Crime in Bangladesh: Tips on How to Stay Safe

Our travel safety expert shares his advice on petty crime, violent crime, kidnapping and corrupt local police for your trip to Bangladesh.

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Night view of Dhaka city; the capital of Bangladesh Photo © Getty Images/Photo by Tanvir Ibna Shafi

With beautiful national parks, jungles that are home to the elusive Bengal tiger, fantastic beaches and age-old plantations, Bangladesh is as diverse and interesting as the people who call it home. If you have a good grip on common sense while traveling, you'll no doubt have a very safe experience here.

Crime has increased in the capital city, Dhaka, and some government travel advisories have listed Bangladesh as "reconsider your need to travel." Contact your travel insurance provider to be sure you're covered.

Petty Crime

Many of the crimes committed against travelers in Bangladesh are petty; pickpocketing and bag snatching in particular.

To avoid being a target of theft, here are a few tips:

  • Avoid flashing money around – be discreet when you open your wallet in markets
  • Keep valuables hidden and well concealed from others
  • If you can, avoid carrying large cameras around, instead opt for a smaller, mirrorless camera that is less bulky and obvious as you walk the streets of Bangladesh
  • Hold bags in front of you and don't place them on the ground when you're in restaurants or street stalls
  • Keep your bags and belongings on you at all times when riding local transport – avoid falling asleep on short-distance crowded buses
  • Criminals often work as teams either on motorcycles or three-wheeled vehicles (CNGs), so when walking near the roads, keep your bag away from the roadside.

Violent Crime

Dhaka's crime rate is listed as high, and crime increases dramatically at night. Armed robbery is the second-most common crime, and obviously much more dangerous. There have been reports of an increase in armed robbery and gangs operating throughout Dhaka, particularly in Gulshan and Banani, two of Dhaka's wealthiest areas. Passengers of rickshaws, CNGs or taxis – especially at night – are particularly vulnerable to armed robberies.

Kidnapping

The kidnapping of businessmen and children for ransom has increased in Bangladesh, but the targets are rarely travelers. Always remain aware of your surroundings, particularly in more isolated or rural locations, where the risk increases.

Local Police

If you are a victim of a crime, you should contact the local police to get an official report. However, keep in mind there have been reports of officials abusing their authority and general corruption. If you need to visit a police station, don't go alone. Carry a copy of your passport, visa and other important travel documents in case you are required to show identification at designated check posts throughout the country.

Women's Safety

Women travelers should always dress modestly to respect local culture. If you're traveling by bus, always sit towards the front near the driver, and avoid traveling at night, particularly if you are alone.

Bangladesh isn't a popular travel destination, so visitors are often seen as something of a novelty to locals, especially children. Don't be surprised if you are stared at, followed around or photographed – it's usually harmless curiosity. If the staring becomes a bit too much for you, simply say "Amar dike takaben na", which means "please stop staring at me". Be kind, and use this phrase sparingly, because the attention is usually not meant to offend. Some people may see you as an opportunity to practise their English, and will chatter incessantly to you. Be polite and considerate of anyone interacting with you.

For more safety tips for women travelers in Bangladesh, read this article written by Alexandra Reynolds from Lost With Purpose.

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