PAKISTAN TRAVEL GUIDE
A journey through Pakistan is a fascinating encounter with a country that has withstood countless invasions, absorbed the culture and ethos of its conquerors and preserved their essence in monuments and archaeological heritage.
Pakistan fosters a five-thousand-year-old civilisation, remnants of which can still be seen in the ruins of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. The land was an important stop on the trade route from Central Asia into India and across to China. Over the Khyber Pass, Kurram Pass, Bolan Pass and the Khunjerab Pass, caravans laden with dried fruits, silk, wool and precious stones laboured to their final destinations. If you are seeking adventure, want to lose yourself in nature's wonders, looking for some cultural stimulation or just want to intermingle with the incredibly warm and hospitable people, visit Pakistan and take back lingering memories of a country of diverse landscapes and people.
Certain areas in the tribal regions and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border are considered active war zones by the Pakistani military and therefore will not be accessible to both locals and foreigners. Do not try to illegally get into these areas as this could turn out to be fatal or may result in kidnapping for ransom. Make sure to obtain up to date information before you leave.
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PAKISTAN QUICK FACTS
- Capital: Islamabad
- Government: Islamic Federal Republic
- Currency: Rs. Pakistani rupee (PKR)
- Area: 881,913 km²
- Population: 212,2 million (2018)
- Religion:Muslim 97%, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikhs and others 3%
- Electricity: 230V, 50Hz (Europlug & old British Plug)
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PAKISTAN PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 5 February, Kashmir Solidarity Day
- 23 March, Republic Day (Pakistan Day)
- 1 May, Labour Day
- 1 July, Bank Holiday*
- 14 August, Independence Day
- 6 September, Defense of Pakistan Day
- 11 September, Anniversary of the Death of Qaid-i-Azam
- 9 November, Birthday of Allama Iqbal
- 25 December, Qaid-i-Azam’s Birthday
* Check for actual date of observance.
Business openings and work schedules may be significantly affected by Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, and Sikh holidays and
FESTIVALS IN PAKISTAN
BEST TIME TO VISIT PAKISTAN
Pakistan has four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall.
- Winter: December to February. The weather is cool and dry, with temperatures ranging from mild to cold, depending on the region. The northern mountain regions can be quite cold, with heavy snowfall in some areas.
- Spring: March to May. The weather starts to warm up and becomes more pleasant. The temperature can range from cool to warm, and the countryside starts to become green as the plants begin to bloom.
- Summer: June to September. The weather is hot and dry, with temperatures reaching as high as 40°C (104°F) in some regions. The monsoon season starts in July and brings heavy rains to many parts of the country.
- Fall: October to November. The weather starts to cool down, and the monsoon season ends. The temperature is mild and pleasant, making it a great time to visit many parts of the country.
It's also worth noting that in Pakistan, the monsoon season can vary from year to year, and it's not uncommon for certain areas to receive less or more rain than usual.
The best time to visit Pakistan varies depending on the specific location and the type of activity you plan to do. Generally, the best time to visit Pakistan is between October and April when the weather is cooler and more pleasant.
The mountain regions, such as the Northern Areas, are best visited during the summer months of June to September when the snow has melted and the passes are open. The coastal areas, such as Gwadar and Karachi, are best visited during the winter months of November to February when the weather is mild and the sea is calm.
PAKISTAN WEATHER SYNOPSIS
Pakistan lies in a temperate zone and its climate is as varied as the country’s topography—generally dry and hot near the coast and along the lowland plains of the Indus River, and becoming progressively cooler in the northern uplands and Himalayas. Four seasons are recognised: 1) a cool, dry winter from December to February; 2) a hot, dry spring from March through May; 3) the summer rainy season, also known as the southwest monsoon period, occurring from June to September; and 4) the retreating monsoons from October to November. A majority of the country receives very little rainfall, with the exception of the Northern regions, where monsoons can bring upwards of 200 mm a month from July to September. Inter-annual rainfall varies significantly, often leading to successive patterns of floods and drought. El Niño is a significant influence on climate variability in Pakistan, with anomalies in both, temperature and flood frequency and impact correlated with the El Niño cycle.
PAKISTAN TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN PAKISTAN
HIKING & CYCLING IN PAKISTAN
BEACH OPTIONS IN PAKISTAN
SURFING IN PAKISTAN
KITESURF IN PAKISTAN
Kitesurfing spot details and weather
HEALTH RISKS IN PAKISTAN
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
PAKISTAN TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to Pakistan can vary greatly depending on your itinerary, mode of transportation, and the level of comfort you desire. Some estimates for budget-friendly travel in Pakistan are:
- Accommodation: $5-$20 per night for a budget hotel or guesthouse.
- Food: $2-$5 per meal at local restaurants.
- Transportation: $1-$5 per hour for a local bus or train, or $30-$50 per day for a private car and driver.
However, it's worth noting that for more luxurious travel, prices for accommodation and transportation may be significantly higher.
Other costs to consider include:
- Visa fee: Typically, a visa for Pakistan costs around $50-$100, depending on your country of origin and the type of visa you require.
- Flights: Prices vary depending on your departure location and the time of year you travel. Typically, a round-trip ticket from the United States to Pakistan can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,500.
- Insurance: It's recommended to have travel insurance when visiting Pakistan, costs can vary depending on your travel itinerary and the length of your stay.
It's also worth noting that some activities such as trekking and climbing in the Northern Areas will require additional permits and guide fees.
In summary, it is possible to travel in Pakistan on a budget, but it's also possible to spend a lot more depending on your preferences. It's recommended to do research and plan ahead to get the best value for your money.
Here are some sample costs for various expenses you may incur when visiting Pakistan:
- Accommodation: $10 per night for a budget hotel or guesthouse in a city like Lahore or Islamabad. $20-30 per night for a mid-range hotel.
- Food: $3-5 for a meal at a local restaurant. $10-15 for a meal at a mid-range restaurant.
- Transportation: $1-2 for a local bus or train ride within a city. $40-50 for a full-day private car and driver.
- Entrance fees: $5-10 for entry to major tourist attractions such as the Lahore Fort or the Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore.
- Excursions: $50-100 for a full-day guided tour to places like Taxila, Hunza or Swat.
- Visa fee: $50-100, depending on your country of origin and the type of visa you require.
- Flights: $800-1,200 for a round-trip ticket from the United States to Pakistan.
- Travel insurance: $50-100 for a basic travel insurance policy for a one-week stay in Pakistan.
It's important to note that these costs are approximate and can vary depending on the time of year, location, and exchange rate. Also, these are basic prices, you may end up paying more if you're looking for luxury or more comfort.
PAKISTAN TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some travel tips for Pakistan that can help make your trip more enjoyable:
- Dress modestly: Pakistan is a conservative country, and it's important to dress modestly out of respect for local customs. Women should cover their heads and avoid wearing revealing clothing. Men should also avoid wearing shorts and tank tops.
- Learn a few basic phrases in Urdu: Knowing a few basic phrases in Urdu, such as "hello", "thank you" and "goodbye", can go a long way in helping you communicate with locals.
- Be prepared for power outages: Power outages are common in Pakistan, so it's a good idea to bring a flashlight or portable charger.
- Be aware of the security situation: Pakistan has experienced some security issues in the past, so it's important to stay informed about the current situation before you travel. Avoid traveling to areas that are known to be dangerous, and follow the advice of local authorities.
- Be respectful of local customs: Pakistan is a culturally rich country, and it's important to be respectful of local customs and traditions. This includes things like removing your shoes before entering a mosque or temple, and avoiding public displays of affection.
- Haggle for goods and services: Haggling is a common practice in Pakistan and is expected in markets and shops. Don't be afraid to negotiate for goods and services, but be respectful and friendly.
- Bring a photocopy of your passport: Keep a photocopy of your passport with you at all times in case of loss or theft.
- Be aware of the heat and bring sunscreen: In Pakistan, temperatures can reach over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) during summer. It's important to stay hydrated, wear appropriate clothing and use sunscreen.
- Be prepared for the altitude: If you're planning to visit the northern mountain regions of Pakistan, be prepared for the altitude. Make sure to acclimatize properly and take precautions to avoid altitude sickness.
- Be open-minded and enjoy the experience: Pakistan is a fascinating country with a rich culture, beautiful landscapes and friendly people. Be open-minded, try new things and enjoy the experience!
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF PAKISTAN
Pakistan is a large and diverse country, with a variety of different regions to explore. Here are some of the main regions of Pakistan and the highlights of each region:
- The Northern Areas: This region includes the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges and is home to some of the world's highest peaks, including K2, the second highest mountain in the world. The Northern Areas also offer excellent trekking and climbing opportunities, as well as beautiful valleys such as Hunza and Skardu.
- Punjab: The most populous province of Pakistan, Punjab is home to the country's cultural capital, Lahore, known for its rich history, stunning Mughal architecture, and delicious food. It also have historical sites such as the Minar-e-Pakistan and the Lahore Fort.
- Sindh: This region is known for its rich history, particularly the Indus Valley Civilization, which was one of the world's earliest urban civilizations. Highlights in Sindh include the ancient ruins of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, as well as the colorful city of Karachi.
- Balochistan: This is Pakistan's largest province and is known for its rugged terrain and beautiful landscapes. Highlights include the coastal town of Gwadar, the Makran Coastal Highway and the Hingol National Park.
- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: This region is known for its stunning landscapes, including the Hindu Kush mountain range and the Swat Valley. It's also home to the ancient city of Taxila, which was an important center of Buddhist learning.
- Azad Jammu and Kashmir: This region is located in the north of Pakistan and it's known for its beautiful valleys such as Neelum, Jhelum, and Leepa, as well as for its natural beauty, including the Kaghan Valley and the Ratti Gali Lake.
- Gilgit Baltistan: This region is located in the northernmost part of Pakistan and it's known for its mountain landscapes, glaciers, and trekking opportunities. The region is home to many famous peaks, including Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world.
These are just a few of the highlights of the main regions in Pakistan, each region has its own unique culture, history and natural beauty. There are many other places to visit and explore in Pakistan, each with its own special charm.
Pakistan is a country with a rich cultural heritage, beautiful landscapes and many interesting things to see and do. Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Pakistan:
- Visit Lahore: Lahore is the cultural capital of Pakistan and is known for its rich history, stunning Mughal architecture, and delicious food. Highlights include the Minar-e-Pakistan, the Lahore Fort, and the Badshahi Mosque.
- Explore the Northern Areas: The Northern Areas of Pakistan offer some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world, including the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges. Visitors can go trekking, climbing, and explore beautiful valleys such as Hunza and Skardu.
- Visit the ancient Indus Valley Civilization sites: Sindh is home to the ancient ruins of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, which were part of the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the world's earliest urban civilizations.
- Explore the Makran Coastal Highway: The Makran Coastal Highway is a beautiful road that runs along the coast of Balochistan and offers stunning views of the Arabian Sea.
- Visit Taxila: Taxila is an ancient city located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, which was an important center of Buddhist learning. Visitors can explore the ruins of the city and learn about its rich history.
- Explore the valleys of Azad Jammu and Kashmir: This region is known for its beautiful valleys such as Neelum, Jhelum, and Leepa, as well as for its natural beauty, including the Kaghan Valley and the Ratti Gali Lake.
- Visit the beautiful city of Karachi: Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and is known for its colorful bazaars, delicious street food, and beautiful beaches.
- Visit the Rama Valley: Rama valley is a beautiful valley located in Astore, Pakistan. It is a perfect place for those who love nature, peace and tranquility.
- Explore the culture and history: Pakistan is rich in culture and history, visitors can explore the traditional crafts and bazaars, and learn about the country's rich heritage by visiting museums and historical sites.
- Try delicious Pakistani food: Pakistani cuisine is known for its delicious flavors and spices. Visitors should try traditional dishes such as biryani, kebabs, and curries.
WHAT TO EAT IN PAKISTAN
Pakistani cuisine is known for its delicious flavors and spices. Here are some traditional dishes that you should try when visiting Pakistan:
- Biryani: A popular dish made with rice, meat (usually chicken, beef or lamb), and a variety of spices. It is often garnished with fried onions, tomatoes, and coriander.
- Kebabs: A variety of meat skewers, usually made with beef or mutton, and often served with naan bread and chutney.
- Curry: There are many different types of curry dishes in Pakistani cuisine, including chicken, beef, lamb, and fish curries. They are usually made with a variety of spices and served with rice.
- Tandoori Chicken: A dish made by marinating chicken in yogurt, spices, and lemon juice, and then cooking it in a clay oven called a tandoor.
- Chapli Kebab: A traditional kebab dish from the Pashtun regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, made with ground meat, spices and served with naan bread.
- Karahi: A type of curry dish that is cooked in a wok-like container called a karahi. It can be made with chicken, beef, lamb, or vegetables.
- Nihari: A traditional stew made with slow-cooked beef or mutton, which is often served for breakfast.
- Dosa: A popular street food which is a type of savory pancake made from fermented batter and served with chutney or sambar.
- Lassi: A popular yogurt-based drink, which can be sweet or savory and is often served as a refreshment.
- Kulfi: A popular Indian and Pakistani ice cream, it comes in various flavors such as mango, cardamom, pistachio, and rose.
It's worth noting that Pakistani cuisine has a lot of regional variation. So, depending on the area you're visiting, you might find different dishes and flavors. Also, due to the Muslim majority in Pakistan, most of the dishes are halal, but it's always good to ask if you're unsure.
LGBTQ IN PAKISTAN
WHERE TO STAY IN PAKISTAN
When visiting Pakistan for the first time, it's a good idea to stay in areas that are considered safe and have a good infrastructure for tourists. Some of the best places to stay in Pakistan include:
- Lahore: Lahore is the cultural capital of Pakistan and is a great place to start your journey. The city has a rich history and culture, and it's also known for its delicious food. There are many hotels, guesthouses and hostels that cater to all budgets in Lahore.
- Islamabad: The capital of Pakistan, Islamabad is a modern and well-planned city with a good infrastructure for tourists. It's considered one of the safest cities in Pakistan and there are many hotels, guesthouses and hostels that cater to all budgets.
- Karachi: Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and it's known for its colorful bazaars, delicious street food, and beautiful beaches. It's a good place to stay if you want to explore the city and the nearby beaches.
- Northern Areas: If you're interested in trekking and climbing, the northern areas of Pakistan are a great place to stay. Cities like Skardu, Gilgit, and Hunza are good bases for exploring the surrounding mountains and valleys.
- Gwadar: Gwadar is a small port city located in the southwestern part of Pakistan, it's known for its beautiful beaches and the nearby Gwadar port, it's a good place to stay if you're interested in exploring the coastal area of Balochistan.
It's worth noting that some areas of Pakistan are not considered safe for travelers and it's best to check the current security situation before making any plans. And also, always take the advice of local authorities and your tour operator when planning your trip and where to stay.
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