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Off the Beaten Track: Wandering Through Bangladesh by Rail

Bangladesh has had quite the bad rep over the last few decades. Political scandals, high levels of poverty, and a tanking economy have taken it as far off the map as it can go for tourism of any kind. But that need no longer be the case. Bangladesh has not only witnessed an economic boom over the last few years but it has also strongly developed its tourism industry. A naturally beautiful country, it had all the resources needed to have a strong tourism industry but needed some serious financial aid. Now that that has been provided, Bangladesh is tourist-ready.

There is some incredible nature in the South Asian country that is just begging to be explored. At the same time, the country’s historical footprint has left behind traces of its tumultuous past through some amazing ruins and religious buildings. This conjunction of man-made structures and mother nature makes for an unforgettable trip. It is recommended that visitors spend at least ten days in Bangladesh in order to paint a thorough picture of the country.

Off the Beaten Track: Wandering Through Bangladesh by Rail

Visitors should fly into Dhaka International airport and spend a few days exploring the chaotic capital city. One of the most populous cities in the world, Dhaka houses nearly 9 million people, thus setting the scene for some amazing interactions with locals punctuated by delicious food. Bhelpuri and shrimp kebabs eaten while wandering the streets are highly recommended. If architecture is more your thing, wander over to the Lalbagh Fort on the edge of the Buriganga river. While you’re in the area, check out the Ahsan Manzil palace which now serves as the home of the Bangladesh National Museum.   

Once you’ve had your fill of the capital city, jump on the train that regularly leaves from Dhaka train station and head over to the Chittagong district, where you can enjoy some lush nature to your heart’s content. There are some rolling hills like that Chittagong hill tracks like Bandarban along with sandy beaches. In fact, Cox’s Bazar beach, about three hours south of the city of Chittagong by bus, is one of the longest unbroken sandy sea beaches in the world. 

Off the Beaten Track: Wandering Through Bangladesh by Rail

Next, get back on the road and take a long train ride to Sylhet. Enjoy the bustling city and its animated bazaars, but be sure to take a safari in the swamp forest of Ratargul. The forest is submerged under 20–30 feet water in the rainy season. For the rest of the year, the water level is about 10 feet deep. While you’re in the district, head over to the Tamabil-Jaflong hill station for some more nature such as the colorful rolling stones. There are also a few welcoming tea gardens to rest after you’ve trekked around the popular river beds. While you’re on a nature trip, head into the Lawacherra Rain Forest. One of the most reserved forests in Bangladesh, animal sighting can be enjoyed along with the scenic hills and thick vegetation.

Head back to the rail station, this time towards the Rajshahi and Rangpur Districts. Enjoy some amazing archeological sites such as Somapura Mahavihara. This incredible gem is one of the most important in the country and is one of the best known Buddhist viharas in the Indian subcontinent. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. While you’re hopping through history, head over to the oldest archeological locations in the country, Mahastangar. The village Mahasthan contains the remains of an ancient city. A limestone slab was discovered that date back to the 3rd century BCE. Travel back to Dhaka for your flight home and go through your fabulous memories of wandering through Bangladesh.

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