In order to visit the Chittagong Hill Tracts, one requires a permit. Due in part because of bureaucracy, and in part due to the security situation, there’s no other way to get around all of the checkpoints. Because we intend on visiting the small town of Bandarban, close to the border of Myanmar, we had to get a permit.
The guidebook’s explanation on how to do this is lengthy, time consuming and frankly, no fun at all. They suggest faxing your details to numerous district commissioners and superintendent of police, waiting three days, and making loads of photocopies. Thankfully, this is no longer necessary. Nowadays, all one has to do is visit the divisional commissioner’s office in Chittagong, fill out one paper form per traveling party and wait a few minutes while their passport is being photocopied and the form stamped. It’s free, easy, and quick – something unusual for this bureaucracy-loving country!
Hill Tracts Permission
Divisional Commissioner Office
718 Chatteshhari Road, 2nd floor
Open: Sunday to Thursday, between 9 AM and 5 PM.
On the road to Bandarban, we stopped at only one checkpoint. This checkpoint is for foreigners only. We had to exit the bus, and fill out two forms registering ourselves into the region. They never looked at our permit: perhaps just seeing that we had one was enough. Overall the checkpoint was easy, and took less than 5 minutes.
On the way out of Bandarban, we had to do the same process again, but this time on “exit” forms.