A Traveler’s Guide to Dhaka: 15 Things to See and Do in Bangladesh’s Vibrant City
Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is a vibrant and bustling metropolis that offers an intriguing blend of old and new. With a rich history dating back to the Mughal era, Dhaka has plenty of cultural and historical landmarks to explore and a burgeoning food and nightlife scene. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there are plenty of things to see and do in Dhaka.
Here are 15 of the best things to do in Dhaka.
Visit the historic Lalbagh Fort.
Lalbagh Fort, also known as Fort Aurangabad, is a 17th-century Mughal fort complex located in the Old City of Dhaka. The fort was built in 1678 by Prince Muhammad Azam, the son of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The complex includes several buildings, such as the mosque, the Diwan-i-Aam, and the tomb of Pari Bibi. Visitors can explore the fort’s beautiful gardens, mosques, and pavilions and learn about its fascinating history.
Explore the Ahsan Manzil Museum
Ahsan Manzil Museum is a historical landmark located in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The museum was the former residence of the Nawabs of Dhaka and is now a popular tourist destination. Built in the 19th century, the palace uniquely blends Mughal and European architectural styles. The museum houses a collection of artifacts and memorabilia from the Nawab’s era, including furniture, paintings, photographs, and other personal items.
The palace grounds also feature a beautiful garden, a mosque, and a large pond. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of Dhaka while exploring the palace’s lavish interiors and stunning exteriors. Ahsan Manzil Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, or cultural heritage.
Wander through Dhaka University
Dhaka University, established in 1921, is one of Bangladesh’s oldest and most prestigious universities. Located in the capital city of Dhaka, the university has a long history of promoting higher education, research, and cultural development. The campus spans over 600 acres and includes various academic departments and faculties, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in various disciplines.
The university has a diverse student body, with students from Bangladesh and international students from different countries. Dhaka University has produced many notable alumni, including Nobel laureates, politicians, academics, and business leaders. The university is also known for its vibrant student life, with numerous clubs, societies, and events organized annually. Dhaka University continues to be a center of excellence for higher education and research in Bangladesh.
Visit the National Museum of Bangladesh
The National Museum of Bangladesh is the largest museum in the country, located in the capital city of Dhaka. Established in 1913, the museum has a rich collection of historical artifacts and objects, including sculptures, paintings, pottery, coins, and textiles, representing the rich cultural heritage of Bangladesh. The museum has over 86 galleries showcasing various aspects of Bangladesh’s history, art, and culture, including the Liberation War of 1971.
Visitors can explore the galleries and learn about the country’s ancient civilization, the Mughal period, the British colonial era, and modern-day Bangladesh. The museum also has a library with a vast collection of books and manuscripts and a conservation laboratory where the experts preserve the valuable artifacts. The National Museum of Bangladesh is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the country’s rich cultural heritage and history.
Shop at the New Market
Dhaka New Market, also known as the New Market, is a popular shopping destination located in the heart of the capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka. Established in 1952, the market is a hub of activity, offering a wide range of products, including clothing, electronics, jewelry, handicrafts, and fresh produce. The market is divided into different sections, including the meat and fish, vegetable, and garment.
Visitors can explore the market’s various shops and stalls and bargain for the best prices. The market also has a food court serving delicious local cuisine and a mosque for visitors to pray. Dhaka New Market is a vibrant and bustling place, offering an authentic shopping experience and a glimpse into the city’s daily life.
Visit the Dhaka Art Center
The Dhaka Art Center is a contemporary art gallery and cultural center located in the Dhanmondi neighborhood of Dhaka. The center hosts a range of exhibitions, performances, and workshops showcasing the work of local and international artists. Visitors can attend art shows, music concerts, and film screenings or simply enjoy the center’s serene courtyard and cafe.
Explore the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre
The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre is a state-of-the-art planetarium and science center located in Dhaka’s Bijoy Sarani area. The center features a range of interactive exhibits and multimedia displays, offering visitors a fun and educational experience. Visitors can learn about astronomy, physics, and other scientific subjects through the center’s exhibits, films, and live shows.
Visit the Dhaka Zoo
Dhaka Zoo, also known as the Bangladesh National Zoo, is located in Mirpur, Dhaka, and is one of the largest and oldest zoos in South Asia. Established in 1974, the zoo covers an area of 186 acres and is home to over 2,000 animals from 165 species.
The zoo is divided into different sections, including a birdhouse, a nocturnal animal house, a reptile house, and an aquarium. The zoo also has a children’s corner, a picnic area, and a lake where visitors can enjoy boat rides. Despite its popularity, the zoo has faced criticism over the years for its poor conditions, lack of proper care for the animals, and allegations of corruption.
Take a boat ride on the Buriganga River.
The Buriganga River is a major river that flows through Dhaka, and a boat ride on the river is a popular activity for tourists and locals alike. Visitors can hire a boat from the Sadarghat launch terminal and take a leisurely ride along the river, passing by colorful boats and bustling riverfront markets.
Explore the Old Dhaka neighborhood.
Old Dhaka, also known as Puran Dhaka, is a historic neighborhood located in the heart of the city. The area is known for its narrow alleyways, historic buildings, and vibrant street life. Visitors can take a walking tour of the neighborhood and see the various landmarks, including the Star Mosque, the Armenian Church, and the Dhakeshwari Temple.
Visit the Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban
Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban, also known as the National Parliament House, is the seat of the Jatiyo Sangsad, the national parliament of Bangladesh. It is located in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka, and was designed by the renowned American architect Louis I. Kahn. The construction of the building began in 1961 and was completed in 1982.
Its unique and modern design characterizes the structure, incorporating traditional Bengali architecture elements. It comprises several buildings and a large artificial lake and can accommodate up to 354 members of parliament. The building has become a landmark of modern architecture and is considered one of the finest examples of 20th-century architecture. It is open to visitors, and guided tours are available to explore the interior and learn about the history and significance of the building.
Attend a cricket match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium
Cricket is a popular sport in Bangladesh, and attending a cricket match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium is a must-do activity for sports enthusiasts. The stadium, located in the Mirpur area of Dhaka, has hosted several international cricket matches and is known for its lively atmosphere and passionate fans.
Sample the local cuisine.
Bangladesh has a rich culinary tradition, and Dhaka is home to diverse food options. Visitors can sample traditional Bangladeshi dishes at local restaurants and street food stalls, such as biryani, samosas, and dal puri. Some popular food destinations in Dhaka include the Haji Biriyani restaurant, famous for its spicy beef biryani, and Fakruddin, which serves delicious chicken dishes.
Visit the Ahsan Manzil
The Ahsan Manzil, also known as the Pink Palace, is a beautiful historic palace located on the banks of the Buriganga River. Built in the late 19th century, the palace was once the residence of the Nawab of Dhaka and is now a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace and see the various exhibits and artifacts on display.
Shop at the local markets
Dhaka is home to various markets and bazaars selling everything from handicrafts and textiles to spices and fresh produce. The New Market, located in the heart of the city, is a bustling bazaar with hundreds of stalls selling clothing, jewelry, and souvenirs. The Kawran Bazar, on the other hand, is a sprawling wholesale market that sells fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices.
Dhaka is a vibrant and bustling city with a rich cultural heritage and exciting things to see and do. From exploring the historic landmarks and monuments to sampling the local cuisine and shopping at the bustling markets, there is something for everyone in Dhaka. So, whether you’re a history buff, foodie, or adventure seeker, be sure to add these 15 best things to do in Dhaka to your itinerary and experience the best this vibrant city offers.
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