How To Get Around Dhaka, Bangladesh Without Driving

One of the most remarkable aspects of travel is the experience of doing mundane activities in new places. Things like getting a coffee, taking public transport, or even grocery shopping become exciting adventures. On the other hand, some activities can be a fun-killer in any travel destination. Along with paying your taxes, traffic is as ubiquitous as it is universally despised and in Dhaka, Bangladesh, gridlock takes on a whole new meaning. While you may think yourself an expert driver in your hometown, and may even have some experience driving in other countries, it's not recommended that travelers drive themselves through the streets of Dhaka.

Traffic in Dhaka is more than just a nuisance; it defines the way of life in the city, per a 2016 article from The New York Times. But the constant congestion in the city forebodes greater underlying issues. According to World Population Review, Dhaka's urban population surpassed 22 million residents in 2022 and will continue to grow at around 3% yearly. This is due in part to the city's economic appeal for Bangladesh's rural poor as well as climate migration due to flooding caused by climate change. Along with its lagging infrastructure, this is a recipe for unprecedented traffic woes. But what does this mean for travelers and what are the safest ways to get around Dhaka?

Best ways to travel in Dhaka, Bangladesh

While the traffic in Dhaka may seem overwhelming, don't worry. The Soul Travel Blog provides an in depth guide to getting around this chaotic city. They write that there are several options for travel within the city and to other destinations in Bangladesh including rickshaws and private transport. Just be prepared to leave early and sit in traffic for long periods of time. Of the available transportation options, Soul Travel Blog recommends some options over others for different times of day. Just remember to keep an eye on your belongings at all times whenever traveling, as World Nomads writes that opportunistic theft is very common in Bangladesh.

According to Taste2Travel, the most common iconic forms of transportation you will see in Dhaka are the cycle and auto-rickshaws. These are three-wheeled carts pulled by either a bicycle or powered by compressed natural gas. While ideal for short trips around the city, these should be avoided at night, especially if you're a female solo traveler. Soul Travel Blog writes that Ubers are also great option if you have to travel in the evening. Buses are another inexpensive option for travel between cities, but you will also want to avoid them at night. Since buses also do not offer bathroom facilities, you may want to consider taking trains. Just be aware that tickets sell out quickly and the station will be packed during peak hours.

Preparing for your trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh

When preparing for a trip to Dhaka, you need to know a few things. If this is your first trip to a major metropolitan city in South Asia, you will probably experience sensory overload. Sights, sounds, and smells in this part of the world can be overwhelming, and it may make you rock back on your heels a bit. However, if you're armed with the right information, you will be fine.

Ellie, the owner of the Soul Travel Blog, provides some great tips for female solo travelers headed to Bangladesh. Away With The Steiners blogger and mom, Sarah Steiner, has also written a thorough Bangladesh travel guide for 2022 that includes tips for traveling with kids. The main takeaways from these guides are to dress conservatively, plan ahead, come prepared with ways to sterilize your water, frequently wash your hands, and brace yourself for the traffic. 

While some of this information and these tips can seem daunting, consider it an adventure. Bangladesh is full of incredible culture and beautiful sites, and while you may have to do a bit more preparation and planning, a trip there will be well worth it.