Following his trip to Bhutan, ITTN’s News & Features Editor Neil Steedman made a one-day stopover in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
This was my first time to visit Bangladesh and I had struggled with the Government website when researching a visa, but the Nijhoom Tours website advised me that a Visa On Arrival was available (for single entry only and maximum 30 days) for US$50. This is payable at a bank kiosk beside the immigration desks, but I had to wait quite a while before someone came to the kiosk to assist.
I had booked a one-day city tour of Old Dhaka with Nijhoom Tours with ease online. When the first method of paying did not work, Raw Hasan, the Chief Executive, had set up a different account for me that worked first time.
My guide, Obaidul, and driver, who were both friendly, informative and spoke good English, met me as arranged at the airport car park. Although I have been travelling for over 50 years, just as we were about to drive out of the car park I realised that I had left my camera (with 10 days of Bhutan pictures on it!) in the seat pocket of my aircraft from Paro, but with Obaidul’s help I managed to retrieve it from Bhutan Airlines before the aircraft took off again for Paro. However, this delay resulted in our meeting really heavy traffic into Old Dhaka.
We first stopped at the National Assembly (Parliament) Building designed by US architect Louis Kahn. This is one of the largest legislative buildings in the world and famous for its layout and windows that bring light everywhere inside. We could not go in, but if you give Nijhoom Tours five days notice they can arrange a tour inside.
A pleasant 30-minute boat ride on the busy Buriganga river was followed by a visit to Ahsan Manzil, or Pink Palace, which was the official residential palace and seat of the Nawab of Dhaka. The construction, started in 1859 and completed in 1872, is in the Indo-Saracenic Revival style.
The day tour was most enjoyable, particularly riding rickshaws between the main old city attractions (Dhaka is sometimes called ‘Rickshaw City’) and meeting an elephant (which is not a regular occurrence) that shook my hand with its trunk to say hello – or, more likely, to ask for money.
From my one-day experience I would say don’t be put off by any security fears – I felt perfectly safe and, indeed, I was surprised at how the men engage you with their eyes and when you smile you get a big smile (and even a high five) in return. Bangladesh is a 90% Muslim country, so the women are less forthcoming – but also smile and say Hi when able to.
Other highlights of the tour included the Armenian Church of Holy Resurrection, the beautiful Star Mosque, Lalbagh Fort, and the Dhakeshwari Temple, as well as a tasty lunch in an Old Dhaka restaurant.
By the way, Bangladesh has some great attractions outside of Dhaka so if your clients are going for more than just one day take a look at the many longer tours offered by Nijhoom Tours for 2018-2019 at: https://nijhoom.com/brochure/