Map of Pakistan & Travel Guide
“Pakistan” is Persian for “land of the pure”.
In Pakistan, you can experience the beauty of mountains covered with ice and gleaming glaciers. Mountains are also covered in lush forests, seas, deserts, fertile lands, rivers, waterfalls, forests, and some of the most amazing wildlife.
Pakistan has suffered political instability since its independence in 1947. Officially it is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan which means it is a democratic parliamentary federal republic, with Islam as the state religion. The country ranks 151 out of 163 countries as listed on the 2018 Global Peace Index. To put this in perspective the USA ranks at 121, and Russia 154.
Check for travel advisories before visiting and again during your visit to Pakistan.
While visiting you should always be cautious and follow the country’s cultural norms, guidelines, and laws. Avoid edgy political or religious discussions and remember, that just like Israel, the laws are based on the religion of the state.
When visiting this country practice being a smart traveler.
Map of Pakistan
The geography and climate of Pakistan are so diverse and features multiple destinations for visitors.
Reassuringly, the best parts of Pakistan, the areas that attract the most foreign attention, are very safe for tourists and have a high police and security presence. The country is totally underrated and remains one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
This Map of Pakistan & Travel Guide will help you discover some of its diverse beauty.
Map of Pakistan & Travel Guide
Before traveling to any country, it is wise to learn about that country’s culture and social norms. It can help you make good decisions.
Pakistan Fact File
- Location: Asia
- Population: 216,565,318
- Ethnicity: Pakistan is a multiethnic country. The major ethnic groups of Pakistan include Rajputs, Jatts, Pashtuns, Punjabis, Saraikis, Sindhis, Baloch, Muhajirs, Paharis, Chitralis, Hindkowans, and other smaller groups. Smaller ethnic groups include Kalash, Kashmiris, Burusho, Siddi, Khowar, Wakhis, Shina, Hazara, Kalyu and Baltis.
- Area: 340,509 square miles
- Seasonal Weather: The are four main seasons in Pakistan. From March through May, Pakistan experiences a dry, hot spring. Beginning in June and running through September, it is the monsoon or summer rainy season in the southwest. Through October and November, the monsoon period continues, and from December through February, the country experiences a dry, cool winter.
- Official Language: Urdu, English
- Other Languages: Pakistan is home to several dozens of languages. Aside from Urdu and English, the most popular languages include Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, and Saraiki.
- Religion: The state religion of Pakistan is Islam
- Current Prime Minister: Imran Khan
- Time Zone: GMT +5
- Currency: Pakistani rupee (PKR), symbol RS
- Country Dialing Code Prefix: +92
- Emergency Numbers: dial 15 for police, 115 for the ambulance, and 16 for fire.
Airports & Entry
Foreigners who plan to visit the country must secure a visa. The tourist visa for US citizens starts at US$60. You can register for an e-visa by submitting your details through the online visa portal. The process takes about 7-10 days.
There are six international airports in Pakistan and 134 airfields. The three main gateways to Pakistan are the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore, and Islamabad International Airport in Islamabad. The airports are equipped with modern facilities and served by many international airlines.
Remember the travel smart theme, on rare occasions, some airport staff may ask for a bribe or a fake airport tax.
A Brief History of Pakistan
Pakistan has a rich history that dates back to 7000 BC and links to the oldest civilization in the world, the Indus valley civilization. The history of the country is linked to the Indian subcontinent as well as countries like Afghanistan and Iran.
Pakistan gained its independence from Great Britain in 1947. As part of this process, British India was divided into two independent states, the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. Pakistan adopted a new constitution in 1956 and became an Islamic republic.
Pakistan didn’t inherit British India’s institutions as it was based on religious nationalism.
Pakistan’s history involved many cultures, religions, and peoples. After the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1957, its complex history continued. To learn more about the politics and history of Pakistan prior to 1947 see the Wikipedia references here. For after 1947 here.
Getting Around Pakistan
You can travel domestically in Pakistan through the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). The 3 famous trekking destinations in Pakistan, Gilgit, Chitral, and Skardu are only accessible through PIA.
The passenger rail service in Pakistan is operated by the Pakistan Railway. Visitors can visit the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) for verification certificates to get a discount of 25% on all rail tickets. Where possible, seek the help of a sales agent as the timetables are not always in English.
A bus is the cheapest way to travel between major cities in Pakistan. It does, however, take longer. You can use a minibus for traveling in the city. For traveling to different cities, you can book a bus run by ‘The Daewoo Sammi’ company or use the Northern Areas Transport Corporation (NATCO).
It is a type of local transport and the most flexible way to travel within cities.
In all major cities, you can hire taxi cabs and ride-sharing services like Uber and Careem. Ride-sharing services may be hired at a more affordable rate than traditional taxi cabs.
In Lahore, Karachi, and Rawalpindi, you can travel on a motorcycle by hiring bike-sharing services like Bykea.
Types of Accommodation in Pakistan
Tourists in Pakistan can stay in hotels, guest houses, Government rest houses or Airbnb. As far as hotels are concerned, If cleanliness is a deciding factor, you may want to stay in the top end hotels as the mid-range and low-end budget hotels may disappoint you.
Hotels Include Serena, Marriott, and Pearl Continental
The top-end hotels include Serena, Marriott, and Pearl Continental. These are the most American style hotels in the country. The prices can vary from Rs 6,000 -10,000 a night depending on the city you are in and star level of the hotel.
Most visitors should be happy booking mid-range hotels that maintain a balance between facilities and cost. The government-run PTDC hotels are your best bet if you want to stay in good hotels at this price range. Staying cost can range from Rs 2,000 – 6,000 a night.
If you have a (very) limited budget, you can stay in local hotels. Before booking a local Hotel be sure to check the room, locks, toilet, beds, and lights.
Top 5 Cities to Visit in Pakistan
Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan. There are many museums, art galleries, mosques, monuments, and parks present in this city. Rock climbing and cycling are also popular activities in the city.
The city generally has a mild climate. Temperatures can drop close to 0°C during the night.
The financial capital and the largest city in Pakistan, Karachi. It is also the former capital. There are many sea and waterfront areas in the city along with museums, colonial buildings, beaches, and parks. Karachi is known as the destination for adventure and sports.
Lahore is the city of Mughals and a must-visit for any history-lover. It is the second-largest city in the country and considered Pakistan’s cultural capital. According to legend, this city was built by the son of Rama, Loh, about 4,000 years ago.
Faisalabad is famous for its textile industry and located in Punjab. It is the third-largest city in Pakistan. You can buy high-quality curtains, sofa fabric, and clothing at affordable prices in this city.
Multan is famous for its blue pottery, mangoes, khussa (a type of shoes), and ornamental glasswork. It is known as the City of Saints and one of the oldest cities in Pakistan.
Top 5 Locally Unique Pakistan Activities
Everything is so affordable when shopping in Pakistan, Karachi is known as the world’s cheapest city to shop. You can buy garments from brands like Adidas, Slazenger, Levis at cheaper prices in the city of Faisalabad.
Delicious Pakistani Food
Pakistan is food is as unique as it is delicious. Popular street food markets will entice you with the aromas of kebabs and biryani. The tasty food includes nihari a popular gravy item, and flatbreads such as naan, paratha, roti/chapati, sheer mal, and taftan.
Witnessing a Sufi Dhamal
Experience a fantastic musical and spiritual journey by attending a Sufi dhamal in the city of Lahore. Dhamal ceremonies are held every Thursday and are performed by the Sufi mystics of Islam. Pounding drums and smoking incense fill the air in the area of the ritual, some claim it allows you to experience a different mental state. It is believed that these states can help you to communicate with God.
Discovering Old Havelis
Havelies are mansions with major architectural and historical significance. Pakistan is filled with countless Havelis that display the rich culture and history of the country. Exploring these old properties can be a lot of fun and filled with learning. Caretakers or servants still care for most Havelis and many of them would be happy to show you around if asked politely.
Ancient Ruins of Major Civilizations
One of the world’s earliest major civilizations, Mohenjo Daro, is located in Pakistani. This once-majestic civilization remains are located beside the Indus River in the Sindh province and spread across an area of 1.5 square miles. Visit Mohenjo Daro during winter as the area gets hot during summer.
Don’t forget to get a guide before you start exploring.
Top 5 Outdoor Recreational Activities:
Pakistan has many and varied activities for adventure sports lovers. The diverse terrain and beautiful landscapes of the country allow you to participate and enjoy many recreational activities. Some of these include:
Trekking & Hiking
Pakistan has many mountains, including some of the world’s tallest. It is a world-class hiking destination. The Margalla Hills in Islamabad is a good location for hiking. For trekking adventures, you can visit Gilgit-Baltistan to witness K2, Nanga Parbat, Rakaposhi or the Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountain ranges.
For a great skiing experience, visit the Malam Jabba in the Swat Valley. Many local dwellings are located at a height of 9200 ft amidst the Hindu Kush mountains. Alternatively, you may visit the Nathiagali, Kalabagh.
White Water Rafting
The rivers that make great white water rafting in Pakistan include the Chitral, Indus, Gilgit, Swat, Hunza, Kunar and Neelam river. You can enjoy white river rafting, canoeing, and kayaking on these rivers.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
If you want to witness beautiful islands with clear blue water and go on amazing scuba diving and snorkeling adventures, you can visit the Churna island located between Balochistan and Sindh, near the Hub river.
You can paraglide over the Salt Range or near Khanpur Lake in Punjab. Two of the most popular paragliding facilities in the country include The Gliding Club of Pakistan and Sky Hawk Paragliding and Adventure Club.
Top 5 Day Trips in Pakistan
There are many day trip destinations available from Pakistan’s major cities, including:
Khewra Salt Mines
The Khewra Salt Mines are home to the world’s second-largest salt mines. It is located 95 miles from Rawalpindi and 100 miles from Islamabad. After reaching the mines you ride a train to explore the mine tunnels and witness amazing salt sculptures.
This town is located 22 miles from Islamabad. The Taxila Museum is the key site if you want to learn more about Buddhism. There are over 50 other archaeological sites around the region that you can explore. Some of the most popular include Bhir Mound, Dharmarajika Stupa and Monastery, Jaulian Monastery, Jandial Temple, and Sirkap.
This holy town is situated about 30 miles from Rawalpindi. The main attraction of the city is a Sikh Gurdwara (temple) that houses a sacred rock with the handprint of the Sikh religious leader, Guru Nanak. It is known as Panja Sahib. Other attractions in the city include chilla gah (meditation cell) of the 15th-century Muslim saint, Baba Wali, and Maqbara Hakeeman which contains that tomb of two royal Hakeem (doctor) that served Emperor Akbar.
Mausoleum of Emperor Jahangir
The majestic tomb of the 4th emperor of the Mughal dynasty, Jahangir, lies just 3 miles away from Lahore. The grand structure is built with marble and red sandstone. It was built by the emperor’s son Shahjahan and queen Noor Jahan in around 1637 A.D.
Haleji Lake is located in the Thatta district which is 57 miles away from Karachi. It includes the tomb of Baba Qasim Ali Shah and Shahjahan Mosque. If you visit during the winter, you may catch a glimpse of cotton teal, purple moorhen, spot-billed duck, and Pheasant-tailed jacana.
Visiting Pakistan Safely
To stay safe in Pakistan, you should follow the rules and customs of the nation and avoid areas of high political activity. Stay away from areas that are off-limits. Avoid going near the Afgan border, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Balochistan, or any military or intelligence facilities.
Be courteous and use common sense when talking to the locals. Avoid talking about politics, religion, India, or Kashmir as these are very sensitive topics. It is best if you can return indoors within the evening, especially in Karachi.
You should never drink unboiled or unfiltered tap water. Ensure bottled water is purchased from a shop and the seal is intact. It is also recommended that you don’t consume ice unless you are sure of the water source.
What I like About Pakistan
The people of Pakistan are the country’s greatest asset. They are known for their hospitality and care. Often the locals are happy to invite you to their home and cook meals for you. Solo travelers may even be asked to stay a night.
Aside from the love and traditional atmosphere, what I like about Pakistan is its diverse geography and countless destinations that make up this complex country. From historic sites and monuments to glaciers, dry and cold deserts, beaches, mountain peaks and hills, Pakistan has just about everything.
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Map of Pakistan & Travel Guide
Growing up in Australia, Tim developed a love of backpacking and adventure traveling, taking multi-country trips covering 5 continents. He relocated to the United States and as a transportation consultant averaged 3 flights per week
His favorite traveling is with his wife Cassandra and two boys, ages 8 and 5.
They quickly became expert family fliers and have taken the boys on annual trips to Australia and other U.S. and international experiences including China, Cuba, England, Fiji, France, and Spain.