While India and Nepal has been on people’s travel radar for decades, Bangladesh, their neighbor and brother, is often ignored. While it is much smaller, Bangladesh makes for an exciting adventure and offers a lot to do that can’t really be found elsewhere. Be it the paddlesteamer boat, the ancient temples and mosques of the country or its fabulous jungle trekking, Bangladesh is definitely worth visiting in our opinion. What holds back some people however, is the idea that it is not safe to travel to Bangladesh, but, is it really so?
We believe that, at the moment, Bangladesh is a formidable destination and that it is actually very safe. The people of Bangladesh are not seeing many tourists and, as it is the case in most countries that do not get many foreigners, they tend to be extremely warm and welcoming. Don’t be surprised it you are often invited for chai or for dinner. The people here have the reputation to be much less pushy than their Indian neighbours. There are a few situations in which you should be careful.
Protests do happen once in a while in Bangladesh, mostly in Dhaka. Those protests, while usually peaceful in the beginning, can sometimes turn into violent riots. Those protests are always targeted at internal problems and not at foreigners so if you steer clear from any protest, you shouldn’t have a problem. If you see a protest, it would be ill-advise to mingle within it or get closer to get photos. Walk away from it and everything should be fine!
When it comes to political violence, it is often targeted assassinations or clashes between rival factions and is not targeted at foreigners again so if you avoid those events, everything will be fine.
There are also events called “Hartal” which are a kind of mandatory strike, which may also turn violent as some people refuse to strike. Once more, it is easy to spot those events and steer away from them.
In the region of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (outside of Chittagong city, as the city itself is safe) there is ongoing unrest between tribes as the property of the land is contested. This is a region that shouldn’t be visited without a local guide as they will know where to go and not to go. However, the areas where the fighting happens are generally far from where any tourist would go.
Crimes such as pickpocketing and scams might happen but are actually much less frequent than in surrounding South-East Asian countries. Travellers exercising normal caution and minding their belongings should not encounter trouble.
Health and Accidents Issues
Air-Pollution levels can be quite high in Chittagong and Dhaka. People with sensitive respiratory system might feel uncomfortable and bringing a mask in that case might be a good idea. Upset stomachs can also happen due to food hygiene and the spiciness of the local cuisine. Bringing digestive tablets and anti-diarrheal pills is well advised.
When crossing a road, exert caution as fast and reckless driving is still a big thing in Bangladesh
All in all, some events, most of which have happened a long time ago, have contributed to giving an unfair reputation to Bangladesh, especially when things are put in perspective, comparing with neighbor countries. Myanmar has more ethnic fightings and scams are way more prone to happen in Thailand and India than here. Bangladesh is a country that is emerging as an action-packed travel destination where formidable and safe encounters and memories can be made.