10 Questions: Cycling In Bangladesh

The small country of Bangladesh doesn’t have much of a reputation as a bike touring destination but Muntasir Mamun Imran would like to change that.

A Bangladeshi himself, he’s spent many weeks touring the country. Bangladesh, he says, offers wonderful hospitality, beautiful scenery and the quiet roads for cyclists. It is also an overcrowded country, so you’ll have plenty of chances to meet local people, and one that is largely untouched by tourism.

In addition to the 10 Questions answered here, you can also see Muntasir’s wonderful photos of bike touring in Bangladesh and visit his website, Kewkradong.

1. What is the best way for people to reach Bangladesh?

Bangladesh is very well connected with India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan by road. All the routes will be over India for at least a small distance. With India, Bangladesh has long borders and a number of custom offices on the border so it’s never tough to get an entry to Bangladesh after you have done a ride in India.

There is a very famous route from Karachi (PK) to Chittagong (BD) which was actually a rail route established by the British Raj before the division of India and Pakistan, mostly known as the Imperial Way from the book by Steve Mccurry and Paul Theroux.

2. Tell us about some of the general considerations for cycling in Bangladesh.

Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh, with nearly 18 million people in 350 square kilometers. It’s unimaginably crowded! But not every part of Bangladesh is as crowed as Dhaka. So, don’t get panicked after landing in Dhaka. Get a taxi to your hotel.

In Dhaka, it’s better to move on while it’s morning, more specifically before 8 am. After that it will make a huge difference of time, when 5 minutes means a lot even on a bike. If you’re not in Dhaka or the other big towns, life is fun!! So, for riding, the better option is to stay as long as possible in outside of Dhaka.

Foods are easily accessible like India. But it’s not advisable to have street food all the time. Small restaurants or mostly crowed shops are even safer for food. And in Dhaka, don’t even try to drink water on the street.

3. How does cycling in Bangladesh compare to its neighbours Nepal and India?

Indeed, riding in Bangladesh is not like in Nepal or India or elsewhere. The people are still very curious and helpful. It’s very likely you can get offers from people to stay at their place or to have meal. Exploring villages and the people that live there could be exciting. You can always try to be hosted by the locals. In that case, buy some food for all of them.

Bangladesh is a very small country but if you want, you can spend lots of time here. The most beautiful parts Bangladesh can offer are its villages and small and narrow feeder dirt roads. Its has nearly 80,000 villages so you can always get to the next one if you want get something better.

Bangladesh is unique in its hospitality and overcrowdedness. So before visiting here, keep that in mind. It’s also not India or Nepal, where bike touring is common. And when you are riding, it means you are poor to the locals!!! Because only poor people ride bikes in Bangladesh.

4. Bangladesh can have a lot of problems with flooding and other extreme weather. Are there certain times of the year that are best to visit?

There are a few misleading concepts about Bangladesh in terms of weather, poverty and other things. It’s true, once in every two years small parts of the land of the country go underwater for between a few weeks and several months but it’s not periodic like a clock! Geographically, Bangladesh is a sub-tropical country with a mild winter from late October to late January. Winter (average temperature 16-26°C) is the best time to travel in Bangladesh. There is much less chance of rain during this time.

If you can ride in summer then it would be great to go across Bangladesh in the summer. You will see the traditional look of Bengal: cultivation, organic farming and fruits in most of Bangladesh. It will be hot (36-38°C). You will sweat and never be dry as it is too humid (around 70%-90%).

5. Are the roads in good condition? Are they mostly paved or should cyclists expect to be on dirt roads?

Most of the roads of Bangladesh are paved but it’s not as smooth as silk. Mainly the highways or major roads are paved and connected to other bigger and smaller roads. One very interesting thing about road system of Bangladesh is that every road is connected to every other road, so if you miss one turn to get somewhere, you will always find another road to reach the same place.

Dirt roads are not uncommon but they are not used for any vehicle except rickshaws and some other three wheelers.

In general, most of the villages are connected through dirt road and divisional or district connecting roads are paved. One problem is that roads are often not clean and loose bricks or stones can frequently be found.

6. What about food and water? What kind of food can cyclists expect to find, and is bottled water readily available?

If it’s any major city then you can try different foods available in shops, restaurants and in the street. But in rural or suburban areas you have to rely on what is available in shops. It’s easy to get biscuits as snacks or rice, dahl, fish and meat for a full-course meal. There is no concept called “vegetarian” so don’t expect something if you tell restaurants that is what you are looking for. The easiest way to get only vegetables is to order only rice, parata (a handmade bread fried with oil), naan bread, vegetables or dal.

Water outside of Dhaka and the big regional towns is fairly clean and safe. Especially in the villages, where they drink well water. Bottled water and beverages are also available all most every corner of Bangladesh.

7. Can you recommend your favourite route for cycling in Bangladesh and what makes it so special?

In one word Sylhet (the northeastern part of Bangladesh) is the best for a few days ride. It is commonly known as Little Darjeeling, without the steep climbs. It’s green and tea gardens are almost everywhere on your route. The roads are well paved. This trip can start from Dhaka to Sylhet following some small towns in between.

But if you wish to have something more, then going from Dhaka to the north, across the country, will give you real exposure to Bangladesh. No formal accommodation or hotels are available but the experience will be unforgettable. This nearly 600km route follows the border of Bangladesh and India will give you a different landscape of Bangladesh, crossing around 200 kilometers of mud or unpaved roads!

8. What are some typical costs for things like hotel rooms and simple street meals ($1 U.S. = 70 Taka)?

Hotel in Dhaka or some other major cities may cost you from 200–5000 Tk. But in most of the places of Bangladesh you can always get an accommodation within 200-500 Tk or even very less like 100 Tk.

Food is cheap too, for a major meal outside Dhaka ranges from 30–150 Tk (depending on your demand). Beef or fish will cost you 40–70 Tk in street side restaurant where an egg might cost you 10-15 Tk or even less. There are so many other foods available on the street costing 3–20 Tk and some time you have to buy them priced by the kilogram.

9. Is language a problem or do most people speak English?

People may not speak fluent English but still you can work with them for basic necessities even in the very rural areas.

10. What is one typical Bangladeshi experience that you think cyclists shouldn’t miss?

The richness of the hospitality of local people. Mix with people. Talk to them. Take photos with them. Use some local words. They will like you and you will even get offers to stay at their homes, in most of the rural places where you stop to eat.

If you don’t get any place to stay, go to any shops or restaurant around and they will help you. I have never heard of anyone who was refused.

And if you are a woman, you will have VIP access to almost everywhere. Just make sure you maintain local decorum and dress modestly.

Thanks to Muntasir Mamun Imram for answering this week’s 10 Questions on bike touring in Bangladesh.

If you’d like to answer 10 questions about a favourite cycling destination, read the guidelines and then get in touch.


    30th July 2010 at 10:16 pm #

    It was great someone make the things pretty clear about the cycling in Bangladesh. Hi, I am Arif Ahmed owner of the largest cycle shop in Dhaka named “Master Cycle Store”. I want to boost up the cycle riding craze among the people. It is not because I do the business for money. It is also my passion. I want to help and make something. Whoever is reading this, please contact me on the following mail. I am waiting for the right person to join me. Good day.

    arif_master_nsu AT hotmail DOT com or masterindustrybd AT gmail DOT com

    • Martin
      9th August 2010 at 5:16 pm #

      Hello. Do you have used bikes good for long distance touring in Bangladesh? Around how much do they cost? Do you have information about shipping a bicycle by plane from Bangkok? Thank you for any information you have. I’m glad to find someone who promotes bikes. Thank you

      • muntasir mamun imran
        1st September 2010 at 8:22 am #

        Dear Martin

        sorry for late, i was traveling since last July so i could not check your post.

        I guess u have already made the move. if not. i will be happy to be any help. plz leave me a message at muntasir at gmail dot com. thats easy for me.


  2. Jerry Teng
    3rd November 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Hi! I dn’t understand about Question 7 “But if you wish to have something more, then going from Dhaka to the north, across the country”it means from Dhaka to Sylhet first then follows the border of Bangladesh and India ? i plan cycling from Bangladesh to Nepal ,Can you recommend route for me? Thank you very much.

    • muntasir
      3rd November 2010 at 1:58 pm #

      Hi Jerry

      Thanks for your comment. you can go from Bangladesh to Nepal via north of Bangladesh not sylhet. you need to go to shiliguri from Bangladesh. there is a custom check post. but to get to Nepal you have to have Indian visa (better multiple) and visa for Nepal. route is very simple,from which place you want to start in Bangladesh? From Bangladesh to Nepal, you have to climb up. Most of the rider did the opposite.

      you can write to me at [email protected] any time

      • sam
        4th July 2013 at 6:35 am #

        i’ll be cycling from nepal to bangladesh next year,
        i was just wondering how long the transit is through india?

  3. yusuf
    21st June 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    hi. i have just moved back to bangladesh. i have been looking around for a hybrid bike to commute to work. seen a few shops in bangshal, but havent found anything that i like. could you suggest where else i can look for a good bike. i particularly like the BSA Hercules. any clue where i can find it here?


  4. Geri
    15th March 2012 at 2:15 am #

    I would like to know if there are any poisonous snakes, tigers, lions, etc. anywhere in Bangladesh? Are there campsites? Is it safe to camp in the wilderness, in a tent? Thank you for your time and consideration.

    • muntasir mamun
      15th March 2012 at 5:55 am #

      Hi, you can find snakes, tigers and other lethal animal in our
      forest named The Sundarbans. But if you are thinking of camping and keeping them in our mind as hazard then, its not hazardous as you will not found it most of your riding areas.
      I am afraid to say you wont get any wilderness in bangladesh except in our forest where it will be impossible to ride.

      camping is not wise in Bangladesh especially if you are not local. you can camp in school ground but there will be no dedicated camping ground anywhere.

      please write to me at [email protected] for more.


  5. arup
    1st May 2012 at 10:18 am #

    I want to know whether it is possible for an Indian to enter into and visit Bangladesh on his own bicycle, obviously with valid passport and visa.
    If any special permission is needed for it and who is the authority to give such permission.

    • muntasir mamun
      1st May 2012 at 10:22 am #

      Hi Arup,

      Good to hear from you. No, you dont require any special permit to travel in Bangladesh with your bike. I have seen and hosted many traveler coming from India with their bikes. So, its fairly possible. If you are taking your visa from Kolkata, plz ask them about your intention. They will suggest you what to do (if needed). Other than that, its not an issue.

      Thank you for showing interest in traveling in Bangladesh on your bike. Welcome.

      For anything further more write to me direct [email protected]


  6. arup
    1st May 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Thank you for your kind reply.
    Wish you all the best.

    1st October 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Bangladesh is one of the best place for biking according to me. Although Dhaka is not, due to the heavy traffic and congestion. The village areas and the long freeways leading towards durgapur or perhaps chittagong are the best roads for long distance cycling

  8. Arup
    7th October 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    How can I get a detailed route map of Bangladesh ?

  9. Federica Bimbi
    5th December 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi! This was helpful! We are planning to go to Bangladesh with our bikes in dicember (just christmas holidays, 15 days). We want to go from Dahka to silhet by train (and with the bicycles of course). Do you know if that is possible?

    • Muntasir Mamun
      11th December 2013 at 6:00 am #

      Dear Mimbi,

      Good to know that you are willing to make a trip here. Trains are ok but i wonder whether they will allow you to take your bike or not. I tried once but with a large group but could not do it.

      and current political condition is not so well. otherwise I would have suggested you to take Bus sine you can take your bike in it, easily.

      Thanks and have a safe ride.
      [email protected]

  10. Sajid sj
    19th November 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    Hlw muntasir…
    I m a new cyclist….i have a plan to rid from dhaka to sylhet….so I want to carry a tent with me in oder to take rest and for campain…..
    Is bangladesh highways n its circumstance safe from hijeck and rovery…
    Will I be safe if I make a journey with a DSLR and campain by the side of the highway…
    If not what can I do….where can I campain during night…

    • farhan millat
      22nd April 2016 at 12:37 pm #

      It’s not very safe. You should have a gun with you.

  11. Ela
    14th January 2016 at 10:16 am #

    Hello Mr. Muntair,

    This is Ela from Dhaka. Cycling is my hobby but as a female I cannot move everywhere. Can you suggest me about this issue ? I want to travel Dhaka to near District city by cycling. What should I do ?

  12. sherwin lobo
    5th March 2016 at 5:03 am #

    hi im lobo from india n I am a cycling enthusiast.m really interesred in Bangladesh n its culture.to cycle there in the near future.thanksfor the information n looking forward to mix with u lovely people of Bangladesh.

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