With its bright beaches, tropical rainforests, wild
Asian elephants, rolling hillside scenery and ethnic diversity, the
Chittagong Division is in many ways an essential part of the Bangladesh
travel experience. Because of its diversity and geography, it requires
a trip all on its own.
Chief among its destinations is the
Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Although several travel advisories still
label the CHT an ‘unsafe’ place to travel, it is a designation that
this gem of a travel destination surely does not deserve. With 11
different ethnicities living in villages dotting the hills, it is an
amazingly ‘pure’ destination to visit, the least discovered place in a
country still totally unknown by the Western world.
the list of division destinations is the precious tract of forest that
forms the Teknaf Game Reserve, where Bangladesh’s last population of
wild Asian elephants still ambles in and out of the forest. The reserve
lies at the southern tip of the world’s longest natural beach, known
popularly as Cox’s Bazaar. Much of this beach remains undeveloped and
unexplored by all but the hardiest of travellers, as the dirt road
traversing this 90km stretch of beach is only tractable by motorcycle
or four-wheel drive jeep.
The mangrove at Cox’s Bazaar town
has long been replaced by a jungle of hotels; serious overdevelopment
and crowding issues means that responsible travellers would best avoid
the resort at the northern tip of the beach and make their way south. A
similar fate has also befallen St. Martin’s Island, although there are
still areas of the island where boatloads of domestic tourists do not
spoil the tranquillity that exists here.
in the Chittagong Hill Tracts – remote and rugged, but absolutely
gorgeous and virtually unexplored by Western travellers. The region is
slowly opening up to more tourists, but for the time being there are
still restrictions and permissions required to travel in this area, and
there may be some difficulties dealing with local police and army
forces at various checkpoints along the way. Bottom line: if you’re at
all adventurous the destination is worth it!
- Teknaf Game Reserve
– A chance to glimpse wild Asian elephants and trek in a pristine bit
of rainforest tucked away at the southeast tip of mainland Bangladesh.
- Any stretch of the beach away from Cox’s Bazaar
– while the beach resort at Cox’s Bazaar suffers from fairly rabid
overdevelopment, the rest of the beach remains fairly pristine and very