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Bangladesh Travel Information

Bangladesh Travel InformationAll international aviation is closed. The closure does not yet apply to flights to/from China. It is possible to extend at short notice. For more information about coronavirus, see the section Health.

Safety

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs encourages travelers to exercise caution when traveling to or staying in Bangladesh. The biggest security risk in Bangladesh is considered to be violent crime and political demonstrations. In addition, there is a continuing danger of terrorist attacks in Bangladesh. On July 1, 2016, a restaurant in the Dhaka diplomatic zone was subjected to a serious terrorist attack, killing 22 people. The majority of those killed were foreign.

During the spring of 2017, there were several attacks against local security forces using suicide bombs, including at a police station outside Dhaka's international airport.

In 2018, an outspoken author and publisher was shot and killed. The suspects are believed to be members of Bangladeshi terrorist organizations. However, there have been no attacks directly against foreigners since July 1, 2016.

Police have taken several actions in which they seized weapons, arrested and killed suspected members of local terrorist organizations, but the threats are still present and new acts of violence cannot be ruled out. From time to time, IEDs (less so-called "cocktail bombs") occur in Dhaka. These appear to be mainly politically driven and have not affected foreigners.

  • Countryaah: Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh. Check to find information of population, geography, history, and economy about the capital city.

Political turmoil: There are political demonstrations that can be violent, and there were previously several general strikes (hartals). Demonstrations are usually notified in advance and usually do not take place in areas where foreigners frequently travel. Still, one should retire quickly if large crowds gather.

In connection with larger demonstrations, Norwegian citizens are encouraged to stay in the diplomatic zone in Dhaka (Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara) which is more protected than other parts of the city. One must, however, exercise caution when traveling in the diplomatic zone because there have been occasional episodes there as well.

If there are demonstrations elsewhere in the country, it is recommended to follow the advice of the locals and/or stay indoors. It is recommended to follow local and social media and avoid traveling in areas with large crowds or where such actions are planned..

Traffic: Important traffic safety information is coordinated in the Traffic and Transport section under Practical Information.

Crime: Violence and theft crime is frequent in Bangladesh. Even if you, as a foreigner, are not particularly vulnerable, you must still take precautions and be careful at all times.

As far as possible, one should avoid traveling out after dark, as the risk of being subjected to a criminal act increases significantly.

Robbery/purse seeding on an open street, or while traveling in a rickshaw, also occurs during the daytime, especially during the periods before major holidays. If a robbery is to be exposed, it should be assumed that the robber is armed with impact or stabbing weapons. Therefore, one should not resist or do anything that provokes the robber.

It is recommended to have a handbag on one shoulder, not on a cross over the body. If robbery from motorcycle or electricity should occur, you reduce the risk of personal injury by not having the bag attached to the body.

At the airports, robbery occurs when travelers are distracted by thieves who offer assistance.

The police are usually helpful to foreigners, although corruption is a problem. However, women should not attend alone at the police station because of. the risk of sexual harassment. Report to the embassy any case of abuse.

LGBT: Homosexuality is prohibited under Section 377 of the Penal Code of 1860, which prohibits "activities against the order of nature" and can be punishable by imprisonment for up to two years. Although the law is very rarely applied, many individuals live with fear of abuse and persecution. In Dhaka, homosexuality has become more socially accepted in some liberal circles in recent years, but very few dare to be open about it. Gay men often marry heterosexual to attend to social and family obligations and live a double life. Gay men have significantly greater freedom and mobility than lesbian women, although some of these have also been given more opportunities to become financially and socially independent.

Hijra (male-to-female transgender/third gender) has a special position in Bangladeshi society and in South Asia. In 2014, Bangladeshi authorities recognized hijras as a third gender. Historically, this minority has been an important part of society, and many appear in weddings. However, hijras still experience a great deal of discrimination and many are forced to feed themselves as beggars or prostitutes. It is also widespread among hijras to live in community dwellings that serve as alternative households where hijras and feminine boys and men can seek refuge after being expelled from the family.

Natural disasters: Bangladesh is regularly hit by floods and from time to time also cyclones. Floods can occur during the monsoon season from June to September. Even in a normal year, up to 20 percent of the land area is flooded during this time of year. These are part of the seasonal variations, and people adjust so that normal floods have little impact on daily life. The whole country was last hit by a flood (up to 40 percent of land area flooded) in 2004, when millions of people had to move from their homes.

If you are planning long journeys in Bangladesh during the monsoon season, one should investigate in advance whether it is possible to travel as normal on the roads.

Bangladesh is occasionally hit by cyclones (tropical storms). These usually occur before and after the monsoon season, often in April-June and October-December. In November 2007, southwestern Bangladesh was hit by the cyclone "Sidr", causing major destruction and about 3500 dead. The cyclone had roughly the same wind force as the two previous large cyclones in 1970 and 1991, where approximately 500,000 and 140,000 people died. The big difference in loss figures is due to, among other things, that Bangladesh has now established an increasingly well-functioning early warning system and a well-developed network of shelters.

Parts of Bangladesh are in a high-risk earthquake zone, and the consequences could be fatal if the country were hit by a severe earthquake. This is primarily because large parts of the building stock are not secured against earthquakes. Bangladesh was not hit by the tsunami in 2004, and suffered only minor damage after the Nepal earthquake in April 2015, which measured 7.9 on Richter's scale. Smaller earthquakes are experienced on a regular basis in Bangladesh, but these have not resulted in any significant damage.

Travel to Sundarbans: There has been some pirate activity in Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest and Bangladesh's most popular tourist destination. This type of activity seems to have slowed down in recent years, but visits to the area should nevertheless be arranged through a reputable tour operator. The tour operator will obtain the necessary permits required from the forest management authorities to enter the area.

Serious tour operators will also respect the special and vulnerable ecology of the area and do not add to activities that harm nature or disrupt the rich bird and wildlife.

Traveling to the Chittagong Hill Tracts: In the Khagrachari, Bandarban and Rangamati districts, located in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), ethnic-based riots sometimes erupt. In addition, the unsavory jungle area is the hangout for armed gangs of criminals and smugglers, and rebel groups from Myanmar may be crossing the border. Kidnapping for ransom has occurred in this area. The area is controlled by the military and special permission from the authorities is required to enter the area. Such permission can be obtained in several ways, including: via tour operator. Tourists will usually get police licenses. It is important to be aware of the safety aspect when traveling to CHT.

Entry

Please note that entry rules may change. The Foreign Service is not responsible if the following information on entry regulations or visa requirements is changed at short notice. It is the responsibility of the traveler to ensure that travel documents are valid for entry and to familiarize themselves with the current entry rules for each country.

When entering Bangladesh a passport must be presented with a minimum of six months validity. A visa is required. Norwegians wishing to travel to Bangladesh are advised to apply for a visa at the Bangladeshi Embassy in Stockholm (which is accredited to Norway) before leaving Norway. The reason why the Bangladeshi Embassy in Stockholm processes Norwegians' visa applications is because Bangladesh does not have an embassy in Norway. It should be calculated at least two weeks from the passport sent to the Bangladeshi Embassy in Stockholm until it can be expected to be returned.

As Bangladesh does not have its own embassy in Norway, it is also possible for Norwegian citizens to obtain a "Visa on Arrival" upon arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, which is valid for up to 30 days. The fee for this visa is currently 51 USD. It is recommended to bring US dollars in cash to pay for "Visa on Arrival" as international credit and debit cards can only be used exceptionally at the airport. The immigration authorities at the airport usually do not have bills, so it is recommended to bring small notes for payment of the visa fee.

An invitation letter from a private individual or organization in Bangladesh can make obtaining a Visa on Arrival easier, but is not normally required for issuing such a visa.

NB! Return ticket from Bangladesh must be presented for persons wishing to obtain a Visa on Arrival upon arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

The visa issuance scheme at the airport is sometimes suspended by Bangladeshi authorities, e.g. as security measures in connection with state visits to Bangladesh. It also appears that employees of airlines flying to Dhaka are not familiar with the "Visa on Arrival" scheme for citizens of countries where Bangladesh does not have an embassy. This has resulted in episodes where Norwegians without visas to Bangladesh have been denied boarding on flights with destination Dhaka. In most cases, however, the "Visa on Arrival" scheme works. The regulations also state that travelers on short stays must have a minimum of $ 500 available in cash or credit card upon application for "Visa on Arrival".

As a rule, tourists have a limited opportunity to obtain a tourist visa extended by Bangladeshi immigration authorities.

Health

Coronavirus (covid-19): Bangladesh confirmed the first cases of the coronavirus on March 8. Bangladeshi authorities announced 'shutdown' from 26 March. This shutdown has been extended up to several times. Everyone is advised to stay indoors and only go out during emergencies or to shop for food/medication. In addition, a curfew has been introduced between 11.00 and 17.00. 6pm and 6am, and stricter restrictions on moving between cities. The police have increased attendance and have set up checkpoints to enforce the shutdown and the curfew. Grocery stores and pharmacies are kept open. Public transport and banking services are limited.

Travel restrictions: The closure of international aviation is also constantly being extended. When the travel restrictions change, this will be updated here. The closure does not apply to flights to/from China.

Overview of entry rules/restrictions:

  • Passengers who have been in the EU region (including Norway) or Iran since March 1 will be denied entry.
  • Bangladesh has suspended visas on arrival for all countries for the time being.
  • Foreigners with valid visas, or when applying for a new visa, must present a medical certificate (with English translation) that cannot be older than 72 hours before travel. The certificate must state that one has no covid-19 symptoms. This also applies to foreign nationals of Bangladeshi origin who have "No Visa Required" status. If travelers with NVR do not have a certificate, they will be placed in institutional quarantine for 14 days. Diplomats with a valid visa are excluded.
  • All residents with symptoms or without the above certificate will be placed in institutional quarantine for 14 days.
  • All residents without symptoms will be charged the home quarantine for 14 days after arrival. It will be punishable not to comply with the quarantine regulations. One can also risk being put into institutional quarantine even without symptoms.
  • Foreign nationals in Bangladesh have the opportunity to extend their visas by three months.
  • Flights in and out of Bangladesh are constantly changing and all travelers are encouraged to contact the airline/travel agent for updates. Changes may occur at short notice.
  • Both movement restrictions/'shutdown' and travel restrictions are constantly being extended. Stay tuned to local media for the latest updates.

Norwegian travelers should keep abreast of how the virus is developing. Travelers are asked to provide valid travel insurance and to follow the advice of local authorities.

You can find more information and guidance from the Norwegian health authorities on the website of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. See also UD's answers to frequently asked questions about travel and coronavirus.

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The overall health situation and general health services in Bangladesh are of a consistently low standard. Inadequate hygiene and the risk of hospital infections are widespread. For less serious illnesses, treatment is available locally, and there are private hospitals of a slightly higher standard (Apollo, Square and United). In case of serious illness or major medical intervention, medical evacuation to India, Thailand or Singapore is recommended.

The official website of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health provides official health travel advice and health professional guidance to Norwegians when traveling abroad. Contact your health care provider in Norway well in advance of your departure for Bangladesh for assessment of recommended vaccines.

Dengue fever occurs throughout Bangladesh. In the summer of 2019, Bangladesh was hit by dengue outbreaks, with approx. 24,000 people were diagnosed with dengue fever. Dhaka was particularly hard hit. The mosquito species that transmit the dengue virus usually sting during the day, but they can also sting in the evening and nighttime. Seasonal cases of chikungunya have also been reported. Due to a lack of vaccine and/or tablets against these diseases, the use of protective clothing (long-sleeved shirt, pants, etc.) and mosquito repellent are among the most important measures. It is nevertheless important to avoid insect stings, e.g. by using mosquito repellent containing DEET (diethyltoluamide) and always make sure to sleep under mosquito netting.

Malaria prophylaxis (prevention) should be considered when staying outside Dhaka, especially in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Malaria in South Asia, Bangladesh included, is resistant to chloroquinine.

The Zika virus is considered to be endemic in Bangladesh, which means that the virus is believed to be present and may act as occasional occasional or minor outbreaks. From May 3, 2017, Norwegian health authorities have changed the advice for pregnant women and other travelers to areas with zika. Pregnants are advised to postpone unnecessary travel to areas with zika and/or malaria. More information can be found on the National Health Institute's pages about the zika virus.

During the dry season (November to February), air pollution in Dhaka is very high. In addition to dust from the ground and pollution from traffic, many brick-and-mortar factories are active and emit particles and sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere. This can be very damaging to health and people with asthma or respiratory ailments may have problems in Dhaka. For longer stays, air purifiers should be used in living rooms and bedrooms, as well as keeping doors and windows closed. During the worst periods, one should limit outdoor physical activity.

Because of. It is important to drink plenty of heat and moisture, especially if you have diarrhea. Electrolyte powder in bags, with the most important substances the body needs in the event of fluid loss, can be purchased at pharmacies and should be brought on trips. Water from the public water supply network is not recommended as a drinking water source throughout Bangladesh. Bottled water is available almost everywhere. Make sure the water bottle seal you want to buy is intact. Unfortunately, food poisoning and bacterial/parasite infections must be anticipated from time to time. The authorities are trying to stop the widespread practice in the markets with the use of formalin in fish and meat and chemicals on fruit to increase durability. Some markets are declared formalin-free, but it is very difficult to control.

Peel-free fruits and vegetables should be peeled and/or salt-treated (two teaspoons of salt per liter of water for one to two hours). Meat should be fried and/or cooked. Only imported milk with long shelf life should be traded.

Practical information

Power: The voltage for the mains in Bangladesh is 220V. Frequent power outages are common across the country. Plugs and connectors are available in a variety of variants. Due to large voltage variations, it is recommended to use voltage regulator to protect expensive electronic equipment. This and universal adapters are available for purchase in most places in Bangladesh.

Telephony: Area code for Bangladesh is +880. The Internet domain is ".bd". 3G networks are well developed in Bangladesh, except in the Sundarban in the south-west and in parts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the south-east.

4G networks are also available in major cities and are gradually being developed throughout the country. Mobile telephony in Bangladesh and abroad is usually reliable and often recommended over landline telephony. The landline connection in Dhaka usually works, but the connection to other regions is more unreliable. Mobile telephony is very affordable in normal use in Bangladesh.

Banking and Currency System: Bangladeshi taka (BDT) is the only accepted payment method. The exchange rate is NOK 1 = BDT 10.55 (January 2020).

Credit cards are accepted at the big hotels, in larger shops and in some cafes and restaurants. Outside of Dhaka, and in poor parts of Dhaka, there are few ATMs. Bank cards can only be used here in a few shops and shopping centers, and cash is therefore necessary to bring with them. Visa is the most widely used international payment card for ATM use, and most places also accept Mastercard and AmEx.

There are several ATMs in Dhaka, especially in the diplomatic area (Baridhara, Banani and Gulshan). It is safest to use Standard Chartered Bank's vending machines. There is also an ATM in the Arrivals Hall at Dhaka International Airport and at the Westin Hotel.

Opening hours: Bank Sunday - Thursday at. 9 am - 3 pm, Friday and Saturday closed. Public Offices Sunday - Thursday 7 p.m. 9 am - 3 pm, Friday and Saturday closed.

Public Holidays: "Independence Day" and "Victory Day" are celebrated on March 26 and December 16, respectively. Both holidays have their roots in the liberation war that Bangladesh fought against West Pakistan in 1971.

International Mother Language Day on February 21 is another important national holiday celebrating the struggle to use Bengali as the official language of East Pakistan (today's Bangladesh)

The timing of the Muslim holidays "Eid-ul-Fitr" and "Eid-ul-Azha" varies from year to year as the date of these depends on the appearance of the moon. "Eid-ul-Fitr" ends the fasting month (Ramadan) while "Eid-ul-Azha" - comes just over two months later.

"Durga Puja" (Hindu celebration) is celebrated in September or October. Some other Christian, Buddhist and Hindu holidays are also public holidays. Usually there is a good overview of holidays at National Holidays in Bangladesh 2020.

Climate: Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon climate. The humidity is about 70-90 percent in summer time and around 40-60 percent in winter time. In summer, the log can pass 40 กใ C, while in winter it is around 20 กใ C in the country and clearly cooler at night. There is rainy season from May/ June to October/November, and a mostly rain-free drying season for the rest of the year. The most pleasant time to stay in Bangladesh climatically is November to March. However, air pollution in the larger cities is greatest during this period. In winter, especially in mid-December to mid-January, there may be dense fog which delays flight departures.

The year can be divided into six seasons (deviations occur):

Summer: Mid-April to mid-June: sunny, partly very hot, some rain in the evening, cyclones may occur.
Monsuntid: Mid June to mid August: heavy rains, very hot and humid
facer Mid August to mid October: sun, warm, some rain
Autumn: Mid October to mid December: sun, some rain, cyclones may occur.
Winter: Mid December to mid February: sunny, comfortable temperature, a bit chilly at night - can drop below 10 degrees,
Our: Mid-February to mid-April: sunny and warm.

The time zone in Bangladesh is UTC/GMT +6 hours. At Norwegian summertime, Bangladesh is four hours ahead of Norway. At the Norwegian winter time, Bangladesh is five hours ahead.

Nordic-linked recreation site: As one of several independent expat clubs, the Nordic Club Dhaka is centrally located in Gulshan 2. Nordic Club has amenities such as restaurant, library, conference room and smaller conference rooms, fitness room, spa, tennis court, basketball court and heated swimming pool with associated children's pool. The Nordic club also offers accommodation. Address: Road 80, House 2, Gulshan 2, Dhaka Phone: + 880-2-8810333, Email: info@nordicbd.org / manager@nordicbd.org

Several reputable tour operators offer package tours across much of Bangladesh. Individuals can also contact several of the companies for offers on bespoke travel programs.

Traffic and means of transport: The main road network has been improved in recent years, but there are still few four-lane motorways between the largest cities and the travel time is therefore long. Construction of bridges over several large rivers has shortened travel time, but most river crossings with ferries still occur, and waiting can take a long time. Bangladesh practices left-hand traffic.

Road safety in Bangladesh is very poor. There are about 23,000 killed in traffic each year. The accidents are caused by reckless driving, a chaotic traffic picture, ignorant drivers and a large number of technically poor vehicles. Traffic poses the greatest everyday risk and it is important to bring first aid equipment on all journeys in Bangladesh.

Due to the high number of road users, hard as well as soft, traffic is moving at a lower speed in the cities than on the road. The consequence is a reduced risk of serious road traffic accidents in cities. On the other hand, less serious traffic accidents occur frequently, even in cities. Traveling on the road by car, taxi or bus is associated with a high risk, especially as many keep very high speed, even on poorly maintained stretches. Heavy vehicles expect lighter vehicles as well as soft road users to give way.

Travel on the roads after dark is not recommended. Plan longer trips well. Enter a good margin for any delays and/or engine stops. The risk of being exposed to robbery and other crime is greater at the time of day when the roads and streets are less busy and fewer people move outdoors; early morning and evening and night time.

As a foreigner, one should avoid driving yourself unless one is very familiar with local conditions. This is especially true if you are traveling outside Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara. If you are involved in an accident, you should not stop. This can be dangerous because as a foreigner you will often be blamed for the accident and can be attacked on the spot. At least one can easily be tried to extort money, regardless of guilt. Visit the nearest police station or return to the hotel or embassy to contact relevant authorities. At the police station you should talk to the officer (Officer in Charge).

Use of public transport should be avoided as much as possible. Most hotels offer cars, including airport pickup and delivery. Private companies also offer a driver's car. For trips outside Dhaka one should hire a private car with driver. Check that the car is in good condition, equipped with safety belts, first aid equipment, spare wheels and enough fuel and water for the entire trip.

Bangladesh has an extensive bus network with frequent departures, which often does not match the timetable. Most buses are overcrowded and in poor technical condition. Accidents occur frequently. Local buses can also be the scene of sexual harassment of women. There are some express buses with a somewhat better standard. with air cooling, but even these are not recommended.

There are taxis in Dhaka, but these are of a very low standard and are not recommended. Drivers do not speak English, and the cars have neither seat belts nor air cooling.

The bike rickshaw (rickshaw) is an exceptional means of access for short distances on low traffic routes. These are everywhere. However, there is a risk of traffic accidents with this means of transport, as passengers are exposed to possible collisions with other vehicles. From time to time, rickshaw passengers are also targets for robbers. When using rickshaw it is therefore important to keep a close eye on handbags and other valuables.

Many rickshaw drivers expect higher payments from foreigners. Although most rickshaw users do not pre-pay, but rather pay a reasonable amount after the trip, you can choose to pre-arrange the price to avoid the discomfort of haggling.

So-called "baby taxis" or CNG are also easy to get hold of. These are three-wheeled vehicles that run on natural gas and can accommodate three passengers. Accidents can occur due to. reckless driving, and there is also a certain risk of robbery. As a CNG is smaller, and less secure, than other vehicles in traffic, the consequences of an accident will be far greater than in a car, and is therefore not recommended. If you still use a CNG, it is recommended to agree a price in advance of a CNG tour, and many drivers expect higher payment from foreigners.

Bangladesh has an extensive but small temporal railway network. Poor maintenance of the track leads to occasional derailments. However, regularity is not too bad and safety is better than on bus. There are trains for eg. Chattogram in the south and Sylhet and Mymensingh in the north. Trains will most often be crowded, but as a rule, space can be reserved for the first class which has a decent standard and reasonable prices. Around major holidays, trains are extra crowded, and passengers are left sitting on the roof or hanging from the side of the train and should therefore be avoided at these times of the year.

Aircraft is considered to be the safest means of transport in Bangladesh. The domestic flights are relatively good and the prices reasonable. A state-owned airline (Biman Bangladesh Airlines) and other private Bangladeshi-registered airlines (NovoAir, Regent Airways and US-Bangla Airlines) operate the domestic flights. The Bangladeshi airlines have several daily/weekly flights to the most frequently visited parts of the country: Dhaka, Chattogram, Cox's Bazar, Sylhet, Jessore, Barisal, Saidpur and Rajshahi. The companies also make some flights to other countries in the region. Several foreign airlines operate Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.

According to IATA (International Air Transport Association) IOSA (Iata Operational Safety Audit) certification, only Biman Bangladesh Airlines is registered with them. They have no comments when it comes to safety.

The rivers are important transport years for goods as well as people, and thousands of ferry departures are made daily in Bangladesh. Regular shipwrecks with high deaths, on the other hand, make river traffic risky, especially during the monsoon season as high water levels and heavy rainfall increase the risk of edging and shipwrecks. There are also several accidents on the rivers in connection with holidays like Eid, as many travel from cities and homes to their villages. One of the main causes of the many shipwrecks in Bangladesh is overcrowded vessels. Many boats and ferries are also poorly equipped with life jackets and other safety equipment.

If you want to travel by boat on leisure trips, this is an alternative on the Dhaka - Barisal/Khulna/Sundarbans routes. First class on boats that operate these have usable comfort. Contact Bangladeshi tour operators for recommendations.

Other practical information

Bangladesh has severe penalties for the import and possession of drugs. Alcohol is not available with the exception of a few restaurants, hotels and international clubs in Dhaka. It is a criminal offense for Bangladeshi to possess alcohol unless specifically authorized. The requirement for such a permit does not apply to foreigners.

Bangladesh is a Muslim country, and women should wear free clothing that covers their shoulders, arms down to the elbow and legs down to the ankles when traveling. This is especially important when traveling to places where foreigners rarely visit.

Women should avoid traveling around the country on their own and should not travel alone after dark. Use of public transport (especially buses) should be avoided as there may be robbery or sexual abuse of women.

Women should refrain from handshaking to Bangladeshi men unless the men themselves take the initiative, as body contact with women is unacceptable to some.

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