There are two main shopping malls in Dhaka. They are good for buying certain things but there’s a better niche market for almost every category.
- Bashundhara City Shopping Complex — this is located in Panthapath and closest to Dhanmondi and surrounding neighborhoods. The commercial neighborhoods are also nearby. This shopping mall is good for finding Bangladeshi fashion brands such as Westecs, Yellow and women’s clothes. You can also find brand new consumer electronics such as cell phones and cameras. There’s also a movie theater and a good court. Closed on Tuesday and half on Wednesday.
- Jamuna Future Park — this is located in Bashundhara, near the upscale neighborhood of Baridhara. Jamuna Future Park is the newer shopping mall and much bigger in comparison to the Bashundhara City Shopping Complex. The stores available are similar to Bashundhara City Shopping Complex, but they have more premium restaurants and cafes, movie theaters and gyms. It’s an entertainment destination more than a shopping destination.
If you’re looking to buy electronics, the best place is Elephant Road. There are countless shopping malls along the road. Elephant Road is particularly famous for their repair services and their used electronics at very low prices — which they provide with a service warranty. They also sell brand new electronics.
When shopping in Bangladesh, it’s important to research the market price of products. Research the international price and ask a few stores for the pricing of the same product. Tell them how much you are willing to pay and ask them what their final selling price is, i.e. haggle.
Multiplan Center is main mall, right next to is Alpana Plaza — you should be able to find most things here. Before heading over to Elephant Road, you can research prices on Bikroy.com, Bdstall.com or Dam.com.bd. Many electronics stores in Elephant Road are closed on Friday.
Other than Elephant Road, another popular destination for electronics is BCS Computer City (also known as IDB Bhaban). All authorized distributors have a store here and they are likely to pass through this showroom before appearing in other stores across the city. This is particularly true for brand new products. Elephant Road is still the best place for getting things repaired or finding niche accessories that might not be imported in bulk, such as specialty chargers with non-EU plugs. Products can also be significantly overpriced here — you will have to haggle and find the best price. If you know the market price, you can make a reasonable offer and avoid the hassle of looking around.
Buying clothing in Dhaka can be a hit or miss. Bangladesh manufactures clothes for some of the biggest fashion brands in the world and yet, the local fashion industry is pitiful at best. The international quality garments don’t enter the local market because manufacturers are very loyal to foreign clients and selling locally the same products is a violation of their intellectual property rights.
However, there’s still hope. Women have lots of clothing options — particularly of the Indian style. Designer brands from India are very popular among Bangladeshi women. The styles, cuts, fabrics, and patterns are very modern and often have western influences. There is no single store that will carry such clothing. You will have to browse the stores in the shopping malls and describe to them what you are looking for. Browse magazines for inspiration and maybe even carry it with you. A crucial necessity for most women in Dhaka is a good tailor. A female friend or acquaintance will really help in this regard — preferably someone who’s up to date with the trends and the times.
For men, casual clothing can be found almost anywhere but the appearance can be quite plain; some can even be just tacky. Where Dhaka shines is affordable men’s tailoring. If you need suits, shirts, and trousers — you can get them tailored at very low costs. Women almost always prefer tailoring their clothes. Men, as they become older, prefer button-down shirts over t-shirts when leaving the home.
The best budget men’s tailors in Dhaka are as follows.
Fit Elegance — they have multiple locations in Dhaka. Their tailor in Banani is very experienced and the fit and fabrics are quite commendable.
Top Ten — they also have multiple locations in Dhaka. Their fit can be questionable depending on the tailor. Good tailors in Dhaka are hard to find and some end up switching jobs. Top Ten is notorious for an extra tight fit to save on fabric. When getting measured, make sure you mention that you prefer a more relaxed fit.
If you want more premium suits and shirts, the more high-end men’s tailors in Dhaka are as follows.
This brand was founded by a Bangladeshi designer Mehruz Munir who studied fashion at the University of Arts in London. He showcased his collections at the New York Fashion Show and often hosts fashion shows locally for the elites of Dhaka, in collaboration with BMW Bangladesh. He designs with the international and western audience in mind, but he also has sub brands that cater to eastern fashion tastes. In light of recent developments, there are great opportunities for Bangladeshi fashion to dominate the greater subcontinent.
Zurhem has phenomenal social media and community presence. Keep in mind, getting a Zurhem suit won’t be cheap but it might still be value for money if you compare to similar brands internationally.
There’s a lot of buzz about this tailoring service as well. You can expect to get an excellent tailoring experience and some of the best fabrics and craftsmanship available in Dhaka. They maintain a website and seem to post on social media from time to time.
The Dhaka online purchasing experience is different from elsewhere. When buying online, expect the following.
- You can pay “cash on delivery”. Credit and debit cards are still not very popular but you can pay with your card if you like.
- Products can take some time to get delivered because the systems are not very sophisticated yet. Most products arrive within a week.
- Return policies are limited in nature. You usually have to return within a few days.
- The quality of some products can be questionable.
There are two main online stores that have excellent customer experience. They are as follows.
Thise-commercee website started as a smartphone retailer and then later branched into other electronics. It is owned by a big Bangladeshi conglomerate known as Edison Group. They have a fairly large team and they offer free office pick-up or home delivery at Tk. 50/delivery. They also provide financing options and official warranty on some electronics products.
As of recently, they have started selling products other than electronics. In the past, I’ve had bad experiences with Pickaboo where they would not take returns on a product that I had bought because I had mistaken it to be something else.
They are another great ecommerce site. You will find most products at prices lower than what you might find at many physical stores. After every order, they call to confirm and remind you to check and test your products so you can return right away and avoid the pain of hearing their restricting return policy.
There’s other ecommerce websites such as Daraz and Bagdoom. I have had good experiences with Bagdoom but I would suggest avoiding Daraz at all costs. They have the biggest team in Bangladesh, because they are an international company — but they are very poorly managed and I have almost never had a good experience. Most of the products they carry are of questionable quality and they often tend to be overpriced. In addition, they do not take returns and you have no warranty or guarantee.
Founded in Bangladesh and backed by U.S. venture capital. Using their service, you can buy anything from any online store in the United States. After making a purchase, they ship your products to a traveler who is flying to Bangladesh. The traveler makes some money and Backpackbang charges a small fee. Their pricing is very competitive for small niche items that you may not be able to find in Bangladesh.
Getting things fixed or repaired in Dhaka
If you’re living in Dhaka, you’ll need several home-related services — whether its a cleaner, a repairman for your household items such as TV, refrigerator, air conditioner, stove, door locks and so on. For all your daily household needs, you can book a professional through Sheba.xyz.