With beautiful national parks, jungles that are home to the elusive Bengal tiger, fantastic beaches and age-old plantations, the land in Bangladesh is almost as diverse and interesting as the people who call it home.
For those intrepid travellers who seek to uncover the unknown, to experience something new and different, a trip to this oft-forgotten land is the perfect adventure. However, as untouched as Bangladesh may be, crime is still a possibility. Here are some practical things to consider for a safe trip.
Many of the crimes committed in Bangladesh are petty in nature. Minor thefts like pickpocketing and purse snatching occur frequently and foreigners are usually the targets as they are often viewed as wealthy. Avoid flashing money and keep valuables well concealed. Hold bags in front of you and don't place them on the ground when dining or resting as they could easily be grabbed by thieves. Criminals often work as teams either on motorcycles or three-wheeled vehicles called CNGs, so be particularly aware when walking near the road.
Armed robbery is probably the second most common crime, but obviously much more dangerous. The areas of Gulshan and Banani in Dhaka have experienced an increased number of these types of thefts, which mostly target westerners (or those who are perceived as such). Passengers of rickshaws, CNGs or taxis, especially at night, are particularly vulnerable to being attacked and robbed at gunpoint. Avoid public transportation when traveling alone.
Kidnapping of businessmen and abduction of children for ransom are becoming increasingly popular in Bangladesh.
So far, however, most incidents do not appear to have involved foreigners but the threat still exists. Always remain aware of your surroundings, particularly in more isolated or rural locations as they can be riskier.
Passengers at Bangladesh's international airports sometimes face harassment and theft so be particularly mindful of your surroundings there. Dhaka and Sylhet airports have regular reports of these types of incidents. Beware of locals who offer to carry your luggage for you, as they are often thieves. You should also avoid hiring taxis from the airport as many drivers overcharge or attempt to rob unsuspecting passengers.
Instead, always arrange transportation to and from the airport in advance, either from a friend or through the assistance of your hotel concierge. Passport theft is a growing problem at airports, as is petty theft so keep your valuables well concealed and secure.
If you are a victim of a crime you can enlist the help of local law enforcement, however keep in mind that there have been some reports of officials abusing their authority and general corruption. If you visit a police station, you should avoid doing so alone. You should also be sure to carry a copy of your passport, visa and other important travel documents on you at all times so that if you are required to show identification you will be able to do so immediately. This may occur anywhere and at any time, and there are designated check posts throughout the country, especially in Dhaka so be prepared.
Nestled deep within the tropical beauty of South Asia, Bangladesh is a hidden gem among the larger more travelled countries that surround it. However, rich in natural resources, what the country lacks in material prosperity it more than makes up for in land and culture. Still, a cloud of obscurity has hovered over it for decades, averting the world's attention and keeping tourists at bay. Those who do venture to this exotic land will be richly rewarded with breathtaking landscapes, fascinating culture and friendly, welcoming people. And as long as common sense is used, visits are likely to be safe and without incident.
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