Best Things to Do in Pakistan

Best Things to Do in Pakistan

Pakistan's Must-Do Activities and Sights

Modern_Architecture_Mosque_Against_Blue_Sky
WRITTEN BYBryan Jacinto
PUBLISHED ONDecember 8, 2023
Majestic Mosque Amidst Greenery
Source: Photo by Malik Tayyab on Unsplash

Begin your journey with Pakistan's top historical and archaeological sites. Explore breathtaking natural wonders and traditional architecture, and enjoy the diverse local cuisine. Experience the joy of outdoor activities perfectly paired with the region's natural beauty.

This guide is here to help you navigate your way safely, advise on transportation and visa requirements, and prepare you for the local weather. So, sit back and explore all the exciting things Pakistan offers!

Historical and Archaeological Sites

If you're a history buff or archaeology lover, Pakistan won't disappoint. This region cradles ancient civilizations and displays an array of beautiful remnants from the past. You might want to add these sites to your itinerary:

  • Moenjodaro: Located in the Sindh province, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a testament to the great Indus Valley civilization.
  • Taxila: Near Islamabad, explore archaeological sites featuring a captivating blend of Buddhist and ancient Greek influences.
  • Harappa: A captivating site in the Punjab province that showcases the urban life of one of the oldest known civilizations.
  • Thatta: It is enriched with Sufi culture and is home to the impressive Jamia Mosque and UNESCO-listed Makli Necropolis.
  • Takht-i-Bahi: Indigenous to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, it boasts a well-preserved Buddhist monastery dating back around 2,000 years.

Timing your visit to coincide with favorable weather can further enrich your experience. Thus, you'll want to check out our in-depth guide to the best time to visit Pakistan.

Natural Wonders and Landscapes

Set off on your Pakistan adventure for a variety of stunning visuals. You'll encounter tall mountains, peaceful valleys, rich forests, and expansive deserts. Each turn offers a new, beautiful spectacle.

  • Karachi sea view: This extensive coastline offers views of the majestic Arabian Sea. Visit at sunset for a phenomenal visual treat.
  • Deosai Plains: Located in the northern areas, these are among the highest plateaus in the world, offering a blend of lush greenery, wildflowers, and snow-capped mountains.
  • Fairy Meadows: Escape the hustle and bustle of city living and retreat to these serene meadows, which provide unparalleled views of the towering Nanga Parbat - the ninth-highest peak in the world.
  • Thar Desert: A unique landscape, this expansive desert is dotted with colorful, bustling villages and stunning wildlife that thrives in the hot sand.
  • The Karakoram Mountains: Home to K2, the second-highest peak in the world, this mountain range is a must-see. Its icy peaks and stunning valleys are a sight to remember.

These are just the tip of the iceberg! To truly appreciate everything Pakistan has to offer, check out our comprehensive guide on the best places to visit in Pakistan.

Cultural and Historical Architecture

Regarding cultural and historical architecture, Pakistan is quite the treasure trove. Its rich past manifests through a range of beautifully crafted structures, each narrating a unique story from a different period of history. These architectural marvels provide a peek into the past and paint a vivid picture of the creative artistry and architectural prowess of days gone by.

  • The Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens - These UNESCO World Heritage sites capture the apex of the Mughal Empire's architectural brilliance. The intricate designs and fascinating frescoes promise to captivate visitors at first glance.
  • Mohenjo-Daro - Extending back to the Bronze Age, this is one of the world's earliest major cities. Walking through its well-planned streets, you'll get a feel for the remarkable civilization that once thrived here.
  • Faisal Mosque - An epitome of modern Islamic architecture, not only is it one of the largest mosques in the world, but its unique design also sets it apart. It's a sight for sore eyes, especially against the backdrop of the Margalla Hills.
  • Hiran Minar - A hunting retreat from the 17th century, the fusion of Persian and Punjabi architectural styles makes it a unique sight worth a visit.
  • Tombs of Thatta - A testament to the Sindhi civilization's craftsmanship, the necropolis features some incredibly intricate tile work and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Unique Experiences

When you travel to Pakistan, you're not just going to see the sights - you'll experience life in a fascinating and incredibly diverse country. Here are some unique experiences that should be part of your itinerary:

  • Ride a Decorated Rickshaw: Hopping onto a brightly decorated rickshaw is a quintessential Pakistani experience. These vehicles are not just a mode of transportation but a moving canvas of folk art.
  • Visit a Local Bazaar: Local markets, or 'bazaars' known locally, offer a unique shopping experience. With everything from hand-woven rugs and spices to traditional handicrafts, it's an opportunity to support local artisans.
  • Attend a Sufi Music Festival: The spiritual music of Sufism, known as Qawwali, is deeply rooted in Pakistani culture. Hearing it live is awe-inspiring and a unique cultural experience.
  • Experience the Wagah Border Ceremony: This daily military practice performed by the Indian and Pakistani forces is a unique spectacle you can witness at the Wagah Border near Lahore.
  • Stay at a Truck Art-Inspired Hotel: Revolving around the distinctive art form of decorating trucks, these hotels in Islamabad and beyond make for a vibrant stay.

Local Cuisine

Assorted Indian Cuisine Spread on Wooden Table
Source: Photo by Mario Raj on Unsplash

If you're a foodie with a penchant for trying various cuisines, Pakistan won't disappoint you. This country takes pride in its rich, flavorful food heritage, appealing to all taste buds. Here are some must-try dishes and local treats that show off the unique flavors of Pakistani cuisine:

  • Biryani: A crowd-pleaser, Biryani is a flavorful rice dish with spices, meat, and sometimes vegetables. It's notable for its vibrant color derived from saffron.
  • Nihari: An aromatic stew consisting of slow-cooked meat, mainly shank meat of beef or lamb and mutton, alongside bone marrow. This spicy dish is traditionally served with naan bread.
  • Samosas: Perfect for a quick snack on the go, Samosas are deep-fried pastries filled with various ingredients, most commonly spiced potatoes, lentils, onions, and sometimes peas.
  • Halwa Puri: A traditional breakfast treat, it consists of a sweet semolina dessert (Halwa) served with deep-fried bread (Puri).
  • Chapli Kebab: A popular barbecue dish, these kebabs are made from minced beef or mutton with various spices, cooked until crisp, and served with naan or rice.
  • Sajji: A Balochi dish, Sajji is made of a large piece of lamb or chicken, marinated with a local blend of spices, skewered, and roasted to perfection.

So, do you fancy an in-depth look at how to traverse the lively roads of Pakistan?

Equip yourself with extensive driving knowledge on Pakistani streets with our meticulously compiled and informative driving guide in Pakistan. The guide is filled with practical tips, local driving habits, rules to follow, and what to avoid, among other essential details.

Outdoor Activities

For those who love the great outdoors, Pakistan offers a plethora of exhilarating activities:

  • Trekking: Nestled among the tallest peaks in the world, Pakistan's northern regions, including the regions around K2 and Nanga Parbat, offer world-class trekking experiences.
  • White Water Rafting and Kayaking: The Indus and Kunhar Rivers provide exciting courses for river activities. This experience levels the adventures for both beginners and experts.
  • Paragliding: The hill stations of Murree and Nathiagali and valleys like Swat, Neelum, and Kaghan are simply perfect for paragliding, giving spectacular views of the mountains.
  • Desert Safari: The vast dunes of Cholistan and Tharparkar deserts offer thrilling jeep and camel safaris.
  • Skiing: If you're into winter sports, the snow-clad slopes of Malam Jabba and Naltar Valley are ideal for skiing.
  • Fishing: With numerous rivers, lakes, and streams, angling enthusiasts can pursue trout or big game fishing in the Arabian Sea.
  • Wildlife and Bird Watching: Pakistan's diverse fauna makes it a paradise for wildlife and birdwatching enthusiasts. Places like Khunjerab National Park, Astola Island, and Haleji Lake are excellent spots for this pursuit.

Remember, the best bet is to find a local guide or join a tour group if you're new to these activities or the area.

Transportation Options

Exploring the beautiful landscapes of Pakistan? There are plenty of transportation choices. Your pick will rely on what you value most—comfort, cost, or thrill. Let's dive into the options:

  • Trains: Pakistan's extensive rail network is an affordable and scenic way to travel, especially for long distances. The Karachi-Lahore-Islamabad route is prevalent.
  • Buses/Coaches: State-run and privately owned buses are a standard mode of travel in Pakistan. Luxury coaches with Wi-Fi and air conditioning are available for more comfort.
  • Rickshaws: Rickshaws are a fun and cost-effective mode of travel in cities. This three-wheeled vehicle offers a unique local experience but be prepared for the hustle and bustle.
  • Taxis/Cabs: Taxis are in Pakistan's metro cities equipped with meters. You can also opt for ride-hailing apps like Careem and Uber for convenience.
  • Domestic Flights: Domestic airports are well-connected for those looking to cover large distances quickly. Regular flights are available between major cities.
  • Rental Cars: Renting a car with or without a driver is a good option for those looking for flexibility. However, it's advisable to be aware of local driving rules beforehand.

Regardless of your choice, experiencing the country's diverse transportation options will only add to the richness of your Pakistani adventure.

Safety Considerations

Exploring the beautiful landscapes of Pakistan? There are plenty of transportation choices. Your pick will rely on what you value most—comfort, cost, or thrill. Let's dive into the options:

  • Trains: Pakistan's extensive rail network is an affordable and scenic way to travel, especially for long distances. The Karachi-Lahore-Islamabad route is prevalent.
  • Buses/Coaches: State-run and privately owned buses are a standard mode of travel in Pakistan. Luxury coaches with Wi-Fi and air conditioning are available for more comfort.
  • Rickshaws: Rickshaws are a fun and cost-effective mode of travel in cities. This three-wheeled vehicle offers a unique local experience but be prepared for the hustle and bustle.
  • Taxis/Cabs: Taxis are in Pakistan's metro cities equipped with meters. You can also opt for ride-hailing apps like Careem and Uber for convenience.
  • Domestic Flights: Domestic airports are well-connected for those looking to cover large distances quickly. Regular flights are available between major cities.
  • Rental Cars: Renting a car with or without a driver is a good option for those looking for flexibility. However, it's advisable to be aware of local driving rules beforehand.

Regardless of your choice, experiencing the country's diverse transportation options will only add to the richness of your Pakistani adventure.

Visa Requirements

Your safety is paramount, especially in an unfamiliar location like Pakistan. Keeping an eye on these crucial pointers will ensure your trip runs smoothly:

  • Avoid traveling alone at night, particularly in remote or unlit areas. Keep to well-populated and well-lit areas instead.
  • Take registered taxis or reputable ride services. Always confirm the fare before setting off.
  • Steer clear of political gatherings and demonstrations, as these can sometimes escalate into violence.
  • Look for your belongings at all times, especially at crowded places like marketplaces or bus stations.
  • Respect local customs and dress modestly, especially when visiting religious places or rural settings.
  • Familiarize yourself with local laws. Remember, what's legal in your home country may differ from Pakistan.
  • Always keep the contact number of your embassy or consulate handy in case of emergencies.

Being alert and respectful means you can enjoy what the country offers without any hitches.

Weather Conditions

When planning your trip to Pakistan, it's essential to consider the weather conditions as they vary significantly across the country. Knowledge about the region's climate will help you pack appropriately and plan your itinerary efficiently.

  • Pakistan experiences a wide range of climates due to its diverse topography, which includes deserts, mountain ranges, and coastal areas. Therefore, different regions can have entirely different weather patterns simultaneously.
  • Between November and February, the winter season can be pretty cold, especially in the northern regions where temperatures can drop below freezing. If you're venturing to these parts, pack suitable clothing.
  • Contrarily, areas like Sindh and Punjab are pretty hot from May to September during the summer. During this time, temperatures can increase to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Lightweight, breathable clothing is recommended if you're visiting during this period.
  • The monsoon period runs from July to August. This period is characterized by heavy rainfall, especially in the northeast and the northern highlands. It's advisable to carry rain gear if traveling during these months.
  • Elevation plays a significant role in the weather. Higher altitudes, like the areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, can experience heavy snowfall and chilly temperatures, even in the spring.

Always check the weather forecast of the region you plan to visit closer to your departure date. It will allow you to pack accordingly and make any necessary adjustments to your trip.

Importance of an International Driving Permit (IDP) in Pakistan

Are you planning a road trip to Pakistan or thinking about renting a car once you get there? If yes, you should not overlook something as important as an IDP. Your local driving license might not be enough.

Why is IDP crucial, you ask? Let's dive into some key points:

  • Instant Approval: An IDP process can be pretty swift. It gets approved and dispatched instantly, offering you more time for planning your travel.
  • Easy Process: Getting an IDP is not filled with convoluted procedures. The ease of the process means less stress for you.
  • Validity: Again, a huge reason to opt for an IDP is that they're valid from 1 to 3 years. This will keep your mind calm for longer trips abroad.
  • Recognition: With an IDP, you'll be able to drive legally overseas. Its importance cannot be overstated when you consider the immense comfort and flexibility it offers during foreign travel.
  • Translation: This is yet another essential advantage of having an IDP. It's translated in 12 languages, eliminating any language barrier issues that might crop up during your interaction with local authorities.
  • International Recognition: The IDP is recognized in over 150 countries, including Pakistan. This wide acceptance allows for you to drive without constraints across borders.
  • Worldwide Shipping: And don't worry about the dispatch of your IDP. Fast worldwide express shipping ensures it reaches to you in no time.

An International Driving Permit is an essential factor if you're planning to drive within Pakistan for a truly immersive experience. So plan ahead, get your IDP and set your wheels in motion in this vibrant, culturally rich country.

Closing Thoughts

Wrapping up, it's evident that Pakistan is a treasure trove filled with historical gems, breathtaking natural wonders, and captivating cultural encounters. Your travel plan can mirror the country's diversity.

Always remember that the magic of travel lies in personal discovery. Consider this guide a starting point, but stay open to unexpected charms only Pakistan can present.

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