Located between India and Myanmar, Bangladesh is a country that’s often skipped during a trip to South Asia. This is not a place that sees many tourists, so you might ask yourself the question “Is Bangladesh worth visiting?”

I spent over a month backpacking in Bangladesh and although this is definitely not a country everyone will like, I loved it. 

With its welcoming locals and places like Cox’s Bazar – the longest beach in the world, the Sundarbans – home to the royal Bengal tiger, and Dhaka – the crazy capital, this is a destination unlike any other. This post will help you find out whether Bangladesh is worth visiting for you, though, as people tend to either love or hate it.

a girl standing in front of a wooden boat on a beach in bangladesh
Get ready to be convinced to book a Bangladesh trip!
Photo: @laurewanders

Is Bangladesh Worth Visiting?

To be honest, there’s no short answer to this question as Bangladesh is not a country everyone will like.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it – Bangladesh is incredibly loud, polluted, and overpopulated. It’s a bit like backpacking India but on a whole other level (and minus the abundance of spectacular landmarks, I’m so sorry to say this, Bangladesh). This country can be a bit overwhelming, as there are people everywhere and its cities are the loudest I’ve ever been to.

HOWEVER, Bangladesh is also home to some of the most hospitable people you will ever meet and there are some pretty amazing things to see here. It’s where you’ll find Cox’s Bazar, for example, which is the longest beach in the world and it’s also one of only four countries in the world where you can see the famed royal Bengal tiger.

locals paddling on a wooden boat on a canal channel in bangladesh
Canals for days.
Photo: @laurewanders

The way I see it, Bangladesh is not a country to visit if you want to see Asia’s most spectacular landmarks, meet other travelers, or enjoy the peace and quiet. What makes Bangladesh worth visiting, however, is the crazy experience and the friendly locals. 

If this is your first trip to Asia, I wouldn’t recommend heading to Bangladesh, though, as it can be a little challenging to travel here.

So, to sum it up, Bangladesh is a great place to head if you’re up for a raw adventure in a country that hasn’t been hit by international tourism. This is a unique destination where an adventure will await you behind every corner.

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7 Reasons to Visit Bangladesh

You will find seven reasons why I think Bangladesh is worth visiting below. These will help you find out whether or not the country is for you.

1. The locals

The number one thing that I love about Bangladesh is the people. Together with Pakistanis, Bangladeshis are some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met. 

I can’t recall the number of times I was invited into family’s homes for lunch or dinner, for example, or when I ordered some snacks or tea, strangers would often pay for me as a way of welcoming me into their country.

a woman and her husband in child posing for the camera in a home in bangladesh
Bangladeshis are some of the most hospitable people I’ve EVER encountered.
Photo: @laurewanders

Apart from being incredibly hospitable, Bangladeshis are also very helpful. Most rickshaw and bus drivers don’t speak English, for example, but every time I wanted to take a rickshaw, people spontaneously started looking for someone who spoke English and could translate.

On another occasion, as I was getting ready to get off the train, people wanted to make sure I got off at the right station and asked if I had a place to stay and if they could help me with anything.

Apart from being hospitable and helpful, the locals are also very happy when they see that someone is actually visiting, as you don’t see many tourists here.

Just like in any other country, it speaks for itself that not everyone is nice, and people did try to scam me on two or three occasions. The majority, however, will welcome you to Bangladesh with open arms.

2. It’s budget-friendly

Bangladesh is one of the cheapest countries in Asia and you can easily travel here without breaking the bank.

To give you an idea – Bangladesh is slightly cheaper than its neighbor India. Dinner in a local restaurant costs just USD 1 or USD 2, while you can expect to pay USD 4 to USD 6 in a fancy restaurant.

men standing with colorful bicycle rickshaws in chittagong bangladesh
Taking the rickshaw game to the next level.
Photo: @laurewanders

It’s good to know that, although you will find cheap accommodation in Bangladesh, this country doesn’t have a backpacking culture so there aren’t any dorms. It depends on where you travel (Cox’s Bazar and the Sundarbans tend to be more expensive) but budget hotels usually start around USD 4 or USD 5. I paid between USD 10 and USD 14 for hotels and found decent places to stay within that budget.

Transport is also pretty cheap in Bangladesh and, although sometimes entry tickets are more expensive for foreigners, these are pretty affordable as well.

3. Adventure and the experience

Bangladesh is one of the craziest countries I have ever visited and here, an adventure is everywhere.

Dhaka, the capital, for example, is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and exploring its old town is a wild experience – there’s just so much going on!

an old bus and several cycle rickshaws in old dhaka bangladesh
You haven’t experienced chaos until you’ve been to Dhaka!
Photo: @laurewanders

Apart from that, the locals are not used to seeing foreigners, so you will meet tons of curious people on a normal day out in Bangladesh. Some will offer to guide you around while others will invite you for lunch or tea. Every time I stopped for a drink or snack, I was surrounded by 10 to 20 curious locals who had never seen a foreigner before.

Although it can be overwhelming at times, it’s safe to say that you won’t get bored easily in Bangladesh, as simply leaving your hotel room can be a wild experience here! 

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4. Culture and history

With its Animist, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim roots, Bangladesh is a pretty culturally rich country. You will find mosques, Hindu temples, and Buddhist temples here.

Bangladesh is also home to plenty of tribes, who all have their own culture. I visited the Khashi in Lawachara National Park, one of the world’s last matriarchal societies. The majority of tribal people live in the Chittagong Hill tracts, though, but due to political instability, you need a special permit if you want to go here as a foreigner.

When it comes to history, the region that is now known as Bangladesh is interesting too. It was part of various empires and civilizations before becoming a part of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. After that, it was ruled by the British, and in 1947, it gained independence from India and became a part of Pakistan (it was named East Pakistan).

If you’re a history buff, you can learn more about the country’s turbulent history in places like the Liberation War Museum and Bangladesh National Museum in Dhaka. There are also quite a few archaeological sites to visit, the most famous ones being Somapura Mahavihara, Gaur, and Panam Nagar in Sonargaon.

5. The longest beach in the world

When you’re in Bangladesh, you will notice that the locals are incredibly proud of Cox’s Bazaar, also known as the longest beach in the world! When I was traveling in the country, people kept telling me I absolutely HAD TO visit the place.

Although I’m not much of a beachgoer, Cox’s Bazaar ended up being one of my favorite places in Bangladesh. This sandy beach stretches over a distance of 120 km (74.5 mi) and except for the part located along the main city (which is very crowded), this beach offers miles and miles of almost deserted areas.

One of the best things to do in Cox’s Bazaar is to rent a bike or take a CNG and cruise along Marine Drive, an 80-km (50 mi) long road that follows the coastline. You will find plenty of small villages along the way and this is where I’ve seen some of the most beautiful landscapes during my trip to Bangladesh.

Another thing I love about Cox’s Bazar is its sampan fishing boats, which look as if they’re coming straight out of a pirate movie!

6. The Sundarbans

Spread over India and Bangladesh, the Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world and it’s famous for being the home of the royal Bengal tiger.

This is a part of Bangladesh I haven’t visited yet, but the city of Khulna is the gateway to the Sundarbans, and from here, you can book multiple-day trips to this forest. These are usually by boat and include forest walks where you might spot wildlife.

It’s good to know that, although this national park boasts the largest concentration of Bengal tigers in the world, there’s no guarantee of spotting these animals as wildlife are unpredictable.

This being said, you can also spot deer, monkeys, wild boar, and many species of birds here. The Sundarbans is a great place to enjoy the peace and quiet for a while, which is something you won’t find just anywhere in a loud country like Bangladesh.

7. There are hardly any tourists

shot of a bunch of men walking down a busy street in dhaka bangladesh
No avocado toast to be found here.
Photo: @laurewanders

This may not be a pro for everyone, but if you like traveling off the beaten path, you will love Bangladesh! This is a raw country that hasn’t been hit by international tourism.

While there are local tourists in Bangladesh, there are barely any foreigners here and the ones who are there are mainly volunteers. This is the only country I’ve been to where I introduced myself by saying “I’m a tourist” and people were completely flabbergasted!

I only met two other international travelers while I was in Bangladesh and they were together. I did meet two or three other foreigners, but these were all volunteers.

It’s good to know that although Bangladesh is an untouristy destination, you will easily find accommodation here as there are domestic tourists and business travelers, and most of these hotels also accept foreigners.

Though renting scooters and bikes is still in its early stages, it is possible in some places. I actually rented a scooter at Bangladesh’s first bike rental service, which opened its doors in Cox’s Bazaar in 2019, and I had a blast.

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Traveling in Bangladesh: FAQs

Is Bangladesh Worth Visiting: Final Thoughts

All in all, while Bangladesh may not be the first country you might think of when planning a trip to Asia, it does have a lot to offer to the right type of traveler. Its welcoming locals and crazy cities will make for an unforgettable trip full of adventure.

This is a country where you won’t see many international tourists (if any at all), making it a great destination for those who like getting off the beaten path.

On top of that, the world’s longest beach is in Bangladesh and this country is also home to beautiful national parks, a population of tigers, and interesting archaeological sites.

So, if you’re an adventurous type of traveler who likes getting off the beaten path, Bangladesh is worth visiting!

a girl in a blue dress sitting on a brick wall overlooking a canal and a white building in bangladesh
See you in Bangladesh?
Photo: @laurewanders

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