Pakistan: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

Ganish VillageLahore FortLahoreMadyan SwatMazar-e QuaidPakistan MonumentPetroglyphsRainbow Rickshaws

Lahore            Islamabad             Karachi

Pakistan is a large country in South Asia. Although it has many natural and historical sights, it has been suffering from political instability which has been keeping the country off the radar from travellers. Pakistan is located along the Arabian Sea and it is surrounded by Afghanistan to the west and northwest, Iran to the southwest, India to the east and Chine to the northeast. It is strategically located where the ancient routes of Khyber and Bolan passing from. The history of Pakistan traces back to the beginnings of human life in South Asia and it is home to the Indus Valley civilization which is among the oldest civilizations in the world. Currenyly Pakistan is facing a conflict with India about the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Other issues that Pakistan is currently facing are corruption and a negative view of democracy. During 1970s the tourism industry in Pakistan was alive and there were many foreign tourists due to the Hippie Trail. The number of tourists came down because of the political instability in the country and security concerns. Many countries declared Pakistan as unsafe and dangerous to visit. In many places, foreign visitors are required to travel with an armed escort. On the other hand, it hosts many attractions such as the ruin of civilizations, Himalayan hill stations, several mountain peaks and many more. The weather in Pakistan is usually hot in the northwest and arctic in the north. There is flooding after heavy rains which is mostly in July and August. The most notable cities are Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Questta, Muzaffarabad, Peshawar, and Sialkot.

Regions

Azad-Kashmir

Bagh ValleyBanjosa Lake, RawalakotDheer KotHalmet VillageMuzaffarabadSharda Fort, Neelum ValleyTao-ButtToli Pir

It is the Pakistani controlled part of the Kashmir region. It is rich in natural beauty. The region is referred as “Heaven on Earth” because of its scenic beauty. There are snow-covered peaks, forests, streams, valleys, green plateaus. The region is also suitable for adventure sports such as climbing, trekking, mountaineering, summer camping, hiking and paragliding. The rivers are suitable for while water sports such as rafting and canoeing. The main cities of this region are Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Dadyal, Rawalakot, Islamgarh, Bhimber, Kotli, Bagh, Dheerkot, Sudhnati and Neelum. The main sights are Neelum Valley, Jhelum Valley, Palandri, Billan Nar and Niyarain Sharif.

Balochistan

Askari ParkHanna LakeJuniper ForestsMehrgarhPir GhaibPir GhaibShehr-e Logan of BelaZiarat

It is the largest and most remote province. Traveling can be difficult due to lack of infrastructure. It is declared as unsafe because of the ongoing conflict between Baloch nationalist groups and the government. The main cities in this region are Quetta, Gwadar, Pishin, Taftan, Turbat, Lasbela, Ziarat and Khuzdar. The main sights are Gadani beaches, Makran Coastal Highway, Juniper Forests, Coal Mines and Caves, Chaman Railway Tunnel, Wetland of Banh Khushdil Khan, Hanna Lake, Kharkhassa, The Archaeological museum, The Askari Park, Urak Valley, Pishin Valley, Ziarat, Pir Ghaib, Khojak Pass, Bolan Pass, Hernai Pass, Mehergarh which the newest discovery of ancient civilization, Hingol National Park and Hazarganki Chiltan National Park.

Federally Administrated Tribal Areas 

This are is mostly off limits to foreigners and it is advised by most governments including Pakistan’s. Pakistan authorities have little control over these areas. Kidnapping can be a risk in many parts of the region. The main cities are Landi Kotal and Darra Adam Khel. Khyber Pass is the main sight.

Gilgit-Baltistan

Biafo GlacierBoret LakeDeosai National ParkFairy MeadowsGilgit BaltistanKhaplu PalaceSkarduSkardu

It is the northernmost political entitiy within Pakistan. The region is considered to be one of the safest regions in Pakistan but still, some parts are off limits to tourists. It is home to the some of the world’s talles mountains that can easily complete with Nepal in terms of trekking. The main focus of attention for many travellers is the world’s highest mountain ranges which are Karakoram, the Himalaya and the Hindu Kush. There are five peaks over 8,000 metres and many peaks over 7,000 metres. The region is divided into two divisions which as the Baltistan Division and the Gilgit Divistion which together comprise nine districts. The main cities are Gilgit, Skardu, Kaplu, Hunza and Chilas. Gilgit which is the current administrative city used to be an important city on Silk Road, through which Buddhism was spread from India to the rest of Asia. The main sights are Fairy Meadows, K2 (Mount Godwin Austen), Shigar Fort, Rock carvings, Punial Sherqilla, Singal, Rama, Himalayas, Karakoram, Hindukush, Deosai National Park, Khunjerab National Park and Hunza Valley. Three of the world’s seven longest glaciers outside the polar regions are located here which are the Biago Glacier, the Baltoro Glacier and the Batura Glacier. This region is ideal for many activities such as mountaineering, trekking, hiking, fishing, biking, eco tours, skiing, polo and many more.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Bala Hisar FortChitralChitralChowk YadgarGhanta GharHanguTakht-i BahiTakht-i Bahi

It used to be known as the North-West Fronties Province. Before going here, it is recommended to check for travel advisories from  the belonging government as these regions are usually unstable due to the conflict between Taliban and Pakistani forces. The main cities are Peshawar, Abbottabad, Chitral, Hangu, Haripur, Havelian, Kaghan, Kohat, Naran and Swat. The main sights are Bala Hisar Fort, Burj Har, Singh – Sikh Fort, Panch Tirath, Sikh Temple at Jogan Shah, Gor Khuttree, Pakhtu Academy, Shah Ji Ki Dheri, Chowk Yadgar, Cunningham Clock Tower – Ghanta Ghar, the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Buddhist Ruains of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol, and Victoria Memorial Hall.

Punjab

Badshahi MosqueHarappaIslamabadJahangir's TombKhewra Salt MinesLahore MuseumPakistan Monument, IslamabadShalimar Gardens

It is home to over half the population of Pakistan. It is the second largest province in area after Balochistan. It is also the most developed and prosperous province. The main cities are Islamabad, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Sialkot and Wah Cantt. The main sights are the Shalimar Gardens, the Badshahi Mosque, the ruins of the ancient city of Harappa, the Anarkali Market, Jahangir’s Tomb, Lahore Museum, the ancient city of Taxila, Guru Nanak and the Khewra Salt Mines.

Sindh

Chaukhandi TombsKheenjar LakeKirthar National ParkMohenjo daroNagarparkarRanikot FortShah Jahan MosqueShah Jahan Mosque

It is the second most populated administrative unit of Pakistan after Punjab. The population is around 45 million people. It is known as Bab-ul Islam which means the gateway of Islam. It has its roots in one of the world’s oldest civilizations which is the Indus Valley Civilization. The main cities in Sindh are Karachi, Hala, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, Larkana, Thatta and Nasarpur. The main sights are Mohenjo-daro, Kirthar National Park, Keenjhar Lake, Sehwan, Nagarparkar, Shah Jahan Mosque, the Ancient city of Bhambore, Chaukhandi Tombs, Ranikot Fort, Shrine of Shahbaz Qalander and many more.

Getting Around

Recently, getting Around in Pakistan has become much more easier due to the completion of some motorways and increse in private airlines. There are three online maps for Pakistan which are Open Street Map, Naqsha and Google Maps. The roads in cities are well covered but many minor roads are missing in rural areas. The first transportation option is by plane that Pakistan International Airlines serves numerous domestic destinations and it is the only airline that serves the three airports in the north which are Chitral, Gilgit and Skardu. There are usually two flights from Islamabad daily but sometimes they are cancelled because of bad weather. Other domestic lines are Shaheen Air International and Airblue. The second transportation option is by train and Pakistan Railway provides passenger rail service. The writings in the station are usually not in Enligsh but the travel agents can explain everything. There are different classes according to different types of budgets. Foreign tourists and students with an ISIC card can get 25 per vent and 50 per cent discounts. The next option is by bus which covers a large portion of travel between cities in Pakistan. It is often the cheapest and the most convenient alternative. The regular bus service is run by the Daewoo Sammi company between several cities, the buses are air conditioned and seats are booked one day ahead. The last option is by autorickshaw which are used mostly for local transportaiton within cities. They are cheap and flexible. It is a small vehicle powered by engine. They are blue and yellow. Other colors tend to be privately owned. Negotiating the fare before entering the rickshaw is recommended. Autorickshaws are banned in the capital, Islamabad.