Green Line serves Chittagong (Tk 400, 5-6 hours), Cox's Bazar (Tk 630, 8-9 hours), Rajshahi (Tk 350, 4 hours), Sylhet (Tk 400, 5 hours), Khulna (Tk 450, 7 hours) and Jessore (Tk 400, 5-6 hours) in its comfortable Volvo buses. It also has a couple of super luxury Scania buses to Chittagong (Tk 550) and Cox's Bazar (Tk 850) if you feel comfortable floating through a developing country in high style and have enough taka to spend.(which will also help develop Bangladesh more). Seats are huge and fully recline. The quality of these buses are similar to the Business class of an airlines!! (there are also Hino A/C luxury buses as well as Volvo n Scania).
From India there are a number of land entry points for Luxury Buses. The most common way is the regular comfortable a/c buses from Kolkata to Dhaka via the Haridaspur / Benapole border post. Private bus companies Shohagh, Green Line, Shyamoli and others operate daily bus services. Govt. buses run under the label of the state owned West Bengal Surface Transport Service Corporation (WBSTSC) and the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC). WBSTSC and BRTC both operate buses from Kolkata every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 5:30AM and 8:30AM, and 12:30PM while from Dhaka they leave on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00AM and 7:30AM. The normal journey time is around 12 hours with a one-way fare of Rs550 or BDT600-800, roughly $8-12. If you're only headed to Haridaspur the fare is Rs86 (2.5 hours).
Most ferries arrive at and leave from Sadarghat in Old Dhaka. This area and the streets surrounding it are unbelievably hectic so allow plenty of time and watch your bags and pockets carefully. If arriving here, fight you way to the left on the frontage road and then make your first right - this turns into Nawabpur Road and leads north to the hotels. Even if you aren't staying in this area, it's easier to walk several hundred meters north to catch an onward rickshaw, the ones near the ghat are at a standstill.
The Rocket Steamers (P.S. 'Tern', 'Masud' and 'Ostrich') run to Barisal and Khulna several times per week, departing from Sadarghat around 6pm. To Barisal is Tk 480/300 in first/second class, while all the way to Khulna will run Tk 1010/610 and take 26-30 hours. Tickets should be booked at the BIWTC office in Motijheel just east of Dilkusha Circle I. It's open until 5PM Su-W and until 2PM on Thursdays, closed on Fridays. A quick heads-up in that the link to the BIWTC tariff mentioned above is in 'Takas' and one should double check the fares.
Chandpur is the second major river station 3 to 4 hours journey from Dhaka and 5 to 6 hours Journey from Barisal.
Multiple other boats are available for short and long distances - head to Sadarghat or Badam Tole ghat (about 1 km further west) and ask around. Tickets aren't pre-sold, and bargaining is likely necessary.
Given the plethora of all forms of transport, if you're having trouble getting a decent fare with a driver walk a few feet to the next one. Not all are out to gouge you, so better to find the honest ones and give them your business. Occasionally a driver will demand more money on arrival - the best way to deal with this is to hand over the agreed fare/metered fare and walk away. Make certain from the start that the driver knows where you're headed (unless you can direct him yourself) - they often have limited local knowledge, but will always SAY that they know where somewhere is and take you round the whole city searching whilst the meter ticks.
- Cycle-rickshaws are the most popular form of transport, and good for short distances -- mainly on side streets. They make up the bulk of the cities horrendous traffic, and charge around Tk 5 per kilometer. Negotiating a fare beforehand is essential as a foreigner. Cycle-rickshaws in wealthy areas such as Banani and Gulshan often must pay local mafia men for the privilege of servicing the high-price areas. Additionally, foreigners should also be warned that cycle-rickshaws will sometimes begin the ride with a pitch to sell drugs or prostitutes. One or two simple, but firm, declines will generally solve the situation. If you're a woman -- it's particularly inadvisable to ride around alone in cycle-rickshaws after dark -- you're a slow-moving target asking for trouble from thugs and muggers.
- Auto-rickshaws (also known as 'CNG') are also abundant and have meters, which drivers can sometimes be persuaded to use. They're the cheapest way to cover longer distances - an 8km ride from Old Dhaka to Gulshan should cost around Tk 70. The meters start at Tk 13.50, but for shorter distances you'll likely have to negotiate a fare instead.
- Taxis also ply the roads, some yellow and some black, all with meters. Black taxis start the meter at Tk 15 while yellow taxis are a little nicer and start at Tk 20. Black taxis are typically in notoriously poor condition and lack air conditioning. Yellow taxis are required to have air conditioning, but not all do. They are also considered far safer by the local Dhaka elite (when compared to black taxis and auto-rickshaws).
- Buses run routes on the main roads, but are horribly crowded and noisy, signed only in Bengali and aren't likely to be of much use to travelers. Save yourself a headache and take a rickshaw.
There is the stunning Parliament Building, designed by Louis Kahn, numerous bookshops, and art galleries around the city, Ramna Park, Lal Bagh Fort and museum, Old Dhaka, the Shahid Minar memorial, the Shattarghat port, Ahsan Manjil, the National Museum, Bangabandhu Memorial, the Mukti Juddha Museum, National Poets' Graveyard, Suhrawardy Uddyaa, National Leader Mausoleum, Banga-Bhaban, Shadhinota Stambha, the Arts & Crafts Institute, Curzon Hall, Old High Court and 1857 Memorial, the National Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, Baldha Garden, Sitara Mosque, Baitul Mukarram Mosque, Hindu and Christian churches and temples, New Market, Boshundhara City Mall, countless other bustling bazaars and shops, and many other places to visit.
Ahsan Manjil, the pink palace, has a 2 taka entrance fee and a small exhibition about the history of the palace and a garden. Star Mosque (Sitara Mosque) is a small mosque dating back three hundred years, inlaid with mosaic and tiles. 'Shishu Mela' is the children playground in Shyamoli.
- Mosques around Dhaka: Dhaka has several hundred mosques. Prominent are Baitull Mukarram-National Mosque, the seven Domed Mosque (17th century), Star Mosque (18th century) , Chawkbazar Mosque and Huseni Dalan Mosque.
- Hindu Temples: Dhakeshwari Temple (11th Century), Ramkrishna Mission.
- Churches: Armenian Church (1781 A.D.) St. Mary's Cathedral at Ramna, Church of Bangladesh or former Holy Rosary Church (1677A.D.) at Tejgaon.
- Buddhist Temples:
- Dhammarajika Bouddha Maha Vihar , Atisha Dipankar Sarak, Kamalapur. Tel:+88 2 841-162. email: Mahathero@Dhammarajika.com.
- International Buddhist Monastery, Merul Badda, Gulshan. Tel:+88 2 881-2288. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The National Memorial: It is located at Savar, 35, km. from Dhaka city. The memorial designed by architect Moinul Hossain is dedicated to the sacred memory of the millions of unknown martyrs of the war of liberation.
- Lalbagh Fort: It was built in 1678 A.D. by Prince Mohammad Azam, son of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb. The fort was the scene of bloody battle during the first war of independence (1857) when 260 sepoys stationed here backed by the people revolted against British forces. Outstanding among the monuments of the Lalbagh are the tomb of Pari Bibi , Lalbagh Mosque, Audience Hall and Hammam of Nawab Shaista Khan now housing a museum.
The capital city Dhaka predominantly was a city of the Mughals. In hundred years of their vigorous rule successive Governors and princely Viceroys who ruled the province, adorned it with many noble monuments in the shape of magnificent places, mosques, tombs, fortifications and 'Katras' often surrounded with beautifully laid out gardens and pavilions. Among these, few have survived the ravages of time, aggressive tropical climate of the land and vandal hands of man.
But the finest specimen of this period is the Aurangabad Fort, commonly known as Lalbagh Fort, which, indeed represents the unfulfilled dream of a Mughal Prince. It occupies the south western part of the old city, overlooking the Buriganga on whose northern bank it stands as a silent sentinel of the old city. Rectangular in plan, it encloses an area of 1082' by 800' and in addition to its graceful lofty gateways on south-east and north-east corners and a subsidiary small unpretentious gateway on north, it also contains within its fortified perimeter a number of splendid monuments, surrounded by an attractive garden. These are -- a small 3-domed mosque, the mausoleum of Bibi Pari (the reputed daughter of Nawab Shaista Khan) and the Hammam (bath-house) and Audience Hall of the Governor. The main purpose of this fort was to provide a defensive enclosure of the palacial edifices of the interior and as such, was a type of palace-fortress rather than a seige fort.
- 1857 Memorial: ( Bahadur Shah Park) Built to commemorate the martyrs of the first liberation war (1857-59) against British rule. It was here that the revolting sepoys and their civil compatriots were publicly hanged.
- Bangabandhu Memorial Museum: The residence of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Dhanmondi has been turned into a museum. It contains a rare collection of personal effects and photographs of his life and times.
- Liberation War Museum: Situated at Segun Bagicha area of the city the museum contains rare archival photographs of the Liberation war and items used by the freedom fighters during the period.
- Ahsan Manzil Museum: On the bank of the river Buriganga in Dhaka the pink majestic Ahsan Manzil has been renovated and turned into a museum recently. It is an example of the nation's rich cultural heritage. It was the home of the Nawab of Dhaka and a silent spectator to many events. The renovated Ahsan Manzil is a monument of immense historical beauty. It has 31 rooms with a huge dome atop which can be seen from miles around. It now has 23 galleries displaying portraits, furniture and household articles and utensils used by the Nawab.
- Curzon Hall: Beautiful architectural building named after Lord Curzon. It now houses the Science Faculty of Dhaka University.
- Old High Court Building: Originally built as the residence of the British Governor, it illustrates a happy blend of European and Mughal architecture.
- Dhaka Zoo: Popularly known as Mirpur Zoo. Colorful and attractive collections of different local and foreign species of animals and birds including the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger are available here.
- National Museum: Located at the central point of the city, the museum contains a large number of interesting collections including sculptures and paintings of the Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim periods.
- Botanical Garden: Built on an area of 205 acres of land at Mirpur and adjacent to Dhaka Zoo. One can have a look at the zoo and the botanical garden in one trip.
- National Park: Situated at Rejendrapur, 40 km. north of Dhaka city , this is a vast (1,600 acres) national recreational forest with facilities for picnic and rowing etc.
- Central Shahid Minar: Symbol of Bengali nationalism. This monument was built to commemorate the martyrs of the historic Language movement of 1952. Hundreds and thousands of people with floral wreaths and bouquet gather (most march barefoot) on 21 February every year ( designated by the UN as World Mother Language Day) to pay respect to the departed in a solemn atmosphere. Celebrations begin at zero hour of midnight.
- National Poet's Graveyard: Revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam died on the 29 August 1976 and was buried here. The graveyard is adjacent to the Dhaka University Mosque.
- Suhrawardy Uddyan (Garden): A Popular Park. The oath of independence of Bangladesh was taken here and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheik Mujibur Rahman gave the clarion call for independence on this occasion on the 7th March 1971. The place is famous for its lush verdure and gentle breezes. Eternal Flame to enliven the memory of the martyrs of our Liberation war has been arranged to be lit-up here recently.
- Mausoleum of National Leaders: Located at the southwestern corner of Suhrawardy Uddyan, it is the eternal resting place of great national leaders, Sher-e-Bangla A.K. Fazlul Haque, Hossain Shahid Suhrawardy and Khaja Nazimuddin.
- Banga Bhaban: The official residence of the President, located in the city. One can have an outside view of this grand palace.
- Baldha Garden: Unique creation of the late Narendra Narayan Roy, the landlord of Baldha. Year of establishment was 1904. Located in Wari area of Dhaka city, the garden with its rich collection of indigenous and exotic plants is one of the most exciting attraction for botanists, naturalists and tourists.
- Ramna Green: A vast stretch of green garden surrounded by a serpentine lake near the Sheraton Hotel.
- Parliament House: Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban (Parliament House) located at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar has distinctive architectural features. Designed by the famous architect Louis I. Kahn, it may be called an architectural wonder of this region.
- Science Museum: The museum is a modern learning center related to the latest scientific discoveries. It is situated at Agargaon.
- Institute of Arts and Crafts: Situated in the picturesque surroundings of Shahbagh the Institute of Arts and Crafts has a representative collection of folk-art and paintings by artists of Bangladesh.
- Sonargaon: About 29 km. from Dhaka. Sonargaon is one of the oldest capitals of Bangal. A Folk Arts and Crafts Museum has been established here.
Other attractions in and around Dhaka include the Institute of Arts and Crafts with its representative collection of folk art and paintings, handicraft shops. Aparajeya Bangla monument, picnic spots at Chandra and Salna, industrial estates of Tongi, Narayanganj, Demara, Tejgaon, cruising by country boat in the nearby river or a visit to a village to see jute cultivation, weaving and pottery making. Last but not the least travel by a horse driven cart or rickshaw along busy Dhaka streets is a rewarding experience.
About 27 km. from Dhaka, Sonargaon is one of the oldest capitals of Bengal. It was the seat of Deva Dynasty until the 13th century. From then onward till the advent of the Mughals, Sonargaon was subsidiary capital of the Sultanate of Bengal. Among the ancient monuments still intact are the Tomb of Sultan Ghiasuddin (1399-1409 A. D), the shrines of Panjpirs and Shah Abdul Alia and a beautiful mosque in Goaldi villaae.
- Picnic Spots: There are good picnic spots in the area around Savar and Mirzapur. Other beauty spots connected by road with Dhaka include Joydevpur, Sripur, Madhupur, Rajendrapur National Park, Chandra and Salna, all of which have rest-houses that can be used by tourists on request to the Forest Department.
Bangaldesh Parjatan Corporation owns two picnic spots with Bunglows at Chandra and Salna which can also be hired by tourists.
- Mosque of Baba Adam: Of a slightly later date the elegant 6-domed mosque (43'x36') of Baba Adam in Rampal near Dhaka was erected by one Malik Kafur during the reign of the last llyas Shahi Sultan, Jalauddin Fateh Shah in 1483 A.D. It displays the same characterstic features of the period such as the faceted octagonal turrets at 4 corners, the curved cornice, the facade and 3 mihrabs relieved richly with beautiful terracotta floral and hanging patterns.
- Star Mosque: A very beautiful mosque of the city is situated at Mahuttuly on Abul Khairat Rd; just west of Armanitola Govt. High School. Architecturally faultless (Mughal style) is a five-dome mosque with hundreds of big and small twinkling stars as surface decorations. The stars have been created by setting pieces of chinaware on white cement. Seen from the front and from far it looks as if shining above the surface of the earth. The inside of it is even more beautiful that the outside, lovely mosaic floor and excellent tiles with many floral patterns set on the walls, are all in complete harmony. The sitara Masjid was built originally with three domes in early 18th century by Mirza Ghulam Pir, a highly respectable Zamindar of Dhaka. Frequently used in calendars. Entrance: through a lane named after the mosque. Tourists note: women and men both need to have modest attire (feet and hair need to be covered). Also shoes aren't allowed inside. Inquire as to entrance rules which may have changed recently.
There's a lot happening around the city -- please check this events-site,
Explore the site well, many events are detailed with addresses and contact phone nos.
To get a feel for what things should cost in the local markets check prices in the western-style fixed price shops and then deduct 10%.
- Garment seconds, Banga Bazar and Pallwell Market (BB: Gulistan area (just West of Motijheel, opposite Dhaka College); PM: Purana Paltan area (just beside Jonaki Cinema Hall). Many items only have minor defects, but do not meet export requirements.
- Aarong, . A well known chain with several outlets around Dhaka. It is owned by BRAC (a large NGO) and sells handicrafts and clothing at moderately high prices.
- Aranya, 60 Kemal Ataturk, Banani. Another good store with beautiful crafts. .
Two searchable databases for restaurant locations/reviews and some menu listings in Bangladesh (mostly trendy Dhaka eateries -- 'read moderately pricey') are:
These sites are quite current with their listings (as of Nov.6, 2007).
Dhaka has an enormous variety of food catering to all budgets. Old Dhaka is overflowing with cheap Bangladeshi food where a meal can be had from Tk 50 ($0.70), while in the upscale neighborhoods like Gulshan and Banani you can find just about any type of cuisine you can imagine - Chinese, Indian, Thai, Greek, Mexican, and franchises such as Pizza Hut are abundant - at prices that the majority can't afford. Reservations are usually not required in most restaurants. A lot of the Buffet-style restaurants in this neighborhood have Taka 250 to 400 prix-fixe menu pricing.
Local sweets (misti/mishti) like rasgullah and gulab jamun are excellent. To the uninitiated these are bite-sized soft cheeseballs dipped (drenched) in syrup, coming in white and red varieties. Shops throughout the town (and especially near Gulshan) sell imported condiments from the U.S., Dubai and Malaysia at a premium. Imported chocolate is especially expensive - and usually not in the best condition as it gets melted and resolidified daily in the tropical heat. Fresh is better.
Be careful when buying food from street vendors as health and hygiene standards are not always topnotch. Unlike Bangkok -- street food in Dhaka is only for locals. Foreigners should stick to larger, organized (and unfortunately a little expensive) food outlets.
Restaurants are crammed throughout the narrow alleys and along the main streets - duck into one of them and you'll likely not be too disappointed. A full meal will usually run less than a dollar, though fish will push it closer to two.
- Hotel Al-Razzaque, 29/1 North South Rd (Nazira Bazaar), ☎ +880 2 956 1990. On the ground floor of the hotel is a large and popular restaurant, busy anytime of the day with Bangladeshi families and businessmen. Food is pretty darn good, if unpredictable in its timing. Sometimes you'll have a choice of chicken and mutton curries, fish and vegetables, other times it's chicken biryani or the highway. Fish will double the price of your meal at least. It's sandwiched between a clean and well-stocked juice bar and a clean and well-stocked sweet shop. Haji Birane which is most popular Rich food in The Town.Each plate cost 80 Taka. Tk50-150.
- Hotel Star International Address-Dadaribazar, old Dhaka
- Bismillah Kabab Address-Nazira Bazar
- Jharna Grill, In Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, ☎ +880 2 811 1005. The top restaurant in the hotel serves very good seafood. Expect to pay Tk 3,000 for a 3 course meal with drinks. The hotel has other good restaurants too.
- Cafe Jheel, opposite the National press club. Serves good local dishes for the budget traveler. Expect to pay Tk 150-200 for a 3 course meal. Although you can possibly get lunch/dinner for as low as Tk 60.
These areas are packed with crowded trendy and upscale restaurants, a magnet for the Dhaka elite who like good food or just want to be seen in their shiny new sedans.
- Bamboo Shoot, Gulshan. A Chinese/Thai restaurant that prides itself in offering 'authentic' cuisine, and this is backed up by the number of Chinese expats seen eating there on any given night.
- Dhanshiri, Gulshan 2. Serves excellent Bangladeshi food.
- El Toro, House 1A, Road 138, Gulshan I, ☎ +880 1 861 6343. 11:30AM-10:30PM. A fantastic Mexican restaurant serving burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas and the like. Muy Delicioso! Mains around Tk 100-150.
- A&W Rootbeer, just south of Circle I, Gulshan. Yes, the American chain, and in full swing. A burger, fries and rootbeer float will set you back nearly Tk 300, which seems to be no problem for the well-off young Bangladeshi teens that fill the tables. The pumpin' jukebox filled with Backstreet Boys adds/detracts from the experience.
- Andersen's of Denmark, House 34, Road 136, Gulshan Circle I, ☎ +880 1 881 8553. 11:30AM-midnite, Fridays 2PM-midnite. Excellent ice cream such as mint chocolate chip, oreos & cream and banana fudge, sundaes and milkshakes, cappuccinos, espressos and hot chocolate. Resist the urge to spend the entire day here. Tk 80-260.
- CoFi 11, Building 11, Road 46, Gulshan Circle 2, ☎ +880 2 8824351. 11:00AM-midnite Everyday. Possibly the best coffee available in Dhaka. These guys have coffee beans from Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Kenya, India, Turkey and even Starbucks beans and offer exotic drinks like lemogini, Shikanjee & Mandolito. They also have espresso dipped brownies and good sandwiches. The best thing about this place is their amazing decor where they play satellite jazz radio channel and offer free Wi-Fi Internet. That's right - Free!!! This place used to be called Don Giovanni Sizzlers before. Its on the same lane as COOPERS confectionary right after crossing the Westin Hotel. A must drop in place for Coffee lovers, tourists and business people.
- Hotel Star-Opposite of Abahani Club. A famous restaurant for beef and mutton Kabab.
- Zindian-Dhanmondi 27 and Shankar crossing. One of the more luxurious restaurant in Dhaka which has been established lately.
- Jeni Kabab Very ancient and famous restaurant for Kabab.
- Red Onion-opposite of Medinova Medical Center
- Mama Halim-Kolabagan. One can say the best Halim store in Dhaka, though it has lots of competitors.
- Coopers- Kalabagan. Very famous for cakes and fast food. It has very hygienic food without any doubt.
- Western Grill-Science Lab. Pricey and hygienic fast foods are available here.
- Zing ling-Jigatola. It is medium quality ancient Chinese restaurant which serves both Chinese and Thai food.
There is a party network between the different expat clubs (Dutch Club, Canadian Club, Scandinavian Club, International Club, American Club, etc.) and some Bangladeshi clubs (Heritage, Privilege, etc.). These clubs usually require membership to enter, or befriend a member and have them sign you in. From there, you can purchase a book of tickets or a cash card and then use it to order your drinks.
Although Alcohol is most easily available at the international clubs and top hotels, there are a few local places to find a drink for the enterprising traveller.
You can try La Diplomat at Road 20, House #7, near Gulshan 1. Don't expect to be rubbing shoulders with any French ambassadors, however. The Dip, like most other Bengali bars, is a smoke-filled darkened room where many of its patrons would rather not be recognized too easily. Definitely an experience, nonetheless. Beers cost upwards of 150 Tk, and "tots," which are single ounce servings of gin, vodka or whiskey, are available from 70-150Tk. Female patrons may feel slightly uncomfortable.
There is a duty paid shop in Mohakhali which is only permitted to sell alcohol to passport-bearing foreigners or their drivers who bring their passports in when they purchase. The address is 12 Abbas Garden, New Airport Road, phone 988 1936-9. Their stated opening hours are from 9:30pm - 4:30pm, and closed on Fridays. To get there you need to coming towards the flyover as if you were going to Banani, but instead of going on to the flyover you take the second left after it begins. You will see a small sign labelled "Abbas Garden." Turn left and tell your transport to wait while you purchase.
Old Dhaka is the best bet for the budget conscious, and if you've arrived or are leaving by the Rocket Steamer, Sadarghat is about a 10-15 minute walk south of most of the hotels down Nawabpur Rd.
- Hotel Al-Razzaque, 29/1 North South Rd (Nazira Bazaar), ☎ +880 2 956 1990. A moderately priced hotel popular with Bangladeshi men, it's got decent clean rooms with attached bathrooms with squat toilets, and a popular restaurant. From Tk 160.
- Hotel Grameen, 22 Nawabpur Rd, ☎ +880 2 956 2422. A big hotel on busy Nawabpur Rd, just south of Bangsal Rd. Tk 60-150.
- Hotel Sugandha, 24 Nawabpur Rd, ☎ +880 2 955 6720. Much the same as Grameen. Tk 100-350.
- Hotel White House - Near Siddheswari Circle.
If you're staying long term consider one of the many guesthouses in the Gulshan and Banani areas.
- Hotel de Crystal Garden, House # 28, Road # 63, Gulshan-2 Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh, ☎ +880 2 8823147 (email@example.com, fax: 880-2-8827076), . your home away from home. $50-80. (latitude,longitude)
- Eastern House, . $50-90.
- Ambrosia Guest House, in Dhanmondi Residential Area. $40 per night, with breakfast and free broadband Internet connection from the rooms. +880 966850/9665760
- Lake Shore Hotel, Gulshan 2 (in the diplomatic area of town), ☎ +880 2 8859991 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Luxury 80-room hotel, rooftop pool, fitness, wireless and LAN Internet. Corporate discounts of 30% available. Probably the best medium sized 5* in the city. $100-220. (latitude,longitude)
- Radisson Water Garden Hotel, Airport Road (15 miles from downtown, outside the diplomatic enclave), ☎ +880 2 8754505 (email@example.com), . Arguably the best large hotel in the city. $160-220. (latitude,longitude)
- Dhaka Sheraton, 1 Minto Road, ☎ +880 2 865 3636 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . This hotel has been running for over a decade now, and was, for the longest time, considered one of the top hotels in the city. It is part of the Sheraton group but not quite comparable with 5* Sheraton's you would find in other countries. Internet access in the room is expensive. Room service choice is fairly limited. (latitude,longitude)
- Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, 107 Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, ☎ +880-8111005 (email@example.com, fax: +880 2 811 3324), . This hotel has been running for over a decade now, and was, for a long time, considered one of the top hotels in the city. Internet access in room is available and works well, with wireless in public areas. Currently being refurbished, so pool is not available (May 2007). A room on the Pacific floors (7/8) will cost $150 including breakfast. There are good restaurants and service is excellent. (latitude,longitude)
- Hotel Orchard Plaza, 71 Nayapaltan Rd, Motijheel, ☎ +880 2 933 3904, . Built in 2003 it's one of the newer top end hotels in town. Rooms are equipped with complimentary Internet, and it's comfortable and clean with super friendly staff. The restaurant on the 11th floor is also good and has broad city views. $70-150, but immediate 30% discounts are offered.
Dhaka isn't terribly unsafe, but as in any huge city you should keep aware of your surroundings and try not to walk around at night, especially females traveling alone. There's a very large amount of people living on next to nothing in the city, and while the vast majority are friendly there's undoubtedly a few that would love to help you depart with some of your seemingly abundant wealth.
There has been a recent rash of incidents (as of July 2007) in which some foreigners have been targeted for bag snatchings while riding rickshaws. Often these have occurred at night, after 11pm. If you must be out after this time please do your best to leave your valuables at your friends' places or hotel and you can pick them up in the morning. The simplest way to reduce your potential loss is to not leave with valuables in the first place if you anticipate the need to travel after 11pm. The safest mode for travel for a tourist is to hire a yellow cab. These can rented for a trip as well as by the day. Be sure to write down the license plate number.
The greatest danger probably comes from speeding buses and rickshaws - keep well alert when walking along main roads.
Being the capital, it's the area most affected during hartals, and you should do your best to keep a low profile during times of political unrest. Avoid any sort of large gatherings, even positive ones, as there's a good chance you'll become the center of attention and you probably don't want that from a group of raucous chanters.
Pollution is at an all time high in the city, and you've likely never experienced worse. It's not uncommon to see people with face masks on, and at the least you should carry a handkerchief with you to cover your mouth and nose during rickshaw rides.
Internet is most widely available in Gulshan and Banani at numerous Internet cafes hidden in the various shopping complexes - ask around. Tk 20-30 per hour. You may also stumble on to a computer or two in Old Dhaka or Central Dhaka.
A new place in Gulshan - 2 Circle, Building #11, Road #46, above the Philips showroom, in the same lane as Coopers - provides free Wi-Fi and Internet kiosks for their customers. Now that's convenient. And these guys really have great coffee.
- Gopalgonj - Birthplace of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
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