Taking the train in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a fascinating country with a rich and varied history and at present fairly few tourists.  Bangladesh has a largely British-built rail network linking most major towns and cities, including Dhaka & Chittagong (now Chattogram).  The network is divided into two halves, eastern and western, by the great rivers which divide the country itself.  The western network is largely broad gauge, the eastern network largely metre gauge.  Unfortunately, connections between these two networks are often poor.  There is a railway route map at www.railway.gov.bd.

small bullet point  Dhaka to Chittagong train service

small bullet point  Getting to Cox's Bazaar

small bullet point  Kolkata (Calcutta) to Dhaka by Maitree Express train

small bullet point  Kolkata (Calcutta) to Dhaka by bus

small bullet point  How to travel overland train travel from Europe to Dhaka


Useful country information

Train operator:

Bangladesh Railways (BR), www.railway.gov.bd.  Buy tickets at 12go.asia

   

Time zone:

GMT+6 all year (no daylight saving time since 2009).

Dialling code:

 

+880

Currency:

1 = approx 120 Taka.   $1 = 100 Taka.    Currency converter

Tourist information:

Tripadvisor Bangladesh page   Health & vaccinations

Hotels:

 

Hotels in Bangladesh

Visas:

UK citizens need a visa for Bangladesh, see www.bhclondon.org.uk.

Page last updated:

11 January 2023


Dhaka - Chittagong by train...

There is a good train service between the capital city, Dhaka, and Bangladesh's second city, Chittagong, officially known as Chattogram since 2018.  Dhaka & Chittagong are both in the eastern half of the country on the metre-gauge train network, linked by fast daytime InterCity trains and a good overnight train with air-conditioned sleeping-cars.  Here's an example timetable of the best trains.  You can check these times at eticket.railway.gov.bd, or at 12go.asia.

 Dhaka ► Chittagong

 Train number:

788

704

802

702

722

742

 Type:

Intercity

Intercity

Express

Intercity

Express

Intercity

 Name:

Sonar Bangla

Express

Mohanagar

Provati

Chattala

Express

Suborno

Express

Mohanagar

Express

Turna

Express

 Days of running:

not Wednesday

daily

not Tuesday

not Monday

Not Sunday

daily

 Dhaka Kamalapur station depart:

07:00

07:45

13:00

16:30

21:20

23:30

 Chittagong (Chattogram) arrive:

12:15

14:00

20:30

21:50

04:50

06:20

Intercity = Fast quality train, restaurant car, recommended.  AC class seats, snigdha, 1st class seats, shovan chair, shovan & shulov seats.

Express = Slower than InterCity trains.  AC class seats, 1st class seats, shovan chair, shovan & shulov seats.

Turna Express = Overnight quality intercity service with AC class 2-berth sleepers, AC class seats, 1st class seats, shovan chair, shovan & shulov seats.

Sonar Bangla Express uses the most modern carriages, delivered in 2016.  AC class seats, snigdha, 1st class seats, shovan chair.

Suborno Express = Snighda, shovan chair

Not Sunday = daily except Sundays; not Friday = daily except Fridays; and so on....

 Chittagong ► Dhaka

 Train number:

701

801

721

703

787

1

741

 Type:

Intercity

Express

Intercity

Intercity

Intercity

Mail

Intercity

 Name:

Subarna

Express

Chattala

Express

Mohanagar

Provati

Mohanagar

Goduli

Sonar Bangla

Express

Dhaka

Mail

Turna

Express

 Days of running:

not Friday

daily

not Sunday

daily

not Saturday

daily

daily

 Chittagong (Chattogram) depart:

07:00

08:30

12:30

15:00

17:00

22:30

23:00

 Dhaka Kamalapur station arrive:

12:20

15:50

19:10

21:25

22:10

07:20

05:15

 Fares

 Dhaka - Chittagong one-way fares per person, in Taka...

 AC class berth

AC class seat

Snigdha

1st class berth

1st class seat

Shuvon Chair

Shuvon

Shulov

1025

685

570

685

460

345

285

160

1 = approx 114 taka.  $1 = approx 75 taka.

Children under 3 travel free, children aged 3 to 9 half fare.  Children 10 and over pay the adult fare.

You can check fares at www.railway.gov.bd.

How to buy tickets:  12go.asia

Explanation of classes...

Here are the various classes on Bangladeshi trains in descending order of cost & comfort.  The description in brackets is that used at eticket.railway.gov.bd.

AC class berth (AC_B) = Air-conditioned 2-berth & 4-berth sleeper compartments, bedding provided, available on the best overnight trains.  Recommended.

AC class seat (AC_S) = Air-conditioned seats, usually in sleeper compartments in day mode, 3 people allocated to a 2-berth, 6 people in 4-berth, all reserved.

Snigdha (SNIGHDA) = Air-conditioned reclining seats, all reserved, arranged open-plan, 2+2 across the car width, TV screens.  Recommended.

1st class berth (F_BERTH) = 1st class berths in 4-berth sleeper compartments, available on overnight trains.  Not air-conditioned.

1st class seat (F_SEAT) = 1st class seats, all reserved, arranged 2+3 across the car width on broad gauge lines.  Not air-conditioned.

Shovan chair (S_CHAIR) = 2nd class reclining seats, all reserved, arranged 2+3 across car width on broad gauge lines.  Shuvon or Shovan means better looking.

Shovan (SHOVAN) = Much more basic seating than shovan chair cars, all reserved.

Shulov = 2nd class bench seats, unreserved, often crowded, mainly found on local or short distance trains.  Shulov means easily available.

What are Bangladeshi trains like

First class air-con seats on a Dhaka-Chittagong intercity train   Dhaka-Chittagong InterCity train

Snighda seats on a Dhaka-Chittagong train.  Photo courtesy of Bob Hindley Larger photo.

 

AC class air-conditioned intercity car on a Dhaka-Chittagong train.  Photo courtesy of Bob Hindley...

Snigdha seats on a Dhaka-Chittagong train

Snigdha AC Chair Car on the Dhaka to Chittagong Subarna ExpressCourtesy of Sumit Chowdhury.

First class AC 2-berth sleeper on the Dhaka-Chittagong overnight train

 

Buying tickets at Dhaka station

AC 2-berth sleeper on the Dhaka-Chittagong night train (bedding provided).

 

Buying tickets at Dhaka station.  Both photos courtesy of Bob Hindley...

Larger sleeper photo.

Travellers' reports...

 

Traveller S.P Chattopadhyay reports:  "I travelled via AC sleeper on the overnight intercity express, and trip was comfortable and uneventful.  Train arrived at platform in Chittagong "new" station about 45 minutes ahead of departure time of 11pm.  Compartment was clean, but the linens looked worn.  AC was working well and arrival into Dhaka was on time at 6:20 am.  I was able to buy the ticket the day before departure, without any problems. I would recommend this train over intercity bus travel between the two cities which involved traffic tie-ups and harrowing over-taking/lane-changing in face of unheeding opposing traffic!"

Traveller Maggie Brown reports:  "I travelled from Dhaka to Srimongel. I went up to Srimongel in a 2nd class carriage with reclining seats without air conditioning, but with the windows open and fans.  On the return journey we were in a first class cabin that seated 4 with seats that faced just one way with A/C.  Srimongel is north of Dhaka and famous for its tea plantations and 5 layered tea.  It's a popular weekend trip with the few tourists and also locals.  Both journeys were comfortable but the 2nd class journey was far more interesting as there was a constant stream of vendors coming up and down the aisle and you could look out of the window.  With the fans on and windows open it wasn't uncomfortably hot at all.  In the first class A/C cabin the windows were frosted and closed and there was nothing to look at except an empty wall. On both journeys the train was late (between 30 minutes and 90 minutes late). It took about 4 hours."

Cox's Bazaar...

There is no train service to Cox's Bazaar (Bangladesh's prime beach resort), but you can take a train from Dhaka to Chittagong then a bus from there. 

Various bus companies operate from Chittagong to Cox's Bazaar including Desh Travels deshtravelsbd.com.  Several air-con buses run daily, some daytime and others overnight, journey time 8 to 10 hours, fare 800 Taka in a non-air-con bus, 1000 Taka in an air-conditioned bus.

2nd class seats on a train from Dhaka   2nd class train seats in Bangladesh

2nd class seats on an express from Dhaka to Srimongel. Photos courtesy of Maggie Brown...

Can you help with more information?

If you have any photos, feedback or information which would be useful for this page, please e-mail me!


International links

Calcutta to Dhaka by train...

A new train service started in April 2008 between Calcutta (Kolkata) and Dhaka.  Called the Maitree Express (Friendship Express), it's run jointly by the Indian Railways & Bangladeshi Railways.  Train service from Calcutta to Dhaka had been suspended since the India/Pakistan war in 1965 so this was a major step forward in the relations between these two countries.  It was increased from twice a week to three times a week in 2015 and now runs at 5 times a week.

 Calcutta ► Dhaka

    Maitree Express

Monday, Wednesday,

Saturday

Tuesday,

Friday

    Train number:

Rolling stock:

13108

Bangladeshi

13109

Indian

 Calcutta Chitpur (KOAA) depart

07:10

07:10

 Gede (Indian time) arrive

09:25

09:25

 Gede (Indian time) depart

09:30

09:30

 Darshana (Bangladeshi time) arr.

09:40

09:40

 Darshana (Bangladeshi time) dep.

10:00

10:00

 Dhaka Cantonment arrive

16:10

16:05

 Dhaka ►Calcutta

  Maitree Express

Tuesday,

Friday, Sunday

Wednesday,

Saturday

  Train number:

Rolling stock:

13107

Bangladeshi

13110

Indian

 Dhaka Cantonment depart

08:15

08:15

 Darshana (Bangladeshi time) arrive

13:10

13:10

 Darshana (Bangladeshi time) depart

13:30

13:30

 Gede (Indian time) arrive

13:40

13:40

 Gede (Indian time) depart

13:45

13:45

 Calcutta Chitpur (KOAA) arrive

16:00

16:00

Remember that Indian time is GMT+5, Bangladeshi time is GMT+6, so there's a 30 minute time difference.  Times shown above are local time for the location concerned.

The distance is 393km (depending where you look).  Gede is the Indian border point, Darshana is the Bangladeshi border point. 

Customs and immigration are now done at the start and end points, i.e. Calcutta or Dhaka, they no longer take place at the border.  You must report  for boarding 2 hours before departure.

Trains 3107 & 3108 use Bangladesh Railways carriages.  Trains 3109 & 3110 use Indian Railways carriages.  Both trains have a catering car.

You can check these times and fares at www.railway.gov.bd, look for the Maitree Express link.  See also travelplanbd.com/maitree-express.

 Fares

 

AC seat

AC first class

In Bangladeshi taka

2,455

3,435

In Indian rupees

795

1,325

Children under 5 half fare, 5 and over full price if separate seat is required.

Which class is best?  AC seats are open-plan and comfortable enough.  AC first class has seats in air-conditioned compartments with sleeping berths for lying down (yes, even though it's  daytime train!).  Choose whichever class you like, both are acceptable.  You can take up to 30Kg luggage.

How to buy tickets online...

You can order tickets in the Dhaka to Calcutta direction (only) online through reliable agency 12go.asia.  For visitors, this is the easiest option.  You order online, tickets are confirmed within 24 hours.

How to buy tickets in person:

Tickets go on sale 60 days before departure in Calcutta, only 10 days before departure in Dhaka, and sales close 3pm the day before departure. 

In Calcutta, buy tickets at the Fairlie Place reservation centre at the Foreign Tourist Reservation Counter, open 10:00-17:00 Mon-Sat, 10:00-14:00 Sundays.

In Dhaka, buy tickets at Dhaka Kamalapur station ticket office, open 09:00-17:00.  Passports & visas must be shown when booking.  Only one-way tickets can be booked.  There is no online booking.

Daily alternative train+bus link:  There are two train links from Calcutta (Sealdah station) to the India/Bangladesh frontier, one to Gede and one to Bangaon.  At Gede, the Bangladesh railway station of Darsana is a 1km walk across the frontier, for trains south to Khulna or northwards, but not to Dhaka.  At Bangaon, it's a short walk across the frontier to Benapol station on the Bangladeshi side for a daily train to Khulna (but again, not Dhaka).  Please confirm that foreigners are permitted to cross at your chosen crossing point.

Traveller Sascha Zaman travelled Dhaka to Calcutta:  I took the train and it was quite good.  Although I travelled first class (because that was still cheap, about 20 Euro), so I do not know how the other classes are.  Anyway, the train left quite punctually at 8.30am and at about 2.30pm we arrived the border.  Bangladesh emigration was very easy, though it took almost 2 hours. Then a short train ride to the Indian side.  There it is a bit annoying, as it took another 2 to 2 hours, because as the train is coming from Bangladesh they are really strict with luggage control.  They searched everybody and everything, so it takes quite a while.  At about 6pm the train departed again and we arrived on schedule exactly at 8.30pm. So the train ride itself was just about 7 hours or so, but it was still fairly ok."

Additional feedback would be very welcome!

The Maitree Express about to leave Dhaka for Kolkata   Maitree Express from Dhaka to Kolkata swaps engines at the border.

The Maitree Express about to leave Dhaka Cantonment for Calcutta.  Photos courtesy of Sujan Bhattacharjee.

 

The Bangladeshi engine is swapped for an Indian one at the border...

Bangladeshi carriage on Maitree Express at Calcutta

A Bangladeshi Maitree Express at Calcutta.  Photo courtesy of Sudip Nandy.

Calcutta ▶ Dhaka by bus...

Direct air-conditioned long-distance buses link Calcutta with Dhaka several times daily, taking 8 or 9 hours.  The bus fare costs about $10-$12 one-way.  No known websites. 


Find hotels in Bangladesh

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Flights to Bangladesh

Overland travel by train & bus around Bangladesh is an essential part of the experience, so once there, don't cheat and fly, stay on the ground!  But a long-haul flight might be unavoidable to reach Bangladesh in the first place.  For flights to Dhaka, start with Skyscanner.

skyscanner generic 728x90


Travel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flagwww.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flagIf you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com.

UK flagYou can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

  US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

A Curve card saves foreign transaction fees...

 

Curve card

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, 500 per month at time of writing.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you 5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank...

With so much now held on your mobile phone (tickets, reservations, vaccination records, etc) I recommend carrying an Anker powerbank.  This can recharge your phone several times over if you're on the move and can't get to a power outlet.  I never travel without one.

 


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