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Dhaka is an enormous city, and it shows. It is crowded and always on the move, but that also makes it a dynamic and entertaining place to be. The city streets are a constant flow of traffic and rickshaws, and there is something new to discover at every turn. Most of the city's historical monuments and points of interest can be found in the area of Old Dhaka, such as the Lalbagh Fort and the stunning Pink Palace. It is also an area of great spiritual importance, gathering the Hindu Dhakeshwari Temple, the Orthodox Armenian Church, and the Tara Mosque, among others. The city's more modern side can be found in Gulshan, a more affluent neighbourhood where you can find large upscale shopping centres and international restaurants, mixing more tranquil residential areas with commercial buildings and businesses (similar to neighbouring Banani).
Dhaka offers a mix of people, cultures and religions, and the city's many temples and mosques could keep visitors occupied for days. Add to that the impressive monuments and historic buildings, palaces and forts, and a few fantastic museums, and there won't seem to be enough time to take it all in. And of course, don't miss the chance to take a ride down the Buriganga River for a glimpse at real Bangladeshi life.
Bangladeshi cuisine has been largely shaped by the country's geography: a vast network of intertwining rivers and deltas with seasonal monsoons and floods. As such, rice is a staple in the country's diet, along with lentils and, of course, river fish. This is all served with fragrant curries and warm breads, and it is filling and delectable. Add in some fine international restaurants, and visitors will eat more than their share while in Dhaka.
Coffee may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Bangladesh, but local roasting has been happening for decades, and a whole array of high-quality coffee shops have sprung up around the city in recent times. Mostly following a Western cafe model, these coffee houses are great places to have a quick snack or dessert and enjoy a hot cappuccino or espresso.
If you're looking for a crazy night of dancing until dawn at a sweaty nightclub, Dhaka may not be the best city for you. That's not to say that it doesn't have great bars and places to enjoy a good drink, but you're more likely to find a place to enjoy a spectacular dance performance or some live fusion music, which usually provide a more memorable experience for visitors on their evenings out.
Shopping in Dhaka can be quite an experience. The noise and crowds of the markets can be overwhelming, but very rewarding, smaller boutiques offer truly unique items, clothing and accessories, and the large shopping centres provide just about anything one could need. Clothing is perhaps the most sought-after product, from the high-quality designer items, to the brand-name excesses straight from the factories.
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