FOLLOW US

World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Bangladesh

Bangladesh travel guide

About Bangladesh

India’s sleepy eastern cousin, Bangladesh slumbers gently under monsoon skies at the mouth of the Jamuna River, one of the world’s great deltas. Formerly East Pakistan, this intriguing backwater gained independence in 1971 after a civil war that still plays a major role in the national psyche.

An influx of tourists was predicted following independence, but this has yet to materialised, meaning visitors have Bangladesh’s many and varied attractions to themselves. Those attractions range from Mughal palaces and gleaming mosques to palm-fringed beaches, tea-plantations and jungles full of snarling Bengal tigers.

Bangladesh’s frenetic capital, Dhaka, was once the main port for the whole of Bengal, and its rickshaw-crammed streets present a faded mirror to Kolkata across the border. Dhaka is a city of rain-washed colonial buildings, gaudy film posters, docksides thronging with boats and the constant cacophony of car horns and rickshaw bells. It can be a shock for the senses, but the blow is softened by friendly, inquisitive locals and delicious Bengali cuisine.

South of Dhaka, the Jamuna River breaks down into a tangle of jungle-choked waterways as you enter the Sundarbans, one of the last refuges of the Bengal tiger. Here, as elsewhere in Bangladesh, the best way to get around is by river – legions of boats ply every waterway, from tiny coracles to the paddleboat ‘rockets’ that chug between Dhaka and Kulna.

The south of Bangladesh is something else again; tropical beaches give way to forested hills that hide a host of Buddhist and animist tribes. Then there’s Sylhet, in the heart of tea plantation country, where foreign remittances have built a miniature version of England amidst the monsoon hills.

Above all else, Bangladesh is place to leave the mainstream travel map. Let the crowds mob the beaches of Goa and the forts of Rajasthan; in Bangladesh, you won’t have to queue to be amazed.

Key facts

Area:

143,998 sq km (55,598 sq miles).

Population:

162,910,864 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

1,173.3 per sq km.

Capital:

Dhaka.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Mohammad Shahabuddin Chuppu since 2023.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed since 2009.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Areas where FCDO advises against all but essential travel

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice. Consular support is also severely limited where FCDO advises against travel.

Chittagong Hill Tracts

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, an area made up of the districts of:

  • Rangamati
  • Khagrachari
  • Bandarban

Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Bangladesh set and enforce entry rules. If you are not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Bangladesh High Commission London.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Bangladesh.

Passport validity requirements

When you apply for a visa to visit Bangladesh, your passport must have:

  • at least 6 months remaining validity
  • at least 2 blank pages
  • no damage

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet the requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Checks at border control

Make sure you get your passport stamped.

Make sure you get a stamp in your passport when you arrive. You must show immigration officers this arrival stamp when you leave Bangladesh.

Visa requirements

You must have a visa to travel to Bangladesh, unless you have a ‘no visa required’ stamp in your UK passport.

At Bangladeshi border control, you may also need to show a return or onward ticket.

If you are working in Bangladesh, you must get an Income Tax Clearance Certificate or an Income Tax Exemption Certificate before leaving Bangladesh. You get application forms from the National Board of Revenue, Bangladesh.

Applying for a visa

Apply for a visa from the Bangladesh High Commission London.

If you plan to use Bangladesh as a hub to visit other countries in the region, make sure you get a multiple-entry visa.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to apply for a visa when you arrive at Dhaka airport. You must have a return ticket to apply for a visa on arrival. Visas on arrival are:

  • single entry
  • valid for 15 to 30 days
  • not guaranteed – Bangladeshi immigration officers issue them at their discretion

If your visa expires while you are in Bangladesh, you can apply for a visa extension from the Department of Immigration and Passports. You may get a fine for overstaying.

British-Bangladeshi nationals

British nationals of Bangladeshi origin may be able to apply for a ‘no visa required’ stamp from the Bangladesh High Commission in London.

Contact the Bangladesh High Commission in London if you have questions.

Air passengers in transit

If you are in transit to another country, you do not need a Bangladesh visa as you will not pass through Bangladeshi border control – this is sometimes called ‘staying airside’.

Vaccination requirements

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Bangladesh guide.

Depending on your circumstances, these may include a:

  • yellow fever vaccination certificate
  • polio vaccination

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Bangladesh. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking money into or out of Bangladesh

You may need to declare foreign currency or Bangladeshi taka, depending on the amount you are travelling with. See Bangladesh Customs’ rules on bringing money into or out of Bangladesh.

You can cash travellers’ cheques at banks and airports. ATMs are available in most urban areas and accept UK cards. There are fewer ATMs in rural areas.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and regional risks advice.

Terrorism

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Bangladesh

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Bangladesh.

Attacks could target the following locations:

  • crowded areas and places where foreign nationals are known to gather
  • religious buildings
  • political rallies

There have been occasional attacks against minority religious communities and targeting police and security forces. These have included improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in major cities. Some groups have also targeted people who they consider to have views and lifestyles contrary to Islam.

Significant events include:

  • 2017 – Daesh claimed responsibility for bombings in multiple locations, including targeting a security check post near Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport
  • 2016 – there was an attack claimed by Daesh at the Holey Artisan Bakery in the Gulshan 2 district of Dhaka, which resulted in the death of 20 hostages, including foreign nationals, and 2 police officers
  • 2015 to 2016 – groups affiliated to Al Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for murders in Dhaka and Sylhet targeting human rights activists and secular bloggers

The Bangladeshi authorities continue to disrupt planned attacks. Increases in security force presence and restrictions on movement may be put in place at short notice. You should remain aware of your surroundings, particularly in and around police buildings. Avoid large gatherings and other locations with a police or security presence. Follow the advice of local authorities.

Political situation

Bangladesh has a long history of political violence.

National elections took place on 7 January. Political rallies and demonstrations may continue to take place. These can quickly turn violent and lead to clashes with law enforcement. During demonstrations and strikes (‘hartals’), there can be arson, violence and vandalism in towns and cities across the country and, on occasion, resulting in fatalities. Attacks against property and public transport are possible. There can also be disruption to local and regional transport services.

Avoid large gatherings (including demonstrations and rallies) and political buildings. If you see a demonstration starting, move to a place of safety.

Follow updates in local media and get email notifications when this travel advice is updated. Bangladesh TV (BTV) has English-language news.

Crime

Robbery and violence

Criminal gangs operate in Dhaka and other cities. Thieves often work in pairs on motorcycles or motorised rickshaws known as ‘CNGs’.

Potential threats include armed robbery, violent crime and rape.

Passengers using rickshaws or travelling alone in taxis are vulnerable, particularly at night. Avoid using public transport if you’re alone.

Protecting your belongings

Be aware of pickpockets and bag-snatchers. Do not carry large amounts of money, use a mobile phone or wear jewellery in the street.

Visiting police stations

There have been reports of officials abusing their authority. Make sure someone goes with you if you visit a police station.

Dhaka and Sylhet airports

Risks at Dhaka and Sylhet airports include:

  • theft, including passport theft
  • harassment
  • taxi drivers overcharging or robbing customers

You should:

  • avoid touts offering to carry your bags
  • keep documents and belongings safe
  • arrange taxis in advance

Kidnapping and hostage taking

Kidnappings of children and businessmen for ransom are common. These crimes do not appear to be particularly directed at foreigners.

Be aware the UK government policy is to not make substantive concessions to kidnappers.

Laws and cultural differences

Local customs reflect the fact Bangladesh is mainly an Islamic country.

Personal ID

Local officials may ask you for ID.

Carry photocopies of the personal details page in your passport and Bangladeshi visa. Keep the originals somewhere safe and leave copies with friends or relatives in the UK.

Dress code

Both men and women should dress modestly to avoid causing offence. Women are advised to cover their shoulders and legs when in public.

Ramadan

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims.

Get advice on respecting Ramadan when you arrive from your tour guide, hotel or business contacts.

You should:

  • check opening hours of shops and restaurants
  • follow local dress codes – clothing that does not meet local dress codes may cause more offence at this time, both for women and men
  • be aware that fasting can cause tiredness, particularly during the later afternoon and early evening

Dual Bangladeshi-British nationals

If you’re a dual British-Bangladeshi national, the Bangladeshi government will consider you to be a Bangladeshi citizen, even if you:

  • have never had a Bangladeshi passport
  • were born outside Bangladesh

This may limit the help the British government can offer you. For more information on Bangladeshi nationality, check with the Bangladesh High Commission London.

The Bangladesh Police Expatriate Help Cell offers services to expatriates, including dual nationals.

Alcohol laws

You may need a liquor permit to drink alcohol in Bangladesh. A liquor permit allows you to drink alcohol in government-licensed bars. Check the requirements at your local district office and apply for a permit if necessary.

Illegal drugs penalties

There are severe penalties for possessing and trafficking illegal drugs. Some drug-related offences are punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Prison sentences and conditions

If you break local laws, you may get a prison sentence, served in a local prison. Delays and inefficiency in the judicial system can result in long detentions until court hearings eventually take place. Prison conditions are far below UK standards.

British nationals detained in Bangladesh have the right to request that the British High Commission in Dhaka is notified about their situation and British High Commission officials can gain access to them.

Family law and property disputes

Family law in Bangladesh is very different from UK law. Take particular care when, for example, child custody is an issue.

The British High Commission in Dhaka cannot help British nationals of Bangladeshi origin with land or property problems.

FCDO has a list of English-speaking lawyers in Bangladesh.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex relations are illegal in Bangladesh.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Bangladesh, see information on driving abroad.

You need an international driving permit (IDP) and a UK driving licence to drive in Bangladesh. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

Bangladesh has a high rate of road accidents. Take great care when travelling by road, including by public transport, and when crossing streets. Cycle rickshaws are not safe – they offer little protection if there is an accident.

Ride hailing apps like Uber are available in Bangladesh. To make sure you get in the right car safely:

  • wait in a safe location, not out on the street
  • match the car’s registration plate, make and model
  • ask the driver to state your name
  • check the driver’s photo
  • share your journey details and consider enabling GPS tracking on your phone so trusted contacts can see your location

In Bangladesh:

  • driving standards are poor
  • many drivers do not hold the correct licence or road worthiness certificates for their vehicles
  • mandatory vehicle safety checks are often ignored
  • a large number of rickshaws use the roads and ignore traffic laws

Driving at night is especially dangerous as many drivers do not use headlights or use full-beam headlights. There is also a risk of robbery if you travel between towns after dark. Avoid travelling alone at night.

Buses

The risks of travelling by bus include:

  • extremely poor maintenance and driving standards
  • frequent traffic collisions, some resulting in deaths
  • rape, sexual assaults and other crimes, sometimes committed by the bus crew

Avoid travelling by bus alone and at night.

Private hire vehicles

Police are often unable to verify private hire drivers’ details, as driving records are often inaccurate.

Air travel

When you’re travelling through an airport, allow enough time to complete check-in and security procedures, as both you and your baggage will need to go through security screening checks, including X-ray checks.

In 2019, an attempted hijacking took place of a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight from Dhaka to Dubai via Chittagong. The Bangladesh Civil Aviation Ministry has completed its investigation into the incident. Extra security measures are in place.

Rail travel

The rail network is extensive but old and generally considered slow.

Rail travel risks include:

  • frequent fatal accidents
  • flood-damaged bridges and culverts in dangerous condition
  • crime, including theft and sexual assault

On some trains, you may be able to lock first-class compartment doors. Make sure the door is locked if you’re travelling at night.

For information see Bangladesh Railways.

Sea and river travel

River and sea ferry risks include:

  • dangerous overcrowding, particularly during religious holidays and other festivals
  • falsified safety certificates on some vessels
  • missing or inappropriate safety and survival equipment
  • lack of communication equipment
  • criminal gangs targeting vessels

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Monsoon season

The monsoon season runs from June to September and can cause widespread flooding and travel disruption.

If travelling, you should check:

Tropical cyclones

Cyclone Remal is projected to hit Bangladesh on Sunday 26 May. This could cause very strong winds and heavy rain in southern coastal areas, particularly the Sundarbans and the areas south of Khulna and Barishal. You should follow advice from local authorities.

There is a risk of tropical cyclones in Bangladesh. See extreme weather and natural hazards advice that includes what to do if you’re caught in a storm.

Check weather reports from the Bangladesh Meteorological Department and the World Meteorological Organisation.

Tsunamis

Bangladesh can be affected by tsunamis and the government of Bangladesh can issue tsunami warnings. Monitor local news and follow any advice given by local authorities.

Earthquakes

Around half of Bangladesh, including the cities of Moulvibazar and Sylhet, is in a high-risk earthquake zone. Other areas, including Dhaka, are at moderate risk. Tremors and earthquakes, usually minor ones, happen occasionally.

See earthquake advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

This section has safety advice for regions of Bangladesh. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and safety and security advice.

Chittagong Hill Tracts

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, an area made up of the districts of:

  • Rangamati
  • Khagrachari
  • Bandarban

Chittagong City and other districts of Chittagong Division are not included in the travel warning.

Security in the Chittagong Hill Tracts is a cause for concern. There are regular reports of violence and other criminal activity, particularly in more remote areas.

If you plan to visit the Chittagong Hill Tracts, you must give the Bangladesh authorities 10 days’ notice.

Contact:

  • Chittagong Divisional Commissioner’s Office (Telephone: 031 615 247)
  • Chittagong Deputy Commissioner’s Office (Telephone: 031 619 996)

Myanmar border

There are ongoing reports of increasing violence and fighting in Myanmar (Burma), close to the Bangladesh border. The situation in border areas near Myanmar remains unpredictable, and may deteriorate at short notice. You should monitor local news outlets closely. 

Continuing violence has resulted in hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees crossing into the south-east of Bangladesh.

Most of the refugees are in the subdistricts of Ukhia and Teknaf in the southern part of Cox’s Bazar district. The Bangladesh authorities control access to these areas.

There are regular reports of insecurity, protests and violence.

Teknaf has the highest level of drug-related gang violence across Bangladesh, including:

  • murders and shooting incidents between the gangs and police
  • drug seizures, including large amounts of yaba (a mixture of caffeine and methamphetamine)
  • kidnappings

Violence has increased in the refugee camps. There is no sign that foreign nationals are being targeted.

If you plan to visit Ukhia and Teknaf, you should:

  • use caution
  • consult the local authorities – you may need permission to travel there
  • work through humanitarian agencies recognised by the Bangladesh government if you want to provide assistance

India border

Take particular care near the border with India. There are regular reports of individuals being killed for illegally crossing the border. There are occasional skirmishes between the Indian and Bangladeshi border guards, including exchanges of gunfire.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance and access to money for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.

If you suspect a heart attack, ask for a ‘cardiac ambulance’.

It may be faster to travel to the nearest hospital yourself if you have a vehicle.

Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:

Risks include:

  • dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease that can occur year-round but is more widespread during the rainy season, May to September
  • other mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria, chikungunya and Zika virus
  • severe air pollution, especially from November to March

Dengue cases are increasing, including in Dhaka. See insect bite avoidance advice on TravelHealthPro.

Medication

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

You should carry any medical papers or prescriptions and be prepared to answer questions if stopped by police.

Healthcare facilities in Bangladesh

Medical facilities in Bangladesh are poor. Routine tests and X-rays are unreliable.

FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Bangladesh.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Bangladesh

Telephone: 999 (ambulance, fire, police)

Expatriate Help Cell

The Bangladesh Police Expatriate Help Cell offers services to expatriates, including dual nationals.

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

Book a Hotel