Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh, in southern Asia. Set beside the Buriganga River, it’s at the center of national government, trade and culture.
Dhaka is not a quiet, retiring place. The city, bursting with nearly 17 million people (most of whom often seem to be stuck in the same traffic jam as you), is a gloriously noisy and chaotic place, bubbling with energy.
It is a hub for trade and culture, with a long history as a Bengali capital. It has been called the City of Mosques and the Venice of the East, due to its Islamic architecture and a riverfront facing the Buriganga (Old Ganges). It is also known as the Rickshaw Capital of the World, as there are over 500,000 cycle rickshaws running on its roads. Although it is described as a concrete jungle, Dhaka has venerable green spaces, including many gardens and parks. Today, Dhaka is South Asia's second most populous capital after Delhi and an important financial center alongside Mumbai and Karachi.
10:00am-11:00am : Dhakeshwari Temple
Witness the rich history of Dhakeshwari Temple in the center of the city, where modern architecture meets an ancient religion. Outside the main building, see the sacred altar where people pay "puja" (worship) to the goddess Durga. Inside the complex, temples reflect an eclectic mix of architectural styles thanks to being built at different times, as well as various renovations throughout the complex's history. It's widely believed that the main temple was built in the 12th century, although this remains unconfirmed, with some even assuming the Hindu temple used to be a Buddhist pagoda. See the tombs of some saints, as well as the magnificent goddess statue, as you explore the main temple's interior.
11:30am-12:30pm : Bangabandhu Memorial Museum
A former house of the founder of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangabandhu Memorial Museum commemorates his life and death. A visit to this museum gives you insight into the leader and his family's way of life. Go to the ground-floor guest room and see the abundant collection of family photographs dating back to the 19th century. On a grimmer note, you'll notice bloodstains from Rahman and his son's assassination in 1975 on the stairs and in the bedrooms. Outside, in the memorial garden, reflect at the large monument and view other memorabilia celebrating the history of Bangladesh.
1:30pm-2:00pm : Dhaka Zoo
Seventy-five hectare (186 ac) Dhaka Zoo hosts many mammals including the magnificent Royal Bengal Tiger, elephants, lions, hippos, and hyenas. Head to the reptilian sector to learn more about venomous snakes and crocodiles, then explore the bird sanctuary for peacocks, owls, ostriches and menacing vultures and eagles. Relax by the beautiful lakes punctuating the dense forest, and dine at the two nearby restaurants.
3:00pm-5:00pm : Jatiyo Sriti Shoudho (National Martyrs' Memorial)
10:00am-6:00pm : Sundarbans
World Heritage Site Sundarbans spreads over 10,000 sq m (3,900 sq mi) and is the largest tidal saltmarsh mangrove forest in the world. Literally translated as 'beautiful forest' from the Bengali language, the protected forest shelters crocodiles, monkeys, turtles and around 400 Bengali Tigers, the largest reserve to protect the endangered beast. Take a boat tour along the river past submerged trees and admire the forest canopy and wildlife within. Boat trips often provide food and refreshments along the way, and remember to wear mosquito repellent.
10:00am-11:00am : Gulshan Lake Park
Escape the traffic and stress of the big city to a verdant peaceful oasis at Gulshan Lake Park. The well maintained trail suits both joggers and those looking for a pleasant walk in the park. Take in the soothing views of lush nature and a small lake on one of the many benches spread across the park, and look out for ducks and locals enjoying a dip-- though swimming in the lake is not recommended due to health concerns.
12:00pm-5:00pm : New Market
The largest market in Dhaka, triangular-shaped New Market spreads over 98 ha (242 ac) where one can find almost anything: textiles, cosmetics, food, souvenirs, jewelry, optics, travel equipment, and antique books, and more. Stop for a snack at one of the many vendors selling local food, and put your haggling skills to use to negotiate cheaper prices. Don't miss the so-called Aeroplane Mosque, a result of the large model aeroplane perched on the fifth-floor roof.
5:30pm-6:00pm : Drik Gallery
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10:30am-11:30am : Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection
Bright yellow Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection remains a spiritual sanctuary and commemorates the cultural heritage of the now small Armenian community. High ceilings, lots of natural light and simple decoration lend to an airy feel, contrasting the ornate exterior. Interesting stonework embellishes the yellow walls while small white columns sit on on the top. A caretaker keeps the church maintained and sometimes offers casual guided tours. Take a walk around the lush palm tree garden to see gravestones with Armenian inscriptions.
12:00pm-1:00pm : Shahid Minar
1:30pm-6:00pm : Bashundhara City Shopping Complex
Over 21 stories, Bashundhara City Shopping Complex hosts shops for fashionable clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry and everything you would expect to find in a modern Western-style shopping mall. Easily navigate to global, well known or unbranded stores-- each floor offers similar shops, making it easier to peruse. Roam the sleek hallways and look up to the glass ceiling painted in vibrant colors. Find rest in the top floor's food court or try ice skating. Enjoyable for all the family, the mall also houses a modern cineplex and a theme park.
10:00am-12:00pm : Bashabo Balur Math
10:00am-12:00pm : Nilket
Find books of all shapes, sizes, and genres at Nilket, the largest book market in Bangladesh. Wind your way through the maze of narrow streets and alleyways to find magazines, comic books, and a wide range of new and used editions--including a vast selection of English-language literature at affordable prices. Local students from nearby Dhaka University find their textbooks here; printing and making photocopies in the market is practically a rite of passage. Plan to bargain and negotiate prices with vendors.
12:30pm-3:00pm : Ramna Park
Escape the busy city to Ramna Park, a 68 acre (27 ha) green oasis taking its name from the old mosque and tomb Ramna Kali Mandir, which can still be found nearby. Walk around the lake or find shade under lavish canopies of numerous blooming trees. Locals and tourists alike come to the park in the mornings and evenings to take part in recreational activities. The well maintained paths suit walkers, joggers and prams. Numerous street vendors sell delicious local food.
3:30pm-5:30pm : Aarong
10:00am-12:00pm : National Parliament House
Designed by celebrated American architect Louis Kahn, National Parliament House offers an architectural feast for the eyes. Completed in 1982, after the Liberation War, it features simple geometrical shapes, well-manicured lawns, and modern buildings with plentiful daylight. While the main building, surrounded by an artificial lake, remains closed to the general public, you're free to explore the rest of the complex on a relaxing walk or invigorating jog.
12:30pm-5:00pm : Jamuna Future Park
A modern cineplex, a children's theme park, an indoor swimming pool and even a giant roller coaster outside makes Jamuna Future Park the perfect day out for all the family. The largest shopping mall in South Asia, the park hosts shops accomodating fashionable clothing and electronics as well as numerous food outlets. To make the park easier to navigate, each floor is dedicated to a specific department. Air conditioning, free wifi, and clean restrooms are provided.