Perhaps the city's most iconic landmark, this impressive palace dates back to 1872 and is a must for any visit to Dhaka. Renovations in the 1980s have left all 23 rooms just as they looked at their most luxurious and grandiose, and a walk through the palace is like a trip through time. A standout feature is the enormous elephant skull, a former Nawab's favourite.
The fort and its beautiful gardens are a great place to escape the bustle of the city streets for a while. Dating back to 1684, the complex includes three monuments: the Quilla Mosque, the Tomb of Pari Bibi and the Hall of Audience. This last one, the only one visitors can enter, houses a small museum containing coins, carpets, paintings and more.
The Buriganga River, which runs peacefully through Dhaka, showcases a microcosm of the whole country on its banks. You can see people fishing by the shore as your vessel navigates through the maze of boats making their way down the river. Taking a ride here is one of the best ways to get a true view of Bangladesh and its way of life.
Although this temple may seem modern, it stands on a most sacred spot, where temples have stood for centuries. It is the centre of the Hindu religion in Bangladesh, dedicated to Dhakeshwari, the protector deity of the city, and gathers thousands of followers every year during the Durga Puja festival in September.
Another iconic monument of Dhaka, the Tara Mosque, or Star Mosque, has fascinated visitors and locals alike for years with its beautifully detailed mosaics. Interestingly, some tiles feature illustrations of Mt Fuji, since a renovation was done some 50 years ago using Japanese and English porcelain tiles.
This fantastic museum takes visitors on a tour through the country's natural, social and art history, its geology, flora and fauna, and much more, with its high-quality displays and unique artefacts (a standout feature is the large river racing boat). It is well worth a visit to get an understanding of the country's fascinating history.
These beautiful and serene botanical gardens offer city-dwellers a tranquil and quiet place to escape the hectic and noisy city life. The gardens cover over 40 hectares and feature a rich array of thousands of examples of local and foreign plant life, as well as a wealth of birds that have made the gardens their home.
Bangladesh's War of Independence from Pakistan in 1971 was a deadly and haunting conflict. This museum takes visitors on a difficult but important recollection of the war and its tragedies, and though it can be quite graphic at times, it is essential to understanding the country as it is today.
There was a significant Armenian community in Bangladesh for centuries, even if today their presence is minimal. Founded in 1781, the Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection in Dhaka, in the neighbourhood of Armanitola, named for the Armenian community that settled there, is a remnant of that time. The beautiful church is worth a visit as a marker of the diversity that exists and has existed in the city.
If you want to eat like the locals do, you can't miss Al-Razzaque. This place serves up local dishes, like curries, biryanis and enormous rotis at good prices. It is incredibly popular with locals, so it can be quite crowded, but the food is so good, it is definitely worth the wait.
North End Coffee is famed for serving the best coffee in Bangladesh. They were the first roasted in the country and clearly care about the quality of their drinks and service. Prices might seem a bit high, but anyone who has visited any of their locations can tell you it's worth it, not just for the great coffee, but also for the excellent pastries.
Kiva Han Cafe claims to be inspired in the very first coffee shop in the world, in 1475 Constantinople. The quality coffee is complemented by the fusion food offerings and the tasty sandwiches and burgers. You can also choose from a variety of teas and dairy and chocolate drinks.
Originally from Australia, this coffee shop chain has greatly expanded and now has over 1,000 locations in 39 countries worldwide, including three in Dhaka. Known for its hearty coffee drinks and decadent desserts, it is also a great place for a quick snack, as the sandwiches here are quite tasty.
This hip rooftop lounge showcases the city's best offerings of art and music, and it is the coolest place to spend a night out. It hosts tons of events and always strives to promote local folk art and artists. Musical fusion abounds where traditional Lalon and Tagore sounds mix with jazz, blues and rock.
This fantastic auditorium is one of the best places in the city for performing arts. Typically showcasing performances of traditional folk music and dances from the region and its surroundings, some of the most prestigious orchestras and dance troupes come here to perform.
The Blue Moon Recreation Club is a dark bar and nightclub, more or less resembling an American bar experience. It is bathed in neon lighting, giving it a very particular feel and vibe, and certain days bring live music performances, and you can even have some typical bar food.
For a more upscale bar experience, hotel bars generally offer a touch of elegance and sophistication to a night out. This bar at the Radisson Blu Hotel near the airport offers a great environment, as well as great and elaborate drinks, live entertainment and even the chance to play billiards.
Aarong takes pride in selling "ethnically made handcrafted products", which include everything from men's, women's and children's clothing to home decor and jewelry. Their products have a predominantly traditional look to them, but with a distinctly modern twist that really sets them apart.
Bashundhara City claims to be the 12th largest shopping centre in the world, and whether or not that is true, it certainly boasts and dizzying 2,000+ shops and restaurants, plus a cinema and a bowling alley. If you can't find what you're looking for here, then it likely can't be found.
Dhaka's New Market was Bangladesh's first attempt at creating a modern, family-friendly open-air shopping centre, and has been a central hub for all shopping in the city for over 70 years. You can pretty much find anything and everything here, and often bargain down the price, too.
The Banga Bazar is loud, chaotic and at times overwhelming, but that only adds to the experience. Vendors here sell the excess brand-name clothes that you would end up buying at expensive boutiques in American and Europe for a fraction of the price (if you're good at bargaining, that is).
PBS is Bangladesh's largest bookstore, located in a modern and well-lit shop. They have a very good selection of English-language books, as well as music and DVDs, stationary and gift items. There is also a small cafe with free WiFi, making it the kind of place to linger and browse an afternoon away.
Aranya is perhaps the best place to get high-quality traditional Bangladeshi clothing. Silk, cotton and other yarns are hand-dyed here and then woven and embroidered into saris, ready-to-wears and other accessories. They take great pride in having revived two traditional garments: Jamdanis and Kanthas.
Located about 20 km north of Dhaka, in the area of Kurmitola, the Shahjalal International Airport (DAC) is the country's largest airport. The easiest way to get to the city is by taxi, which should take about 30 minutes. Travelers are recommended to take an approved taxi from the pre-paid booth inside the terminal. It is also possible to walk to the main road to catch a bus to the city. They are very affordable, but often over-crowded. Lastly, there are car rental services available at the arrival terminal.
Traffic in Dhaka can be overwhelming, often involving deadlock traffic jams taking hours to clear up. City buses are the most common form of transport in Dhaka. They are cheap, but often so crowded you'd be lucky to squeeze through the door. And the routes can be confusing, so unless you know exactly which bus to take, it might be best to stick to private transport. Taxis are most easily found at busy intersections or hotel lobbies. They are seldom metered, so be sure to settle on a price before getting in. Alternatively, pedal- and motor-rickshaws (CNGs) are everywhere, and they are a very inexpensive way to get around, but be prepared to haggle and endure a lot of traffic.