A cutout guide to a two-day Cox's Bazaar trip
YES, it is a guide in its true meaning and NO it is not a boring trip-to-somewhere detail.
Most people visit Cox's Bazar in a two-and a half-day tour but fail to utilize their time there and admire the environment. Mostly, it is because they don't know what other attractions there are surrounding the place. So let me be your guide today.
First up, the place for you to stay. Most of the resorts are full in peak seasons such as winter and Eid or Christmas holidays, so you need to keep in mind that it is better to plan a reservation ahead of time. You can call the Cox's Bazaar beach resorts. Their contacts can be easily found in the Telephone Directory! If your budget is low, then Hotel Probal or Motel Upal is an ideal place close to the beach. You can also check out Saiman Hotel, which comes with a neat swimming pool. If you want better hospitality then you should raise your budget and go for one of the four star hotels like Hotel Shoibal, Seagull, Sea Crown, Sea Palace or West Inn. If I have missed any, it is because I do not know their cost estimates.
Next is the schedule. If you arrive at Cox's Bazar before 12, put on that sun block about half an hour before you take a quick walk to the main beach area and take a dip. Meanwhile, finish your lunch at a nearby restaurant. Hotel Zaman is an old hotel where you can have a decent meal for four people within 500 takas. I can assure you, it is worth the money. If you want splendid seafood then you can try out the beachside eateries or take a rickshaw to Hotel Probal. Although the fish items are quite expensive, they is tasty nevertheless. Another restaurant I would recommend is Poushee, next to Saiman Hotel.
There are various things to keep you busy in the beach and you can have the best time with your friends and family members for a little cash. The speedboat rides cost around 50 Tk. per person. To hire a buoy for one hour costs you Tk.50 while to ride a fantabulous thrilling JetSki would cost you 150Tk per trip. Mind you the trips are very small and usually the owner of the Jetski rides with you at the back (so that you don't roam too far or for too long!) You can even have your photo taken for 15 tk per photo, but I suggest you take your own camera since the picture quality isn't that good. All these would probably take you around three to four hours at most, unless of course you want to make a huge sand-palace like me!
After you get back to your hotel, be sure to take a bath or else you'll be left feeling quite salty and yucky! Most motels offer you warm water if you request for it. Some nice snacks around noontime will keep that churning stomach of yours calm for a while. After a quick nap (around an hour or so), you can take your cash to the nearby Burmese Market. Initially I was a bit disappointed since I expected more variety from the Burmese stores.
Most of them sell Burmese clothes, shawls, pickles, nuts, bags and little toys. My personal favorites were the stores with wooden statues, beautiful rock frames and a rare shop that sold beautiful jewels! In one of the markets (probably Dubai Burmese Market) there was a wonderful collection of rock necklaces in different colors and prices. These usually cost around 150 to 300 taka and look great with fatuas and jeans. A bit of inside info: the ladies selling the stuff are clever as a fox and usually ask for double or triple the price. Don't hesitate to bargain and I bet you can be a winner.
The Burmese market spans on both side of the road and you can't finish roaming around the place in just one evening. So if the clock strikes 10, it should be back to the restaurant for you. Try to eat in a different restaurant as this adds variety to your taste buds.
Drink plenty of water and sleep well for an adventurous day 2.
Set your clock to wake up as early as 5 o' clock. In summer, the early morning's cold breeze beside the beach feels wonderful, and that is the best time to search for shells. In winter however, the water feels better than the land so don't hesitate to walk along the beach in seawater.
After you have spent some time browsing through the local shops in the main beach area, it is time for you to head off to Himchari area. It is best if you have your personal car, or else the trips will cost you quite a lot. A rickshaw ride would probably cost you 100 Tk and a taxi ride about the same. Nevertheless it is worth the panoramic view.
On the way to Himchari, you may find a small waterfall to your left. It would be wise not to waste too much time here, since there is a bigger one in Himchari. Do not expect it to be half the size of Niagra Falls however, but it is scenic nonetheless since waterfalls in Bangladesh are a rare sight. On the top of the Himchari hills, you can see the vast spread of Ocean and the beautiful hills and trees that surround it. I can't put it in words and the nature cannot be captured half as beautifully in photo frames. Keep in mind that the Himchari stairs beside the waterfall is very steep and people who have heart problems and are old should not be allowed to climb. Keep your cameras carefully hooked to you or else you might loose it. Also be careful not to go near the edge or else a small slip may cost your life.
The waterfall beside the huge mountain calms your senses if you just look at it for a while and hear the splashes. Be careful not to slip in the mud if you want to take a snap a meter near the waters. I almost did!
Anyways time to take a quick lunch in a nearby hotel and head towards the beautiful rocky Inani beach. It is about half an hour or so from Himchari and takes you through a nice little village and plenty of 'Paan' farms. There are also innumerable hatcheries (the main business in Cox's Bazaar) on both sides of the road. Inani is famous for taking you close to what lies beneath the sea. I found everything from live snails to crabs, small fishes, moving shells, oysters and koris. It is best if you wear strong running shoes to this beach, or else you may slip in the rocks. The Corals are ever growing and this is in my opinion the best part of the whole trip to Cox's Bazaar. Collect as many shells as you want since you wouldn't want to buy the same shells from the local vendors at 5tk each!
Last night of the trip and you shouldn't miss getting some good seashells, so after Inani, head straight towards the old Zhinuk Market. This place sells you good quality shell products at double the standard price, so you need to bargain a little. You can print your name in small shells called koris for as little as 50 takas, but if you bargain you may get it for 40 takas.
The big coral shells are rare and usually cost over a thousand takas, so watch your wallet. Spending time here won't take you more than half an hour so head over to the unfinished parts of the Burmese Market. Sometimes if you browse these tiny shops thoroughly, you may find rare stuff at very cheap prices! I bought home necklaces, showpieces and accessories. Also do get some small gifts for folks back at home. Happy holidays!