Bangladesh Waterway Cruising

September 24, 2012 Bangladesh 9 Comments 22,233 Views

Bangladesh Waterway Cruising – The Alternative Way To Travel.

If you’ve read our article about the chaotic traffic situation on Bangladesh’s roads, don’t be put off of visiting this beautiful country because there are more options to roam the areas. The possibility to travel by ferry (called “launch” in Bangladesh) is a very pleasant way to get from one village to another.

Sadarghat port in Old Dhaka is the main port for all the launches down into the vast river delta. An important connection is Dhaka to Barisal – further more continuing to Patuakhali. There are several launches everyday to these destinations since this area is very busy with garment factories, brick factories, schools, university and a lot of agricultural trading.

The launches mostly leave from Dhaka in the evening. To get a ticket it’s necessary to first buy a ticket into the harbour area (4 Taka). Once in, best would be to find somebody who speaks a little bit of English; some of the porters do, so this will make things easier for you to find the right launch, to the right destination. Another option to ease things is when somebody (hotel receptionist, etc.) writes down the following sentence in Bangladesh syllables: “I want to travel to (city name) on the (date) with a launch! I would like a cabin please!” I had such a paper from a friend and therefore it was easy and fast to secure a ticket for my desired departure date a few days later. You have to pay a deposit and get a receipt. Remember the name of your launch carefully because basically many look very similar. Just as a side note: I travelled from Dhaka to Patuakhali with the “Sundarban 8” – a very pleasant and comfortable launch.

Costs.

A cabin costs about 900 Taka (approx. 9 €) for a 12-14 hour journey. Sometimes, if you go further down in the delta, it costs a bit more but it also depends on the size and equipment of the launch. Some have air-condition and even a TV in the cabins and the bigger ones also have showers for the guests who book a cabin.

Food.

Food is absolutely no problem on a launch. The chef in the basement prepares a nice meal every day (like chicken curry with rice), so there’s no need to bring food. Bottled water is also available but I’d still suggest to better bring water for the trip. Fruits and various snacks are sold as well just before departure or while on the boat.

Early Check-In.

It’s possible to settle into the cabin already in the morning of the day you travel. This is really great if you have to check out of your hotel or arrive by train or bus and want to continue on the same day. You can lock the cabin and visit the city without to worrying about your luggage.

Rocket Steamer.

Another very smart option is to take the “Rocket Steamer”. It’s a fleet of three or four big river paddle steamer ships. Unfortunately some of them are in bad shape and often go into repair. The biggest and flashiest is the “Ostrich” with first class cabins which have air-condition, TV and a sink. These boats used to carry high-rank personalities during the colonial area and lounging on the first class deck is an experience itself. There you will likely find fellow travellers that speak good English and for sure they will help you to write down some sentences in Bangla syllables like “Where is the bus station” or “Where is the next hotel”. For me, these written notes were very important and made my trip through the country a lot easier.

The “Rocket Steamer” cabin costs 2.200 Taka (approx. 22 €) for 2 people or if you want the cabin for yourself. This boat also docks in Sadarghat and leaves 6 times a week to Morelgonji, stopping on various locations on the way.

Rush hour in the Dhaka mean that thousands of people have to cross the busy waters of the Buriganga river. It’s said that this is one of the most dangerous waterways on Earth … and most dangerous for the ferrymen.
Rush hour in the Dhaka mean that thousands of people have to cross the busy waters of the Buriganga river. It’s said that this is one of the most dangerous waterways on Earth … and most dangerous for the ferrymen.
Overnight journey from Dhaka to Hularhat on a first-class cabin of century old Rocket Steamer.
Overnight journey from Dhaka to Hularhat on a first-class cabin of century old Rocket Steamer is a trip you’ll tell your children about.
The deck of the Rocket Steamer already has some years on its hump, yet it still floats through the Sundarbans like when it first set sail.
The deck of the Rocket Steamer already has some years on its hump, yet it still floats through the Sundarbans like when it first set sail.
With the Rocket Steamers white wooden cabins, beds in crispy white sheets and a range of western and local dishes served on fine china, the tranquil paddle steam boat voyage through spectacular rivers leaves a genteel memory in the minds of millions.
With the Rocket Steamers white wooden cabins, beds in crispy white sheets and a range of western and local dishes served on fine china, the tranquil paddle steam boat voyage through spectacular rivers leaves a genteel memory in the minds of millions.
The rocket steamer is arriving in Galachipa, Bangladesh.
The Rocket Steamer is arriving at Hularhat port.
Traffic along the Buriganga river is most common and happening at almost any given hour of the day: big boats and small boats filled with all sorts of different goods make their way up or down the river stream, launches (this is what ferries are called in Bangladesh) come and go, cargo-ships that need a repair job are parked along the waterway…
Traffic along the Buriganga river is most common and happening at almost any given hour of the day: big boats and small boats filled with all sorts of different goods make their way up or down the river stream, launches (this is what ferries are called in Bangladesh) come and go, cargo-ships that need a repair job are parked along the waterway…
On deck on our ferry from Dhaka to Galachipa. Very often the launches in Bangladesh are overloaded but luckily this was not the case on our travels (so far).
On deck on our ferry from Dhaka to Galachipa. Very often the launches in Bangladesh are overloaded but luckily this was not the case on our travels (so far).
Several ferries in Bangladesh sink yearly due to either overloading or simply because the boats are not maintained very well.
Several ferries in Bangladesh sink yearly due to either overloading or simply because the boats are not maintained very well.
Sadarghata harbour in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Sadarghata harbour in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Counting the many ferries at Sadarghat port in Dhaka is almost impossible.
Counting the many ferries at Sadarghat port in Dhaka is almost impossible.
The port in Galachipa, Bangladesh.
The port in Galachipa is small, yet busy day in day out.
Loading a ferry at Galachipa port in Bangladesh.
Loading a ferry at Galachipa port in Bangladesh.
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9 Comments

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“Bangladesh Waterway Cruising – The Alternative Way To Travel.”

  1. Wonderful post, I’ve recently been looking at traveling through Bangladesh and this information would sounds vital.

  2. Hi Eric!
    Bangladesh really is stunning! It’s something else though, we have to admit. You must be a really touch cookie but I’m sure if you’re planning on travelling through Bangladesh, you know this anyway :) If you need any more info, don’t hesitate to contact us :)
    All the best!

  3. Henrik

    Thanks, informative as well as atmospheric post. I guess you (the posters) are tough cookies too.

  4. Nisa

    Thanks Henrik! Yup, we’re pretty tough when it comes to travelling ;) All the best, Nisa

  5. sabuj

    Thanks for informative post about Bangladesh. I am really glad to see your post(image) about Galachipa because Galachipa is my home town.
    Sabuj, Patuakhali, Bangladesh.

  6. Hossain

    nice post indeed. boat is my favorite mode of transport when i go to my home from Dhaka to Barisal.

  7. Galachipa was great Sabuj, thanks for showing me around!
    So true Hossian! Travelling by boat in Bangladesh is a true experience and definitely one of the best ways. We hope to return again in summer for some more adventures :)
    Best, Nisa & Ulli

  8. Hi Nisa!

    Excellent post with beautiful photos! An overnight journey in first class cabin at rocket could be one of the best memory of Bangladesh. Unfortunately, they do not go all the way till Khulna now a days for lack of water in the channel, so the journey has become shorter. But still it is a must for foreigners who are traveling Bangladesh – specially if (s)he has a plan to visit the wonderful Sundarbans!

    Just recently the price of rocket ticket increased by 40%. I’ve written a post all about the information about rocket, with schedule and new ticket price, and how to get advance ticket for them. You can check that out here: http://nijhoom.com/paddle-steam-boat-rocket/

    Best regards!

    Raw Hasan
    Dhaka, Bangladesh

  9. Nisa

    Thanks for your comment Raw Hasan!

    Yes, travelling with the rocket steamer really was a great experience and we hope to do it again some time. We’ll maybe visit Bangladesh again this summer, so who knows :)

    Great to read your blog post! It’s always good to have some insight (costs, departure/arrival times, etc.) from locals, because this really helps a lot when travelling! So thanks a lot for sharing this with us!

    Take care!
    Best, Ulli & Nisa

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