I may have spoken too song in singing the praises of Bangladesh. Or maybe it’s because I’m a stupid tourist.

…but in my defense, nobody mentioned this in the guidebooks:

I learned the hard way today that when you arrive in Bangladesh and take money out of an ATM, it’s pretty much impossible to exchange that money back into US Dollars, Euros, or any other form of foreign currency at the airport when you leave the country. This is because the exchange counters in the airport (and there’s quite a few of them) won’t accept Bangladesh Takas without a receipt that shows you exchanged foreign currency when you first arrived into Bangladesh. The ATM receipt does not suffice as an alternative; they specifically need a receipt from an exchange counter.

So because I never exchange US Dollars at foreign exchange counters (partly because I’m saving all my US Dollars for ATM-less, dollar-hungry Myanmar) and since I prefer my ATM overseas exchange rates, I did not have such a receipt. But I did have a crapload of Bangladesh Takas that would have been rendered useless overseas (find me any exchange counter in a foreign country that’s even heard of Bangladeshi Takas…).

So what did I do to prevent $150 USD of Takas from becoming potential Monopoly play money? I apparently broke a few rules by performing a shady backdoor exchange at one of the duty-free shops for a $10 USD commission. It was so shady that the staff made me go around the counter, made me talk in whispers, and would reply with “thank me for what?” when I, well, thanked them for letting me exchange my Takas for US Dollars.  So if you ever find yourself stuck in my situation, walk over to a duty-free shop, flash your fat wad of unused Takas, and if they whisper “secret secret. shhh!” then you know those precious Takas won’t go to waste.

Therefore, when arriving into Bangladesh:

  • To minimize headaches, skip the ATMs, exchange your cash for Takas, and SAVE THE RECEIPT. That way you can easily exchange it back to your preferred foreign currency when you leave.
  • If you choose to take Bangladeshi Takas out of an ATM, or if you have lost your receipt, either:
  1. Spend all of the Takas before leaving
  2. Exchange all of the Takas at a bank outside the airport
  3. Exchange all of the Takas at a duty-free shop in the airport and get a silly rush for giving the finger to the man.



- At time of posting in Bangkok, it was 26 °C - Humidity: 94% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: very cloudy


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July 2011