Simply put, there is not a better place to experience the magic of the Hill Tracts than in the small town of Bandarban, which lies on the Sangu River, 92 km from Chittagong. Bandarban is regarded as one of the most attractive travel destinations in Bangladesh. Bandarban (meaning the dam of monkeys), or in Marma or Arakanese language as “Rwa-daw Mro” is also known as Arvumi or the Bohmong Circle.
What to do
There are several places to visit in Bandarban to experience the simple tribal life. Petro Aviation, a tour operator, offers tailored package to Bandarban, which includes a visit to Alikodom by bus, then to Ali Surong (cave) by local available transport, then the package takes you to Jonki Para by trail trekking for you to enjoy and explore the tribal life of Murong.
One highly admired activity in Bandarban is a boat trip on a sampan (a double oared boat) or a regular boat down the River Sangu. The trip can vary from a 1-hour trip, including a stop-over to take tea, to a whole day cruise including stop-overs to have food. You will find people working on river with bamboos. The river is not very deep in the dry season. Many times your boat might get stuck with the soil under the river.
Where to stay
Hotel Greenhill, situated in the main intersection, is recommended by the Lonely Planet travel guide as a comfortable stay in Bandarban.
Hotel City Hill View, situated in front of S Alam bus counter, is also a good place to stay in Bandarban.
What to eat
Of the various kinds of tribal cuisine, Bandarban’s bamboo chicken is very famous. You also have black tricky rice, and other vegetables. However, these are only available at Bandarban Marma Bazaar area.
Sangu Restaurant is the restaurant of Sangu Residential Hotel. Sangu Restaurant is situated at Don Bosco high school road, Jadipara, Bandarban. Breakfast, Snacks, Lunch and Dinner is available at Sangu restaurant. Visitor will enjoy the friendly atmosphere and excellent service at Sangu Restaurant. There are lots of delicious items available that include local, Chinese and Thai food.
Buses leave from Chittagong’s Bardarhat bus station for Bandarban (Tk.50, three hours) throughout the day.
Purbani Coach Service at the Bandarban bus station has several buses to Cox’s Bazar (Tk 120) per day.
The checkpoints on the way in to Bandarban can be frustrating, particularly if you have obtained your permit independently from a tour company. The bus may even continue without you so it doesn’t have to wait the 45 minutes it takes you to convince officials that you have applied for a permit.
TipsInclude more people in your trip in order to reduce the cost Take comfortable shoes, hats, torches and binoculars with you