Not surprisingly, Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh is a shopper’s paradise with some of the cheapest prices in Asia! The color of the markets seems to add to the friendly chaos of the city with its unbelievable amount of traffic! It is fun to take a rickshaw ride or tuk-tuk to one of the many markets. New Market is the largest and you could definitely spend a day there browsing – luckily there are some great street food stalls! Banghshal Road in the Old Town is a good street to explore and just for fun, the adjoining Kazi Alauddin Road sells everything to do with rickshaws and this is where you can watch the artists painting designs on pieces of metal to personalize them!
In contrast, Bashundhara City is the world’s 12th largest shopping mall with 2,200 shops in swish surroundings. Look out for Aarong (meaning ‘village fair’) as this store is one of the biggest brands in clothing and has a full range of handicrafts and other souvenirs. The MIB shops are worth seeking out as MIB means ‘Made in Bangladesh’.
Before you head out on a shopping expedition, remember that most shops and market stalls only deal in cash so best to get plenty from one of the ATMs in your hotel. In the markets, you will be able to enjoy a good bargain – aiming to pay about 50% of the asking price! Happy shopping!
1. Look elegant in a traditional Bengali lady’s suit
The traditional ladies suits are really popular because they look so elegant and are really comfortable. They comprise of loose-fitting trousers with an elasticated waist, a matching short sleeved top and long scarf which can be worn in a variety of ways. The suits are available plain or patterned and in a variety of materials including cotton and silk. They can be bought in an upmarket boutique or in one of the many markets. There are also many places selling beautiful silk saris – Jamdani silk is the best and along with saris, there is a good selection of beautiful scarves.
2. Treat yourself to some high fashion bargains
Banga Bazaar is chaotic, colorful and a real ‘must do’! The market specializes in seconds and overruns of garments for both men and women that are destined for European and American boutiques. You will find all the top names there and the prices are unbelievably good – be warned everyone is after a bargain so the market gets incredibly busy, try and get there early! If you would like some stylish accessories to add the finishing touch to your new outfit, the Farmgate Footpath is great for well-priced belts, sandals and fashion watches.
3. Get ready for winter
Sounds strange, but if you live in more northern climes it is good advice because the choice of ladies and men’s quilted ski jackets and snug jumpers is unbelievable and the prices are a fraction of what you would pay in European stores. The best places to look are Badruddoza and Noor Jahan markets.
4. Buy some beautiful jewelry
The Bengali jewelry is chunky and brightly colored, but if you are searching for classic gold pieces you will find those too as well as inexpensive freshwater pearls. The Mouchak Market in the Malibagh area has a good reputation for quality.
5. Get your friends some fun bags
Would you believe it? Rice bags are cleverly recycled and made into a fun range of really cheap bags including tote bags, pouches, wallets, and backpacks – with some of them emblazoned with a stylish tiger motif! They certainly feel papery and rustle when moved but they are perfect to give as presents to friends!
If you prefer a better quality bag, you will find tote bags by the thousand! They are available in a range of materials and colors some plain, others patterned and many in denim – all at a good price.
6. Invest in some cool shades
Patuatuli which is just in front of Sadarghat is well known for its top quality sunglasses which are available for great prices. You can also buy frames there for reading glasses at fantastic prices too, so it could well be worth to pick up some and have them fitted with your prescription lenses when you get home.
7. Kit yourself out with some smart new trainers
The fashion world decrees that it is definitely ‘in’ for ladies to wear a stylish pair of trainers with smart trousers and dresses but they should be sparkling white, new and not kept purely for the gym! What better place to pick up men’s or women’s trainers than in one of the markets in Dhaka – and what bargain prices!
8. Have some shoes personally made just for you
If you would prefer a pair of smart shoes, these can be made in a matter of days by the various shoemakers in the city – you can choose the style and the color of the leather and in just a few days you can collect a really lovely pair of new shoes… some of the best shoemakers can be found in Dhanmondi Road.
9. Pamper yourself with fine leather
Leather is the second largest export for Bangladesh so not surprisingly there are some excellent leather items to be found in Dhaka. The leather is good quality and available in a wide range of lovely colors and needless to say, it is well priced. Top of the list must be an attractive leather jacket closely followed by handbags, men’s bags, and document cases. There are belts, wallets, purses and key cases by the thousand and if you want to make a stylish statement, choosing them all in a matching fun color such as pink, yellow or blue leather is a perfect way!
10. Enjoy some great sweets
All types of confectionery are popular in Dhaka and there are sweet shops every few hundred meters each selling a myriad of different sweets! A bag or two are easy to squeeze into your travel bag! If you want to be tempted by some delicious items from the bakeries, there is a good choice of shops and an even bigger choice of delicious goodies!