We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.
- Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc
I have grown up in Bangladesh, and luckily I had the chance to visit the majority of the districts (divisional cities and towns). I have to say, if you see Bangladesh with open eyes, you will be able to experience some great places, unknown to many foreign visitors.
Let me share a couple of places that you can plan to visit whenever you have the chance. Although Bangladesh is a small country (1,44,570 square kilometers), there are numerous natural wonders. So, to cover the places in broader details, I’m writing this in three-part series to provide you a travelogue from a local’s point-of-view. You have to limit your expectation while visiting Bangladesh, but it will make you feel great as a travel experience altogether.
It is the longest unbroken beach line globally, with a magnificent view of the Bay of Bengal on the sandy beach. There are a lot of nearby travel spots from Cox’s Bazar, which are easy to explore. Along with the famous tourist spots, you can also explore less known sites (best to visit in a group to avoid the crowd) if you know someone local.
You can currently do many touristic activities in the beachside area, like paragliding, beach motor rides, speed-boat rides, water-taxi ride, etc. You can explore beachside foods, explore the craft markets adjacent to the beach, walk around or rent the beachside benches to relax and enjoy the view.
Beware about three things:
- there are quicksand on the beachside, so remain close to the crowd,
- during the low tide, the sea-side flags will be marked red (do not go to the sea that time, because the receding water will take you to the deep sea),
- wherever you go, go in a group, as alone travelers are targeted for hijacking or pick-pocketing.
Cox’s Bazar, the things that will cheer you
I have the opportunity to visit this magnificent spot more than 10 times in my life. Several big tourist spots are available in Cox’s Bazar, but we often visited some hidden places a couple of times.
Like the almost hidden beach parts, where tourists do not gather that much. Like the Mermaid eco-resort, with suitable accommodation, great food, and private beach walk.
Like the Marine drive, to roam from Cox’s Bazar to Inani beach and back. Like, the old airport place, where we played cricket on the runway. There are several tamarisk beachside, where you can do bar-b-que and sing with the sea tides rhyme.
At night, when everything is quiet, the sea welcomes you to hear the sound of its tides. The stars above smile on the wave, and you close your eyes to feel the vibe of nature. Even if you are with a group, you will feel a personal space of serenity.
Cox’s Bazar is also famous for sea-food delights, so if you love sea-foods, do not hesitate to take the opportunity to explore local dishes of crabs, pomfrets, oysters, prawns, etc.
Bonus places to visit
- Burmese market in Cox’s Bazar,
- Himchari National Park,
- Inani beach,
- 100 feet Buddha golden-colored reclining statue in Ramu,
- Moheshkhali Island, etc.
- By Bus: You can take an air-conditioned bus from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar (direct).
- By air: You can take an internal air-flight from Dhaka (Hazrat Shah Jalal Int. Airport, domestic terminal) to Cox’s Bazar airport.
There are several 5-star hotels available for accommodation to choose from.
- Long Beach Hotel
- Sayemon Beach Resort
- Seagull Hotel
- Royal Tulip Sea Pearl Beach Resort
- Mermaid Eco Resort
Apart from the high-end accommodations, local lodges and hotels are available at a low-cost stay.
St. Martin’s Island
Locals call this island ‘Narikel Jinjira’ (means ‘Coconut Island,’) and ‘Daruchini Dwip,’ (means ‘Cinnamon island’).
Although often ignored by foreign tourists because of a separate river-line cruise journey, Saint Martin’s Island is a place to be if you want the sea’s diverse flavor. As a local, I visited Saint Martin’s island more than 10+ times, so it is one of my favorite spots to suggest to others. You can meet with sandy beach & coral beach both on this island. There is an adjacent island to it, which connects in the land with saint martin during low tide, and the road disappears in the high tide time.
And, you will be able to see a blue sea, reflecting the sky here. Do not forget to eat the enormous fish dishes or crab fries. In the nighttime, remain in the group or roam around on the island without knowing the place.
St. Martin’s Island delights
Like the Cox’s Bazar, I had the opportunity to visit this island 10+ times in my life. If you hate to be within the busy crowd and require more relaxation, St. Martin’s Island is one of the places to be.
The seawater is so blue that you can see the corals clearly, so vivid they are. You will be able to circle the whole island by walking alongside. To travel inside the island, we often took local guidance and roamed around the tiny village space.
The island is a combination of sandy and coral beaches. So, switch the side and enjoy the variation.
There is an adjacent island, called ‘Chera Dip’ (Torn Island); the name came because, during the high tide, the connecting road between the Saint Martin Island and Chera dip disappears. We had the chance to commute to Chera Dip on foot and came back during the high tide time, walking on the covered waterway.
Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.
- Paul Theroux
And, the night sky! If the clouds are clear and the moon is up, you will know what the moonlit night in the silver shine truly feels!
Like Cox’s Bazar, St. Martin Island is also famous for sea-food delights. The local recipe and spicy flavor will make you feel hungry, but I can’t guarantee the after-effect in this regard.
- By Bus, from Dhaka to Teknaf, and then by River-cruise on the Naf river and the Bay of Bengal.
- Or, you can take a flight from Dhaka to Chittagong and then take a bus from there to Teknaf and then the river-cruise.
Accommodations are limited in St. Martin’s Island, as it is an endangered zone due to the sea-level rise, and not enough buildings are permitted within this island. Following are a few you can explore:
- Sunset Serenity Resort
- Fantasy Hotel
If you know someone from Bangladesh Navy (Naval Force), you might get better accommodation. I had excellent accommodation in one of my visits to that place because one of my friends worked there at that time.
The tea-estates, lakes, and forest area of Sylhet and Sreemangal
Sylhet divisional zone is one of the best tea-producing places globally, from where some of the best quality tea is curated. Approximately 150+ tea-gardens are available around the area, where 300,000 workers are employed on those tea estates. Blessed by the Surma Valley, the beautiful terraces of tea gardens and lush green tropical forests will blow your mind if you are a green lover. Sreemangal is the tea capital of Bangladesh, presenting a green carpet of tea gardens on the hill slopes. The most significant tea estate is Lakkatura, covering a 3,200 acres area with scenic tea gardens and a green nature zone.
To explore the places in a relaxed mood, you need to stay around 3–4 days. There are so many places around Sylhet and Sreemangal, like:
- the tea gardens,
- the hilly areas of Sreemangal,
- the beautiful lakes like Hakaluki Haor,
- Lawachara National Park,
- Madhabpur Lake,
- lemon orchards places,
- Ham Ham Waterfall,
One of the beautiful places to explore is the Ratargul Swamp forest, a beautiful floating experience in a swamp forest in Sylhet. If you want to stay on a boat on a lake, try the Hakaluki Haor boating experience.
Why I love the places around Sylhet and Sreemangal
I have visited more than 30+ times around this area (or, is it more). The thing is, whenever we friends had the opportunity to roam around from our busy city life in Dhaka (the 8th largest megacity of the world), we took the chance to commute to the beautiful roads and places of Sylhet and Sreemangal. Most of the tours happened for 1.5 days, as we just boarded my car without any bag and baggage and started towards the place.
We walked inside the tea-gardens, the reserve forest parts of Lawachara National park, did tracking on the hilly spots, explored the Indian border side and Jaflong lakeside, so many beautiful memories.
Don’t forget to taste the famous 7-layer tea of Sreemangal (taste is okay, but if you are up for a great Instagram post, it is a must). Or, perhaps, taste the lemon tea that will refresh you after a long day of travel.
And, when from the hotel window, you can see the waterfalls from the hills of nearby border side in the morning and a cup of tea in your hand; perhaps, you probably will not require anything for the moment, just some silence to observe the beauty of nature.
- You can commute to Sylhet directly by air (numerous domestic flights are available from Dhaka to Sylhet).
- You can reach Sylhet directly by Bus or can go by train.
- To roam around the places easily, you can either rent a car from Sylhet or be a part of tour providers’ guided tour.
Best accommodation places are either hotels in Sylhet like Rose View Hotel or budget hotels. Or, perhaps, you can explore the quiet relaxation in the accommodations like:
- Nazimgarh Garden Resort,
- The Palace Luxury Resort,
- Grand Sultan Tea Resort and Golf,
- Shuktara Resort,
- Novem Eco resort etc.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
- Marcel Proust
The mentioned three places are well-known to the local people. In the 2nd part of the series, I will cover some known and unknown tourist places that are truly beautiful to explore. These places have unique charms and an authentic side connected to the site (sometimes historical, sometimes due to nature).
As far as the visit on those places is concerned, if you like to visit the sites, make sure you take some local guidance. It will be better to accommodate tour plans, ensure safety, and also manage your expectations beforehand.
Following is a video of some tourist destinations in Bangladesh. I will come up with some more videos created by Bangladesh Tourist Board in my next story.
Sources used (None of the links are affiliated links)
- Bangladesh Tourism Guide. Link: https://bangladeshtourismguide.com/2017/09/25/lakkatura-tea-garden/
- Drone Media Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar Video. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDeXz-f3TVI
- Dihan Chowdhury. St. Martin’s Island Aerial View. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPkxwsXih2g
- Dihan Chowdhury. The wonder of Sylhet. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY7n5wct9Zk
- Nabil Khan. Ratargul Swamp Forest (Aerial). Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuqwL6PmCc4
- Golam Kibria. Land of Stories & Land of Rivers. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2_iSXGv0Ww
- Quotes from Rough Guides. Link: https://www.roughguides.com/gallery/50-inspirational-travel-quotes/
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