Moulvi Bazar, Bangladesh

Photo: DuSai Resort & Spa
Photo: DuSai Resort & Spa

Heading to South Asia? India and Sri Lanka are definitely on your list. Pakistan might have to wait, for obvious reasons. Plus you’re hoping to detour to the Maldives. But you’re forgetting one country: Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is often overlooked. The small country—it’s about the size of New York State—sits in between India, Myanmar, and the Bay of Bengal. It’s very densely populated, and it’s turbulent history—it was part of the British East India Company and East Pakistan until its independence; poverty, famine, and military coups followed—kept the hordes of tourists away.

Since the country became a democracy though, things have slowly gotten better. Especially in Sylhet, the northeastern region of Bangladesh. Indian rivers flow here, creating lush forests and wetlands that are ideal for growing bamboo, pineapple, cane, and citrus. Tea gardens, mosques, and temples dot the area. Migratory birds stop en route to the Himalayas from Siberia. And a new resort is luring people to Moulvi Bazar.

Photo: Tanweer Morshed (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Tanweer Morshed (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The DuSai Resort & Spa is a lakeside retreat 200 kilometers from Dhaka, the hectic capital. The resort’s buildings are modern, spacious, and blend in with their natural surroundings. Your calm room has Burma teak floors, an outdoor tub, and a terrace overlooking the gardens. You could just stay inside and be quite content. But the rest of the grounds are meant for relaxing, as well.

Finish the book you’ve been reading by the three-tiered pool, then sip a cocktail on a sunken water seat at the Pool Café. Go fishing in one of the ponds. Canoe across the lake. Book a Beauty of Siam package at the spa—it includes a jasmine rice body scrub and a Thai herbal compress facial. Walk through the forest on the circular trail. Drink a glass of chilled wine on the floating platform at the Forest Pub. Then eat dinner at the Tea Valley, which overlooks the lake, a rice field, and a tea plantation.

After not leaving the resort the first day, you’ll be ready to explore on the second. Watch tea leaves being picked by hand at the Mrittinga Tea Estate. Walk through Lawachara National Park, keeping an eye out for macaques, gibbons, and Indian giant squirrels. Visit Monipuri, a tribal village that produces bright cotton quilts. Hike deep into the rainforest to see the Ham Ham Waterfall. And ride a boat through yellow-and-green rice fields to watch the sun set in the wetlands. It’s peaceful, beautiful, and not at all what you expected. Bangladesh should no longer be overlooked.

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