Bangladesh may not be the country that you would think first when it comes to choosing a vacation destination with kids, but once you are there, you will see thousands of reasons why it should be on your must-visit. Fancy some long weeks along the beach? This country in South Asia has the world’s longest beach covering at 125km. Bangladesh weather is also a bit unique. The country has six seasons instead of just four which includes summer, rainy season, autumn, cool season, winter, and spring. Any time of the year is a best season to come depending on the activities that you are planning to do and the sites that you would like to check out.
Here are some of the things you should know about Bangladesh before you visit with your children:
Where is Bangladesh located?
Bangladesh is located in South Asia that shares land borders with India, Myanmar, and the Bay of Bengal. If you have asked yourself the question, “is Bangladesh a country?” before, you’d be comforted to know you are not alone. Yes, it is a country. Its capital is the city of Dhaka. Bangladesh was formerly known as East Bengal up until 1947. After that, it was then called East Pakistan up until 1971. Currently, its official name is People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
When flying to Bangladesh, you can choose amongst the country’s three major international airports- Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Osmani International Airport in Sylhet, and Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong. There are more than thirty major airlines that fly to Bangladesh regularly.
Bangladesh Visa Policy
Citizens of most countries are required to have a valid visa to enter Bangladesh. Bangladesh visa policies also vary depending if the person is holding a diplomat or ordinary passport. In general, all citizens of European union countries, Australia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and Switzerland to name a few are required to have visa on arrival for the purpose of official duty, business, investment, and tourism.
Bangladesh visa for US citizens follow the same rule. Some countries such as Philippines, Hong Kong, Brazil, and Morocco can obtain visa on arrival with a maximum stay of 30 days. Transit and entry to Bangladesh is refused to Israeli passport holders because of the lack of diplomatic relationships between the two countries. Make sure check Bangladesh visa policy before booking your flights and hotels.
Places to visit in Bangladesh
Once you have checked out the visa policies, it is now time to line up your itinerary. Here are the best places to visit in Bangladesh.
Paharpur is one of the most popular Bangladesh travel destinations because of the ruins of the Buddhist vihara (monastery). Somapura Mahavihara was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and it is also one of the country’s most visited archaeological site. It is said that Buddhist monks from all over the world used to come here for higher education.
Taking a trip here would give you the feeling of being transported to the ancient times. These ruins are one of the famous Bangladesh landmarks. Paharpur Museum is also a must place to visit in Bangladesh. This is a small museum but holds grand treasures such as the large Bronze Buddha. You can also see displays of sandstone and basalt sculptures which showcase the culture and history of the place.
Rangamati is one of the Bangladesh tourism places. This is a holiday destination because of its scenic landscapes, lakes, museums, and other touristy attractions. Kaptai Lake is a must-see in Rangamati. This is an artificial lake built in 1960 for a hydroelectric project. Kaptai Lake has been dotted with islands, thus making it more attractive to locals and foreign tourists alike.
Some parts of the like are protected and not accessible to the public, but for those that are, you can enjoy a day of boating and picnic. Shuvalong Falls, which is ninety minutes away from Kaptai Lake, is also a recommended side-trip and you can take a boat to get there. You might also want to stop by the Hanging Bridge. It’s a low-suspension bridge where people usually stop by and take photos.
Another famous Bangladesh tourist attraction in Rangamati is the Tribal Cultural Institute Museum where you can see displays of costumes, musical instruments made of bamboo, silver and ivory jewelry, coins, and animal traps. There is also a preserved Marma and Chakma books from 1860s carved onto palm leaves. It is never too early to start exposing young children to other cultures and visiting a museum in a new country is a good way to start.
3) Cox’s Bazar
When visiting, one of the best things to do in Bangladesh is to spend some time at the beach. The beach is Cox’s Bazar has an unbroken length of 155 kilometers thus earning the title as the longest natural unbroken sea beach in the world. You can spend days lazing along the coast of Cox’s Bazar. Bangladesh weather, specifically in Cox’s Bazar, is tropical. Peak season here is December to February where one will experience warm and dry weather.
There are so many beaches to choose from in Cox’s Bazar. One of which is Sea Beach. With a very long and sandy beach, you can spend hours sandbathing and swimming. Other water activities such as jet ski, parasailing, and wakeboarding are popular. If you have little children, you would feel confident letting them run along the long, sandy beach. You should also check out Laboni Beach, Cox’s Bazar Beach, and Kolatoli Beach. You will soon realize that Bangladesh has one of the world’s best sunsets.
There are restaurants and cafés near the beaches where you can grab food and drinks while waiting for the sun to set. Some bars have live band that plays local and foreign music. While in Cox’s Bazar, also check out the 100 feet Buddha which is a famous Bangladesh landmark. Located in Ramu, this temple is well-maintained, and its main attraction is the 100 feet Buddha in a reclining position.
The temple is open for visits from 9AM to 5PM daily. Another temple to visit that is near Cox’s Bazar is the Adinath Temple. This is perched at the top of a hill, so be prepared for a little climb. The view on top is worth it though. Aside from being able to go inside a temple, you would also be welcomed to the view of the Bengal Bay from the top. For outdoorsy folks, trekking in Himchori Waterfall and Hill Track is recommended.
You can get a local tour guide that will lead you to the waterfalls. Even if you come during rainy season, this activity is still available. In fact, the volume of the water in the falls during rainy season would increase significantly. The trail is easy to trek on, so even children would be able to manage to do it. Overall, Cox’s Bazar should be on your list if you are looking for beach and outdoorsy things to do in Bangladesh.
Of course, when you visit, you must include Dhaka, Bangladesh on your list of places to check out. Some of you may have wondered where is Dhaka since seeing it on top of the most populated cities in the world list. Dhaka is not only the most populated city in Bangladesh, it is also the most populated city in the world. Even if you hate crowd, it would still be a once in a lifetime experience being able to be in the most crowded city in the world, wouldn’t it?
There are more than 19.5 million people who are living in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Since the city spans to 300 kilometers, it means that there are more than 23 thousand people per square kilometer. According to statistics, about two thousand people move to Dhaka every day. But don’t let these facts intimidate you. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities you can do in this city. The best way to start the tour is with food. One of the top places in Dhaka is Dhaba. It specializes in Indian street food yet served in a fully airconditioned restaurant with proper seating. They are especially popular for their spicy snacks or chaat. If you are looking for heavier meals, Al-Razzaque is highly recommended.
You will see foreigners and a lot of locals coming-and-going here. They specialize in curries, biryanis, rotis, and Bangladeshi breakfast specials. If you are staying in an Airbnb and prefer to cook your own food, head over to the New Market. This is Bangladesh city capital’s biggest market. You can find everything in here. Make sure to grab some locally grown fruits and veggies while shopping in the New Market. Depending on Dhaka weather that day, you could pretty much walk around and enjoy the hustle and bustle and chaos of the city.
Traffic in Dhaka is crazy anyway, so you would pretty much rather walk. If you will see three-wheeled rickshaws, hop on one! This is something that you will not see everyday in other countries. The kids will enjoy this, too. Travelling this way would also give you the best view of the city. You will also enjoy shopping in Dhaka, so make sure to have some cash on hand.
You can have it exchanged to Bangladeshi taka which is the currency in Bangladesh, although most big shops accept major credit cards. This may not be the same for street markets and small local shops, so might as well be prepared in advance. Drop by Bashundhara City, the 12th largest mall in the world, and Jatra for some serious Dhaka shopping experience.
Sreemangal, may also be spelled as Srimangal, is a must-visit place for tea lovers. This is Bangladesh’ tea-growing capital. You will be welcomed by lush green tea fields and that fragrant distinct tea smell. There are so many places to visit here and one of these is the Lowacherra National Park. This is the perfect place to visit in Sreemangal for outdoorsy families with active kids.
There are three major walking trails inside the national park. You can hire knowledgeable guides and spend a few hours roaming around the area. Here you would see endangered hoolock gibbons, the only type of apes in Bangladesh, in their natural habitat.
Lowacherra National Park is also home to macaques, loris, barking deer, orange-bellied Himalayan squirrel, and capped langur, to name a few. Once you get tired of hiking and exploring, have some refreshments at the tea and snack store in the visitor’s center.
The Bangladesh Tea Research Institute (BTRI) is also a must-visit in the area. Bangladeshis (how you call someone from Bangladesh) take their tea seriously. The Bangladesh Tea Research Institute is a scientific headquarters of Bangladeshi tea production. You would need to call ahead in order to be allowed to get inside though. If you are lucky, you might be invited into a tea-tasting ceremony and could also be allowed to get inside the tea factory. If you won’t have much luck in visiting the Bangladesh Tea Research Institute, you can try Zareen Tea Estate in Srimangal.
Used to be the country’s capital until 1610, Sonargaon is another place to visit with your children in Bangladesh. Sonargaon is quite the contrast to Dhaka, the current capital of Bangladesh. This place now is quite and more laid back. Amongst the top tourist places to visit in Bangladesh is the Sonargaon Folk-Arts and Crafts Museum. The Museum is open five days of the week from Tuesdays till Saturdays. This is near Dhaka, so you can come here on a side trip if you like.
There are two museums in here. The older one was established in 1975 by the famous painter named Joynul Abedin. The house that this old museum was built on is called Bara Sardar Bari and was built in 1901. Spending a few hours here means learning about the way the people from Bangladesh in the olden times lived. Daily life ornaments, tools, old boats, and musical instruments are displayed in this museum. The new museum in the Sonargaon Folk-Arts and Crafts Museum on the other hand displays rich culture of Sonargaon fabrics and other ornaments that rich people in the area used a couple of decades ago. Once you are done touring around the museums, head over to Panam Nagar. This is a 10-minute-walk from the Sonargaon Folk-Arts and Crafts Museum.
This abandoned city was founded as the trading center of fabrics in the early 19th century during the British rule. Before this became a ghost town, the place was bustling with Hindu Merchants. There are 52 houses in this street that used to be occupied by the wealthy and influential merchants of Sonargaon. These abandoned houses on the same street had European influences in them.
What once used to be a busy and wealthy city fell apart due to the religious riots that happened here when the British left and the merchants fled. Panam Nagar is now a protected site being managed by the archaeological department of Bangladesh. You can come here anytime between 9AM and 5PM except Sundays and government holidays. After a trip to Panam Nagar, head over to Goaldi Mosque. Goaldi Mosque is one of the best places to visit in Bangladesh.
This was built during the glory days of Sonargaon by Mulla Hizabar Akbar Khan. This is a favorite amongst architecture fanatics although the current state of the museum is courtesy of the meticulous restoration work of the archaeological department of Bangladesh. Since this is just near Panam Nagar, you can just take a rickshaw coming here if you are doing a DIY tour around Sonargaon.
Located in the eastern part of Bangladesh, Sylhet is known for its museums, ornate mosques, Surma River, and Sufi shrines to name a few. If you happen to come here between the months of October to March, spend a night or two camping out on the banks of Surma River. There are luxurious Tent Camp accommodations if you are bit hesitant of roughing it up.
This would also be a perfect opportunity for the kids to stare at the stars at night instead of their iPad screens. While you are at it, take one of those boat rides in the river. Even the local tourists do this activity as well especially during summertime. Another popular activity in Sylhet that involves hopping on a boat is visiting the Ratargul Swamp Forest. The boat guides will paddle your way through the swamp. It is a quite and relaxing activity. The boats are usually big enough for you to lay down if you would want to.
The water is muddy brown but the mangroves are protected and the wildlife here is thriving. You might have some sightings of the pygmy-goose. Also, another cool fun-fact about Bangladesh is that from Sylhet, you can step into India since Sylhet is a landlocked peninsula in Bangladesh surrounded by India. There are multiple border crossings towards India. Sylhet is one of those cool spots where you can take a photo of you being in two countries at once. In the border, you can put one foot in Sylhet and the other in India. Pretty cool, right?
We think so. If you are staying in an Airbnb and would like to do some grocery shopping, the local market in Jaintiapur is highly recommended. This assures you will be able to buy fresh produce and you will get to experience the authentic Sylhet experience. If you want to cool down from all of the shopping and tours, a popular 7-layer-iced tea drink is a must-try here in Sylhet. It is exactly how it’s named – seven layers of iced tea including black tea, lemongrass tea, milktea, and four other ingredients.
Named as the lost historic city in India-Bangladesh border, Gaur (also spelled as Gour or Gauda) is home to the largest number of historical mosques in Bangladesh. A couple of the mosques built years ago are still standing today. Even if you won’t be visiting for religious reasons, you might still want to visit for architectural and historical appreciation purposes. The top mostly visited mosques in Gaur include Darasbari Mosque, Chhoto Sona Mosque, and Dhunichak Mosque. Each have their own unique characteristics from structure to intricate ornaments.
Just like most Asian countries, rice is a staple in Bangladesh and Barisal is the country’s number one rice producing center. It is also one of the main producers of fish since it is surrounded by a river. In fact, one of the top attractions in Barisal is the floating guava market in Jhalokati district.
You can see boats filled to the brim with guavas and buyers flocking in the riverbanks. If you would like some fresh and juicy guavas or just observe the surroundings, come by during early morning. Another attraction in Barisal is the Oxford Mission Church also known as the Red Church. It is made up red bricks and is known to be the second largest church in Asia. It is red and huge; it would be hard to miss it.
Outdoorsy travelers will have a lot of fun in Bandarban. If you love doing activities in nature with your kids, a trip to Bandarban should be in your itinerary. You can climb up Chimbuk Hill which is one of the highest hills in Bangladesh. You can also go to Rijuk Jhorna.
This is a massive waterfall but you can get here via boat or via tracking if you don’t mind hiking a little bit. The water is safe and ideal for swimming especially during warm summer afternoons. Do not forget your waterproof cameras when coming here because you will be taking loads of photos for sure. Rijuk Jhorna is simply breathtaking.