Pakistan Travel Guide
Nestled at the crossroads of Central Asia and the Middle East, Pakistan is a treasure trove of majestic landscapes, rich history, and profound cultural heritage. From the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the shimmering sands of its deserts, Pakistan offers an unforgettable journey for the soul.
As you dive deeper, beyond the headlines, you'll uncover a country teeming with warmth, artistry, and countless stories waiting to be told. Welcome to our guide to Pakistan, a land of raw beauty and immense diversity.
Capital city: Islamabad
Currency: Pakistani Rupee (PKR) – 1 USD = 296 PKR
Electricity: Power voltage is 230 Volts. Power sockets type C and D.
Languages: Urdu and English are the two national languages.
10 Handpicked Highlights of Pakistan
The Fairy Meadows & Nanga Parbat Base Camp
One of the most surreal places on Earth, the Fairy Meadows offers breathtaking views of the Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world. This verdant plateau serves as the gateway to the giant’s base camp.
Trekking here, amidst the majestic pine forests with the Himalayan titan looming large, is a transformative experience. The serene beauty and tranquility of the meadows make it a perfect escape from the urban hustle.
Nestled amidst the grandeur of the Himalayas and the Karakoram ranges, Hunza Valley is a gem that gleams with serene beauty and cultural richness. The valley, with its terraced fields, orchards, and historical sites like the Baltit Fort, offers a picturesque blend of nature and heritage.
As you traverse through its landscapes, you’ll encounter warm and hospitable locals, offering insights into their traditions and way of life.
Deosai National Park
Situated in the Skardu region, Deosai National Park, often referred to as the ‘Land of Giants’, is a vast plateau adorned with wildflowers and unique wildlife. Spanning over 3,000 square kilometers, it stands as one of the highest plateaus in the world.
Its sweeping plains, interspersed with crystal-clear lakes, offer habitat to species like the Snow Leopard and the Himalayan Brown Bear.
A testament to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, Mohenjo-Daro stands as one of the world’s earliest urban centers. This archaeological site, dating back to 2500 BCE, offers a fascinating glimpse into the advanced urban planning and architectural prowess of a civilization that thrived millennia ago. Walking through its ruins, you’ll feel a profound connection with the past, evoking a sense of wonder and admiration.
Karimabad, the heart of Hunza, is a confluence of nature, culture, and history. With a backdrop of snow-clad mountains, the town is home to landmarks such as the centuries-old Baltit and Altit forts. These architectural wonders, coupled with the town’s vibrant local culture and handicrafts, make Karimabad an essential stop in any Pakistani exploration.
The Trango Towers
In the Baltoro Glacier region, the Trango Towers rise majestically, challenging mountaineers and rock climbers with their sheer granite faces. These iconic spires, with some verticals considered the tallest in the world, offer unparalleled climbing experiences. Even for non-climbers, the sight of these colossal towers, standing in solemn grandeur, is a visual treat.
Lahore’s Historical Monuments
The city of Lahore pulsates with life, art, and history. From the iconic Badshahi Mosque, a masterpiece of Mughal architecture, to the Lahore Fort with its blend of various architectural styles, the city is a historian’s dream. Wander through the bustling streets, sample local delicacies, and immerse yourself in the cultural and artistic expressions at every turn.
Shandur Top and Polo Ground
Regarded as the ‘Roof of the World’, the Shandur Top houses a polo ground at over 3,700 meters. Every year, traditional polo matches, free from any written rules, are held here, attracting both locals and tourists alike. This event, set against a backdrop of panoramic mountain vistas, encapsulates the spirit and traditions of the region.
Dubbed as the ‘Switzerland of Pakistan’, the Swat Valley is an epitome of natural splendor. With its lush green valleys, rivers, and cultural relics like the Udegram Buddhist ruins, Swat offers a rich tapestry of experiences. The Malam Jabba region within the valley also serves as a popular skiing destination during the winter.
As one of the highest paved international border crossings globally, the Khunjerab Pass connects Pakistan with China. Situated on the historic Silk Route, this pass offers mesmerizing views of the snow-laden peaks and is also home to the Khunjerab National Park, a sanctuary for endangered species like the Marco Polo sheep and Snow Leopards.
Pakistan's Geography & Landscapes
Pakistan, a South Asian country, boasts a landscape that’s diverse, stunning, and replete with natural beauty. Its geographical setting is unique, straddling both the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, making it home to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring terrains. Here’s a breakdown of its geographical regions:
Northern Mountains: This region includes some of the world’s highest peaks like K2 and Nanga Parbat, located within the Himalayas, Hindu Kush, and the Karakoram ranges. The valleys such as Hunza and Swat offer breathtaking views and are lush and verdant.
Pothohar Plateau: Nestled between the northern mountains and the Indus River, it’s a mix of hills and plains, with the historical sites of Taxila and the Salt Range.
Indus River Plain: The heartland of Pakistan, this region is a fertile plain stretching from the north down to the Arabian Sea. It’s home to major cities like Lahore, Karachi, and Multan.
Balochistan Plateau: Occupying a large part of southwestern Pakistan, it’s an arid region known for its unique landforms, including the Makran coastal strip.
Sindh & Punjab Plains: These are fertile plains fed by the Indus River and its tributaries, making them the hub of Pakistan’s agricultural activities.
Thar Desert: Located in southeastern Pakistan, the Thar Desert is characterized by its sand dunes, sparse vegetation, and unique wildlife.
Coastal Areas: The southern coastline along the Arabian Sea, with its mangroves and mudflats, especially in the Indus Delta region.
Best Time To Go To Pakistan
Pakistan experiences a mix of climates due to its varied topography, from the cold alpine climates of the north to the arid desert conditions in the south.
Spring (March to May): This is arguably the best season to visit most parts of Pakistan. The weather is mild and pleasant, flowers are in bloom, especially in the northern valleys, making it perfect for trekkers and tourists alike.
Summer (June to August): Northern areas remain cool and are ideal for trekking, especially the higher altitudes. However, the southern parts, including cities like Karachi, can get quite hot.
Monsoon (July to September): Mainly affects the Punjab and Sindh regions, bringing in occasional heavy rains. It’s best to check the weather forecast if you’re planning to visit during this time.
Autumn (October to November): A beautiful time when the leaves change hues, especially in areas like Hunza. The weather starts getting cooler, paving the way for the winter.
Winter (December to February): The northern areas receive snowfall, making them a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. The south, on the other hand, remains mild and cooler.
For nature enthusiasts and trekkers, spring and autumn in the northern regions are ideal. However, if you’re looking to explore cities and the cultural heritage, the cooler months of winter in the southern regions are preferable.
Traveling in Pakistan
Pakistan is a country rich in culture, history, and stunning landscapes. However, it poses certain risks, and it’s essential to be informed and cautious. Here’s how to stay safe:
- Stay Updated on Travel Advisories: Always check with your country’s travel advisory before planning your trip. Certain areas, especially near the borders, might be deemed unsafe for travel.
- Respect Local Customs: Pakistan is predominantly Muslim. Dress modestly, especially in rural areas and religious places. Avoid public displays of affection.
- Avoid Large Gatherings: Stay clear of political rallies, large public gatherings, or any sudden protests as they can escalate quickly.
- Travel in Groups: Especially if you’re exploring remote areas or going trekking, it’s safer to be in a group or with a local guide.
- Keep Valuables Discreet: Flashy displays of wealth can make you a target. Use a money belt or hidden pouch.
- Beware of Petty Crimes: Like in many countries, be cautious of pickpockets in crowded places.
- Stay Hydrated but Drink Wisely: Stick to bottled water, and always ensure the seal is intact.
- Food Safety: Street food is tempting but can be a source of foodborne illnesses. Opt for well-cooked meals.
- Be Wary of Night Travel: It’s best to avoid traveling at night, especially outside major cities.
- Stay Connected: Always inform someone about your whereabouts and plans. Having a local SIM card can be handy for emergencies.
Getting to & Around Pakistan
Pakistan is well-connected internationally and domestically.
Airports: Major international airports include Islamabad International Airport (ISB), Jinnah International Airport in Karachi (KHI), and Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore (LHE). Popular airlines include Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Airblue, and Serene Air.
Trains: The Pakistan Railways operates train services connecting major cities. The journey offers scenic views, especially routes like the one between Lahore and Karachi.
Buses & Coaches: For inter-city travel, Daewoo Express and Faisal Movers are reputable bus services. Locally, rickshaws and taxis are prevalent, but always negotiate the fare beforehand.
Car Rentals: If you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent a car. Ensure you have an international driver’s license, but be prepared for chaotic traffic.
Pakistan offers a range of accommodations to suit various budgets. In major cities, you’ll find luxury hotels like the Pearl Continental and Serena Hotels, offering top-notch amenities. For mid-range options, guest houses and smaller hotels provide decent comfort at reasonable prices.
Budget travelers can opt for hostels or lodges, especially in trekking hubs like Hunza or Skardu. In remote areas, community guesthouses provide an authentic experience, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in local culture. Always check reviews before booking and consider staying at places recommended by fellow travelers or trusted sources.