Travelling by launch, steamers, or boats is very common in riverine Bangladesh. They are budget-friendly, and in some cases, the easier and quicker to reach destinations.
If you are planning to travel by launch soon, this quick guide might be helpful for you. Usually these journeys are interesting, beautiful, and a good way to explore parts of the country.
Tickets can be bought at the Sadarghat Launch Terminal, and if you arrive a few hours early, you can also buy them on the launch.
Usually the arrival and departure is timely, except for rush times such as Eid holidays during which the launches are sardine packed with passengers.
Online tickets are available via Shohoz, but this method is yet to be popular and users prefer buying tickets physically.
VIP cabins are usually the most expensive; some of the luxury lines these days also have cabins with attached bathrooms and A/C, and other facilities like elevators and restaurants.
The standard cabins, as the name suggests, have basic facilities with beds and fans.
The cheapest option is the deck which is basically sleeping on the floor. The deck class passengers usually do not buy tickets; the money is collected later by a launch official.
If you want dry, packaged snacks and tea, there are vendors on the launch. There are fruit, peanuts, and 'jhalmuri' sellers too. But it is best to avoid these and cooked food in the launch restaurants, and carry your own water. But you will also see some young boys selling bottled mineral water.
As mentioned earlier, launches are known to be very full and reckless during Eid holidays. So unless you absolutely have to, avoid taking trips at these times.
Launch accidents are tragic and they keep repeating, so it is natural to be scared while travelling on water. If you know swimming, that will be a plus point. Life jackets or buoys are unfortunately not very available in our regular launches.
If you are travelling alone, it is better to book a cabin.