16 Days in South Asia's newest destination!
Forget what you think you know about Bangladesh. We say this because after visiting there, we were totally amazed at the incredible beauty of the country.
Bangladesh is very close to Nepal. Situated on the northern tip of the Bay of Bengal, it features some of the finest beaches in all of Asia. There are incredible Buddhist pagodas and monasteries nestled deep in the hills of the eastern end of the country.
When it comes to hospitality, there is nothing quite like how you will be treated in Bangladesh. The country has not seen many foreign tourists, and they delight in welcoming you with incredible hospitality.
The country is rapidly progressing. New four lane highways are being constructed as well as elevated highways in the capital city of Dhaka and the chief port city of Chittagong. There are three international airports in Bangladesh with soon to be a fourth one at Cox's Bazar on the gold coast of the country.
Bangladesh is incredibly green. There are the foothills of the Himalayas in the Bandarban. There are over 700 rivers in this country, most of which are part of the famed Ganges River system.
Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition is pleased to be one of the very first travel companies to offer the Bangladesh experience. In the Ultimate Tour of Bangladesh, we will take you to the old city of Dhaka, then off to the Sundarban for a tour of the world's largest mangrove forest at the mouth of the Ganges River. The Sundarban is the home of the elusive Royal Bengal Tigers. Then it is off to the beaches of Cox's Bazar where you will see incredible Buddhist temples as well as the longest shark-free sea beach in the world. There is the incredible Bandarban region which is the foothills of the Himalayas. There is also the coral reef island of St. Martin's Island where you can enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling or just doing some beach combing on this tranquil place in the Bay of Bengal.
This is the time to see Bangladesh before the tourists arrive. Come now and enjoy the unspoiled land so close to Nepal, yet a very different world that will leave you wanting to come back again.
DAY 1 – Arrival at Dhaka.
DAY 2 – Touring of Old Dhaka
DAY 3 – Fly to Jessore, and then travel to Khulna, the 3rd largest city at the gateway to the Sundarban Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
DAY 4 – Day One of the Sundarban Trip as you cruise down the river on the way to the Bay of Bengal.
DAY 5 – Trekking and touring by boat in the Sundarban as well as traveling on the Bay of Bengal.
DAY 6 – Return to Khulna while spending the day traveling through the Sundarban.
DAY 7 – Fly to Dhaka, and then fly to Cox's Bazar.
DAY 8 – Tour Buddhist Temples in nearby village of Ramu.
DAY 9 – Free Day to enjoy shopping in Cox's Bazar or the beach.
DAY 10 – Travel to St. Martin's Island
DAY 11 – Spend the day exploring St. Martin's Island
DAY 12 – Return to Cox's Bazar
DAY 13 – Travel to Bandarban
DAY 14 – Tour Buddhist Temples, take a boat trip on the Sangu River
DAY 15 – Travel to Dhaka.
Day 16 – Departure
DAY 1 – Arrival: Arrive at the International Airport in Dhaka where you will be met by a representative of Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition and taken to your Three Star Hotel near the airport. In the evening, there will be an orientation meeting as you prepare for incredible vacation in Asia's newest destination.
DAY 2 – Old Dhaka: Dhaka is has served as the capital city for over 400 years. Our destination will be Old Dhaka, situated on the banks of the Buriganga River. We will tour the narrow streets of Old Dhaka, famous for its goldsmiths. There are more goldsmiths in Old Dhaka than anywhere else in the world! There are incredible Muslim Mosques that date back to the time of the Mughal Empire. Visit the most sacred Hindu Temple in Bangladesh, then the incredible Armenian Christian Church. The Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace) overlooks the river and will be toured. Try some of the local food at the Royal Hotel which is famous for its grilled chicken. Return to your hotel in the evening.
DAY 3 – Jessore and Khulna: Today you will fly from Dhaka to Jessore in the southwestern part of the country. Jessore is the sight of a major battle for liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971. Once the city fell to joint Indian and Bangladeshi Freedom Fighters in December of 1971, it was just a matter of days before Dhaka surrendered and a new nation was born. We will travel to our hotel in the nearby city of Khulna, the third largest city in Bangladesh as we prepared to start our tour of the Sundarban.
DAY 4 – Mongla and the Sundarban: We rise early this morning to take a short trip to the port of Mongla where we will board our boat for a three day journey into the Sundarban National Park. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is covers 10,000 square kilometers. It is the world's largest mangrove forest, and the park is a network of many rivers. We leave the main shipping channel for a more intimate tour. It takes us around eight hours to reach Hiron Point, which is on the Bay of Bengal. We travel by luxury boat where you will have your own cabin. Watch along the way for crocodiles and Royal Bengal Tigers. We will anchor in the river near Hiron Point for the night.
DAY 5 – Bay of Bengal: The Sundarban is the mouth of the Ganges River System, whose waters are sacred to the Hindus. We will do some walking in the forest (the name Sundarban means beautiful forest). Part of the day will feature a cruise on the Bay of Bengal before returning to the river where we will anchor for the night.
DAY 6 – Return to Khulna: The journey will return by river to the port city of Mongla where we will then return to our Hotel in Khulna for the night.
DAY 7 – Fly to Cox's Bazar: We travel early morning back to Jessore where we will catch a 35 minute flight back to Dhaka. Once we arrive at the domestic airport, we will then take a flight to Cox's Bazar where we will check into our Five Star Hotel near the beach.
DAY 8 – Buddhist Tour: Today we travel to nearby Ramu village where there are a number of Buddhist temples and pagodas. See the 100 foot long Sleeping Buddha, along with a number of ancient temples of Arakanese design from neighboring Myanmar (Burma). One of the sacred temples is over 2300 years old and was established by Emperor Asoka. In the evening, return to your hotel for the night.
DAY 9 – FREE DAY: Today, you are on your own. You can spend the day at the largest shark-free sea beach in the world. You can also shop the markets here, including the Burmese Market where you can find goods from Burma at incredible cheap prices. There is also nearby Inani Beach along with a number of waterfalls in the high dunes that follow the coastline.
DAY 10 – St. Martin's Island: We get up early today to drive to the village of Teknaf where we pick up the boat to St. Martin's Island. The island is the only coral reef island and is situated in the Bay of Bengal across from Myanmar. The boat trip is delightful, taking around 2 ½ hours to reach the island. We will stay at a resort on the beach. There are no four or five star hotels on the island, but the rooms are good and you are right on the water.
DAY 11 – St. Martin's Island: Today, enjoy a variety of activities. You can choose to Scuba Dive or snorkel along the reef. You can explore the island. There are no vehicles allowed on the island, so the only means of transportation is either by local boat, rickshaw or on foot. There is a lot to see and do on the island. You can also choose just to relax on the beach, drinking from a freshly cut coconut. In the evening, feast on freshly caught fish that is grilled to perfection.
DAY 12 – Return to Cox's Bazar: The boat leaves every day around 2 pm and returns to the mainland. Enjoy the morning shopping or relaxing. Once we return to the village of Teknaf, we travel back to our hotel in Cox's Bazar.
DAY 13 – Bandarban: The Bandarban region of Bangladesh is the foothills of the eastern Himalayas. We will travel first to the largest port city of Chittagong, and then go into the Bandarban which contains some of the highest peaks in Nepal. We will travel to Bandarban Town where we will stay nearby at Hillside Resort, the premier ecological resort in the region. Here we will have private cottages that overlook the valley below.
DAY 14 – Tour Buddhist Temples: The morning begins by trekking down to the Sangu River for a boat ride along the river where we will enjoy some of the local sites, as we watch the native population in their daily activities. We will lunch in town with an opportunity to sample some of the local cuisine. The people here are not necessarily Bengalis, but belong to a number of indigenous ethnic groups that call this region home. In the afternoon, visit the Golden Temple, the largest and most impressive of the Buddhist pagodas in Bangladesh. It is situated on a 200 foot high hill that commands an outstanding view of the local area. In the evening, return to Hillside Resort.
DAY 15 – Return to Dhaka: Today return to Dhaka, traveling through Chittagong and then following on the main highway to the capital city. We will cross the Meghna River where we will see many ocean going vessels coming and going. We will pass rice paddies as we watch the local people farming as they have done for centuries. In the evening, we return to our Three Star Hotel near the airport.
DAY 16 – Departure: All good things come to an end, and our trip to Bangladesh has come to an end. From Dhaka, you can easily fly to Kathmandu, Nepal; Kolkata, India; or Rangoon, Myanmar (Burma) for additional trips. Your representative at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can put together your next tour of South Asia. We offer trips into Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India as well as Bangladesh. Be sure to consult with your representative on other exciting possibilities.
SPECIAL NOTE: The People's Republic of Bangladesh requires special entry permits for the Sundarban and Bandarban areas. It takes about one week to get the permits. The cost of the permits is included in the cost of this trip. We will need copies of your passport to present to the proper officials.
Appropriate Dress – Bangladesh is a Muslim country in Asia and women should dress modesty. One piece bathing suits are fine. When visiting Buddhist sites, no shorts are allowed for either men or women. Good shoes are in order for trekking in the Sundarban and Bandarban; otherwise sandals are the norm in the country. You might want to try wearing some of the traditional clothing, which is a loose=fitting kameez for women. This is colorful, long tunic worn with lightweight pants. Men wear lungis, especially in the village area which is very comfortable, but does take some learning in order to tie the knot properly.