Travel Tips: Tips and Must See Places to See When You're in Pakistan
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“You have got to be kidding me! Pakistan? No way!” This is more or less the response you would probably get when you share with your friends and family that you are traveling to Pakistan. Though the Western media hasn’t painted Pakistan in such a pretty light, it is far from the reality.
In fact, once you’ve experienced Pakistan, you’ll find that it is one of the most enjoyable destinations to hang your hat in. Blessed with rich culture, incredible food, friendly people, architectural splendor, and spectacular sceneries, Pakistan is definitely worth a visit.
With that, if you’re planning a holiday in Pakistan in the near future, I’m here to share some tips that will help to make the most of your trip:
You may have heard the Spanish proverb “On a long journey, even a straw weighs heavy.” Consider applying it. Pack the essentials when you are traveling to Pakistan. That includes your clothes, shoes, medications, earphones, and a camera.
However, if you are planning to stay longer than a week, you may have excess baggage (i.e. more than allowed by your airline), you can also opt to send your in advance to save some cash. For example, if you’re coming from the UK, opt for a well-reputed firm that handles cargo from the UK to Pakistan. In any case, it’s always good to only pack what you most likely need. For other items that you can easily get during your travels (toiletries, etc.), it may be best to leave them at home.
Keep Calm and Enjoy the Moment
It’s one thing to do your research before your trip but another to obsessively look for any bad news or things to keep an eye out before your trip. It will certainly ruin your mood and keep you on the edge all throughout your holiday. Instead, focus on the good while staying safe. As long as you’ve taken enough precautions (e.g: Be sure to not wear any flashy jewelry or watches), just enjoy the moment and be open to the adventure.
Keep smiling and exude confidence while you are walking about on the streets. Pakistanis are generally friendly and hospitable people. In fact, most will go out of their way to make travelers feel like home. Don’t be wary if you noticed yourself being stared at. In most destinations in Asia, locals tend to be curious and somewhat ‘mesmerized’ by foreigners and are usually harmless.
Keep in mind that Pakistan is a Muslim and conservative country. And one of the most important rules of traveling is to respect the culture and traditions of the destination you are traveling to. So, while in Pakistan, dressing modestly is really a good idea. It is recommended to dress yourself up according to the regions and customs. For larger cities like Lahore and Islamabad, dress codes are a bit more lenient, but isn’t it better to immerse yourself in the local culture?
Do note that should you plan to visit mosques, shrines and other holy places, you would need to take off your shoes before you enter the building. If you’re a female, make sure to put on a headscarf or dupatta that also covers your chest.
Image credit: Researchsnipers.com
Getting into and around Pakistan is quite easy. With their airlines, trains, public buses, taxis, and auto rickshaws, it is a country with a diverse transportation system. I would recommend using the public transportation to move around the country as it’s super easy and inexpensive.
The train is the first choice if you are looking to stay on budget and looking for convenience. That said, if you are planning to explore the Nothern and hilly areas of Pakistan, the only available transportation is four-wheeler jeep. Generally though, traveling around Pakistan is quite easy and cheap.
Traveling to Pakistan means you are about to dive into a spice-packed culinary world. Pakistani cuisine is pretty similar to Indian food so if you’re a fan of Indian food, you’re pretty much in food heaven.
Don’t forget to get some necessary shots and bring some medication (for stomach aches, etc.) before your trip. Speak to your doctor about your upcoming holiday in Pakistan and ask for recommended medications should there be a need.
When in Pakistan, avoid drinking tap water. Also, stay away from ready to serve foods that are not properly covered (prone to flies). Always opt for freshly cooked food and carry bottled water to keep yourself hydrated as you explore. Having said that, feel free to have a variety of Pakistani dishes while you’re there. You’re bound to be hooked!
Keep Enough Cash with You
It is highly recommended to keep enough cash (Pakistani Rupees) on you at all times. Credit cards are not widely used in Pakistan. Most stores in malls and restaurants in big cities do accept credit cards though.
Keep your cash in different pockets so that if for any reason money is taken out of one pocket (by stealth pickpocketers), you’ll still have enough to make your way back to the hotel. It’s advisable to be careful when giving money to beggars in public places as you would be an easy mark for pickpockets and local hooligans.
Make Multiple Photocopies of Your Travel Documents
Before you depart for your flight to Pakistan, be sure to already have several photocopies of all of your valuable documents like passports, visas, IDs, etc. Make sure to keep them with you instead of the original documents. As you go out and about, you will likely be asked for them by the Police at several check posts, especially if you travel to Northern areas.
By having copies with you, you’ll be able to store your original documents safely back at your hotel or accommodation (definitely recommended to keep them in a safe box) and won’t risk losing them.
The point of travels is so that you can collect memories and share them with your loved ones back home. Create a record of the special moments you are spending out there by taking a camera with you during as you go out and about. Your memories are something you can look back on in many years to come.
Aside from your amazing pictures, I would also recommend bringing back some souvenirs for your family and friends from this beautiful country. There are plenty of things you can take back home from Pakistan – the most popular being dry fruits, handicrafts, sweets, pottery crafts and so on.
Top 5 Must-see Places in (Northern) Pakistan:
Though there are much to discover and experience across Pakistan. In my own experience, I found the Nothern Pakistan to be the most memorable and worth a visit. It may not be as convenient as traveling to other areas or to the big cities but if you’d like to see a side of Pakistan that most people never get to see, this is your chance! Below are my top 5 favorite places:
Shangrila Resort Skardu
The Shangrila Resort Skardu is one of the most amazing places of Gilgit Baltistan. Also named as “Heaven on Earth”, the Shangrila resort is cuddled up amongst some of the highest peaks of the planet. This resort is hemmed in flower-filled gardens and fruit laden orchards. This buddy-buddy resort, due to its eye-catching location, receives huge admiration from all the travelers. Unequivocally, Shangrila resort makes you leave a piece of your heart right there when you leave.
Another mesmerizing feature of this beautiful resort is Kachura Lake and a unique restaurant built on the fuselage of an aircraft that had crashed nearby.
Imagine standing at the height of 4000 meters above sea level... Whoa. Yes, we are talking about the second highest tourist spot in the world, Deosai plains. The word Deosai is the union of two words ‘Deo’ (giant) and ‘Sai’ (shadow). For centuries, it is believed that this place is haunted by giants, thus its nickname ‘The Land of the Giants’.
Here, there’s also a lake that is a must visit called the Sheosir Lake. The best time to visit Deosai is between June and August.
Known as ‘The Magic Carpet of Pakistan) this is another great place to experience. With thriving wildlife, picturesque scenery and aesthetic mountain views, Naltar valley has been in limelight as a travel destination for quite a while.
The beautiful Naltar Lake is a high mountain pristine pure water lake located at a height of 3.228m (10,590ft) above the sea level. Situated in the heart of Naltar Valley in the Gilgit District of Gilgit–Baltistan territory of Pakistan, Naltar Lake is a second to none place for the nature lovers. Though you can visit it at any time, during the winter season, this lake looks even more breathtaking!
Upper Kachura Lake
One of the most visited sites of Pakistan, both local tourists and travelers from all around the planet have been hypnotized by the captivating beauty of this lake. It is surrounded by the snow-capped mountains majestically in the winter. In the summer, the vegetation that wraps the slopes gives it a whole new yet equally mesmerizing look that is worth capturing with your own eyes.
Siri Paye is lush green heaven covered surrounded by hypnotizing landscapes. The green mountain with snow-capped tops makes a gorgeous backdrop. Once you see it for yourself, you’ll know exactly why tourists would go out of their way to visit this absolutely stunning place.
Interested in experiencing Pakistan and many other beautiful destinations that the world has to offer along with their delicious cuisines? Why not book yourself a culinary holiday?