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10 Reasons to visit Pakistan on your next trip to Asia

by Victor Eekhof
Visit Pakistan

Pakistan has truly received a bad reputation in the media over the last few years. Bordering Afghanistan and Iran on the west and India on the west, you can imagine that the country’s appeal as a travel destination is doomed by association alone. As there has been some terrorist activity in the country, you might think that getting a visa is impossible or that all of the country’s sights have been reduced to rubble. Boy, are you in for a surprise! Pakistan has plenty to offer curious travelers like David and Josephine, who created this list of 10 reasons to visit Pakistan.

David Josephine Land Rover Defender Pakistan

David and Josephine with their Land Rover Defender nicknamed “Dox”.

David and Josephine’s story

Dutch travellers David and Josephine are first class daredevils. They set out to drive from Amsterdam to South East Asia with their second-hand Jeep Defender, following part of the Trans-Siberian Express route. Plans changed (as they do) and they ended up skipping China and instead crossing Europe to Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. You can read all about their adventure on their excellent blog.

All content and images are courtesy of David and Josephine; as a friend and follower of their trip I simply want to show how beautiful and surprising Pakistan can be.

David Josephine photo

Another shot of David, Josephine and “Dox”.

10 Reasons to visit Pakistan on your next trip to Asia

When people plan a trip to Asia, many of them would look at South East Asia, Japan, China, India. Central India is often overlooked, either because of the bad image countries like Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq have been given by the global media or because of simply lack of information about the region. The latter is especially true about countries such as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan or Kazachstan. Pakistan falls in the category of “bad reputation”, mostly because of its long-lastig war with India and its involvement in USA’s “war on terrorism”.

At time of writing however, the country is developing rapidly and the Pakistani army is in control of most of the areas where the Taliban used to reign. The army is doing everything in their power to protect foreign tourists, so the downside is that you won’t have as much freedom as you might expect. Some areas might be restricters for foreigners, wild-camping can be difficult and it’s hard to blend in with the locals. However, there are (much) more than 10 reasons to visit Pakistan so perhaps it could be an interesting addition on your next trip to Asia!

1. You can enjoy the genuine and generous hospitality of the Pakistanis

The Pakistani people are amazing. The hospitality is unparalleled. They love foreigners. We have visited many countries, but there is not one country in the world that is more welcoming than Pakistan, although it may share the first place with Iran. It is amazing to see how generous they treat their visitors.

Pakistan hospitality

Josephine and David got invited for tea many, many times by friendly Pakistani people.

2. You get a chance to experience Pakistan’s amazing nature and wildlife

If you want to see some of the world’s highest mountains, go to Pakistan. If you want to see crystal clear blue lakes, go to Pakistan. If you want to do treks with stunning views, go to Pakistan. If you want to see wildlife (for example snow-leopards), go to Pakistan.

Pakistan hunza nature green mountains

The unparralelled, raw nature of Pakistan. On first sight, I bet you wouldn’t think that this picture is taken in Pakistan!

Snow capped mountains pakistan hunza

The lack of tourism allows you to enjoy the snow-capped mountain areas of Hunza as if you were the last person on earth.

Hunza area valley Pakistan

A valley in the Hunza area of Pakistan

3. You will venture off the beaten track and find true adventure

Pakistani people love to travel, but it is hard for them to get a visa abroad. So they have to travel within their own country. Not a real punishment, as there are many things to see and do. But besides the local tourists, there are only very few foreigners. If you want to feel special, like us, go to Pakistan.

Pakistan off the beaten track

The feeling of truly being off the beaten path brings a sense of calm as well as a sense of real adventure.

4. You will see stunning, ancient Pakistani architecture

You will encounter beautiful architecture in Pakistan. We have seen incredible mosques, tombs and other historical buildings. You will find them in or around most of the bigger cities.

Uch Sharif Pakistan

A building in Uch Sharif, Pakistan

Tomb of Asif Khan Punjab Pakistan

The Tomb of Asif Khan in Lahore, located in the Pakistani Punjab province

 

 

painted ceiling mosque Pakistan

A beautifully painted ceiling in a mosque in Pakistan

5. You will meet interesting, open-minded locals

Pakistani people are not like you might expect them to be. Getting to know the people, you will see what they really are like. Almost everyone is Muslim, but what does it mean to them? And do you know the difference between Shia, Sunni and Ismaili muslims? When visiting Pakistan, it is hard to escape these conversations. Also, it is okay to talk about these topics in a straightforward (Dutch) way. Most importantly: in general they respect your point of view as well.

friendly locals Pakistan

The friendly locals, old and young, will always be in for a conversation.

Portrait boys Pakistan mountains

A portrait of two boys living in the snowy Pakistani mountains

6. You will experience unique things that you won’t forget quickly

Did you ever get escorted by your own squad of private police officers carrying automatic weapons? Okay.. this argument is a bit politically incorrect, but still.. did you?

Pakistan police escort

David and Josephine had a police escort throughout their drive through Pakistan, which was a unique experience by itself.

7. You will be surprised by the stark contrast between traditional and artificially modern cities

There are many scruffy, disorganized, sometimes dirty and chaotic cities around Pakistan like you might expect from countries in this region. Islamabad, the planned capital, is the antitheses of the above and it is interesting to see this contrast and experience the vibe in this city of the future.

Pakistan monument Islamabad

The Pakistan monument in Islamabad

Shah Rukn-e-Alam Shrine Multan Pakistan

The Shah Rukn-e-Alam Shrine in Multan, Pakistan

8. You will get to taste the refined Pakistani cuisine

The food in Pakistan is nothing less than tasty. It has some similarities with Indian cuisine, but then of course Pakistanis are not Hindus and thus there is plenty of meat around. If you are a meat lover, you can really rejoice in Pakistan. From beef to chicken to mutton, they have it all. If you are a vegetarian, there is still plenty of dahl, chenna and sabzi curry to enjoy. Also, the Pakistani roti and nan are definitely the tastiest ones we could find!

best chenna chana masala Pakistan

Some of the best Chenna (or Chana Masala, a tangy chickpea curry) David and Josephine found on their trip.

9. You can spot the colorful Pakistani outfits, buildings and trucks

Pakistani people love colours! Colours everywhere, from the many guys rocking bright pink or multi-coloured shirts, to the colourful Salwar Kameezes outfits with matching headscarves. Even the trucks are colourful, as they are painted by the nation’s extremely skilled truck artists. The trucks are completely covered in paint, glow in the dark decals, lights and metal embellishments. They are really a pleasure to look at and are basically works of art on wheels.

busy bazaar Lahore Pakistan

Colorful outfits in a busy bazaar in Lahore, Pakistan

Colorful trucks Pakistan

These colorful trucks on the Pakistani roads make any roadtrip just a bit more special.

10. There are ample business opportunities for entrepreneurs

Maybe a bit strange to be on this list, but this country has so much potential! It basically has it all: nature, natural resources, fresh water, a lot of cotton, the right climate to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables and a strategic position. Did you know it has one of the deepest seaports in the world? Anyway, it is getting safer to visit the country and its economy is developing. Inevitably, tourism will increase, creating loads of business opportunities. Maybe you feel like starting a business outside your home country?

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Muhemmed Haider

No doubt that Pakistan has many beautiful places. Have been to shugran. Its beautiful.

Ryan Biddulph

Great stuff Victor! Folks like David and Jo – along with my friend Will Hatton – inspire a new generation of globe trotters to add Pakistan to their list. Gorgeous place with friendly folks, and what a cool culture. Many of my readers are from Pakistan too. Free lodging if I want it LOL. Thanks for sharing!

Ryan

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