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Bangladesh is a beautiful country with breathtaking natural landscapes and a fascinating culture waiting to be discovered. The diverse terrain and lack of established tourism can make getting around a bit of a challenge and certain precautions should be taken to ensure safe travel throughout the country.
The roads in Bangladesh are of a poor standard and in some areas they're downright terrible. Local drivers are often aggressive, due to common gridlock traffic. According to The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), more than two million vehicles are not road worthy and more than 1.2 million drivers are unlicensed. The unofficial rule is that those driving larger vehicles have the right of way, sudden overtaking without the use of a turn signal are common and often result in dangerous accidents and deaths.
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 rickshaws and pedestrians.
Be prepared to drive defensively and pay close attention to your surroundings since you may need to stop quickly to avoid a crash. Street lights 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 roads and only drive during the day. Be on the lookout for wayward pedestrians as they may randomly step into the road regardless of traffic around them.
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 and be particularly careful during severe rainstorms which can cause flash flooding and look out for dangerous shoulders with steep drops which can be easily missed.
Trains and train tracks are often poorly maintained and derailments have occurred.
Public buses are often overcrowded and many drivers consider stopping to let passengers off only optional, merely slowing down to let those brave enough to jump when they want to get off. Not surprisingly, this is highly dangerous and results in countless accidents and even fatalities.
Locals often hitch rides on the rooves of buses and trains. The danger of this goes without saying; this is one time you don't do what the locals do.
Traveling by ferry can be hazardous due to overcrowding and the risk of capsizing. Never get on an overcrowded boat and, if the boat you're on feels unsafe, get off it before it leaves.
Piracy can also be a risk.
These man-powered vehicles are all everywhere and many are driven erratically, weaving in and out of traffic. 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 and taking care when walking after dark.
There have been reports of harassment and theft at Dhaka and Sylhet international airports so keep an eye on your bags. Beware of locals who offer to carry your luggage for you, as they are often thieves. Passport and petty theft is also a growing problem at airports so keep your valuables well concealed and secure.
Be careful when hiring taxis from the airport as many drivers overcharge, so always negotiate the fare before hopping in. To avoid being overcharged for a taxi, always arrange transportation to and from the airport in advance. Ask at your accommodation who they recommend or ask them to book a transfer for you.
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