Essential Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Culture | Tribal

Mangroves, rural villages & ancient temples

14 days £2,695 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Little understood and less visited Bangladesh rewards the curious traveller. Discover the bustling port city of Dhaka by rickshaw and walk in the footsteps of the ancient monks at the Paharpur Buddhist Monastery. Scour the scrubland for Bengal tigers as you cruise the Sundarbans' vast mangrove forest. Seize the chance to see the endangered Gibbon up close at Lawachara National Park. Feast your eyes on the ever-rolling tea hills of Srimangal and meet the Khasi and Tripura tribes to get an authentic taste of tribal living.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • The bustling city of Dhaka
  • Sundarbans canal cruise
  • UNESCO Sixty Pillar Mosque
  • Cruise through Sundarbans mangroves
  • Buddha's relics at The Golden Temple
  • Tea gardens of Srimangal
  • Endangered Hoolock Gibbons, Lawachara National Park

Places Visited

Dhaka - Bogra - Rajshahi - Sundarbans - Khulna - Bagerhat - Srimangal - Sonargaon - Lawachara National Park - Khasi and Tripura Villages - Chittagong - Rangamati - Bandarban

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Domestic flights (if relevant - refer to itinerary)
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival

Arrive into Dhaka airport where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Dhaka.

Meal plan: n/a

Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh. With a population of 18 million, it is one of the most populated cities in the world. Filled with national monuments, Dhaka became known as the 'City of Mosques' during the rule of the Mughals in the 17th century. It contains more rickshaws than any other city on earth.

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Day 2 : Dhaka

Spend a full day exploring the old city of Dhaka. Visit the Sadarghat river port, local temples and other sites the city has to offer. Overnight in Dhaka.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Founded in 1608 as Jahangir Nagar, Old Dhaka is a term used to refer to the historic old city of Dhaka. Located on the banks of the Buringanga River, this city was once the centre of the world’s muslin trade. Old Dhaka is famous for its variety of food and culture, with many religions living in harmony celebrating festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Muharram, and the Hindu festivals of Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja together.

The Sadarghat, meaning City Wharf, is located in the south of Dhaka. Set on the Buringanga River, it's the busiest port in the country in terms of passengers despite no longer being used by larger boats due to shoaling and the downsizing of inland waterways. Small boats, barges and steamers still utilise the port. The Sadarghat is also known for its floating fruit and vegetable market.

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Day 3 : Dhaka - Tangail - Bogra

After breakfast, you will be driven to Tangail to explore the traditional weaving village. After lunch, proceed to Bogra to check-in to your accommodation. Overnight in Bogra. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Famous for the Tangail Sari, Tangail is well known for its weaving. The weavers of Tangail use a special technique to hand weave saris making them unique to that area. It is believed the district has over 60,000 looms. Until 1969, Tangail was part of Greater Mymensingh but was separated to break up the Mymensingh District.

Many call Bogra the nerve centre of Bangladesh. Rich in culture, this city is known for its Buddhist stupas and Hindu temples, and is thought to be the oldest city in Bengal. One of Bogra’s major industries is the growth and harvest of red chillis.

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Day 4 : Bogra - Mahasthan - Paharpur - Rajshahi

After breakfast, visit the ancient Mahasthangarh ruins and then the Somapura Mahavihara, the largest Buddhist monastery in Paharpur. Finally drive to Rajshahi. Check into hotel and evening at leisure. Overnight in Rajshahi.

Meal plan: Breakfast


Mahasthangarh is an archaeological site 11km north of Bogra. Containing the remains of the city of Pundranagara or Pundravardhana, the site is thought to be one of the oldest ancient cities discovered so far in Bangladesh. A limestone slab uncovered in 1931 containing lines of Brahmi script date the city back to the 3rd century BC. However, the city is thought to be much older. It was in use until 18th century BC. The modern name Mahasthangarh translates to Mahasthan - ‘excellent sanctity’ and garh – ‘fort’.


Paharpur is home to the remains of Somapura Mahavihara, the largest Buddhist monastery in Bangladesh. In 1985, the site was granted UNESCO World Heritage status and is thought to be one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. The site covers 27 acres of land consisting of 177 cells with a central Buddhist stupa.

Nicknamed ‘Silk City’, Rajshahi is a city in North West Bangladesh. It is the urban, commercial and educational hub of North Bengal. Located on the north bank of the Padma River, Rajshahi has a population of 750,000 and lies within the ancient city of Pundravardhana. Rajshahi is known for its silk production, which dates back to the 13th century. The unique silk is produced using silkworms and is primarily sold in the form of saris.

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Day 5 : Rajshahi - Mongla - Sundarbans

After breakfast, visit the Puthia Temple Complex, home of the Shiva temple. After lunch, drive to Mongla where you will board a boat to take you through the Sundarbans. Overnight on the boat. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Puthia Temple Complex is located in Rajshahi. It consists of a cluster of Hindu temples built by Zamindars Rajas of the Puthia Raj family – well known philanthropists from the city. Based around a lake, the three main temples are made of terracotta. The first temple, titled Pancharatna Gobind, was built between 1823 and 1895 AD and was dedicated to Lord Krishna, as was temple Jagannath. The Bhubaneshwar Shiva Temple (1823) is the largest Shiva temple in Bangladesh. It has a distinctive five spire style, and is full of stone carvings and sculptures.

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Day 6 : Sundarbans

Early rise for a country boat river cruise. After breakfast, enjoy a trek through the jungle spotting wild birds. Proceed onto the Chandpai forest office. Overnight on the boat. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

The Sundarbans forest is a vast forest located in the Bay of Bengal. It covers 10,000 square km, split between Bangladesh and India, and is the largest coastal mangrove forest in the world, despite being one third of its original size. It was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997 following the 1992 designation as a Ramsar Site of Ecological Importance. The forest is packed with flora and fauna, including Bengal tigers. Sundarban literally translates to “beautiful forest”.

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Day 7 : Sunderbans - Bagerhat - Khulna

After breakfast, visit a fishing village. Return to the boat heading towards Mongla. Once disembarked, you'll be driven to Bagerhat to visit an ancient Muslim city and UNESCO World Heritage site. On to Khulna for hotel check-in and dinner. Overnight in Khulna.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Bagerhat is home to a medieval Muslim city built in 15th century BC. Bagerhat was recognised by UNESCO in 1983 for its unique Khan-e-Jahan architecture, the only example of this in the world. The most famous and oldest mosque on the site is Shat Gombuj Masjid – the Sixty Pillar Mosque. Bagerhat contains over 360 baked brick buildings, mausoleums, mosques and bridges.

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Day 8 : Khulna - Dhaka - Sonargaon - Srimangal

After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Dhaka. Once there, drive to Srimangal. En route, visit Sonargaon's Golden Temple. Once in Srimangal, check-in and dinner. Overnight in Srimangal. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Khulna is the third largest city in Bangladesh. It has a population of 650,000 and is an old river port serving the Rupsha river. It became a part of Bengal in the 12th Century, and has been ruled by both Muslim and Hindu sovereigns. The architecture reflects this, with many ancient mosques, temples and other religious buildings evident throughout the city. The city is considered the gateway to the Sundarbans.

Srimangal is a small town rich in tea gardens and plantations. So much so, the Bangladesh Tea Research Institute was set up here in 1952. The area also contains forest sanctuaries and some tribal villages.

Sonargaon, or the 'City of Gold', was the ancient capital of Bengal. Home to the administrative seats of medieval Muslim rulers and governors, Sonargaon was a bustling city of trade and commerce. It contains some of the oldest buildings in the whole of Bangladesh.

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Day 9 : Srimangal

After breakfast, travel to Lawachara National Park where you will spot endangered species such as the western Hoolock gibbon as you trek through the forest. In the afternoon, visit Khasi and Tripura tribes and a weaving village Monipuri. Overnight in hotel. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Lawachara is a national park and nature reserve located near Srimangal. It measures 1250 hectares and contains over 460 species of flora and fauna. This includes the endangered western hoolock gibbon which is amongst the top 25 most endangered primates. Lawachara was declared a national park in 1996 under the Wildlife Act of 1974.

The Khasi and Tripuri tribes can be found on the outskirts of Lawachara National Park. The Muslim Khasi tribe speak the indigenous language of Khasi, an Austroasiatic language.They live in a matrilineal society.The Hindu Tripuri tribe were the original inhabitants of the Twipra Kingdom and ruled for over 2000 years. Speaking the language of Kokborok, the Tripuri people live in groups of five to fifty families.

In the Monipuri Weaving Village of Srimangal, the villagers use hand looms to create their own clothes and wares such as saris, bed sheets and bags. These items can often be found on sale at markets in other towns, or sold by the villagers themselves.

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Day 10 : Srimangal - Chittagong

After breakfast, drive to Chittagong via Comilla. Stop at the Maynamati War Cemetery to pay your respects. Overnight in Chittagong.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Maynamati War Cemetery in Comilla commemorates allied soldiers from both world wars. Totalling 736 Commonwealth burials, including soldiers from Burma and other areas, the cemetery is separated into Christian and Muslim graves.

Chittagong is the second largest city in Bangladesh, with a population of 6.5 million. It’s a coastal seaport. The history of the city dates back to the 4th century BC, and the old quarter contains ancient mosques, sufi shrines and churches. Cleaner than a lot of cities in the country, the roads are filled with rickshaws. Chittagonians are known for hosting huge feasts called mezbani which mainly consist of very hot curries.

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Day 11 : Chittagong - Rangamati

Drive to Rangamati, stopping at Buddhist Temple Rajban Bihara on the way. Get an insight into the traditions and customs of the hill tribes who inhabit Rangamati. Overnight in Rangamati.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Rangamati is also known as the Lake City of Bangladesh. It is located on the western bank of Kaptai Lake and is famous for its scenic beauty. Rangamati is home to the Chakma King residence and the hanging bridge of the Parjatan site.

Rajban Bihara Pagoda is a Buddhist temple located in Rangamati. It is home to Spiritualist Principal monk Shrimath Sadhana Nanda Mohasthabir.

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Day 12 : Rangamati - Bandarban

After breakfast, board a private boat for a cruise of Kaptai Lake. In the afternoon, leave for Bandarban. Overnight in Bandarban.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Chakma tribe are the largest ethnic group within the Chittagong Hill Tracts making up half of the area's population. The tribe is headed by Chakma Raja and are followers of Theravada Buddhism, although they do worship some Hindu deities.The Chakma people run a market selling food and handmade goods from boats on Kaptai Lake.

Bandarban is a remote district within the Chittagong Hill Tracts with a population of under 300,000. There are fifteen known tribes within the area, including the Marma, Tripuri and Chakma people. The three tallest peaks in Bangladesh are located here - Tahjinding (1280 metres), Mowdok Mual (1052 metres) and Keokradong (883 metres).

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Day 13 : Bandarban - Chittagong - Dhaka

Explore Bandarban until the afternoon, visiting the Golden Temple and the indigenous Marma tribe. Then proceed to Chittagong to board flight to Dhaka. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Dhaka.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Golden Temple or 'Buddha Dhatu Jadi' is a Buddhist temple in Bandarban. Dhatu, meaning material remains of a holy person, in this case refers to the relics of Buddha which are kept within the temple. The Buddhists believe these items bring peace of mind and happiness. The temple sits atop a 60 metre high hill and is the largest Theravada Buddhist Temple in Bangladesh.

The Marma tribe are the largest group of Theravada Buddhists and make up the majority of the Bandarban population. Other tribes that inhabit Bandarban include the Chakma people - the largest ethnic group in Bangladesh, the Tripura tribe, which has over 36 sub-groups, and the Tanchangya tribe, one of the first in the area to take up wet rice cultivation. There are over fifteen separate tribes within Bandarban.

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Day 14 : Departure

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home or onward destination.

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Hidden Bangladesh (13 days)

Bustling cities, remote villages & cruise rural backwaters

Essential Bangladesh (14 days)

Mangroves, rural villages & ancient temples