The surge of incoming Rohingyas is not news anymore. After our government has officially allowed them to be refugees, some strict measures have been taken to make sure that they do not leave their designated area. As a result, even Bangladeshis are heard having trouble while traveling to and from Cox’s Bazar to other parts of the country.
Police has put a lot more check posts than usual on the route that leads back from Teknaf and the surrounding areas where Rohingyas are permitted to stay. Because of the increased number of check posts, the average Bangladeshi traveler is having to go through some hassle when coming back from their trip in Cox’s Bazar and surrounding areas. Some are even asking questions on various travel related Facebook groups whether it’s safe anymore to visit Cox’s Bazar amidst the rising Rohingya issues in that part of the country.
Is it risky to visit Cox’s Bazar now?
This serves as a confirmation that it is still safe and enjoyable to visit Cox’s Bazar as I have visited recently and some of my friends have stayed there this month.
You’re not wrong to be paranoid about Rohingyas causing trouble during your stay in Cox’s Bazar. However, during my week-long trip last month, I didn’t face any trouble. Of course, I’m not an expert so I couldn’t differentiate local people from a Rohingya, but I probably will not be wrong if I said I didn’t see any of them — at least not in the Kolatoli area which is likely where you’ll be spending most of your time.
Have Tourist Police Bangladesh’s Android app or contact numbers ready so that you can have official assistance when you need it.
My visit to Cox’s Bazar in late September included a trip to Ramu, a trip to the Mermaid Beach Resort (about 13 km from Kolatoli Beach) through the beautiful Marine Drive, and an evening visit to the city area, outside of all the cleanliness that most tourists don’t get out of.
And I haven’t had any problems. People like to spread fear and paranoia online. Before we went, we saw plenty of posts on popular Facebook groups that Cox’s Bazar and the beach area were already crowded by Rohingyas and they were asking tourists for money.
In reality, it didn’t feel any different than the last time I visited the place which was long before the Rohingyas started coming in. The only difference was that I noticed a lot of large vehicles from international organizations like Unicef, World Health Organization, and so on.
How about the check posts?
Unfortunately, there’s only one way to avoid the check post hassle, and that is to take a flight back to Dhaka or wherever you’re going from. From my previous experience, I never saw any check posts on the way to Cox’s Bazar from Dhaka. But on the way back, there would be at least one check post that stopped all night coaches — including Business Class AC buses — and would harass people.
Now with the Rohingya issues at hand, the check posts are more active and frequent on the way back from Cox’s Bazar. Domestic flights are getting cheaper, and airlines like US-Bangla and Novo Air regularly offers discounted ticket prices for a roundtrip to Cox’s Bazar.
However, if you absolutely cannot afford to fly, you may want to take some documents with you that prove your nationality. A valid photo ID card, such as a National ID, passport, driving license, or even a student ID card with a photo should suffice.
Highway police aren’t the friendliest bunch so you would need to make sure you don’t provoke them in any way for they can get you in trouble. If you’ve got an Android phone, you may want to install Tourist Police Bangladesh’s app “Hello Tourist”. You may also want to grab the contact numbers from their website here. You shouldn’t hesitate to call the relevant numbers when you feel you are in trouble, even if that trouble is caused by a police officer during your trip.
Have a safe trip!
Cox’s Bazar is one of the most visited places in the country. Although the beach isn’t as beautiful as it was once, thanks to the rising hotel buildings surrounding it, you may still want to visit the place before more concrete makes the area a total chaos.
Also, while Rohingyas are still not an issue if you plan to visit Cox’s Bazar and nearby areas (Himchori, Inani Beach, and so on), who knows what might happen a few months from now? So get set, and start your journey towards Cox’s Bazar today!
Have you visited Cox’s Bazar recently and had any problems related to Rohingyas? Let us know in the comments.
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