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Arrival and departure

The British Council writing for professionals

 

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About Bangladesh


Geography
| Climate | Main Cities | Currency | Working Hours | Population | Language | Literacy rate | Religion | Transport | What to do in Dhaka |


Geography

Location
Between 2034 and 2638' north latitude between 8801 and 9241 east longitude.

Boundary
North: India West: India South: Bay of Bengal East: India and Burma.

Area:
The country covers an area of 57,295 sq miles / 148.393 sq km - approximately the size of England and Wales combined.


Climate

The climate of Bangladesh is sub-tropical


Main Seasons

Winter - November to February Maximum 29 degrees C
  Minimum 11 degrees C
Summer - March to June Maximum 34 degrees C
  Minimum 21 degrees C
Monsoon - July to October Maximum 35 degrees C (average rainfall 1194 - 3454 mm)
  Minimum 30 degrees C

Except during the winter months (November to February), temperatures are high throughout the year. The hottest months are May to July. Relative humidity between 80 and 90 percent also makes these the most uncomfortable months. Some slight relief from the heat is provided by the monsoon rains from June to August.

Winter, the most pleasant season in Bangladesh, is dry, sunny and comfortably warm. March sees a change, often a sudden one in the weather with a marked rise in both temperature and humidity.


Main Cities


There are 5 main cities in Bangladesh:  Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Sylhet. Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh, Chittagong is the sea port with a British Council office and Sylhet has the largest British - Bangladeshi community.


Currency

The unit of currency is called the 'Taka' (not sub-divided)

The exchange rate is approximately Tk 90 =   1
  Tk 60 =   $1

Denominations of currency: Notes: Tk.500,100, 50, 20,10, 5, 2, 1
Currency exchange subject to changes in exchange rate & inflation

   

Working Hours:

Government office hours are: Saturday to Wednesday - 0900-1600
Thursday - 0900-1430
Office hours are usually shorter during Ramadan (Ramzan)

Banking hours: Saturday to Wednesday - 0900-1500
Thursday - 0900-1300

Population:


The latest census figures show a population of 124.4 million.
GDP per capita is USD25.2.
The population growth rate remains at about 2.2% per year.
The majority of the population live in the rural areas.
Agriculture accounts for 35% of GDP and 65% of employment.
The population of the capital city Dhaka is estimated at over 10 million.

Language:


Bengali (Bangla) is the official language although English is widely understood and spoken in Dhaka and larger towns.

Literacy rate:


The literacy rate is optimistically reported as 35.3 of the population over 15 years old, 47% male and 22% female (Source: UNESCO, Paris, Statistical Yearbook, 1994).

Religion:


The state religion is Islam. There are also Hindus, Buddhists and Christians in Bangladesh.

Muslims 87%
Hindus 12%
Buddhists
Christians & Others 1%

Transport

Air:

The domestic air services of Bangladesh Biman (the national carrier) connects Dhaka with: Chittagong, Rajshahi, Jessore, Sylhet - daily.  Cox's Bazar, Ishurdi, Saidpur - two or three times a week.  There are also two private airlines operating to the above destinations:  GMG and Air Parabat. The British Council can provide schedules on request.

Rail:
The rail network covers the whole country except the Barisal and Tangail districts. Rail travel is inexpensive by comparison to Britain. There are now fast train services. First class travel is advised to avoid over-crowded conditions.

Taxis:
Conventional taxis, black saloons with yellow tops, are available at the main hotels and the airport and are very expensive. Yellow coloured cabs are now available. These run on meters. The main hotels run an airport to city bus service which is much cheaper. Rental cars are also available in the city and outside Dhaka.

  Taxi Cabs Yellow Black
  Contact 9352847 8713236 2
       
  First 2 km
Thereafter per km
One minute wait
TK=30/-
TK=10/-
TK=1.5/-
TK=20/-
TK=7.5/-
TK=1/-



What to do in Dhaka?

| Principal areas | Tourist sites | outside Dhaka | Restaurants | Shopping |

The capital city of Bangladesh is Dhaka. The offices of the Central Government and the Diplomatic missions are based there. Dhaka is a sprawling city with few landmarks and newcomers usually take some time to find their sense of direction.


Principal areas:

  • The old town crowded along the River Buriganga is the site of most of the tourist attractions, the Lalbagh Fort, the Star Mosque, Nawab Ahsan Manzil and the Armenian Church.
  • The spacious parkland suburb of Ramna. Most of the Government offices, two universities and the British Council are located in this area. The Secretariat Building which houses most Government Ministries is in Abdul Ghani Road. In colonial times Ramna was the administrative headquarters for East Bengal and several splendid buildings, principally Curzon Hall and the Supreme Court, survive from this period.
  • East of Ramna and beyond the National Stadium lies the commercial area of Motijheel. Most of the large business houses and international firms and banks (Standard Chartered and Grindlays) are found in these areas. The British Council manages and runs a British Council Information Centre situated in the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • West of Ramna and the Mirpur Road are the residential areas of Dhanmondi, Lalmatia and Mohammadpur. The residential character of Dhanmondi is changing as more houses are converted into offices. The offices of most of the United Nations agencies are located in Dhanmondi, as are those of many international voluntary organisations. The British Council's Teaching Centre is located in Dhanmondi.
  • At the lower end of Mirpur Road are the shopping areas of New Market and Elephant Road.  Horrendously busy but often worth it.
  • Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, the site of the intended second capital in Pakistani days is dominated by the massive new National Assembly. The neighbouring red brick buildings are the houses of senior Government officials. The whole complex is the work of the American architect Louis Khan. The Planning Commission, the Agriculture Complex (Farmgate) and the Jute Research Institute are all in this area.
  • Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara on the north side of the town in the direction of the Zia International Airport, are the new residential areas. The majority of the expatriate community live in these areas. The British High Commission and most diplomatic missions are in Gulshan or Baridhara. A new British High Commission building was completed in Baridhara in 1992.

back to what to do in Dhaka


Tourist sites


Suhrawardy Uddyan (Garden) : At a stone's throw from Dhaka Sheraton Hotel is the Suhrawardy Uddyan, formerly known as the 'race cource', the popular park of the city. It is here that the oath for independence of Bangladesh was taken on the 7th March 1971 and curiously enough it is again here that the commander of the occupied forces surrendered on the 16th December 1971.

Shishu Park: The Child Education & Recreation Park is also located in a corner of Suhrawardy Uddyan.

National Assembly Complex: Sangsad Bhaban, the National Assembly Complex in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar designed by the famous architect Luis I Khan has distinctive architectural features.

Baldha Garden: Baldha Garden has collection of rare plants and flowers.

Ramna Green: Ramna Park is a vast stretch of green ground surrounded by a serpentine lake.

Zoological garden: Called Mirpur Zoo, is situated at Mirpur 16 km NW of Dhaka, on 230 acres of land.

Botanical Garden: Built over an area of 205 acres of land at Mirpur just east of the Zoo. - The gardens were designated as a place for botanical education, research, preservation of plants and some recreation.

Bara Katra: This building of grand scale, now almost in ruins, is one of the most important remains of the Mughal period in Dhaka. It is of the type of 'Katra' with a gigantic frontage towards the river Buriganga. It was built by Abul Qasim, Dewan of Shah Shuja in 1644 A.D. It served the purpose of a caravanseral.

Chota Katra: Situated about 200 yards east of Bara Katra, Chota Katra was built in 1663 A.D. by Nawab Shaista Khan. This is of similar plan and purpose as the Bara Katra but is smaller in size.

National Museum: The Museum contains a large number of interesting collections including sculptures and paintings of the Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim periods as well as inscriptions of the Holy Quran in Arabic and Persian letters and Bengali works in the Arabic script. The museum also has a rich collection of old coins, metal images, books on art, ivory and silver filigree works.

Ahsan Manzil Museum: On the bank of the river Buriganga in Dhaka the pink majestic Ashan Manzil has been renovated and turned into a museum recently. It is an epitome of the nation's rich cultural heritage. It was the home of the Nawab of Dhaka and a silent spectator to many events. Today's renovated Ahsan Manzil is a monument of immense historical beauty. It has 31 rooms with a huge dome atop which can be seen from miles around. It now has 23 galleries in 31 rooms displaying portraits, furniture and household articles and utensils used by the Nawab.

National Art Gallery: Situated in the Shilpakala Academy premises it has a representative collection of folk art and painting by artists of Bangladesh.

National Park: Situated at Rajendarpur, 40 km due north of old Dhaka, within Joydebpur Police Station in the magnificent Bhawal region of Dhaka-Trishal-Mymensingh highway, this is a vast (1,600 acres) national recreational forest, ideal for those who love nature.

National Memorial: Located at Savar, in the suburb of Dhaka city is the National Memorial. It was built to commemorate the martyrs of the war of independence. Jahangirnagar University and its sprawling campus is also located nearby. An attractive village bazar (hat) is held at Savar every Saturday and Tuesday where typical Bangladeshi sweets, vegetables, fish, seasonal fruits and handicrafts are available. Sonargaon: About 29 km from Dhaka,

Sonargaon is one of the oldest capitals of Bengal. It was the seat of Deva Dynasty until the 13th centrury. From then onward till the advent of the Mughals, Sonargaon was a subsidiary capital of the Sultanate of Bengal. Among the ancient monuments still intact are the Tomb of Sultan Ghiasuddin (1399-1409 A.D.), the shrines of Panjpirs and Shah Abdul Alla and a beautiful mosque in Goaldi village. A folk Art Museum has been established at Sonargaon.

BPC Head Office Complex:
The Head Office Complex of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation at Airport Road also houses Tourist Information Centre, Rent-a-Car, Sightseeing Tours and Parjatan Accommodation booking offices.

Sightseeing Tours:
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation runs conducted sightseeing tours from its Tourist Information Centre at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel. The Corporation operates a number of other interesting sightseeing tours around the Dhaka City (tel: 8119192). For the transit passengers the Corporation also runs special city sightseeing tours from the Tourist information Centre, Zia International Airport, telephone: 8914416.

Additionally, a private company (Guide Tours) offers a number of tours within Bangladesh. They are used by the British Council and most expatriates and come highly recommended.

back to what to do in Dhaka


Outside Dhaka


There are many places of interest outside Dhaka City.

The Sundarban Forest: This area is the largest remaining single tropical mangrove forest in the world, covering an area of 5770 sq km of both land and water. The western part of the forest lies in the India, while the rest - about 60% - is in Bangladesh. Although wildlife is not as abundant as might be expected, there are still a few Royal Bengal Tigers, as well as monkeys, crocodiles, snakes, wild boars, innumerable spotted deer and water birds.

Cox's Bazar lies 150km south to Chittagong. The beach is supposedly the longest beach in the world and stretches 120km down to the Myanmar border.

The tea country around Sylhet Tea is Bangladesh's third largest export after garments and labour. Most of the country's tea plantations are situated in the north-east region of the country around Sylhet and Srimongol. It is well worth arranging a visit to this area - the rolling hills covered in tropical forests, orange groves, pineapple plantations and over 150 tea plantations are very picturesque and a nice contrast to the flatness of most of Bangladesh.


Restaurants


There are a lot of good restaurants in Dhaka City. For details see the attached "The GEC Guide to "Eating Out in Dhaka". (Currently updating) Since the publication of "Eating Out in Dhaka" a number of new restaurants have opened. The British Council can provide names on request.


Shopping


Bargaining is part of shopping in Bangladesh. Few places have "fixed prices" so bargaining is expected.

Where to shop:

DIT 1 (Dhaka Improvement Trust): Furniture, groceries, household appliances, stationery, clothes and tailors, fruit and vegetables. Opening hours 9.00 am to 8.00 pm. Some shops may close at 3.00 PM for a few hours.

DIT 2 : Fresh produce, shops and restaurants. Brass shops and art galleries that also do framing. Sports equipment, electrical goods etc.

Aarong: Tejgaon
- Gulshan Link Road (new). This shop is modern spacious and offers plenty of products. These range from furniture to clothes. The other attraction of this shop is the "Grass Roots Cafe" where excellent milkshakes are to be found. Another branch of Aarong situated on Mirpur Road opposite of Manik Mia Avenue near the Sangsad Bhaban.

Banga Bazar: Crowded but a good place to scour cheap, clothing from Garment factories.


Arrival and departure

Visas
| Customs | Airport Tax | Money |

Visas

All visitors will require a valid visa obtainable from the Bangladesh High Commission before departure to Bangladesh. Bangladesh Missions are available in 56 countries around the world. If the traveler is a national of a country where there is no Bangladesh Mission, they can have a landing permit of a single entry visa on arrival at the airport with a payment of a visa fee of UK Sterling £40 or $ 60. No other currency is acceptable. Validity of such visa is from one week to 12 weeks maximum and not extendable.
For those who are British passport holders and would like to visit Bnagladesh, but if they are coming from a country where there is no Bangladehi Mission, then the visitor must obtain their visa from the UK, or from nearby country which houses a Bnagladeshi Mission.

Contact the British High Commission for further details

Customs

A tourist may import limited quantities of alcohol, tobacco and small presents, camera, Laptop, PCs without tax.

Airport Tax

On leaving Dhaka all passengers on international flights are required to pay an airport tax of Taka 2500( Two thousand five hundred), irrespective of destination. The tax is collectedby teh airlines during check in , IN CASH.

Money

A visitor may bring upto $5000 foreign exchange in the form of traveller's cheques or foreign currency.


Useful Addresses

The British Council

5 Fuller Road
Dhaka - 1000
Telephone: + 00 88 (02) 861 8905-7, 861 8867-8
Fax: 00 88 (02) 861 3375, 861 3255
E-mail : dhaka.enquiries@bd.britishcouncil.org

The British High Commission
United Nations Road
Baridhara
Dhaka
Bangladesh
Telephone: 00 88 (02) 882 705-7
Fax: 00 88 (02) 882 3437
E-mail : chancery@dhaka.mail.fco.gov.uk

Alliance Francaise
26 Mirpur Road (corner of Rd 3)
Dhanmondi
Dhaka
Bangladesh
Telephone: 00 88 (02) 861 1557,

American Cultural Centre/USIS
House 110
Road 27
Banani
Telephone: 00 88 (02) 881 3440

The Russian Cultural Centre
House 510
Road 7
Dhanmondi
Dhaka.
Telephone: 00 88 (02) 911 8531

 

Dress

People dress for comfort. Office wear for men is usually trousers with cotton shirts. Men should not wear shorts in public. For women, dresses, skirts and loose trousers are the most comfortable. In Muslim countries exposure of the legs is frowned upon. Very short skirts are not appropriate. The upper arms are usually covered and low necklines avoided. For travelling within Bangladesh many women buy locally made shalwar kameez outfits (Pakistani style loose fitting trousers and tops).


Health

Immunisations
| General Practitioners | Dentist | FCO Recommendations |

Visitors are advised to drink only water which has been boiled and filtered. If you take regular medication, you should bring supplies with you. Most drugs and medicines are however available in Bangladesh either over the counter or through the British Clinic (medicines from the Clinic are expensive as they are imported).


Immunisations:


Malarial and dengue fever mosquitoes are found in Bangladesh and visitors should seek medical advice before travelling.

Medical facilities are basic - making it more likely that patients will need to seek treatment abroad.


Doctors


British High Commission and British Council staff use the British High Commission Clinic at:

Elizabeth House
House 23 Park Road (Corner of Rd 6)
Baridhara
Dhaka
Bangladesh
Telephone 00 88 (02) 882 4345

The following Doctor is the member of the British High Commission Medical Panel.

Dr. M A Wahab
General Practitioner
House 3
Road 12
Baridhara
Dhaka
Bangladesh
Telephone 00 88 (02) 882 1454, 882 7553
Saturday to Thursday 0800-1200, 1600-2000
Fridays 0900-1000 AM


Dentists


Dr David Johnson
House 52
Road 11
Banani
Dhaka
Bangladesh
Telephone + 00 88 (02) 604 415 882 2849

Seventh Day Adventist
Dental Clinic
78 Gulshan Avenue
Gulshan
Dhaka
Bangladesh
Telephone + 00 88 (02) 602 845, 882 2529



Electricity

220v (AC) / 50Hz 2 pin plugs

Please note however that the British Council (offices and houses), British Aid Guest House (BAGH) and Hotel Sheraton are provided with standard 3 pin 13 AMP sockets as used in the UK.

Delicate electronic or electrical equipment should be linked to a voltage stabilizer



Postal Services

International and external postal services are reliable. Bulky and unusual items are sometimes held up by the foreign post office, but aerogramme and ordinary airmail letters are delivered quickly and safely. The British Council can advise on options for both sending and receiving mail.

Telephones

The telephone system is largely reliable and telephones can be found with relative ease.



Time


GMT + 6 hours



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