Dhaka – City of Mosques and Rickshaws
Once a great Mughal trading port, Dhaka is the capital and largest city in Bangladesh. It’s also known as City of Mosques and Rickshaw Capital of the World, with 400,000 cycle rickshaws running through the city every day. The city is chock-full of mosques, museums, markets, lush gardens and parks, while the waterfront is thronged with paddle steamers, fishing boats, yachts and motor launches. Under British rule an entirely new colonial city was built in the north of the city. The Ramna district as it’s now called, is a hotbed of culture, art and intellect, the site of the National Museum and a cluster of libraries, colleges and art galleries. Take a horse and cart or rickshaw ride through the city – make sure you agree a price first – it will open your eyes. Visit Mirpur’s Botanical Garden, then hop next door to Dhaka Zoo, home to majestic Royal Bengal tigers.
Go for the colourful chaos of the streets and waterfront, the beautiful buildings, mosques and temples. Go for the parks, bazaars, museums and culture. Most of all, go for the experience! If you keep your wits about you when travelling and negotiating, Dhaka is a feast for the senses.
When to Go?
Bangladesh has three main seasons – the monsoon season (late May to early October) the cool season (mid October to end of February) and the hot season (March to mid May). The best time to travel is between October and February, when daytime temperatures average 24ºC. Cyclones affect Bangladesh on average every 3 years during May, June, October and November. The month of Ramadan may affect travel – please check dates.
How to get there?
Dhaka is served by Shah Jalal International Airport (formerly Zia International Airport) which is located 13 miles north of Dhaka. Direct flights are available from major UK airports. Wear long sleeves and trousers on your flight, as the baggage reclaim area is a mosquito haven. Dhaka is known as the Rickshaw Capital of the World, with 400,000 cycle rickshaws running each day. They are the ecologically preferred and main mode of transport in the city.
Visit the multi-storey National Museum and Institute of Arts and Crafts for a taste of Dhaka’s history and culture. Shop in comfort at Bashundhara City, a 10-storey Asian shopping mall, or get stuck in and haggle at New Market (closed on Tuesdays). Avoid food sold by street vendors and stick to restaurants, which are particularly good in upscale Gulshan. When you need to escape from the frenzy of the city, pack a picnic and head 40km north to the 1600 acres of forest and parkland at the National Park.