Mabel Fatokun

Clear The Confusion: Dhaka Vs Dakar

Due to an airline mistake, a couple who had planned to go from Los Angeles to Dakar, Senegal, wound themselves 7,000 miles away in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Travel nightmares can manifest in various ways, including lost passports, missed flights, lost luggage, and grotty hotel rooms. Like this couple it was just in mistaking Dhaka for Dakar.

When Sandy Valdivieso and her husband Triet Vo, 39, received their Turkish Airlines boarding tickets for their flights from Los Angeles to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, they didn’t think anything was wrong, they told the Los Angeles Times. Their passes took them from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Istanbul’s IST and finally to DAC.

The airport code for Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is DAC, while the airport code for Dakar is DKR.

Right up there, is one of the many stories with the confusion with Dakar in Senegal and Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Let’s help clarify the fog around these two destinations.

Dhaka, the capital and largest city of Bangladesh, is the ninth-largest and seventh-most densely populated city in the world. With a population of 10.2 million, it is the most cultural, economic, and scientific hub in Eastern South Asia and a major Muslim-majority city. Dhaka ranks third in South Asia and 39th in the world in GDP.


On the other side, Dakar, the capital and largest city of Senegal, has a population of 1,182,417. The area was colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century and used for the Atlantic slave trade. After the abolition of the trade and French annexation in the 19th century, Dakar became a major port.

Both have colonial pasts, Dhaka and Bangladesh with ties to the British Empire, Dakar and Senegal to France. To wit, French is highly useful in Dakar. English is your best bet in Dhaka, although it’s not as widely spoken as in India, whereas you will find just about everyone in Dakar speaks good French.

Although the air in Dhaka is much better than it used to be, Dakar claims to have cleaner air. Apart from buses, auto-rickshaws are the most popular kind of public transportation, and Dhaka has an unbelievable amount of them. In fact, I recently came into a report stating that 38% of transportation in Dhaka is by rickshaw! They were once powered by outdated two-stroke motors, identical to those seen in lawn mowers. The government passed a law requiring them to be three-strokes. And what a remarkable change there is.

Dakar travels primarily in small buses, which are sometimes packed and travel routes along the shore to the town core and other locations. That is fairly full. Taxis, which are obviously far more costly, are not always available when needed. You take a ferry to the colonial island of Ile de Goree, which has a long history of the slave trade.

Ile de Goree is Dakar’s main tourist spot. Despite its dark past, it is now filled with artists, music, and restaurants. Dhaka lacks such areas, but Senegal’s proximity to France and Europe attracts a few. Dakar’s breezy feel and laid-back atmosphere vary depending on location.

Thus… Which is superior? In some aspects, it’s similar to adding up a bunch of letters instead of numbers. While both are not popular tourist spots, I believe a visitor would feel more at home in Dakar. However, Dhaka comes to mind when I compare the two cities because of the people and the experiences. Yes, and for the awesome activities as well.


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