|any amount of drugs or gold can end up with a prison sentence for life.
As a matter of practice, courts permit those charged to have access to a lawyer.
Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which Bangladesh is a signatory, any foreign national under detention has a right to request that their embassy be notified of their situation.
Maps The best map publisher, Mappa (www.mappa.com.
bd) , produces English-language maps for Bangladesh, Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Cox’s Bazar.
You can find them in some bookshops and the better handicrafts shops in Dhaka.
Money The local currency of Bangladesh is the taka (Tk), which is further divided into 100 paisas.
The largest note is Tk 1000.
Torn notes may sometimes be refused, although most banks will exchange them for you.
ATMs A growing number of ATMs accept foreign bank cards, particularly Visa.
At the time of research, the most reliable ATMs were AB Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Trust Bank and HSBC, which had branches in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.
We’ve marked foreign-friendly ATMs on our maps.
It’s worth stocking up on taka when you can, though, because there are still a lot of places, particularly in more remote areas, where you can’t change or withdraw money.
Cash It’s always a good idea to bring a small amount of cash, in American dollars, for emergencies.
Credit Cards Visa, MasterCard and American Express are usually accepted by major hotels and restaurants in Dhaka and Chittagong.
Cash advances on credit cards can be made at Standard Chartered and HSBC banks.
Moneychangers There are private moneychangers at border towns.
Tipping In expensive restaurants in Dhaka that are mostly frequented by foreigners, waiters often expect a small tip, typically about 5%.
In any other type of restaurant it is not necessary to tip.
Most hotels add a service charge, as well as VAT, onto their advertised rates, although this is often negated by the discounts on offer.
BAKSHEESH Baksheesh ( bohk -sheesh), in the sense of a tip or gift rather than a bribe (an admittedly fine line), is part of life in Bangladesh.
It’s not really seen as begging here; it’s part of Islamic morality that rich people give some of their income to those less fortunate.
There are some peculiarities to this system, though; if you’re going to be repeatedly using a service, an initial tip ensures that decent standards will be kept up.
Don’t feel persecuted – well-to-do locals also pay baksheesh on a regular basis.
Always be conscious of the expectations that will be placed on the next foreigner in light of the amount you give and don’t feel embarrassed about not giving baksheesh to someone who rendered absolutely no service at all.
Travellers Cheques Put simply, don’t bother! Only the biggest international banks are likely to accept them and even then it will be with great reluctance.
Post Bangladesh’s postal system is slow and unreliable, although you should be ok if you use Dhaka’s main post office ( Offline map), which is also the poste restante.
If you want to be certain of the item you are sending actually reaching its destination, we suggest you use a courier company.
DHL and FedEx both have branches in Dhaka.
Safe Travel Road Safety The most real danger when travelling around Bangladesh is road safety, which is extremely poor, especially on intercity highways.
Bus travel is, quite frankly, scary, and road deaths are all too common.
Travel by train when you can.
Within larges towns and cities, take extra care when walking as a pedestrian because city-centre roads – and pathways – can best be described as hectic, and are often downright dangerous.
Crime Bangladesh is generally pretty safe and few tourists experience crime.
Pickpocketing on crowded buses and at busy markets is not as endemic as in some other Asian countries, but it does happen.
Some foreigners have been mugged, some at gunpoint, in upmarket areas of Dhaka, such as Gulshan – be careful after dark.
There have also been reports of theft committed by both touts and officials at Dhaka and Sylhet airports.
Keep a very close eye on your passport and other papers.
Rickshaws present theft and mugging opportunities (keep your handbags out of sight), and women especially should be extremely careful of any taxi containing a driver and his ‘friend’.
We have had some rare reports of harassment of foreigners in the form of pushing, stone throwing and spitting, but such incidents are very uncommon.
There are ripples of terrorist activity, targeted assassinations, politically motivated attacks and, sometimes, violent religious rivalry.
But major incidents are infrequent.
The most recent significant attack was in May 2007, when bombs exploded at train stations in Dhaka, Sylhet and Chittagong, though there were no fatalities.
Foreigners have never been targeted in such incidents, but some travel advisories warn foreign nationals to stay away from large gatherings to cut down on the ‘wrong place, wrong time’ possibility.
You’re more likely to get tangled up in a hartal (strike).
These can turn violent and it’s not unusual for locals who are involved in them to be killed or seriously injured as a result.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts (boxed text Click here ) is the only part of the country where there is an ongoing security concern, but even here the problem areas are usually out of bounds to foreign tourists.
STARING & HARASSMENT Foreigners are still extremely rare in Bangladesh (although less so in Dhaka) and, as such, are a source of fascination for many locals.
This usually manifests itself in people being extremely friendly, but it can become overly intrusive at times, particularly for female travellers.
People taking photos and videos of you is something you will just have to accept, and on occasion you may find yourself being stared at by large groups of people, all eager to see what you’re doing (even if you’re actually doing very little).
Sharing your food around, particularly if you’re being stared at on buses and trains, is always a good ice-breaker, but other than that you will just have to arm yourself with a great deal of patience.
Getting angry will only focus attention on you even more.
Pollution & Illness Pollution levels are very high in Dhaka and Chittagong and may affect people prone to allergies.
Stomach upsets are common for visitors to Bangladesh, and malaria is a serious risk in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region.
See the Health chapter for more details.
Scams Tourism has not really established itself in Bangladesh, and neither have tourist- related scams.
Generally speaking, people are incredibly honest.
The most common problem is being over-charged, but in a non-fixed-priced market this can hardly be called a scam.
There are the usual hassles with cycle-rickshaw, CNG (auto-rickshaw) and taxi drivers, though even here the level of harassment is minimal compared to some nearby countries, and in many towns it’s possible to just hop on a rickshaw without pre- negotiating a price and not suffer the consequences! Shopping You don’t get hassled to buy things here, mainly because there isn’t very much produced with the tourist market in mind.
Even quality postcards are hard to come by.
Things not to buy are products made from wild animals, reptiles, seashells and coral, all of whi