Five Things First Time Travellers To Pakistan Should Know
- Don't visit the monuments on Sundays. The important landmarks and shrines are packed with locals on Sunday afternoons. With high entrance fees for foreigners, wait until the next day to have the entire place to yourself.
- Travel overland between Islamabad and the Northern Areas. Flights are often cancelled due to bad weather, and you could find yourself stranded in the city for days or weeks.
- The official language of Pakistan is Urdu. But each region has several of their own local languages. English is spoken, but only by people in the big cities who have had the chance to study it at school.
- Don't drink the tap water. Stick to bottled water or use a water purifier. If you don't, you run a high risk of getting sick.
- You might get your own personal guard. Due to security reasons in certain areas, you'll have an armed escort. Sometimes you are also expected to pay for their meals.
Best Time To Visit Pakistan
The best time to visit Pakistan is between May and October. The weather is warm, and there is little chance of rain ruining any outdoor activities. If the summer crowds in the cities are getting to you, head to the north and escape to the breathtaking mountain hiking trails.
Keep in mind that Ramadan tends to fall between the months of June and July. If your trip falls during this holy month, you won't be able to eat or drink in public and transport options will be limited.
The summer months are also considered to be Pakistan's high season. While it's not as busy as other Asian countries, expect prices to higher than usual.
November to April can also be an excellent time to visit if you go the right places. Thanks to the colder temperatures, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan will be more bearable to visit. Islamabad and Lahore are also a lot of fun with lively parties happening throughout the winter months. However, Pakistan's mountainous regions are best avoided due to the high snowfall. If you don't mind bundling up, you'll find lower hotel rates during this tourism lull.
Karachi is the fifth largest city in the world. It's called the city of light and is famed for its architecture, beaches and delicious traditional cuisine.
One place not to miss in Karachi is the Mohatta Palace. The building is an excellent example of 19th and 20th architectural styles. It beautifully blends influences from the European, Victorian, Mughal and Gothic periods into one of Pakistan's most iconic buildings.
Other top attractions include the city's many art exhibitions and its bustling 18th-century bazaars.
Lahore is the second largest city in Pakistan and a firm favourite with backpackers. It's cheap, lively and close to many of Pakistan's most interesting sites.
Visit the Badshahi mosque, the seventh largest in the world that's home to holy relics from the prophet Mohammed. The Grand Jamia mosque is equally stunning, especially when it's lit up at night.
Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan. Founded in the 1960s, it's a unique blend of the country's ancient history and modern buildings.
If you want to learn more about Pakistan's culture, head to the Lok Virsa Museum or the Pakistan Monument. History lovers should also check out The Museum of Natural History which houses treasures from some of the earliest civilisations in the world.
Top Attractions in Pakistan
Faisal Mosque is one of the most unique Islamic buildings in the world. Faisal Mosque is the 4th largest mosque in the world and can hold 300,000 worshipers.
Its design is contemporary with sleek lines and lacks the iconic dome shape. Missing traditional design elements, the mosque was met with resistance by the Islamic community. Ten years after its construction, the criticism fell away, and it's now one of Islamabad's most captivating landmarks.
Even if you aren't religious, the design of the building is intriguing and makes it one of Pakistan's top attractions.
Wazir Khan Mosque
The Walled City of Lahore is full of cultural and historical significance. While its walls are no longer standing, it's still home to some of Pakistan's oldest buildings.
The most important one is the Wazir Khan Mosque. Constructed in 1634, it's considered one of the most beautiful mosques in Pakistan. It's known for its intricate and colourful mosaics that cover the interior and exterior of the building. The meticulous detail makes Wazir Khan both a piece of art as well as a site of worship.
The Lahore Fort was the stronghold of Old Lahore. Its history dates so far back that no one is sure when the building was first constructed.
Over the centuries, the citadel has been modified by almost all of the rulers who have had control over the city. This historical heritage is reflected in the different architectural styles of the mosques, palaces, and bathhouses found in Lahore.
It's created an incredible cultural infusion that is unique to Lahore.
For over 300 years, the Badshahi Mosque was the largest mosque in the world. It stretches across an area of 26,000 metres and can host up to 95,000 worshippers.
What makes the building stand out is its red sandstone walls. Each panel is sculptured with beautiful motifs that are embellished with marble inlays. Its four minarets and three domes are made from white marble and create a striking contrast against the red hues.
The mosque hasn't always been used as a place of worship. During the Sikh Civil War, it was used for its strategic position. After the war ended, the mosque returned to its original purpose and has been undergoing renovations ever since.
Tomb of Ali Mardan Khan
Built in the 1600s, the Tomb of Ali Mardan Khan is one of Pakistan's more off the beaten track destinations. Located at the end of a 1,000-foot long alleyway, the burial grounds were once surrounded by a beautiful garden.
Today, the garden is long gone, and the site is surrounded by railway yards. The tomb has also lost its colourful exterior, and only its decorative columns remain. Despite lacking its original grandeur, the Ali Mardan Khan's final resting place is nonetheless impressive and well worth a visit.
Major International Airports in Pakistan
- Jinnah International Airport
- Allama Iqbal International Airport
- Benazir Bhutto International Airport
- Quetta International Airport
- Multan International Airport