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Riding the longest train route in Bangladesh for $10, worth it – Business Insider

Asia is home to some of the fastest trains in the world — but train travel is all about the journey for me.
In March, I took the longest train route in Bangladesh. The whole trip is nearly 400 miles long — stretching from the bustling capital of Dhaka to the northernmost district of Panchagarh.
I bought a ticket for 1,073 Bangladeshi Taka, or about $9.70, and prepared to watch the diverse landscapes of my country pass by.
Here’s what the train ride was like.
Kamalapur Railway Station, built in the 1960s, is an architectural marvel. Its roof has a domed umbrella design.
I arrived at the station almost an hour before my departure. People were walking and sitting around, but there weren’t heavy crowds.
I bought my $9.70 ticket online 10 days in advance and chose the Snigdha class — which was pricier than first class ($5.02) but cheaper than a sleeper car ($11.50).
Snigdha cars offer air conditioning and reclining seats, which I thought would be necessary for such a long journey.
I boarded the air-conditioned compartment and found my window seat. The seat itself was a little worn, but it had plenty of legroom.
There were also overhead racks above the seats for luggage.
The train was delayed at the station for about 15 minutes, but we set off at 10:29 a.m.
As the train snaked its way forward, I looked out my window and noticed how new infrastructure had transformed Dhaka’s skyline over the years.
I didn’t recognize many places as the train traveled along and beneath overpasses and buildings.
The Bangabandhu Bridge spans the Jamuna River, one of Bangladesh’s three major rivers. It originates in China and flows through India before entering Bangladesh.
My anticipation ran high as the train approached the bridge — I had never traveled across it by bus or train.
The train stopped for about 15 minutes for a safety inspection before approaching the structure. While we were being held, I gazed at the stunning expanse of water out my window.
It took about half an hour for the train to cross the bridge fully, and the views were breathtaking.
The train didn’t have a dining car, but there was a small snack stand between two of the coaches.
I bought a lunch box for $1.37 that came with a vegetable cutlet, fried chicken, two pieces of bread, and a sauce packet.
I thought the food was a little bland, especially the cutlet. Luckily, some of the other snacks I bought early on in the trip — like chocolates and popcorn — were good.
I traveled during Ramadan, the fasting month for Muslims, so I also purchased a box for iftar (a meal to break the fast) that had jalebi (a sweet fried snack), pakora (vegetable fritters), dates, chickpeas, puffed rice, and other small foods.
The box cost me $1.09, which I found a bit overpriced — I could’ve bought it for less from a street vendor.
I wouldn’t call Dhaka to Panchagarh a magnificently scenic route, but it had its fair share of landscapes featuring trees, croplands, water, and villages.
I savored the beauty as the train intermittently whistled and sped by different views.
The sunset was the most spectacular thing I saw. It slowly disappeared below the horizon while casting an orange glow over the passing landscapes.
From start to finish, the journey took 12 hours and 28 minutes.
It was 10:57 p.m. when the train finally pulled into the Panchagarh station — an hour and 57 minutes behind schedule after several long crossings.
By the time we reached the final stop, there were only a few passengers left on the train. Most of them got off at the other 22 stops along the way.
Despite the long route, bookended by departure and arrival delays, I enjoyed my trip.
It was more than just a train ride from point A to point B, it was a chance to experience more of my country from a different lens.
I’d happily travel the route again.
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