Looking for a local tour guide to show me around Dhaka, Bangladesh
August 8, 2011 10:02 PM   Subscribe

I am in Dhaka, Bangladesh for a few weeks visiting my girlfriend who is doing research on water and sanitation. While she is busy at work, I was hoping to do some exploration. She's asking around, but most of the people she works with are public-health professionals from out of the country, or Bangladeshis who are already too busy to deal with some non-desi like me. Given my lack of Bangla language abilities compounded by my overwhelming whiteness (6'3", blonde hair, blue eyes) I was hoping to find a guide to show me around some of the less touristed areas. Does the wondrous community of AskMeFi have any suggestions? Or, know any locals who might be up for the job? I don't have a ton of resources (read: $$$), but a little seems to go a long way here. AskMeFi, Help me get my adventure on in Dhaka!
posted by ghostpony to Travel & Transportation around Dhaka, Bangladesh (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
why do you need a guide?

i mean, ok, it'll certainly be easier getting around if you have someone to hold your hand, arrange taxis etc but solo travel is really rewarding, and not terribly hard to do! i realize that doesn't really answer your question, but i feel like the possibility should be mentioned at least.
posted by messiahwannabe at 10:50 PM on August 8, 2011

Ask your girlfriend's employing organization or other professionals for references to a local 'fixer' or guide - someone with enough grasp of English to translate for you, negotiate rates and fees and show you around yet local enough to get into places where you'd want to go. Most NGOs and firms would have such people that they've used before.

If they don't, ask around for references to graduate students or college students who'd be happy to do this for you for some extra cash and treats. Bonus if they have a motorbike.

Fill their gas for them. Be responsible for the cost of all their meals while with you. And negotiate a daily rate upfront. With mobile phones, they'd probably be able to adjust on demand so its not like you'd have to hire them for a full week at a stretch. Keep in mind that you can afford making a call more than they can so set up calls accordingly.

About 500 to 1000 taka for a full day should be reasonable depending on the type of activities for the day.
posted by infini at 11:28 PM on August 8, 2011

Whoops, to clarify rates, 500 to 1000 taka should be reasonable for a college student (perhaps one who gets to practice conversational english as well) but professional fixers can range from USD 50 upwards depending.
posted by infini at 11:53 PM on August 8, 2011

Don't know if you will be interested in this. The large NGOs in Bangladesh (read BRAC, Grameen Bank and ASA) have immersion programs that run from a few days to several months and allow foreign visitors to visit rural locales and operations (with guides and supervision) and either be an observer or participate and contribute in some activities - as per your choice.

I believe there are some charges attached to this program (which I'm not exactly sure of) but you can call them up and find out. Am sure you're girlfriend would also know someone in her professional circles working in one of these organizations (given that she's working in watsan) who would be able to provide you with information on these programs. HTH
posted by epiphinite at 4:25 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I MeMailed you.
posted by Ziggy500 at 5:54 AM on August 9, 2011

Thanks everyone for the ideas! I also ended up asking one of my girlfriends coworkers who is dating a college age Bangladeshi who is out of school during Ramadan.

As far as wanting a guide, there are a few things I want to do in Dhaka that require at the very least a working knowledge of Bangla. I figure a local college age kid with some knowledge of english will do the job of tour guide and translator all at once.
posted by ghostpony at 5:55 AM on August 9, 2011

You might offer to hire a local taxi or tuk-tuk driver by the day. If you can negotiate that, he probably speaks enough English.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 7:02 AM on August 9, 2011

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