If you’re looking for an exotic travel destination that’s off the beaten path, look no further than Bangladesh. Nestled between India and Myanmar on the southern edge of the Asian continent, Bangladesh is certainly one of Asia’s hidden gems — but it’s not a destination for the faint of heart. If you’re considering a vacation in Bangladesh, you should keep these three facts in mind.
It’s the Best Spot in the World for Tiger Watching
Yes, the number one tourist attraction in Bangladesh has to be its tiger tours. Bangladesh is home to the Sundarbans National Park, the largest mangrove forest in the world. Within this park rests the biggest wild population of Royal Bengal Tigers in the world, with an estimated 500 tigers or so living in the region. This has made the area around Bangladesh and Nepal a sort of Mecca of wild tiger spotting, with nearly 10 percent of the world’s tigers living in Bangladesh alone.
But the Sundarbans aren’t easy to get to, even for those familiar with the region. Most tourists book multi-day boat trips that let them tour the region and get a chance to see one of these wild tigers for themselves, but given how small the Bengal tiger population has become, there are no guarantees. Whether you end up seeing a tiger or not, the Sundarbans National Park is a must-see destination for travel-hungry adventurers.
You Can Get Your Visa When You Get There
That’s right — as long as you meet certain qualifications (which we’ll discuss in a second), you can pack your bags, fly to Bangladesh, and enter the country, all in the same day. The country has a unique Visa on Arrival service that allows qualifying visitors to secure their visas when arriving in the country. It’s a $50 flat fee for this service, and it guarantees you entry for 15 to 30 days.
Of course, not everyone can get a visa like this. Visitors must check in at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to apply, and immigration officials reserve the right to deny the visa to any visitors they want. This may put travelers in an awkward position if they come to Bangladesh expecting a Visa on arrival, only to get turned away at the door and left stranded. Because of this, the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh recommends that all tourists apply for a regular travel visa, when possible.
It’s Not the Safest Country
Despite its many great features, Bangladesh isn’t the safest country for tourists. Governments of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom all advise tourists to exercise increased caution when visiting Bangladesh, and in some areas, travel of any kind is discouraged altogether. For example, regions such as the capital city of Dhaka as well as the Chittagong Hill Tracts are considered dangerous due to crime, disease, and politically-motivated terrorism.
This is one area where Bangladesh’s location off the typical “tourist track” works against it. Bangladesh is an impoverished country with a complicated history of political unrest. The above government websites are quick to point out that many terrorist groups have cells in Bangladesh, and even with a heavy police presence in urban areas, few regions of the country are truly “safe.”
Bangladesh is a unique country filled with exotic wildlife and natural beauty — but the country isn’t for everyone, and its drawbacks might be too much for travelers who are more interested in luxury than adventure. But for those seeking a few thrills, the wild world of Bangladesh might be right up your alley. Do your research ahead of time and plan your travel accordingly.