“This two week Bangladesh holiday crosses the country by paddle steamer, train, plane, boat and on foot, allowing you to cover plenty of ground – but also get up close to wildlife and people.”

Highlights

Dhaka | Mahastangarh Buddhist monastery | Chars of the Jamuna River | Paharpur Buddhist archaeological site | Sundarbans boat cruise | Bagerhat Sixty Domed Mosque | Otter fishing village | Sylhet | Jaflong | Meet Khasia tribal people | Srimongal | Lawachara Forest Reserve | Hail Haor Wetland Sanctuary | Dhamrai

Description of Bangladesh holiday

The sprawling city of Dhaka is the starting point for this in depth tour of Bangladesh, which follows the river south, by paddle steamer, all the way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Sundarbans. This world’s largest mangrove forest shelters some 260 bird species – as well as the Bengal tiger. En route, you’ll visit palaces, Hindu temples, mosques, Buddhist monasteries and impressive archaeological sites, giving a unique insight into the past and present culture of Bangladesh, and its spirituality and religion.

As well as the big draws, this Bangladesh holiday is packed with lower-key but no less special treats, such as meeting fishermen who used trained otters to round up fish, the stone collectors of Jaflong and Khasia tribal people who live close to the Indian border. Stretch your legs with a hike through the Lawachara Forest Reserve, home to birds, monkeys and rare gibbons, and spend two days cruising through the Sundarbans, winding your way along the wider rivers and narrow channels in search of the thriving wildlife.

Travel Team

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Date
Price
Basis
21 Dec 2019
£2565
excluding flights
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11 Jan 2020
£2695
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 11 Jan 2020 departure
10 Oct 2020
£2695
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 10 Oct 2020 departure
19 Dec 2020
£2695
excluding flights
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Click here to enquire about or book the 19 Dec 2020 departure
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type
Small group holidays
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

Bangladesh holiday

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

We are proud of our involvement in Bangladesh. Being pioneers in the development of the country’s tourism we take our responsibilities seriously and are determined to set the standard for other operators to follow.

We have been working with our locally owned operator Abdur for many years. We have helped Abdur with initiatives that can be taken to sustainably grow his business, not just with us, but with other operators. When visiting the tribal people of the Chittagong Hill Tracks we have insisted that you are accompanied by a local tribal guide as well as your main guide. This means that the money you spend is going directly to the people that benefit the most.

When visiting the Sundarbans, a World Heritage Site, we are accompanied by a park ranger. We use the services of the Divisional Forestry Office responsible for and protecting the delicate ecological balance of the Sundarbans. The fees you pay as part of the trip directly support these activities and the preservation of this unique environment. At the end of the journey travellers may donate any unwanted clothing, medicine and books, which are distributed to appropriate local charities.

We only employ local staff and unlike many operators we believe that to send a foreign Tour Leader along to accompany your trip is an unnecessary burden on your wallet and our carbon footprint. We believe that locals know best. Our local operators only use locally owned accommodation. This means your money stays in the area to benefit the local community. When possible we use local transport, (i.e. rail or bus) and we always use local restaurants, markets and shops. In doing this your travels are supporting and encouraging the development of local services.

We only work with operators who are as committed as we are to putting something back into the communities we visit. This may include giving a percentage of the profits from each tour to a foundation to help street children or local conservation projects. Furthermore, in order to allow our clients to make an informed decision on where a greater proportion of their money should be spent, we avoid including pre-paid full board meals where possible. Local restaurants and cafes then benefit.

Our groups average only six clients, and many tours operate on a private basis with just two travellers. This has much less impact when travelling through rural areas, reducing our environmental and social affects. Finally to emphasis our commitment to Responsible Tourism all clients will receive a copy of our Travellers Code of Conduct with their travel documents.

2 Reviews of Bangladesh holiday

3 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 31 Jan 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


We found the Bangladeshi people one of the friendliest who wanted their photos taken and for us to be included in the photos they took. They were curious about us and wanted to chat, but obviously sometimes impossible because of the language. The horrendous traffic, traffic jams and horn honking has made a lasting impression along with the terrible litter everywhere.
How difficult life is and hard working the Bangladeshi people are was reflected so much in what we saw, the stone collecting people near Jaflong in particular.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


This cannot be categorised as a holiday but rather an adventure or experience. Because the country is so poor and undeveloped, one has to be prepared to travel on dusty, rough roads, tolerate the pollution and stay in very basic hotels with very few tourist sights set up (see below). The 'cruise' in the Sundarbans on the boat we went on was more suitable for the backpacker generation with less than basic accommodation and facilities.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Our holiday benefited the local people only in so far as interacting with them. We related our concern to several people about the litter and pollution problem that needs addressing now.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


We did enjoy the Bangladeshi experience. We felt, however, that we could have seen different aspects of their lives other than walking through yet another bazar. Because of the lack of historical sights available, we would have been interested in visiting other things like a garment or a brick factory. We felt that even the local guides thought that the wildlife walks were pointless as they joked repeatedly about maybe seeing a tiger or a gibbon or particular bird. We enjoyed the walks for what they were in the Sundarbans , but one would probably have been enough, not 3, The Lawachara National Park had a major busy road running through the middle and many, large noisy tourist groups. Our guide diverted our walk when he saw a group from the hotel arriving but really what hope was there of seeing any wildllife. Again they joked about seeing the Gibbon.
We enjoyed seeing the different parts of the country, the countryside with rice paddies, the Sundarbans and wouldn't have wanted to miss seeing it. However, the roads and distances were painful. The long drive to Bogra then back to Rajshahi and to Sylhet were tedious. The long drives should have been well organised with stops of interest planned in as well as comfort stops which was lacking on our tour.
Our guide was a lovely chap with a good sense of humour, helpful, always had water and snacks for us, but he didn't seem prepared with information about the places we were being taken to. We visited these places but often we didn't know what we were looking at, eg tribal villages, pottery village people. We always had to ask. The comfort stops were never pre-planned. The driver sometimes stopped for himself, but we were never thought of. Coffee/tea breaks were sometimes taken by the guide and driver and we were told to stretch our legs.
Accommodation varied. The usual breakfast discussions about what worked in the rooms and what didn't, took place. We have to report that The Nice Hotel, Rajshahi, was really sub standard. The room really tiny, no hot water, the wardrobe was only part of a wardrobe - no front or back- and the sheets questionable. Luckily we took your advice and took a sleeping sheet, which we used on several other occasions when the duvet had no cover. The Sundarbans boat was lovely in concept but quite small and dirty. There was nowhere to sit other than at the table, or on your bunk in your tiny cabin, and actually the crew stood watching us eat before they could sit down and eat themselves. The crew and cook were great. Coffee/tea always available. The quiet cruises on the smaller boat in the Mangrove Forest were magical. The walk on the beach was lovely.
The Nishorgo EcoLodge was very tired and has lost its charm. The mats are curling up, gaps widening between the floorboards and didn't feel very clean.
We are well travelled and don't mind basic accommodation so we hope you don't think we are being over critical, but we do feel cleanliness should have been better.
Train journey was good. It was a welcome relief from another car journey.
We are afraid that we wouldn't recommend this holiday to anyone as it is currently structured but Bangladesh is a Photographer's paradise and we did take some great photos. Perhaps it should be marketed as that!!




Reviewed on 05 Apr 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most memorable part is the amount of curiosity we aroused wherever we went - people were interested to see us and wanted to talk to us - and have their photos taken with us. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. I enjoyed the peacefulness of the waterways (a contrast to the roads!) and visiting the small villages.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You need stamina - there are some very long days of travelling. Also not advised if you're nervous in traffic - the roads can be very busy and driving somewhat hair-raising.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very interesting and enjoyable.

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