Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, is a blend of old and new architectural trends; it's a throbbing, chaotic city, a center of industrial, commercial, cultural, educational and political activity. A city of mosques that was founded in the 17th century, the oldest section of the city runs along the North bank of the waterfront, where the panorama of local life along the river comes alive. Although hotels are most popular for international groups, Dhaka event venues run the gamut from up-to-date convention centers to tea gardens.
Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (formerly known as Zia International Airport), the major airport, served by major international flights, is 20 kilometers (13 miles) from the main city center. National flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines flies to 18 destinations. Indian carrier Jet Air has direct flights from Kolkata and Mumbai; and DragonAir connects the city to Hong Kong.
Chief among venues, Dhaka Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Center, also called the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC), is currently the country's only convention center. It was originally designed by the Beijing Institute of Architectural Designs and Research and built with a $50-million grant from China.
BICC is now privatized. Sprawling across 50,000 square meters, the main structure is built on about 20,000 square meters of land, with 30,000 square meters of landscaped space. Its multiple venues be configured according to requirement of the event.
Hotel venues in Dhaka include the opulent Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel, an 8-story convention hotel with a Grand ballroom that can seat 400 in classroom-style and accommodate 1,000 for a reception. The main hall has a seating capacity for 1700.
Delegates might like to take a tour on cycle rickshaws to discover side streets of Dhaka. However, to escape the traffic jams and take a break, Songargaon, about 29 kilometers from Dhaka, has ancient monuments still intact and presents an opportunity to view rural life as it was hundreds of years ago.
Bordered by India on three sides, Bangladesh offers an enviable number of options for post-conference tours, from visits to archaeological sites, a cruise, a cup of tea in its tea gardens to hearing the silence of the age-old mangrove forests. The best time to visit is from September to March.