dhaka_hdr.jpg|thumb|upright=1.3| Highrises in Dhaka .]]Dhaka is a thriving, colourful and congested metropolis of some 18 million people. Given the number of people that live there, and the density they live in, Dhaka is one of the most frenetic places on Earth. The streets and rivers are filled with colourful chaos. It also plays host to the highest number of rickshaws in any city in the world, totalling around 400,000; you certainly won't miss them. Experiencing the city for the first time can often seem overwhelming.
The existence of a settlement in the area that is now Dhaka dates from the 7th century. The area was ruled by the Buddhist kingdom of Kamarupa and the Pala Empire before passing to the control of the Hindu Sena dynasty in the 9th century. The Islamic Mughal Empire soon seized control of the city and turned it into a centre of trade and governance. In the years of their vigorous rule, the successive governors and princely viceroys who ruled the province adorned it with many noble monuments, mosques, tombs, fortifications and 'Katras', often surrounded with beautifully laid out gardens and pavilions. The city passed through another phase under the rule of the British, until it became the seat of the eastern division of Pakistan after Indian partitioning. The Liberation War of 1971 gave Bangladesh its independence and Dhaka was declared the country's capital.
Since then, Dhaka has been developing fast as a modern city and is the country's centre 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. Depending on where you start from, a thirty minute rickshaw ride can take you from impossibly crowded shanty towns near Old Dhaka to the glitzy high-class neighbourhoods of Gulshan and Banani where a meal costs more than most people earn 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, fisherman's boats and floating dhabas all bustling with
The '''weather''' is tropical - hot and very humid during the summer monsoon season (April-September) 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 Road in Central Dhaka. Most rickshaws and taxis will know where this is
. An auto-rickshaw from Old Dhaka to the office will cost about Tk 150.
Most of the people will speak Bengali to communicate. Although some Urdu/
Hindu speaking population resides in some parts of Old Dhaka, in Bihari Camp in Mipur and in Geneva Camp in Mohammadpur. You can find English speaking people but do not expect the CNG drivers or ricksha-walas to speak English. Just smile and repeatedly mention your destination if you don't get what they are saying.
lancher) to Barisal departs from Sadarghat every evening 08:00-21:00. Double cabin without air-con is BDT1,600; with air-con it's BDT1,800. Arrives at 04:00 (''Sep 2014'')
There are frequent services from surrounding countries. Biman operates flights to most of these. Indian carrier '''Jet Air''' has direct flights from [[Kolkata]], [[Dehli]] and [[Mumbai]]. '''Pakistan International Airlines''' has flights from [[Karachi]]. Biman and United Airways offer flights from [[Kathmandu]], and Druk Air has flights from [[Paro]], [[Bhutan]]. '''
Dragonair''' operates flights from [[Hong Kong]]. From late 2013, Biman started direct flights to [[Yangon]], [[Myanmar]] twice a week from Dhaka.
Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is modern and reasonably efficient. However, excessive numbers of mosquitoes seem to inhabit the baggage reclaim area, so be sure to wear long sleeves and cover your legs and feet. Immigration can take a notoriously long time during peak hours (45 minutes plus) as the system is manual and there are only 2 lines for foreign passport holders.
[[File:Kamlan.jpg|thumb|upright=1.3|Kamalapur Railway Station]]
The train has been
criticised due to the long waits at the border crossings on both sides. Yet, it is still recognised as being a much safer, speedier and less stressful experience than going by bus .
=== By cycle rickshaw ===
Cycle rickshaws or simply, rickshaws, are the most popular form of transport, and good for short distances, mainly on side streets. They make up the bulk of the city's horrendous traffic, and charge around Tk 30 to 50 for a 15 minutes ride in Banani, Baridhara or Gulshan - less in other parts of Dhaka. Negotiating a fare beforehand is essential as a foreigner. Rickshaws are not allowed to cross most of the main roads. If you're a woman, it's particularly inadvisable to ride around alone in rickshaws after dark; you're a slow-moving target
asking for trouble from thugs and muggers.
=== By auto-rickshaw ===
Auto-rickshaws, locally known as 'CNGs' (named after compressed natural gas, their fuel source) are abundant and have meters, which drivers can sometimes be persuaded to use. They're the cheapest way to cover longer distances; an 8 km ride from Old Dhaka to Gulshan should cost around Tk 150-250. The meters start at Tk 25 for the first 2 km and Tk 7 for each subsequent km, but you'll likely have to negotiate a fare instead. The city
does become very congested at times, so allow plenty of time for getting around.
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 or 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. Make sure that you take a card with your hotel or hostel written on it so that you can actually get home. Having a card for the hotel with the actual address makes this a whole lot easier.
phone="+88 02 7391122" email="[email protected]" fax="" url="http://www.bangladeshmuseum.gov.bd/"
hours="Apr-Sep: Sat-Wed: 10:30-17:30, Fri: 14:30-19:30; Oct-Mar: Sat-Wed: 09:30-16:30, Fri: 14:30-19:30; Ramadan: Sat-Wed: 09:30-15:30"
100, under-12s: Tk 2, locals and SAARC citizens: Tk 5, disabled persons: free" lat="latitude" long="" tags="">
A British Raj-era building that served as a residence for the Nawab of Dhaka. It lies on the banks of the Buriganga River, and is famous for its pink stonework. There are 31 rooms within, and the huge dome atop can be seen from miles around. It has recently been renovated into a museum with various displays concerning its history, with a beautiful garden accompanying the building. Cameras and bags must be left in the storage room.</see>
[[Image:Pari_Bibi's_Tomb.jpg|thumb|right|250px|Pari Bibi's Tomb, at Lalbagh Fort.]]
* <see name="Lalbagh Fort" alt="Bengali: Lalbagh Kella" address="Lalbagh, Old Dhaka" directions="Best method is to simply ask a rickshaw driver for 'Lalbagh Kella'; the streets surrounding it are a maze." phone="" url="" hours="10am-5pm, closed Saturdays" price="
There are separate fees for locals and tourists; both are fairly cheap." lat="latitude" long="" email="" fax="" tags="">Built in 1678 AD by Prince Mohammad Azam, son of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb. The fort was the scene of many bloody battles, including those during the Mughal era, a revolt against the British during the time of the Raj and protection for the revolutionary forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Monuments of the Lalbagh site include the Tomb of Pari Bibi, Lalbagh Mosque, the Audience Hall and the Hammam of Nawab Shaista Khan, which now houses a museum.</see>
* <see name="Old High Court Building" alt="" address="Kazi Nazrul Islam Ave, Ramna, Dhaka" directions="" phone="+88-02-9562941" email="[email protected]" fax=""
* <eat name="Jharna Grill" address="In Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel" phone="+880 2 811 1005" email="" fax="" hours="" price="" url="">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.</eat>
* <eat name="Cafe Jheel" address="opposite the National press club" phone="" email="" fax="" hours="" price="" url="">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.</eat>
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 cars.
* '''VOOT'''- An upscale restaurant with a haunted theme (VOOT-meaning ghost in Bengali),high quality food, right next to the well known Rifles Square Market.
* '''KFC'''- A famous franchise located at Dhanmondi road 7/A.
* '''Hotel Motijheel''' 28/i Toyenbee circular Road, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000, near Dainik Banglar mor, price Tk. 300-600
*<sleep name="Hotel Shadman International" alt="" address="165, Nawabpur Rd," directions="Near National Stadium" phone="7113591" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">Tk. 270~355 (without TV, Non-AC)</sleep>
* <sleep name="Radisson Water Garden Hotel" alt="" address="Airport Road" directions="15 miles from downtown, immediately outside the diplomatic enclave but close to the International airport" phone="+880 2-875 4555" email="[email protected]" fax="" url="http://radisson.com" hours="" price="$350-900" geo="latitude,longitude" tags="comma,separated,tag_labels"> Huge luxurious hotel sprawling over seven acres of manicured grounds and gardens with water features. The hotel is almost a resort as it has a large outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, spa and even a golf course. Probably the best 5* Hotel in Dhaka but unfortunately no stores and restaurants are in walking distance and to reach Gulshan or Banani without own car is difficult because of the lack of public transportation and rickshaw ban in main streets. Very expensive. Excellent food in the restaurants.</sleep>
* <sleep name="
Ruposhi Bangla Hotel formerly Dhaka Sheraton" alt="" address="1 Minto Road" directions="" phone="+880 2-833 0001 " email="[email protected]" fax="" url=" http://www. ruposhibanglahotel.com/ " hours="" price="" geo="latitude,longitude" tags="comma,separated,tag_labels"> 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 was 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.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Six Seasons Hotel" alt="" address="Road 96, House 19, Gulshan 2" directions="7km from the airport" phone="+880 960 4 666-666" email="[email protected]"" url="http://www.sixseasonshotel.com" hours="24 hours" price="USD160-350" >Overlooking the Gulshan Lake and park on one side and with panoramic views from 15 floors. Salt-water, hanging, transparent, infinity outdoor swimming pool, spa, and other health club facilities. Bunka and Vinno Shaad restaurants as well as a lobby cafe.</sleep>
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 travelling alone. There's a very large number 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 part with some of your seemingly abundant wealth.
As a foreigner, many beggars will surround you in Gulshan and Banani. Especially children who will try to sell stickers and, if you are not interested in their items, will ask for money or food and try to make you buy some more expensive items in one of the supermarkets or small stores. But before giving something to them, consider that by giving money or buying expensive items, which they will probably resell, that in many cases these children are trained or forced to beg and have to give all the money or items to the person who organises them. So be aware of this and the fact that your gesture of goodwill will maybe support these structures and exploitation. Be careful when you see a group of Hijras. Usually they are rare in Bangladesh, but their begging can be very aggressive.
There has been a recent rash of incidents in which some foreigners have been targeted for bag snatchings while riding rickshaws. Often these have occurred at night, after 23:00. 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 23:00. The safest mode for travel for a tourist is to hire a yellow cab. These can be 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 centre of attention and you probably don't want that from a group of raucous chanters.
'''Internet''' Wi-Fi is now widely available in all the mid-to-high range hotels, coffee shops and restaurants all over Dhaka and its suburbs. You won't see too many internet cafes in Dhaka because the use of Wi-Fi &
3G is widespread. Internet cafes hidden in the various shopping complexes - ask around. Tk 20-30 per hour, but be careful, anti-virus programms are not widely used. So think twice before tipping any sensitive data on a public computer or in a cyber cafe. You can also purchase a local SIM card and get 3G Internet on your device. For example from Banglalink, Grameenphone , Robi, Airtel. Wimax is also available from providers like banglalion,qubee with good coverage. You can get both prepaid and postpaid connection.
* [[Image:ca-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="Canada" alt="" address="House # 16A, Road # 48 Gulshan-2" directions="" phone="+880 2-988 7091~7" url="http://canadainternational.gc.ca/bangladesh/" hours="" price="" lat="" long=""></listing>
* [[Image:ch-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="China" address="Plot 2 $ 4, Rd 3, Block-1, Baridara" phone="+880 2-882 4862" fax="+880 2-882 3004" url="http://bd.china-embassy.org" email="[email protected]"></listing>
* [[Image:in-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="India" phone="+880 2-988 93 39, 988 8789-91 (Dhaka)"></listing>
* [[Image:it-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="Italy" phone="+880 2-882 2781"></listing>
* [[Image:ja-flag.png|20px]] <listing name="Japan" phone="+880 2-881 00 87"></listing>