Sundarbans & Mongla

Sundarbans & Mongla

Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in whole world! An impressive labyrinth of colors and textures situated in the Bay of Bengal spanning from the Hooghly River in India’s state of West Bengal to the Baleswar River in Bangladesh. Mysterious and dangerous Sundarbans National Park is protected by UNESCO. Wilderness here comprises an enormous network of interconnected waterways, stretching for around 79km from the Bay of Bengal.

Drifting down the river with a three- or four-day boat trip into the heart of this wild part of South Asia is like escaping into a different world. It often considered to be the number one thing to do while visiting Bangladesh.

Inside the forest there lives a “Lady” and this lady is also called goddess Bonbibi. As local explained throughout history locals have worshiped the goddess when they wanted to enter the forest. The reason behind is it was when God chosen Bonbibi to fight the creature Dokkhin Rai, who had taken a form of a tiger and prayed on locals, she chose not to kill him but rather make a bargain that Donkkhin Rai could not attack anyone who worshiped her. Even today, some locals still pray to Bonbibi before entering the forest.

Although, Mongla is the second busiest seaport of Bangladesh, the environment here is bleak to say the least. People here struggles daily to survive the fight with the elements. Be it due to lack of fresh portable water, constant floods by mighty tropical rivers or being hit by cyclones. It is situated in 62 kilometers north of the Bay of Bengal coastline.

If you are lucky, here you will meet tourists who cannot afford or just did not prearrange a multi-day Sundarbans. People usually visit this town in order to make last minute day or half-day trip to Sundarbans. The Sundarbans is just 5 kilometers away from Mongla, thus, if you are on budget or limited by time this is a perfect chance to visit this amazing site.

Helpful tips

Restaurants. We wandered around the town of Mongla, but we were glad that we did not spend the night here as we could not find any place where we would like to eat. Some travelers recommend places in the city center. However, we did not find it appealing enough to try eating there. Fruit market on the other hand is great as everywhere else!

Markets. In Mongla as in almost every other city in Bangladesh you will not find a lot of cheap souvenirs to put on your fridge. However, you can get something what locals are making on spot and that is much more interesting if you ask us! In our opinion the most interesting is Bangladeshi rich arts and crafts tradition. Search for things made by locals from wood, leather, copper or most importantly cotton and silks.

Transportation. To get to Mongla you can use car, bus, train, boat or all. In order to get there, we first used a bus from Khulna and then a boat to get to the city. Either way you choose, be prepared that it will take some time, slowdown, relax and enjoy the trip not the destination.

On the other hand, to get to Sundarbans you will only use boat and most likely it will be departing from Mongla.

Here we want to highlight our experience as tour operators to Sundarbans are charging insane amount of money from foreigners. For instance, let’s take the closest destination – Forest Koromjol jungle – for a half-day trip the first price boat drivers will shout may vary from 4000 to even 6000 Taka, which is unbelievable. The normal price which you should pay is somewhere between 1000 (possible to bargain to and locals would pay only twice less) and 2000 Taka. With one of the drivers we managed to bargain to 1800 Taka for two foreign persons and that was the bottom line, while with the other, we managed to get 1000 Taka price. And this is only for a boat to Sundarbans, nothing else included. Once there, you will need to pay 395 Taka for the military to enter and if you want to swim inside the Sundarbans canals you need to include: 1000 Taka – the boat entrance fee; 750 Taka per person entrance fee; 400 Taka armed guard fee. And these prices are not negotiable unlike with the boat operators.

Best of luck planning your holidays in Bangladesh!

Is there anything else you would like to visit while in Bangladesh?

If you have anything in mind, please let us know and let’s discuss it.

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