My husband and I booked a 26 day tailor made holiday to Bangladesh in Oct/Nov 2017 through Nijhoom Tours. From start to finish it was absolutely excellent and I would highly recommend this company and especially Arafat who was our guide throughout and who was excellent. There were somethings I would have done differently with hindsight but overall we had the most amazing time and meet the most amazing people. Apart from Arafat I would also like to make a special mention for Liton who was our driver for the majority of the trip and who also went out of his way to make every day enjoyable.
To start we had to take the remainder of our payment in cash to the airport to give to Hasan in person. I was very nervous about this as I never travel with that much cash but all went perfectly and I shouldn’t have worried. We were then taken to our hotel and given time to freshen up before hitting the streets of Dhaka with Arafat and Liton. The weather was atrocious but we didn’t let that spoil our fun and we visited all the sights of Dhaka.
At one point, whilst walking down the railway where we meet the loveliest people who all want to stop and chat and pose for photos, my husband slipped on a wet sleeper and although he wasn’t hurt his camera hit the ground and his lens was dented meaning the lens wouldn’t retract and expand properly. I was very upset as this was day one and I’m passionate about photography but I needn’t have panicked as Arafat took it back to his room and with his trusty knife managed to mend the dent enabling Jim to continue using the camera for the rest of the trip. It was little things like this that turned a wonderful trip into a truly unforgettable one.
At this point I would advise that when planning your trip you think carefully about where you want to go and where these places are geographically because as wonderful as Dhaka is the traffic is AWFUL and you can waste a lot of precious time sat in traffic not going anywhere. This is really frustrating and can ruin what in every other way has been a wonderful day. I would suggest doing everything around Dhaka in one go and then moving out trying not to return until you need to leave.
I won’t give a day by day account of our experience, it would be too wordy and not that useful, but suffice to say that we loved everywhere we went and everything we experienced. The people are amazing, they are friendly, chatty, photogenic and happy (in general, check first obviously) to be photographed. The young Bangladeshi people are absolutely obsessed with taking selfies and for some reason really wanted us in them so on occasions it could take 30 minutes to walk a distance you could walk in 5 minutes but it was all part of the fun.
The country is beautiful, the country side is lush and green with beautiful villages all built around ponds, the rivers are wonderful and are hosts to all sorts of human and wildlife activity. There are some of the most beautiful buildings I have seen.
Best of all is the food!!! We were so lucky to have Arafat as a guide for many reasons but not the least because he loves food and is very knowledgeable about the history of dishes, how they are cooked, and the specialties of each area. Knowing how much we loved trying new things he went out of his way to buy us the local food/snack and the four of us (as we always include our guide and driver) enjoyed many a lovely dinner, lunch and in between snacks which, be warned, are a meal in themselves!
We had so much fun which is impossible to convey in a review. We laughed until we cried, we chatted, we debated and most importantly of all we left with amazing memories of a stunning country but also we left with two new friends.
The things I would have done differently are: not going back to Dhaka so often; not arriving at two separate museums on the one day of the week they were shut; spending more quality time on the boat in the Sundarbans as we were really looking forward to this part but it felt a little bit rushed and the final day we returned to Mongla in the morning when we thought we would have spent more time in Kotka; and I’d think carefully about visiting the Kantajee temple in Dinajpur which is absolutely covered in the most beautiful stone carvings but which is a very long drive the way we did it. I believe there is the possibility of visiting this area by train which would have been much better.
We can highly recommend travelling by any sort of boat as every single trip we did was wonderful and gave you the time to really immerse yourself in the daily life that takes place along the riverbank. The train journeys were also great fun, especially watching Arafat trying to decide which chocolate bar to buy.
I would advise taking every opportunity to visit villages along the way as each has a very different character and all the people were so welcoming and happy to share their lives with you. The children and schools were wonderful too.
Suffice to say we truly had the most amazing time in Bangladesh, we would love to return very soon, and if we did we would definitely ask for Arafat and Liton and we would try to see even more of this amazing, interesting, colourful country.