Bangladesh is one of the less touristy destinations in the World according to a survey done by the World Bank. It is a hidden gem in Asia, sharing its border with India and Myanmar. With less crowd of tourists, there are no tourism-related scams, relatively less transport cost and locals warm-heartedly welcome foreigners into their land.
I have made a list of offbeat destinations in Bangladesh besides Sundarbans, Dhaka and Cox’s Bazaar that you shouldn’t miss. These places will provide you experiences which are off the beaten tracks and are less crowded. You can easily fly to the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka and travel to each of these spots either in local buses, cabs or trains.
By Nafisa of My Own Way To Travel
If you’re looking for a quiet and offbeat destination to enjoy your holiday, then Bandarban is the perfect destination for you. Bandarban district is a part of Chittagong Hill Tracts and blessed with many naturally beautiful tourist spots. Hiking and trekking are also one of the popular activities where you’ll find a list of mountain ranges and the tallest peaks of Bangladesh. If you love mountains and wish to trek in some of the remote mountain areas, then Keokradong in Bandarban is the best choice. It is also the highest peak of Bangladesh.
Some of the must-visit tourist places during your Bandarban tour are Nilgiri, Nilachal, Thanchi, Shoilo Propat, Buddha Dhatu Jadi, Rijuk Waterfall, Sangu River, and Boga Lake.
A river cruise on the Sangu is one of the top things to do in Bandarban. While cruising, you’ll see many tribals and their lifestyle on the riverside. This cruise will also take you to explore the most beautiful 300 ft long Rijuk Waterfall. You can also visit many tribal villages in Chimbuk, but it is not safe to visit extreme remote areas where tourists aren’t allowed.
Nilgiri and Nilachal are best to explore the extreme beauty of the scenery from 2000-3500 ft above sea level. Buddha Dhatu Jadi or Swarna Mandir is the largest Buddhist temple in the country and worth to visit the largest statue of Buddha. Shoilo Propat is the naturally beautiful waterfall and located close to Thanchi.
During the monsoon (June to October) is the best time to travel Bandarban. All ranges of hotels and resorts are there to stay. Direct bus service is available from Dhaka to Bandarban. Furthermore, you can also fly from Dhaka to Chittagong and then can take a car to reach the central city. You can explore all around by taxi or auto-rickshaw.
By Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the wealthy town of Panam Nagar, a locality of Sonargaon was the home of rich Hindu textile merchants. Panam Nagar was of such importance and prestige during the British colonial era that the East India Company even had its permanent offices built here.
For more than a decade, Panam Nagar has been an abandoned ghost town, a shadow of its former glory. While it’s sad to see so much splendor lying in ruin, it is this faded grandeur that makes Panam Nagar a hauntingly beautiful place.
There were a couple of reasons for Panam Nagar’s downfall, the first of which was a huge fire. It’s not clear exactly what caused the fire, but storing all those textile fabrics inside the buildings was certainly a fire hazard.
After Partition, when the Indian subcontinent was divided along religious lines, the Hindu merchants fled to India, leaving their homes in the hands of caretakers with a hope to return one day, but they never did.
About 50 of the original buildings are still standing along the main thoroughfare and are slowly being engulfed by vegetation. The architecture is a mix of European and Bengal styles. World Monument Fund declared Panam Nagar as one of the 100 ruinous historical establishments in the year of 2016.
To get to Panam Nagar from Dhaka, take the local “Meghla” bus from Gulistan Station and get off at Magrapara Crossing. From there, you can take a rickshaw the rest of the way to Panam Nagar, about 30 kilometers southeast of Dakar. There aren’t many facilities here, so bring a packed lunch of local subcontinent food or wait until you get back to Dhaka to eat. Other attractions of Sonargaon are the 15th-century Goaldi Mosque and the Folk Arts & Craft museum.
Ulpur (Zamindar Badi)
During 1850, most of the Gopalganj area was ruled by Zamindars out of which the Basu Roy Chowdhury family founded Ulpur, a village in the North of Gopalganj as the seat of their Zamindari. Zamindars were the landlords in the colonial era and a Zamindari system was in place to collect taxes from peasants. The taxes were then handed over to British authorities with the Zamindar keeping a portion for himself. The Basu Roy Chowdhury family lost their ancestral house in Ulpur during India’s partition of 1947.
Multiple styles of architecture were developed over the long history of Bangladesh under a diverse range of power domains and cultural influences. Many of the abandoned palatial houses of the Zamindars still stand firmly in Ulpur and are now occupied by the locals.
The Zamindar houses are still remarkable for their functional plans, structural system, and artistic compositions. The smaller temples and ponds in the village are in a crumbling condition, but the main Kali temple is still in use and has been recently renovated. My husband is also a descendant of the Zamindar Basu family of Ulpur and loves to look at the photos of his ancestral house & reconnect with all the others living in Kolkata.
A visit to the Zamindar badis (houses) of Ulpur can be a great offbeat day trip from Dhaka/Gopalganj. To get to Ulpur from Dhaka, you need to first reach Gopalganj via bus. Gopalganj town is located approximately 160 km away from Dhaka via Mawa Ferry Ghat. Ulpur is only 12 km away from Gopalganj and can be easily reached. Walking or hiring a rickshaw are the best options to explore all the scattered buildings in the village of Ulpur, which was once the center of the district with its colorful markets and active cultural life.
A verdant city situated on the banks of the Brahmaputra river, Mymensingh offers a lovely riverside setting, a smidgen of Raj-era buildings and one of the most interesting old quarters in Bangladesh. Mymensingh is one of the old districts of Bangladesh constituted by the British East India Company and has a rich culture and a lengthy history.
Often Mymensingh is referred to as the City of Old Palaces. Among the beautiful edifices built in the early days, the Shoshi Lodge, Alexander Castle, and Gouripur Lodge attract the most people. Shoshi Lodge is in the heart of the city which is also known as the Residential Palace of Maharaja Shoshi Kanta Acharya. Situated near the Brahmaputra river, it’s being used as Women Teachers’ Training College from the year 1952.
On the other hand, Alexander Castle is one of the most amazing and prominent structures in Mymensingh District. It was built by Maharaja Surya Kanta Acharya in the year of 1879 in memory of the 1st Zilla magistrate of Mymensingh – Mr. N .S Alexander at the time of the Jubilee festival.
Both the buildings had once contained innumerable works of art, artifacts, sculptures and antiques collected from all over the world and now have been declared as National Heritage Monuments.
Other interesting places in Mymensingh includes the Muktagacha Zamindar badi (house). The interesting story behind the name of the area is that when the ruler Srikrishna Acharya arrived here, a local inhabitant named Muktaram Kormokar greeted him with a large brass lamp stand known as Gachha in the local language. Having pleased by this gratitude, he renamed the area as Muktagacha stringing the local’s first name with the lamp.
If you have a bit of sweet tooth, then you should definitely make a day trip to Muktagacha to try the local sweetmeat called the Monda, a grainy sort of soft yogurt patty. When you take a bite, the individual granules of the cooked yogurt separate and melt into the mouth, filling it with their sweet goodness. It was first created by Ram Gopal Pal for Maharaja Surya Kanta Acharya in 1824. The fifth generation of Ram Gopal Pal now creates this heritage sweet in Muktagacha.
You can easily reach Mymensingh from Dhaka aboard any local bus or can hire your own car from your hotel in Dhaka. There are many train services as well from Dhaka to Mymensingh. Mymensingh also acts as an ideal starting point for off-the-beaten-track excursions further north, a rarely visited region dotted with Garo villages and enfolded in lush, green landscapes. A boat ride on the majestic Brahmaputra river will also be the highlight to your trip to Mymensingh.
By Lena of Nagoya Foodie
If you love nature and you happen to be in Bangladesh it is time to get out of Dhaka the hustling and bustling capital and get to Sylhet in the north-east of the country.
There is a lot of nature around Sylhet, but Ratargul Swamp Forest might just be the most beautiful place around. The scenery is like nothing I had seen before, the freshwater swamp is covered with winding and twisting trees and a wide variety of birds the only specks of color and the only source of sound within the otherwise still forest.
The only way to go is by a boat and not the motorized kind we are so used to, but rather powered by the strong muscles of your driver.
Other interesting places around Sylhet include the Bisnakandi village at the border to India with a beautiful river flowing through, the beautiful green-water canal Lalakhal, a stone collection area in Jaflong and the biggest tea plantations in the world just outside the city.
To get to Sylhet from Dhaka the most convenient option is to take a 45-minute flight. There are regular and relatively cheap flights every day operated by the local Bangladesh airlines. There are also buses and trains but they take between 5 and 8 hours depending on traffic and other reasons for delays. Of course, these options are more budget-friendly and give you a completely new perception of the less touristy country.
With so many offbeat travel destinations to explore, Bangladesh is one of the very few countries which are not yet fully commercialized. You will fall in love with the place and its hard-working people. When in Bangladesh, don’t forget to try their local cuisine including the seven-layered tea, palm wine, and Shidol dried-fish chutney.
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