A buzzing, bustling city roaring with excitement for your senses.
Dhaka, the capital and the largest city of Bangladesh, is a megacity with an endless flow of cycle-rickshaws, motorbikes, cars, and double-deckers. The chaos that first-time visitors encounter is surely a startling scene. However, once you step up your game and follow the city’s heartbeat, you'll find yourself engaging and immersing in Dhaka's appeal—and eventually the entirety of Bengali culture.
Best time to visit: Mid February-March for pleasant weather.
Currency: Taka (৳)
Language: Bengali, English (some of the locals speak English)
Hazrat Shahjalal Airport (DAC) is the main international hub of Bangladesh.
Check skyscanner.net for great deals.
Tip: Do get a local sim card (Grameenphone has good internet bundles), and exchange your dollars at the airport for ease and good rates.
Local buses (found near the highway) connect the airport to different parts of Dhaka in about 1-2 hours.
Tip: Take an Uber for a more convenient, and a less dusty and sweaty ride.Fare: 150-350৳
Getting around: Cycle-rickshaws are the most popular form of transportation in the city. They can literally take you everywhere.
Fare: One hour 150৳
Tip: Make sure to agree on a price first before riding one.
Thank you : Dhon-noh-bad
Hello : Hei
How much? : Koh-toh?
Bill please : Bill ta di-ben
Yes : Ha
No : Na
Do: Say YES when locals ask to have photos with you (celebrity for 2 days Yey!); Use your right hand when eating, receiving and giving
Don’t: Be offended when locals stare at you (they’re simply not used to tourists); Wear short and tight-fitting clothes (Females); Eat cucumbers and other raw food from street stalls
Here it is, your 2 day guide for Dhaka's top sights and must visit.
9.30AM DRUE CAFÉ
A Good Start for Tea and Cookies
This small café belongs to a group of young Bangladeshi mavericks who knows what a good cup of tea and a good bite really mean. A tiny place that is always busy with a young crowd, you could squeeze in or grab something to go.
10.30AM RICKSHAW RIDE
For a Ride in a Traffic Jam
Rickshaw is a staple of Asian culture, but the city of Dhaka takes it on a whole different level. While on the road, you'll notice that rickshaws make more than half of the transport. It is a dizzying spectacle of whirling colors and ringing bells. But for the locals, especially for the drivers, it is a way of life.
Don't be discouraged in mounting one, it's a ride comparable to a mini roller coaster without the upside down loops and twists, so for sure you'll make it out alive. ;)
Remember to negotiate a price and a time limit with your driver. Also, be very clear about your destination, or if you want a roundtrip tour.
Tip: Have a translator app handy if you're not accompanied by a local.
1PM AHSAN MANZIL
The Pink Palace
A place with historical importance and architectural significance, the government was right to renovate Ahsan Manzil from its decrepitude state. Nowadays, the palace enjoys a fair amount of daily visitors.
There is a huge ground to cover, and it might be a longer visit due to locals asking to take selfies and group photos with you. Have fun and chat with them. They just might let you in on some local secret.
Entrance fee: 500৳
Closed on Fridays.
To Visit a Charming Bookstore
The best place to cool down after winding rickshaw rides and photo shoots.
Baatighar has a good collection of books from both international and local authors. They also have a small café where you can sit comfortably and drink some refreshments to cool your body down.
5PM BSK ROOFTOP CAFETERIA
For an Overlooking View of the Neighborhood
Located in the same building as Baatighar, you only need to climb upstairs to try some delicious local snacks (don't call it dinner to avoid offending the locals haha). It's a popular place, thus busy and always out of chairs. You could ask a small group if they don't mind sharing a table with you.
10AM HOLEY ARTISAN
For Good Bread, Eggs, and Local Yoghurt
You'll be spending day 2 in the fancier part of Dhaka. Holey, owned by a business-minded young man who has exquisite taste in food, is one of the few places in the city to get good western-style breads and pastries.
11.30AM BANGABANDHU MEMORIAL MUSEUM
The Father of the Nation’s Last Breath
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, endearingly called Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) by many, is the founding father of Bangladesh. He led the country to its independence and became the first President, then the first Prime Minister of the country.
However, due to conflicting political views and goals, Sheikh Mujib and most of his family were assassinated by several army officers in their own home.
The house-turned-museum is a very somber place, you'll see every bullet mark that ravaged the entire house, the personal paraphernalia of the family stained with blood, and the staircase where the Sheik met his untimely demise.
Note: No cameras allowed.
Entrance Fee: 5৳
2PM JATRA BIROTI
For a Rooftop Lounge
Jatra Biroti, a café brimming with vibrant colors and folk arts, serves one of Dhaka's best vegetarian lunches.
When you enter, you'll see why the city's hip youngsters enjoy hanging out here.
To Buy Clothes with Natural Aesthetics
After a hearty lunch in Jatra, head downstairs for Aranya. A clothing store with a gorgeous interior and stunning fabrics.
When you're done in Aranya, visit Myth, another clothing store with a beautiful selection of dresses and tunics.
5PM ART CAFÉ
Sweet Treats for the Sweet Tooth
The best and only way to cap off your shopping spree is to eat desserts. Art café has a cold, modern, minimalist feel, yet their Sweets selection is so heartwarming you'll be gushing for minutes trying to decide which one to order (I would say try all, but then you'll be in sugar coma).
9PM DUTCH CLUB
For a Swig of Alcohol
Because Bangladesh is a Muslim country, you won't see any alcohol in public. And though there are some places where you can binge-drink, they are mostly catered for expats and certain circles.
Find someone who can invite you to these RSVP events to experience Dhaka's nightlife.
For a Twist on Japanese Cuisine
If you’ve had enough of the local food and itching to eat something familiar, Izumi is the place to be. Run by the same owner of Holey Artisan, you’ll know what to expect—fresh, high-quality ingredients and excellently executed, mouthwatering dishes.