Getting Around Bangladesh - How to Stay Safe

Whether it's by boat or by road, there are many ways to get around Bangladesh. Here's how to do it safely.

Add rich cultural heritage, ancient relics and fascinating tribal discovery and you've got a destination that both amazes and inspires visitors.

Of course, the country's raw nature, while incredibly beautiful, can also make getting around a challenge. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you navigate the country safely.

On the Road Again

The roads in Bangladesh are less than ideal. Actually, in some areas they're downright terrible. Add to this the fact that local drivers often speed and drive aggressively and you've got a recipe for disaster. The unofficial rule is that those driving larger vehicles have the right of way so bear this in mind while on the road. Overtaking at inopportune moments and sudden maneuvers without the use of a turn signal are common and often result in dangerous accidents, often fatal.

Urban areas are often heavily congested making driving chaotic and challenging. The streets in Dhaka are heavily traveled by cars, trucks, buses, three-wheeler vehicles and even rickshaws and pedestrians. Be prepared to drive defensively and pay close attention to your surroundings since you may need to stop fast at any moment to avoid a crash. Streetlights are rare, even in the cities so driving at night is particularly hazardous and should be avoided. Whenever possible, try to stick to well-traveled and well-lit roadways and only drive during daylight hours.

By Land or Sea

Aside from driving, there are also trains, buses and ferries to get you where you need to go in Bangladesh. That said, these alternatives also come with their own risks. Train tracks are often poorly maintained so riding the rails can be dangerous. Public buses are overcrowded and many drivers consider stopping to let passengers off optional, merely slowing down to let those brave enough to jump out when they want to get off. Not surprisingly, this is highly dangerous and results in countless accidents and even fatalities. Traveling by water via ferry is also hazardous due to overcrowding and subsequent risk of capsizing. Piracy is also a problem in coastal areas. If you choose any of these methods of transport, do so with extreme caution.

Watch Those Rickshaws

Never thought we'd have to use that warning. But in Bangladesh this is an actual concern. These man-powered vehicles are all over the place and many of them drive erratically, weaving in and out of traffic without notice. Watch for speedy rickshaws barreling out of side streets without looking. The real danger is at night when they are harder to spot (another reason to avoid driving after dark).

Equally as unusual is the fact that locals often hitch rides atop the roofs of buses and trains. The danger of this goes without saying, but you need to watch for it and avoid traveling too close.

Pay Attention!

Obviously given the numerous road hazards and unexpected surprises that can arise when traveling around Bangladesh, it's critical that anyone who chooses to drive there take extra care and pay close attention at all times. Be on the lookout for wayward pedestrians as they may randomly step into the road regardless of traffic around them.

Also keep in mind that traffic accidents, even those that seem minor, can result in huge crowds of onlookers which in turn can cause further risk of incidents.

Pay close attention to the weather reports when you're planning on traveling around. Be particularly careful during severe rain storms as they can cause flash flooding and dangerous shoulders with steep drops can easily be missed.

Although it's not often on the top of the list for travel destinations, Bangladesh is a truly beautiful country with breathtaking natural landscapes and fascinating culture just waiting to be discovered. The diverse terrain and lack of busy tourism, however, can make getting around a bit of a challenge and certain precautions should be taken to ensure safe transport throughout the country.

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