Waterways, Wildlife and Hill Tribes

Bangladesh definitely isn’t the most obvious choice for a holiday destination. For travellers, its enormous neighbour to the west has long overshadowed it. In contrast to the well-frequented sites of India, Bangladesh experiences almost no tourism whatsoever. This makes it a real joy to explore and means that experiences are utterly authentic.

We start our two-week trip in the capital Dhaka, one of the world’s most populous cities, with its fascinating street life and historic sites. Since Bangladesh is a country defined by its waterways we then cruise south past timeless scenes of riverside life, on our way to the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. Here we explore the channels and islands in search of Bangladesh’s wildlife including monkeys, crocodiles and the majestic – but elusive – Bengal tiger.

The next stage of our journey explores the country’s complex history, visiting the impressive Hindu temples at Puthia and the remains of Bangladesh’s ancient Buddhist civilisation at Paharpur and Mahastangarh. From here we drive into the tea country of Srimongal, a charming area of beautiful plantations, traditional villages and a peaceful contrast to the country’s often hectic cities.

Finally, we explore a different side of the country as we venture into the Chittagong Hill Tracts, home to traditional ethnic minorities with their own cultures, customs and language. Here we visit tribal markets and villages to gain an insight into their unique way of life. These seem more akin to South East Asia than the rest of the subcontinent and are a highlight of the trip. Finally, we travel back to Dhaka by train.

Bangladesh surprises and charms those who visit, with exceptionally friendly people, intriguing historic sites and a wealth of wildlife packed into its compact borders.

Waterways, Wildlife and Hill Tribes

Highlights

  • Experience vibrant Dhaka
  • Visit ancient Buddhist monuments
  • Meet the tribes of the Chittagong Hills
  • Look for tigers in the Sundarbans
  • Explore the tea plantations of Srimongal

Day 1 - Dhaka

Arrive in Dhaka and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free. Overnight Hotel Victory or similar.


Day 2 - Dhaka

Spend today exploring this vibrant city, one of the largest in South Asia. We visit some of its most interesting sights including the Armenian Church, the historic Ahsan Manzil, Dhakeshwari Temple and the chaotic Shakari bazaar. Later we transfer to the river port for our overnight ferry to Morolganj. Overnight first class cabins on board. (B)

Dhaka

Dhaka is one of the world’s mega-cities, with a population of around 20 million – as well as this it’s one of the most densely populated, a fact you can well believe as you wind your way through its chaotic, bustling streets. The city rose to prominence as a provincial capital of the Moghul Empire in the 17th century, and was an important regional trading centre, hosting merchants from across Europe and Asia.

In the late eighteenth century, the British East India Company took control of the city as part of their expansion across the subcontinent, and today there are still many examples of architecture from the British Raj to be found in the city. Sightseeing in Dhaka is about the people as much as the actual sights, but the city hosts a wealth of historic monuments, from Hindu temples to elaborate mosques, and British era churches. Some of the most interesting places to explore are the traditional bazaars, a hive of activity and colour, if rather hectic at times!

Day 3 - Mongla

Spend the day cruising through the planet’s largest delta and watching timeless scenes of riverside life. We cruise through the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmpautra Rivers, which collectively contains more water than all the rivers in Europe. In the afternoon arrive at Morolganj and from here transfer to Mongla. Overnight Pasur Hotel or similar. (B)


Day 4 - Bagerhat – Sundarbans

This morning we visit the Shait Gumbad mosque, with its more than eighty domes and constructed in the 15th century. From here we head to the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to a wide variety of wildlife, including Bengal tiger, monkeys, deer and Irrawaddy dolphins. Board our cruise boat and head out onto the waters, spending tonight on board. (BLD)


Days 5-6 - Sundarbans - Khulna

Explore the waterways and forests by boat, travelling on both the larger and smaller channels to maximise our chances for wildlife viewing. We also make shore excursions to experience the forest first hand. In the afternoon of Day 6, we disembark and drive to Khulna. Day 5 – overnight on board (BLD), Day 6 – overnight Western Inn or similar (BL).

Sundarbans

The Sundarbans are the world’s largest mangrove forest, stretching between India and Bangladesh and covering over ten thousand square kilometres. In densely populated Bangladesh, this is the best place for spotting wildlife, and species found here include spotted deer, monkeys, otters, crocodiles, dolphins and of course the Bengal Tiger – around four hundred are found in the forests here, although you have to be lucky to see one, as always. Birdlife here is also excellent, with almost three hundred species here. The Sundarbans provide a natural barrier against disasters such as cyclones, but its existence is under threat as sea levels rise and the salinity of the area increases.

Day 7 - Puthia - Rajshahi

Travel by train to Rajshahi through rural landscapes. We then visit the impressive Hindu temples at Puthia, built by the renowned Devi family in the 19th century. Overnight Parjatan Hotel or similar. (B)


Day 8 - Paharpur – Bogra

Visit the UNESCO listed Paharpur, one of Bangladesh’s most impressive archaeological sites from the 8th century. This Buddhist complex contains an enormous temple and monastery, decorated with plaques depicting deities. From here continue to Bogra. Overnight Siesta Hotel or similar. (B)


Day 9 - Mahastangarh – Dhaka

Visit Mahastangarh, another UNESCO site and Buddhist monastery from the 3rd century BC. Drive back to Dhaka, crossing the Jamuna bridge, Bangladesh’s longest. Overnight Afford Inn or similar. (B)


Days 10-11 - Srimongal

Travel to Srimongal, the country’s tea capital. We spend our time here exploring picturesque tea plantations, visiting villages of the Monipuri tribal people, and hiking in the Lowacheera forest, home to the endangered Hoolock gibbon. This is a beautiful area and a tranquil alternative to Bangladesh’s bustling cities. On Day 11, we take the overnight train to Chittagong. Overnight Nishorgo Eco-Resort or similar (Day 10) and train (Day 11). (B)


Day 12 - Chittagong - Rangamati

Arrive in the port city of Chittagong, known for its huge ship breaking yards – we will try to visit these if possible, but sometimes local restrictions prevent this. From here we head into the foothills of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, home to Bangladesh’s indigenous tribal groups, and drive to the town of Rangamati on the shores of Kaptai Lake. Overnight Parjatan Hotel or similar. (B)


Days 13-14 - Chittagong Hill Tracts

We spend two days exploring this ethnically diverse area, sailing on the lake and visiting markets, a great meeting place for tribal people. We venture further into the hills and head to Ruma, home to the friendly Bawm people, to learn more about the cultures and customs here – very different from the rest of the country. Overnight Prajatan Hotel (Day 13) and simple local guesthouse (Day 14) or similar. (Day 13 – B, Day 14 – BLD)

Chittagong Hill Tracts

The Chittagong Hill Tracts provide a stark contrast to the rest of Bangladesh, with their hills, valleys and variety of different ethnic groups. Historically this was administered under a separate system by the British, a fact which has gone on to produce unforeseen consequences after independence, as many here identify more closely with the people of northeast India and Myanmar than their fellow Bangladeshi citizens. Eleven major ethnic groups live here, the largest of which are the Chakma and the Marma, each with their own dialects, traditional dress and rituals – although their culture is under increasing threat from continued Bengali immigration to the area.

Day 15 - Chittagong – Dhaka

Drive back to Chittagong and from here take the train back to Dhaka, arriving in the evening. Overnight Afford Inn or similar. (B)


Day 16 - Dhaka

Transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)


Man in Dhaka market - Bangladesh tour
Boys in Bangladesh village - Bangladesh holidays
River scene in northern Bangladesh

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    You will be accompanied by an English-speaking guide.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively, a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however, you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

All travellers will require a visa to enter Bangladesh, which must be obtained before travel. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations, you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum, you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

The local currency in India is the taka. British pound sterling, US dollars or Euros are all fine to bring for exchange purposes.

It’s not difficult to change money here, either at banks or the hotels and your guide can assist with this.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO advises against travel to some parts of Bangladesh that this trip visits (the Chittagong Hill Tracts).

We work very closely with our local team and are fully confident that we can operate tours safely in Bangladesh. Should you have any concerns over safety please do not hesitate to contact us and we can address your concerns.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated May 2019

Man in Dhaka market - Bangladesh tour
Boys in Bangladesh village - Bangladesh holidays
River scene in northern Bangladesh
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
26 November 2021
Price (PP) -
£2,349
Single Supplement -
£300
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
25 November 2022
Price (PP) -
£2,399
Single Supplement -
£300
Trip Status -
Available