Highlights of Cox's Bazar include the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park, home to tigers, crocodiles, various monkeys, and lions; the picturesque St. Martin's Island, the only coral island in Bangladesh; and the soothing, peaceful Inani Beach, far-removed from the omni-present crowds.
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Revered by the Buddhist residents of Cox’s Bazar, the Aggmeda Khyang is a large monastery, situated at the foot of a hill, under a thick growth of trees. Within the temple grounds are a large pavilion, a brick temple, and a number of Buddha statues cast in bronze and stucco.
The first of its kind in Bangladesh, the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park is a cross between a wildlife sanctuary and a zoo. Home to Bengal tigers, crocodiles, bears, lions, and various species of monkeys, Bangabandhu is a lush tropical evergreen forest.
Have dinner at one of the many popular seafood restaurants that turn the local catch into delicious local specialties such as crispy fried fish, or prawn dopiaza, prawns cooked in tomatoes, onion, chili, coriander and turmeric.
A short, scenic drive south from Cox’s Bazar, Himchari is an attractive, pleasant park. Within its confines lie a modest waterfall and a beautiful tropical forest, complete with a walkway for birdwatchers and curious tourists. In addition, there is a small population of leopards and elephants, and there have been rumors that tigers will be re-introduced in the surrounding forests soon.
Visit Inani Beach, a quieter and more pristine stretch of the coast, perfect for a swim and a picnic. Visitors may also take a half-day trip to some of the islands off of the coast for swimming and exploring, such as Maheskhali, where a temple to Shiva and a Buddhist shrine occupy the same hilltop, or the sparsely populated Sonadia, which is a stopping point for a variety of migratory bird species and is known as a great spot for collecting shells.
Visit the organizers for Nayakrishi Andolon (the New Agricultural Movement), which provides Bangladesh's many small farmers with the tools to fight the pressure to farm using heavy fertilizers, pesticides and expensive, imported seed stock. Instead, the latest techniques in sustainable farming are encouraged to preserve ancient farming knowledge and local plant varieties, while promoting self-sufficiency among the agrarian population.
Meet with some local Nayakrishi farmers and learn how they are transforming the well-being of both themselves and society at large.
Drive to Ramu, a unique Buddhist village home to many ancient wooden shrines and temples, located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Cox’s Bazar. The town is home to a number of pagodas and stupas, many of them featuring Buddha figurines and other artwork, usually inlaid with gold and precious jewels.
Visitors should note that there was considerable sectarian violence in 2012; as a result, extensive damage was wreaked on the many shrines and statues in the area.
South of Cox’s Bazar, St. Martin’s Island is Bangladesh’s sole coral island, featuring excellent hiking, swimming, and sunbathing. While the waters in the area are not pristine enough for snorkeling, it is nonetheless, a relaxing destination far-removed from the holidaymakers that constantly throng Cox’s Bazar.
Visit Teknaf, the southernmost point on the Bangladeshi mainland. Located on the Naaf River, where the hill regions come to an end, Teknaf borders Myanmar. Visitors can go on short, day-long trips down the local river to view the local wildlife, or to the nearby islands of Sonadia or Maheshkali.
Stroll down the nearby beach, which runs along the Bay of Bengal. Spend the rest of the day relaxing on the beach and exploring the nearby town.
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Aland with a fascinating and sometimes tragic history, Bangladesh is an undiscovered travel gem still well off the beaten tourist trail and yet home to so many cultural treasures just waiting to be uncovered.
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