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Holidays in Bangladesh

Understanding Bangladesh

British India was partitioned by joint leaders of the Congress, All India-Muslim League and Britain in the summer of 1947, creating the commonwealth realms of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and a Republic of India Bangladesh came into existence in 1972 when Bengali-speaking East Pakistan seceded from its union with Punjabi dominated West Pakistan after a 9 month bloody war Although Bangladesh emerged as an independent country only in 1972, its history stretches back thousands of years and it has long been known as a crossroads of history and culture Here you will find the world's longest sea beach, countless mosques, the largest mangrove forest in the world, interesting tribal villages and a wealth of elusive wild life Although relatively impoverished compared to its burgeoning South Asian neighbour India, Bangladeshis are very friendly and hospitable people, putting personal hospitality before personal finances

Ready-made garments, textiles, pharmaceuticals, agricultural goods, ship building and fishing are some of the largest industries The gap between rich and poor is increasingly obvious and the middle-class is fast-shrinking, as in the rest of Asia, especially in cities such as Dhaka and Chittagong as you move around between the working class old city and affluent neighborhoods like Gulshan and Baridhara

Climate

Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon climate There are four seasons in a year; Winter Dec-Feb, Summer Mar-May, Monsoon June-Sep and Autumn Oct-Nov The average temperature across the country usually ranges between 9 C - 29 C in winter months and between 21 C - 34 C during summer months Annual rainfall varies from 160 cm to 200 cm in the west, 200 cm to 400 cm in the south-east and 250 cm to 400 cm in the north-east Cyclones above category three/four are uncommon especially in the deep winter January through March-- but while rare, can still bring widespread disruption as expected to infrastructure and power outages, especially in the coastal areas The weather pattern is akin to the Gulf Coast in the United States Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana

The current weather can be seen by hitting the 'play' button on the following interactive map, Current Bangladesh Satellite Weather Radar 2

Landscape

The country is primarily a low-lying plain of about 144,000 km2, situated on deltas of large rivers flowing from the Himalayas: the Ganges unites with the Jamuna main channel of the Brahmaputra and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal It’s fertile and mostly flat farmland and, with the exception of Chittagong Hill Tracts, rarely exceeds 10 meters above sea level, making it dangerously susceptible to a rise in sea level

Highest point: Bijoy 1,231 meters

Holidays

Ramadan dates

  • 2010 1431: Aug 11 - Sep 9
  • 2011 1432: Aug 1 - Aug 29
  • 2012 1433: Jul 20 - Aug 18

The festival of Eid ul-Fitr is held after the end of Ramadan and may last several days Exact dates depend on astronomical observations and may vary from country to country

  • Pohela Boishakh - The most widely celebrated secular national festival of the country Here people from all walks of life participate in various cultural shows called Boishakhi Mela,wearing national dress kurta or Shari, eating sweets and wishing every one happy new year
  • Ekushey - National Mother Language Day - February 21 This day marks the anniversary of the martyrs that died in 1952 while protesting the imposition of Urdu, in the name of Islam, as the mother-tongue The uprisings to support Bangla as the mother language fueled the movement towards secular nationalism that culminated in independence in 1971 The holiday is marked by one of the most colourful events in Asia tributes to the martyrs by political leaders, intellectuals, poets, writers, artisans and singing beginning at one minute after midnight on the 21st Government offices are closed, and expect traffic disruption from February 20
  • Independence day - March 26th- On this day 'Father of the Nation' Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed country's independence
  • Victory day - December 16th- On this day Pakistani occupied forces surrendered to joint Bangladeshi & Indian forces
  • Eid-ul-Fitr - the largest muslim holiday of the year, it celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramazan Food is the highlight, and if you're lucky you'll be invited into a private home for a feast Businesses close for at least a couple days if not a week
  • Eid-ul-Azha - is the second largest muslim festival
  • Durga Puja - October 5th-9th, 2008 The largest Hindu festival in the country, it goes on for several days with festivities varying each day
  • Christmas - December 25th, This is the largest Festival of Christian Community in the country which is declared as a Goverment HolidayA prayer is held at Tejgaon Church at 11 PM Local Time in 24th December Also some other church in Dhaka also arrange prayer at 24th December By Stanley Dipu Mazumdar

Talking in Bangladesh

The national language is Bengali Bangla and is spoken everywhere It's an Indo-Aryan language derived from Prakit, Pali and Sanskrit and written in its own script Many Bangladeshis understand only limited English such as basic affirmatives, negatives, and some numbers This is especially so in rural areas and among the lower socio-economic classes Learning a few Bengali words ahead of your trip will prove very useful

Two centuries of British colonisation lead people to identify most foreigners as either British or Americans, and to view them with curiosity The first question you will probably be asked is "What is your country?" "Desh kothay?" in Bangla If hawkers or rickshaw-wallahs are over-zealous in selling you their products or services, simply say "Amar dorkar nai" "I don't need this item" or "Lagbey nah" "No need" as a colloquial way of saying "No, thanks"

If you don't wish to give money to beggars and other unfortunates, simply tell them "Maaf koro" with informal you or "Maaf koren" with polite/formal you, which means "Pardon me"; or you can apply a tricky concept by saying "Amar bangthi poisha nai", meaning "I have no change" Above all, if you're refusing a service or product, don't linger Walk on as you say these phrases Otherwise, your lingering may be misinterpreted by peddlers as your uncertainty about refusal

What to see in Bangladesh

Bangladesh as a vacation land has many facets Her tourist attractions include archaeological sites, historic mosques and monuments, resorts, beaches, picnic spots, forest and wildlife Bangladesh offers opportunities for angling, water-skiing, river cruising, hiking, rowing, surfing, yachting and sea bathing as well as bringing one in close touch with Mother Nature She is also rich in wildlife and game birds

  • Sundarbans — UNESCO world heritage site
  • Cox's Bazar — world’s longest uninterrupted natural sandy sea beach
  • St Martins Island — Bangladesh’s only coral island

What to do in Bangladesh

There's a lot happening around the city Like any large metropolis there are dramas, concerts and performances galore -- both of the western and local variety Yes it is possible to end up at a live rave event with thrash music in Dhaka!!

Buying stuff in Bangladesh

What will it cost?


  • 2 liter bottled water: Tk 20
  • Chai: Tk 4
  • Newspaper: Tk 10
  • Candy bar: Tk 15
  • Coke/Pepsi: Tk 15
  • Pair of readymade pants: ~Tk 100
  • Solitude: out of stock

Bangladesh is one of the largest ready-made garment manufacturers in the world, exporting clothing for famous brands such as Nike, Adidas and Levis Though these products are usually not meant for sale in the local markets, they can be found in abundance in famous shopping areas such as Banga Bazaar and Dhaka College

In most stores, prices are not fixed Even most stores that display 'fixed-price' label tolerate bargaining Prices can thus be lowered quite considerably If bargaining is not your strong point ask a local in the vicinity politely what they think you should pay Besides there are loads of handicraft, boutique shops There are lots of shopping malls in and around Dhaka and Chittagong

Aarong 39 is one of the largest and most popular handicraft and clothing outlets with stores in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Khulna It's a great place for souvenirs or to pick up a stylish kurta or salwar kameez at fixed prices

Women can find a cotton shalwar kameez for around Tk 400 in a market or Tk 800-1500 in a shop Silk is more expensive

ATMs can be found in most metropolitan areas Dutch Bangla Bank has the largest ATM network in Bangladesh and finding one isn't hard there is one at the airports of both Dhaka and Chittagong These ATMs accept all Mastercard and Visa credit/debit cards Most international banks in the country such as Standard Chartered and Citibank also rely on the Dutch-Bangla Bank Nexus™ ATM network for their own clients HSBC 40 ATMs are located at most hotels but accept only Visa debit/credit cards and HSBC GlobalAccess™ cards no Mastercard

Food and eating in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a fish lover's paradise Traditionally most of the country lives off of the once-bountiful fresh-water river fish, especially the officially designated "national fish" hilsa The hilsa is a flavourful but very boney with many fine bones fish; if you can master eating this fish, consider yourself on par with the locals in fish-eating and deboning expertise Various recipes exist for cooking hilsa, suitable for all seasons and all regions of the country Mutton is also popular, as in most Muslim countries, as is decidedly lean or hard chicken Rice is almost always the staple side dish

Mixed vegetable curries are plentiful - potato, eggplant, squash and tomatoes are the staple ingredients Gourds, tubers and certain root vegetables are common In the major cities Dhaka, Chittagong, etc, you will find a larger variety of vegetables than in rural areas

The idea of salad varies from the international standard In Bangladesh, salad has not been extensively developed, and "kacha" raw vegetables are generally not deemed very appetizing or palatable with the exception of cucumbers, especially in more rural or suburban areas and in less Westernized households Traditionally, most salad vegetables carrots, celery, lettuce, paprika, etc were not even grown in most agrarian households, so the use of these vegetables was extremely rare Hence, borrowing from the Mughal traditions, a few round slices of onions and cucumbers, spiced with salt, chilies, etc, is often treated as a full plate of salad

Dal is usually a given side dish or meal course for all households, even the poorest or most rural who often cannot afford any other daily meal courses Most Bangladeshi dal varies from its West Bengali counterpart, and even more so from its other Indian counterparts, primarily because it is more watery and less concentrated or spiced An easy analogy would be that whereas most Indian dal is more like thick stew, most Bangladeshi dal is more like light soup or broth The Hindus of Bangladesh have greater varieties of Dal recipes, just as they have greater varieties of vegetarian dishes The Muslims have thicker and more spiced varieties of dal Dal recipes vary regionally in Bangladesh, so be careful not to over-generalize after a brief experience

Boiled eggs dhim are a popular snack Tk 3-5, and fresh fruit is abundant, such as bananas Tk 2/ea, apples chinese, Tk 80-100/kg, oranges, grapes, pomegranates and papayas Delicious and diverse, mangos Tk 50-150/kg are a very popular fruit throughout Bangladesh

Fast food restaurants and bakeries serving burgers, kababs, spring rolls, vegetable patties and just about anything else you can throw in a deep fryer are dotted around most cities Most items will run around Tk 10/eachBangladesh also has international fast food chains like Pizza Hut, KFC, A&W, Nando's

To enjoy the tastes of Dhaka one needs to go to old Dhaka The Haji biriyani, Nanna biriyani are a must Also Al Razzak restaurant is famous for its Shahi food In order to savour local food one must go to Korai Gost at Dhanmondi Satmosjid road, Kasturi restaurant at Gulshan & Purana Paltan area No one should leave Bangladesh without tasting the Phuchka and Chatpati available in the streets of Dhaka,Chittagong Also there are loads of Chinese and Thai restaurants in Bangladesh which serve localized chinese and thai dishesBailey road in Dhaka is the unofficial food street of the nation followed by Satmoshjid RoadDhaka also has Japanese, Korean and Indian restaurants located mostly in Gulshan area For world class Ice creams do visit Moven pick, Club gelato in Gulshan To taste Kebab, Babecue tonight in Dhanmondi is the best followed by Koyla in Gulshan

Most Bangladeshis eat with their right hand as in neighboring countries Never use your left hand to bring food to your mouth, though it's ok to use it for bringing a glass to your mouth or to serve food from a common dish with a spoon Every restaurant will have a handwashing station sometimes just a pitcher of water and a bowl if they don't have running water, and you should use this before and after the meal In order to eat with your hand, rake in a little portion of the rice and a bit of the curry to an open space on your plate usually create a bit of space on the side of the plate closest to you, sufficiently inward from the rim but NOT in the center of the plate, and mix the rice and curry with your fingers Then, create a little ball or mound it should be compact and modestly sized, but does not need to be perfectly shaped or anything--function over form! of the mixture and pick it up with all your fingers, and scoop in into your mouth Your fingers should not enter your mouth in the process, and your upper fingers and palms should not get dirty either Only toddlers and foreigners/tourists are exempted from these rules It doesn't matter a whole lot if you don't get it all exactly right, but know that the entire restaurant is watching and waiting to see if you do The use of cutlery except serving spoons for common dishes is lacking in rural areas and poorer households, and basic cutlery ie: spoons, sometimes a fork is sometimes available in urban restaurants and more Westernized, urban households However, the use of hands is a more humble and culturally respectful gesture, especially from a tourist

Table-sharing is acceptable and even expected in most establishments, with the exception of nicer urban restaurants Many places have separate curtained-off booths for women and families, a nice reprieve from prying eyes

Drinking in Bangladesh

Nightlife in Bangladesh is nearly non-existent Being a Muslim country, alcohol is frowned upon and found mostly in the international clubs and pricier restaurants in Dhaka and in some restaurants in tourist centers like Cox's Bazar In Teknaf and on Saint Martins Island you may stumble upon the occasional beer smuggled in from Myanmar Some of the nicest hotels in the cities have fully equipped bars with exaggerated prices to match However, lack of commercial availability of liquor should not always be confused with cultural aversion to alcohol in mainstream society You'll likely find that Bengali Christians and many urbanized, upper-class Muslims privately have a more liberal, Westernized attitude toward social consumption of alcohol However most 5 Star Hotels like Radisson, Sheraton Shonargoan, Regency etc and few clubs in Gulshan are arranging DJ / Dance parties on frequent basis Foreigners may bump into one of those parties if they are lucky Usual entrance fees of such parties aare around BDT 2000/- USD 30 Young people of upper class and higher uper class of the society are the main portion of the formed crowd How ever in some places, western clothed hired companions are available Foreigners looking for a clean vacation should stay away from them using common sense Liquires does not flow freely in these parties most of the time

Coffee is -- like the rest of the world, a perennial middle-class 'Adda' gossip accompaniment in this city A favourite haunt for coffee-lovers those with a 'Starbucks' bent is 'Coffeeworld' 41, Dhaka branch addresses about seven so far given here, Dhaka Coffeeworld joints 42 Most coffee aficionados here rate their 'Caramel Macchiato' better than the plain Starbucks variety and cheaper to boot about US$2!

Fruit juices are plentiful, varied and delicious, though be wary of watered down or icy drinks and dirty blenders Raw sugarcane juice is widely available during the hot season, and usually a safe, sanitary bet Other safe bets are coconuts, popular in the southeast tourists spots like Cox's Bazar and Saint Martins Island

Accommodation in Bangladesh

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Tk 50-500
Mid-range Tk 550-5000
Splurge Tk 5000+

There's a broad range of hotels in the country, from economy hotels costing $1 per night sometimes filthy and sometimes reluctant to take foreigners up to 5-star hotels in some of the major cities, including chains like Radisson Dhaka 43, Sheraton Dhaka 44 ,Westin Dhaka 45Another comfortable place is Lakeshore Hotels and Apartments46

Working in Bangladesh

Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, 47

Cities in Bangladesh

abhaynagar  badarganj  bajitpur  bandarban  baniachang  barisal  bera  bhairab bazar  bhandaria  bheramara  bhola  chandpur  char bhadrasan  chhagalnaiya  chhatak  chilmari  dhaka  dhamrai  dinajpur  dohar  faridpur  fatikchhari  feni  gafargaon  gaurnadi  gazipur  habiganj  hajiganj  ishurdi  jaipur hat  jamalpur  jhikargachha  kalia  kaliganj  keshabpur  khagrachari  khulna  kishorganj  laksham  lakshmipur  lalmanir hat  lalmohan  madaripur  manikchhari  manikganj  mathbaria  maulvi bazar  mehendiganj  mirzapur  morrelganj  muktagachha  nabinagar  nageshwari  nalchiti  naral  narayanganj  narsingdi  nawabganj  netrakona  pabna  palang  panchagarh  parbatipur  patiya  phultala  pirganj  pirojpur  rajshahi  ramganj  ramgarh  rangpur  raozan  raypur  sakhipur  sarankhola  sarishabari  satkhira  sherpur  shibganj  sirajganj  sunamganj  teknaf  thakurgaon  tungi  

What do you think about Bangladesh?

How expensive is Bangladesh?
(1 BDT = 0.01 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant147 BDT
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)991.8 BDT
McDonalds meal416.5 BDT
Local beer (0.5 draft)258.5 BDT
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 368 BDT
Cappuccino136.9 BDT
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)31.27 BDT
Water (0.33 bottle)14.55 BDT
Milk (1l)60.58 BDT
Fresh bread (500g)43.94 BDT
White Rice (1kg)51.79 BDT
Eggs (12) 85.38 BDT
Local Cheese (1kg) 580.37 BDT
Chicken Breast (1kg) 238.16 BDT
Apples (1kg) 149.14 BDT
Oranges (1kg) 190 BDT
Tomato (1kg) 49.24 BDT
Potato (1kg) 20.44 BDT
Lettuce (1 head) 35.24 BDT
Water (1.5l)24.45 BDT
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 0.95 BDT
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)235.03 BDT
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 366.68 BDT
Cigarettes198.72 BDT
One way local bus ticket25.85 BDT
Monthly pass for bus855 BDT
Taxi start94.27 BDT
Taxi 1km31.28 BDT
Taxi 1hour waiting221.4 BDT
Gasoline (1 liter) 106.89 BDT
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 800.4 BDT
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 26.47 BDT
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 13.8 BDT
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