15 Jun Visit Pakistan
by Mohammad Ibrahim Zeeshan from Pakistan
Pakistan is located in South Asia, a rising destination for a number of tourists and adventure seekers. However, I may point out that as of now, most of the tourist-traffic is directed towards India and some to Nepal. Therefore, I hope I’m able to present to you the true potential of Pakistan as a hub for tourists looking for something different and new.
A great problem for tourism in Pakistan is that a true image of Pakistan is not portrayed to the consumers through the media. Instead, it is mostly negative and does not give you a full picture of what Pakistan really is. Therefore, it is important that people start getting to know the positive sides of Pakistan and how beautiful a country it is with warm, hospitable people.
The Northern Areas
I really think a great destination for many would be the north of Pakistan. Here you will find God’s nature largely raw, untouched and free from the noise or claustrophobic conditions of urban areas. There’s a host of places to explore from the world’s highest highway (The Karakoram Highway), to trekking in the midst of 7000m plus altitude snow-capped peaks and seeing fast-flowing, crystal blue rivers such as the Indus roaring down from the mountains. If you are the adventurous type, you could drive on the Karakoram Highway all the way from the capital city, Islamabad to the Khunjerab Pass which forms a border between China and Pakistan. If you like to spend some time in one place and observe nature and relax, you need not worry because you’ll find many small-scale hotels providing a high-degree of hospitality in places such as Skardu, Hunza, Swat and Neelum Valley.
You should try to be a part of the culture as much as you can. Trying out wearing ‘shalwar kameez’ (The traditional Pakistani dress) or indulging in the local food scene might be a superb idea. In fact, Pakistan has a rich cuisine full of colorful foods and sweets. It’ll probably be a different experience for you, with the use of spices in cooking. However, soon you’ll adapt to the type of food and start enjoying and relishing it. Trust me, food is going to be one of the highlights and a great complement to all the sightseeing. The most popular foods are ‘Biryani’, ‘Karhai’ along with ‘Chapati’ (wheat bread) which makes up the staple diet of most people here. Indulging in the culture will enhance your experience and allow you to start knowing a lot of interesting things you may not have known while exposing you to a different way of life.
Architecture and History
This is about the places to explore for those interested in architecture and history. The ruins of one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Mohenjodaro, still exist and can be visited by tourists. It is very interesting to walk through the old streets and see how homes were constructed back then and to see the artifacts dug up by archeaologists. In addition, the port city of Karachi has numerous structures from the British Colonial Era. Amongst the popular ones are Frere Hall, Empress Market and various other buildings in the locality of Saddar (also from the colonial era). These give a very nice contrast to the increasingly modernized Karachi. To explore these places, you could make use of fun, traditional bus rides which tour you around the city. A prominent example is of the ‘Super Savari Express’ which takes you on a sightseeing tour of the city’s best destinations. Moreover, there is a lot for you to see in the city of Lahore. It is a very old city, with a long and glorious past which is why it contains various mosques, tombs and monuments that can be visited. Lastly, you could also pay a visit to the Makli Graveyard which is termed ‘The largest Necropolis in the World’. This is only an hour’s drive from Karachi and consists of a number of old tombs and ruins which depict the importance given to the dead.
It might surprise you to see mosques as a separate category but I’ll tell you why. Being a Muslim country with a long history which has included the rule of kingdoms such as the famous ‘Mughals’, Pakistan consists of a large number of mosques all around the country. In Lahore, the most famous mosques are the old Wazir Khan and Badshahi Mosques built with intricate tile work with writings in various languages including Persian. For the construction of these mosques, craftsman and raw material was transported across vast distance even back then when it was extremely difficult. Therefore, the mosques of Pakistan will definetely leave you awe-struck with their high-levels of construction work.
One thing that can be insured to you is the hospitality you will get from locals. Time and time again, foreign tourists who visit the country definetely write about the love and affection they receive from the people. Therefore, I guess even if you do have a problem in Pakistan, there’d be someone or the other who’d be more than willing to help you. Therefore, you need not be worried about the people not treating you well.
Hotels are present in most parts of the country, providing a good level of accomadation at reasonable costs. However, large hotels are not present in areas such as the North of Pakistan and in other remote areas although it shouldn’t be a big problem given the current number of tourists.
For Adventure tourists
I believe that Pakistan is in particular a dreamland for those of you who are thrill-seekers. For mountaineers there are five 8000m plus peaks including K2, the highest in the world. In addition, there are opportunities for exploring deserts such as the Thar Desert which are virtually untouched and unrefined examples of mother nature. Lastly, you could visit the Hingol National Park where you’d have the chance to experience unique landforms and starry nights (if you intend to camp) along with active mud volcanoes. You’d also have pristine beaches all to yourself where you could try watersports on your own if you do have the equipment required.