Renting a Car
The first thing you should know is that car rental costs are high in Bangladesh because cars are more expensive. However, the condition of rental cars has improved greatly over the years, and clean, comfortable, new cars are the norm. The basic cost for a one-day rental of a Volkswagen (VW) Beetle, with unlimited mileage (but before the 15 percent tax and $15,425 daily for insurance), is $35 in Dhaka. Renting by the week gives you a lower daily rate. At present time, some rent a car is offering a basic seven-day weekly rate for a Ford Fiesta (before tax or insurance) of $216 in Dhaka. Prices may be considerably higher if you rent around a major holiday.
Car rental companies usually write a credit card charge in U.S. dollars.
Always get the insurance. Insurance is offered in two parts. Collision and damage insurance covers your car and others if the accident is your fault, and personal accident insurance covers you and anyone in your car. Read the fine print on the back of your rental agreement and note that Insurance may be Invalid if you have an accident while driving on an unpaved road.
Finding the best rental deal
Car rental rates vary even more than airline fares. The price depends on the size of the car, the length of time you keep it, where and when you pick it up and drop it off, where you take it, and a host of other factors.
Asking a few key questions can save you hundreds of dollars. For example, weekend rates may be lower than weekday rates. Ask whether the rate is the same for Friday morning pickup as it is for Thursday night. If you’re keeping the car five or more days, a weekly rate may be cheaper than the daily rate. Some companies may assess a drop-off charge if you don’t return the car to the same renting location; others, notably National, do not. Ask whether the rate is cheaper if you pick up the car at the airport or a location in town.
In addition to the standard coverage, rent a car companies also offer additional liability insurance (if you harm others in an accident), personal accident insurance (if you harm yourself or your passengers), and personal effects insurance (if your luggage is stolen from your car). If you have insurance on your car at home, you’re probably covered for most of this unlikelihood. If your own insurance doesn’t cover you for rentals or if you don’t have auto insurance, consider the additional coverage. But weigh the likelihood of getting into an accident or losing your luggage against the cost of these insurance options (as much as $20 per day combined), which can significantly add to the price of your rental.
Some companies also offer refueling packages, in which you pay for an entire tank of gas upfront. The price is usually fairly competitive with local gas prices, but you don’t get credit for any gas remaining in the tank. If you reject this option, you pay only for the gas you use, but you have to return the car with a full tank or face hefty charges per gallon for any shortfall. If a stop at a gas station on the way to the airport will make you miss your plane, by all means take advantage of the fuel purchase option. Otherwise, skip it.
Remembering that safety comes first
If you decide to rent a car and drive in Bangladesh, you need to keep a few things in mind:
* Most Bangladeshi roads are not up to U.S. standards of smoothness, hardness, width of curve, grade of hill, or safety markings. The roads in and around Dhaka are a notable exception, but elsewhere in the Dhaka, this observation generally holds true.
* Driving at night is dangerous, because the roads aren’t good, and they’re rarely lit; trucks, carts, pedestrians, and bicycles usually have no lights; and you can hit potholes, animals, rocks, dead ends, or in-cross-able bridges without warning.
* Never turn left by stopping in the middle of a highway with your left signal on. Instead, pull off the highway onto the right shoulder, wait for traffic to clear, and then proceed across the road.
* Credit cards are generally not accepted for gas purchases.
* When possible, many Bangladeshi drive away from minor accidents, or try to make an immediate settlement, to avoid involving the police.
* If the police arrive while the involved persons are still at the scene, everyone may be locked up until responsibility is determined and damages are settled. If you were in a rental car, notify the rental company immediately and ask how to contact the nearest adjuster. (You did buy insurance with the rental, right?)