|Currency||Pakistani rupee (PKR)|
|Population||162,419,946 (July 2006 est.)|
|Language||Urdu (official, national) 8%, English (official, government), Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki 10%, Pashtu 8%, , Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, Burushaski, and other 8%|
|Religion||Muslim 97%, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikhs and other 3%|
|Electricity||230V/50Hz (Europlug & Old British Plug)|
|Time Zone||UTC+5.0 (UTC + 6.0 in summer)|
Pakistan  (Urdu: پاکستان) is a country in South Asia. Located along the Arabian Sea, it is surrounded by Afghanistan to the west and northwest, Iran to the southwest, India to the east, and China to the northeast. It is strategically located astride the ancient trade routes of the Khyber and Bolan passes between Asia and Europe.
[Edit this travel guide] About This Destination
[Edit this travel guide] History
The history of Pakistan traces back to the beginnings of human life in South Asia. Pakistan is home to the Indus Valley civilization, which is amongst the oldest in the world. Prior to the 1900's the area of Pakistan was the area from which the Muslims ruled over Central and Southern Asia for over 300 years. Today Pakistan is made up of people from various races including Arabs from after the Islamic expeditions, Persians from Bukhara and Samarkand, Turks from Central Asia and the native Sindhus who were converted to Islam.
The official name of Pakistan was used after the partition of (British) India into the 2 nation-states of India and Pakistan in 1947. However, the word Pakistan was first used by Ch. Rehmat Ali back in 1933 in his declaration, Now or Never - calling for its separation from the Empire. Afterwards, British-ruled India was divided into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (with two sections West and East) and secular India. A third war between these countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan seceding and becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. A dispute over the state of Jammu and Kashmir is ongoing between India and Pakistan.
[Edit this travel guide] Terrain
Pakistan is one of those few countries in the world which has every kind of geological structure. It has the sea, desert (Sindh & Punjab), green mountains (North West Provice), dry mountains (Balochistan), mountains covered with ice, rivers, rich land to cultivate (Punjab & Sindh), water resources, water falls, forests etc. The North West Frontier Province and Gilgit-Baltistan contain the mountain ranges of the Himalayas, the Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush. Pakistan's highest point is K2, at 8,611 meters, which is the second highest peak in the world. The Punjab province is a flat, alluvial plain whose rivers eventually join the Indus River and flow south to the Arabian Sea. Sindh lies between the Thar Desert the Rann of Kutch to the east, and the Kirthar range to the west. The Balochistan Plateau is arid and surrounded by dry mountains. Pakistan experiences frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe, especially in north and west.
[Edit this travel guide] Climate
Mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north. Flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August). Fertile and sub humid heat in the Punjab region.
[Edit this travel guide] Holidays
- Eid-ul-Fitr - the largest holiday of the year, it celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Food is the highlight, and if you're lucky you'll be invited into a private home for a feast. Businesses close for at least a couple days if not a week.
- Eid-ul-Azha - the festival of sacrifice, commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son
- Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi - Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, varies according to Hijera calendar
- Pakistan Day - March 23
- May Day - May 1
- Independence Day - August 14
- Quaid-e-Azam's deathday - September 11
- Quaid-e-Azam's birthday - December 25
- Ramadan - the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Muslim's fast everyday for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) are supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Foreigners and travellers are exempt from this, but you should still refrain from doing it in public.
[Edit this travel guide] Regions
| Azad Kashmir |
Pakistan-administered portion of the disputed Kashmir region
| Balochistan |
the largest and most remote province, its lack of infrastructure can make for rough traveling. Most foreign visitors here are just passing through from Iran, stopping briefly in Quetta
| Federally Administered Tribal Areas |
this area is mostly off-limits to foreigners, and is not under the control of Provicial Government instead affairs are federally administered through Governor of NWFP. Home to the legendary Khyber Pass, and the gun making city of Darra Adam Khel.
| Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly known as the Northern Areas)|
home to some of the world's tallest mountains, it's brimming with dramatically fantastic landscapes and can easily compete with Nepal for trekking opportunities
| Islamabad & Rawalpindi |
The capital area encompasses Islamabad, Rawalpindi, the Margalla Hills and the ancient ruins of Taxila
| North-West Frontier Province |
Home of the rugged Pashtuns, for some it's forbidding and mysterious... yet below the surface are some of the most hospitable people in the country
| Punjab |
The most populous and agriculturally fertile region in the country, and home to many historical shrines and mosques
| Sindh |
Most visitors head for Karachi or the ancient ruins of Moenjodaro.
[Edit this travel guide] Cities
Pakistan has many cities and towns. Below are nine of the most notable. Other cities are listed under their specific regions.
- Islamabad - The Federal capital, a relatively new planned city with a much more laidback feel than the rest of the country's cities
- Karachi - the Financial capital and the largest city of the country, it's an industrial port city and the provincial capital of Sindh
- Lahore - City of the Mughals, it's a bustling and a very historical city that shouldn't be missed.
- Faisalabad - A major city in Punjab, famous for its textile industry
- Multan - The City of Saints, famous for blue pottery, ornamental glasswork, and Khussa - a type of shoes
- Quetta - a large, beautiful and slightly unruly city in the southern state of Balochistan, you'll pass through here en route to or from Iran
- Muzaffarabad - Capital of Azad Kashmir and the center of the 2005 earthquake
- Peshawar - Capital city of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), it has a bit of an outlaw edge to it, and is the gateway to the Khyber Pass
- Sialkot - The City of sports goods, famous for its exports industry, one of the oldest city in the region
[Edit this travel guide] Other destinations
- Karakoram Highway – part of the historic Silk Road, it's the main artery running north to China.
- Hunza Valley – one of the more stunning and popular parts of the high mountain areas, some liken it to paradise on Earth. Supposedly the setting for James Hilton's Shangri-La, and the valley lives up to that reputation.
- Skardu - Popular for its Shangrila resort.
- Murree is a popular Himalayan hill station, one hours drive from Islamabad.
- Mountain peaks and glaciers – Gilgit-Baltistan is home to some of the highest mountains in the world, including K2, Rakaposhi and Nanga Parbat, and offer incredible trekking opportunities. In an area of about 500 kms in width and 350 kms in depth, is found the most dense collection of some of the highest and precipitous peaks in the world, boasting more than 700 peaks above 6000 metres, and more than 160 peaks above 7000 metres.
- Kalasha Valleys – witness the decline of a truly unique culture in Chitral District
- Deserts – Pakistan is home to the Thar desert in Sindh and the Cholistan desert in the Punjab, which it shares with neighboring India.
- Beaches – Pakistan is home to some of the worlds most beautiful beaches located between Karachi and Gwadar along Makran coastal highway. French Beach, Hawksbay to name a few.
- Archaelogical treasures – the country's rich history has left many things to explore; Taxila, Moenjodaro, Thatta and Harappa are some of the more famous
See also: Sacred sites of the Indian sub-continent
[Edit this travel guide] Getting There
[Edit this travel guide] Visas
Almost all nationalities require visas. These are usually easier to obtain in your home country, though recently the individual missions around the world have been given more authority to issue visas without checking in with Islamabad, which should help in getting applications turned around quicker.
Recently a list of 24 "Tourist Friendly Countries" (TFC) was announced that are eligible for one month visas on arrival if they travel through a designated/authorized  tour operator who will assume responsibility for them while in the country. Any extensions on this type of visa must also be done through the tour operator. They include: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the UK and the USA.
Nationals of most other countries (and those not wanting to travel with a tour operator and group) need to apply in advance for a visa, which are usually issued for 30-90 days depending on nationality and where you apply. Double-entries are sometimes given, but be clear and persistent when applying that you need this.
A handful of countries are issued visas on arrival: Iceland, Maldives and Zambia for 3 months, Hong Kong, Nepal and Western Samoa for 1 month, while Tonga and Trinidad and Tobago nationals can stay for an unlimited amount of time.
Nationals of Israel are not allowed entry as it is not recognized as a nation by Pakistan (and most other Muslim countries), but there is not any restriction on Jews holding passports from other nations. Despite much online information to the contrary, Israeli stamps and visas would usually pose no problems for entry into Pakistan, though you may be subject to more stringent questioning by immigration officers.
Indian nationals can apply for 30 day tourist visas but must travel in a group through an authorized tour operator. Visitor visas to meet relatives or friends are more easy to obtain, and come with some restrictions. Religious visas are granted for groups of 10 or more for 15 days.
Nationals of Afghanistan are refused entry if their passports or tickets show evidence of transit or boarding in India.
Holders of Taiwan passports are refused entry except in airport transit.
Business visas are now being issued for up to 5 years, multiple entry, as soon as 24 hours before arrival.
The High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi issues visas with varying degrees of difficulty, taking at least 1 day (and sometimes several) to process the application. Applications are only accepted in the mornings from around 9-11AM. Arrive early and expect the process to take a few hours, and possibly a few return visits. Window 5 is for foreign tourist and business visas (under the big white sign).
People of Pakistani origin living overseas are granted 5 year multiple entry visas (along with their spouses), good for single stays of up to 1 year. Visas aren't required at all if they are holding a Pakistan Origin Card (POC) or a National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP).
[Edit this travel guide] By plane
Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad are the main gateways to Pakistan by air. However, there are 134 airfields in Pakistan. Six other international airports are in Quetta,Gawadar, Peshawar, Sialkot, Multan and Faisalabad.
- Jinnah International Airport in Karachi  is served by many international airlines, including Air Arabia, Air China, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Cathy Pacific, Etihad, Emirates, Gulf, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Syrian Arab Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Iran Air, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways , China Airways and Turkish Airlines . It's also the main hub of the national carrier "PIA"and 2 private airlines (Air Blue and Shaheen Air).
- Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore  has been completely renovated with a new terminal for international arrivals and departures. Many airlines are currently operating to the airport including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Indian Airlines, Mahan Air, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Singapore Airlines, Pakistan International (PIA), Saudi Arabian Airlines, Thai Airways, Kuwait Airways, Uzbekistan Airways and two private airlines from Pakistan.
- Benazir Bhutto International Airport (Islamabad International Airport) is currently in review to be expanded and modernized to meet the needs of the future passenger numbers as demand for air travel has increased dramatically. There are many airlines operating into Islamabad including many of the above with Ariana Afghan Airlines, British Airways and China Southern Airlines. The only problem is that the airport is also used by Government officials as well as arrivals from foreign diplomats so the airport may shut down as security is increased so flights are delayed.
[Edit this travel guide] By train
Pakistan has train links with India and Iran, though none of these trains are the fastest or most practical way to enter Pakistan. Should speed be a priority it is better to take the bus, or if you are really in a hurry, to fly, however the trains are sights in their own right.
- The Samjhauta Express runs on Tuesdays and Fridays between Delhi and Lahore via the Attari/Wagah border crossing. This is the most common option chosen by travellers, however, tourists should be aware that after recent terrorist attacks on the train, which caused many a casualty and strained relationships between the two neighbors, it is strongly advised that you take taxis or buses to and from the border instead.
- The Thar Express runs from Munabao in the Indian state of Rajasthan to Khokrapar in Pakistan's Sindh province. This route restarted in February 2006 after 40 years out of service, but is not currently open to foreign tourists.
[Edit this travel guide] By car
From ancient times people have been travelling through Pakistan using the Grand Trunk Road and the Silk Road that run through Pakistan and into the Indian subcontinent. It's a rewarding but time consuming way to see this part of the world. New highways have been developed and the country is due for an expansion in its highway network. A world-class motorway connects the cities of Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, and Faisalabad.
From China: Pakistan is connected to China by the Karakoram Highway, a modern feat of engineering that traverses a remarkably scenic route through the Karakoram and Himalayan mountains. Plans are in place for this highway to be expanded from it's current width of 10m to 30m as a result of the increase in trade traffic due to Gwader port opening.
- The Khyber Pass connects Peshawar to Jalalabad and Kabul and requires an armed escort and a permit to travel through the tribal regions between Peshawar and the border. Onward travel from the border to Kabul is of questionable safety, check the current situation locally.
- The Bolan Pass connects Quetta to Kandahar and is considered very dangerous. This route is not currently open to foreign tourists, and is only open to locals and aid workers.
[Edit this travel guide] By bus
From India: While there is international service running from Delhi to Lahore it is just as fast, much more flexible, and much cheaper to take the journey by stringing together local transport and crossing the border on foot. As of October 2009, the bus was Rs. 1500. The journey details can be found here: http://dtc.nic.in/lahorebus.htm. You cannot buy the ticket on the spot, rather you will need to show up a few days before at Delhi Gate with photocopies of your Pakistani and Indian visas. The bus leaves at 6 a.m. but you will need to be at Delhi Gate at 4 a.m. to check in for it.
[Edit this travel guide] Getting Around
Getting around the country has become much easier in recent years with the completion of some motorways, and an increase in private airlines.
[Edit this travel guide] By plane
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)  serves numerous domestic destinations and is the only airline to serve the three airports in the north of interest to trekkers or climbers: Chitral, Gilgit, and Skardu. There are usually two flights from Islamabad to these cities daily, but they are often canceled due to bad weather, and often over-booked &mash; show up early to guarantee a seat.
[Edit this travel guide] By train
Pakistan Railway  provides passenger rail service. The stations tend not to have their timetables in English, but sales agents can usually explain everything to you. There are several different classes of fares depending on amenities. Foreign tourists and students with an ISIC card can get 25% and 50% discounts, respectively, by first visiting the PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) office, getting q verification certificate there, and bringing it with them to the train's commercial ticket office (which is different from the regular ticket office, but usually close by).
[Edit this travel guide] By bus
A large portion of travel between cities in Pakistan is carried out by bus. Travelling between Karachi and any of the country's other major cities by bus may take days, and is usually advised against, because of highway robbery, known locally as 'dacoitry'. With that exception, however, travel by bus is often the cheapest and most convenient alternative. The Dae-Woo company runs a regular bus service between several major cities, with air-conditioned buses and seats booked one day ahead. While rather unexpensive, they are still almost five times as expensive as the cheap and uncomplicated rides offered by minibuses or larger buses between the major bus stations of the cities. Fares are often (though not always) paid directly on the bus, there is no aircondition, and sometimes very little knee space, but you get where you are going all the same, and I have never met with anything but kind interest and friendly conversation on my many rides. Buses leave almost incessantly from the major bus stations for all the major cities, and many smaller locations, so booking ahead is neither possible nor necessary on the simpler buses. When travelling between major cities, smaller buses are to be preferred over the larger ones, as the larger ones tend to take up passagers along the way, and therefore travel more slowly.
The situation is similar for local transport. While the organization of local transport may look a little different between cities, there is usually an active bus service running through the city, with varying levels of government control.
[Edit this travel guide] By rickshaw
For local transport within cities, auto rickshaws are a cheap and flexible alternative. A development of the bicycle rickshaw, the auto rickshaw is a small vehicle powered by a two-stroke or four-stroke engine. The original gasoline versions constantly emit a stuttering noise and foul blue-black smoke, but many are opting for the CNG(compressed natural gas) versions, which are less polluting and a little quieter. Blue-and-yellow auto rickshaws take passengers, other colors tend to be privately owned. Always negotiate a price before entering the rickshaw.
Rickshaws are banned in the capital Islamabad.
[Edit this travel guide] Language
Urdu is the national language and is spoken throughout Pakistan as lingua franca. In addition to Urdu most Pakistanis speak their regional languages or dialects such as Punjabi, Pothohari, Sindhi, Pashto (Pushtun), Balochi, Saraiki, Shina, Burushaski, Khowar, Wakhi, Hindko etc.
English is the official language used in all government and most educational and business entities, and is also understood and spoken at varying levels of competence by many people around Pakistan, especially the upper classes and people who have gone through higher levels of education, and those residing in the larger cities.
[Edit this travel guide] Sightseeing
Observe the wonders of Karachi, Pakistan's former capital and its largest city, situated on the shores of the Arabian Sea. The magnificent Quaid-e-Azam's Mazar, the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan, is made entirely of white marble with impressive north African arches. Other places to visit are the National Museum and the beach at Clifton.
• Witness the Shah Faisal Masjid (mosque) in Islamabad, which can accommodate 10,000 worshippers. The majestic white building comprises four 88m (288ft) minarets and a desert tent-like structure, which is the main prayer chamber.
• See some of the highest mountains in the world in Kashmir, including the famous Nanga Parbat and the second-highest mountain in the world, K2. The Baltoro Glacier and the Batura Glacier are the largest outside the polar regions.
• Visit Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province. The city is surrounded by high walls with 20 entry gates. Much of the surrounding area is still under the jurisdiction of tribal law. These areas can only be visited with a permit from the relevant authorities.
• In the land of the Afridis, view the Khyber Pass, the 1,067m- (3,501ft-) high break in the sheer rock wall separating Afghanistan and Pakistan.
• See the wild and beautiful area of Chitral in the Hindu Kush Mountains north of Peshawar. It is inhabited by the Kalash people, the last of the non-Islamic tribes of Kafiristan. This valley is noted for its hot springs and trout-filled rivers.
• Discover the beautiful Swat Valley, east of Chitral, an area of wild mountains and fantastic alpine scenery. In ancient times, it was home to the famous Gandhara school of sculpture, a manifestation of Greek-influenced Buddhist forms. The ruins of great Buddhist stupas, monasteries and statues remain. It also boasts popular mountain retreats such as Miandam and Mingora.
• Watch a cricket or polo match. Polo is particularly popular in the northern towns of Gilgit and Chitra
[Edit this travel guide] Things To Do
Go and see the Silk Road
[Edit this travel guide] Shopping
The national currency of Pakistan is the rupee (PKR). Coins are issued in 1, 2, and 5 rupee denominations while banknotes come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 rupee values.
ATMs exist in most areas and accept major credit cards.
- You can buy very cheap garments, bed sheets, shirts, T-shirts, It is to be mentioned that many world renowned brands like Adidas, Levis, Slazenger, HangTen, Wal-Mart etc get their products prepared from Faisalabad which has got one of the largest textile industries of the world. You can find cheap products of these brands at local stores. You can get a pair of Levis jeans (or any other good brand for that matter) for just 800 PKR (10 USD).
- Buy leather goods like shoes, jackets and bags.
- Buy sports goods like cricket bats, balls, kits, footballs, sports wear and almost anything related to sports you can imagine. You will not find such high quality equipment at such low cost anywhere else. To mention, Sialkot produces 90 percent of the world’s sports goods and is the largest provider of sports equipment to FIFA for the World cup.
- Pakistan produces economical and high quality musical instruments. You can even get an acoustic guitar for as low as 2000 PKR (34 USD).
- Buy surgical instruments
- Buy computer accessories
- Buy Chinese goods especially Electronics & Cameras which are re-exported from Pakistan and is cheaper than other parts of the world.
- Buy Arabian, Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani carpets
- Buy Wood Carvings such as decorative wooden plates, bowls, artwork, furniture, and other miscellaneous items.
- Buy Jewellery such as necklaces, bracelets etc are very inexpensive in Pakistan.
- Buy gems, handicrafts (Ajrak from Sindh, Blue pottery from Multan, Clay pottery from Karachi), glassware, brassware, marble products, crystal works and antiques Also buy pashmina, rugs, wool-shawls or wraps, which can cost anywhere between $15 to as much as $700. Remember to bargain.
- Buy Books
- Buy souvenirs such as decorative items from Sea Shells.
- For food stuffs go to any super store like Dmart, Makro, Metro; especially buy Swat honey, Biscuits, Mitchells chocolate which are the best in the world.
- Buy home accessories
- Buy Kitchen Utensils and Cutlery
- For art lovers, get in touch with a local to take you around. There are so many art galleries in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad that are worth visiting and each will offer a completely different range of artwork, style and pricing. All the facilities should be visited if you are an art lover.
[Edit this travel guide] Where To Eat
Pakistani food mainly consists of various kinds of kababs eaten with either flatbread or rice. Food tends range from mild to spicy depending on where you are and who your cook is. So state your preference before beginning to eat. In general, most of the food that you find in the high end hotels is also available in the markets (but European-style food is generally reserved for the former).
- The types of flatbread (collectively referred to as Naan are:
- Naan - A soft and thick flat bread that often requires special clay ovens (tandoor) and cannot be properly made on home stoves.
- Roti/Chapatti - A homemade bread, much thinner then naan and usually made out of unrefined flour, and which is ready in minutes.
- Paratha - An extremely oily version of the roti. Usually excellent if you're going out to eat, but beware of health concerns; often it is literally dripping with oil because it is meant to be part of a rich meal. Paratha is more declicious if you cook it in pure oil like "desi ghee".
- Sheer Mal - This is a slightly sweetened, lightly oiled bread that has waffle-like squares punched in it. It is often considered the most desirable bread and is a delicacy to most people. Often paired with nihari. Another breakfast version of sheermal is very much like the Italian Panettone (albeit in a flat naan-like shape) with added dried fruits and candy.
- Taftan - Much like the 'sheer mal' but with a puffed-up ring around it.
As you might have noticed, 'Naan' is usually used to pick up liquid and soft foods like shorba and beans. Forks and knives not commonly used during meals in Pakistan (unless someone is eating rice or is dining out). Attempting to cut a naan with a knife may elicit some amusement around you. Watching others may help.
- Types of 'kababs' (mainly made of Beef or Lamb):
- Seekh Kabab (سيخ کباب) - A long skewer of minced beef mixed with herbs and seasonings.
- Shami Kabab (شامي کباب) - A round patty of seasoned beef and lentils, softer than seekh kababs.
- Chapli Kabab (چپلي کباب) - A spicy round kabab that is a specialty of Peshawar.
- Chicken Kabab (مرغ کباب) - A popular kabab that is found both with bone and without.
- Lamb Kabab (کبابِ برہ گوشت) - The all lamb meat kabab is usually served as cubes.
- More Pakistani Foods:
- Roasted Chicken (whole) (مرغ بريان) - A whole chicken roasted. Very famous around Pakistan. You'll see them on the rotisserie while driving on Lahore streets. Also known as 'charga' locally.
- Biryani (برياني) - A dish with mixed pieces of chicken and rice. It smells nice from the saffron and other seasonings added.
- Chicken Tikka - Barbequed chicken with a spicy exterior. Looks like a huge, red chicken leg and thigh. For all meat lovers. Is available most anywhere.
- Haleem - Thick stew-like mix of tiny chunks of meat, lentils and wheat grains.
There are too many shorbas, or sauces/soups, to enumerate. However, you should know of the most common ones.
- Daal - Yellow (made of yellow/red lentils) or brown (slightly sour) lentil "soup". Usually unspiced. Common to all economic classes.
- X + ki sabzi - A vegetarian mixture with 'X' as the main ingredient.
- With Meat
Meat is a major ingredient in most dishes. The variety is endless, but here are a few examples:
- Aloo Gosht (Potatoes and Meat) - Chunks of potato and goat meat in gravy. Levels of spice vary. One example of a generic dish that includes most things + Gosht(meat).
- Nihari- Beef simmered for several hours. A delicacy often eaten with Nan, Sheer Mal, or Taftan. Few people will have this available without spice. Eat with lemon, fried onion and caution: it is one of the spiciest curries.
- Paye - or 'Siri Paye' is a stew of goat/beef/mutton bones (typically hooves, skull) and bone marrow. Extremely nutritious and generally eaten for breakfast with naan.
- Enjoy a variety; ice cream can be found in an abundance of flavors such as the traditional pistachio flavoured Kulfi;
- Falooda (فلودہ) is tasty rosewater dessert. Traditional ice-cream known as 'kulfi' mixed with vermicelli, pistachio nuts and flavored with rose-water. Most ice-cream shops have their own versions.
- Shirini or Mithai: is the generic name for a variety of sweet treats in Pakistan. The sweets are extremely popular in Pakistan and called different things depending on where you go. Eat small chunks at a time, eating large pieces can be rude and will generally be too sweet.
- Kulfi is a very traditional made ice-cream mixed with cream and different types of nuts.
- If you want to go to some ice-cream parlors, there are some good western ice-cream parlors in Lahore like "Polka Parlor" "Jamin Java" "Hot Spot". For traditional ice creams, the 'Chaman' ice cream parlor across town is quite popular.
A part from local restaurants, international fast food chains have also popped up throughout Pakistan. They include, KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Subway, Nandos, Mr.Cod, Papa Johns, Dominoes etc. You are also prone to finding more European chains than North American.
[Edit this travel guide] Drink
Tap water can be unsafe for drinking. However, some establishments have water filters/purifiers installed, in which case the water is safe to drink. Packed drinking water (normally called mineral water in Pakistan) is a better choice.
The taste of the water is said to be very good in the north-eastern side of Pakistan, especially in the district of Sialkot. Ask for bottled water wherever possible, and avoid anything cold that might have water in it.
- Tea (or Chai as it is referred to in Pakistan) is popular throughout the country.
- Both black and green tea (Sabz chai or qahvah) are common and are traditionally drunk with cardamom and lots of sugar. Lemon is optional but recommended with green tea.
- Kashmiri chai is a milky tea with almonds and nuts added to give additional flavour. This tea is very popular during weddings and in the cold season.
- Coffee is also available in all cities.
In the warmer southern region, sweet drinks are readily available throughout the day. Look for street vendors that have fruits (real or decorations) hanging from their roofs. Also, some milk/yogurt shops serve lassi. Ask for meethi lassi for a sweet yogurt drink and you can also get a salty lassi which tastes good and is similar to the Arabic Laban if you are having "bhindi" in food or some other rich dish. There is also a sweet drink called Mango Lassi which is very rich and thick, made with yogurt, mango pulp, and pieces of mango.
Alcohol (both imported and local) is available to non-Muslim foreigners at off licenses and bars in most top end hotels. The local alcoholic beer is called 'Murree Beer. It is illegal for Muslims to buy, possess or consume alcohol in Pakistan. There is a huge black market across the country and the police tend to turn a blind eye to what is going on in private.
[Edit this travel guide] Accommodation
Hotels are usually found around busy transportation hubs like bus and train stations. Don't be fooled by an impressive lobby - ask to see the room and check the beds, toilets, lights, etc before checking in. If you have a big enough wallet you may want to try the reputable luxury hotels such as the Pearl Continental , Holiday Inn and others located in all major cities as well as many tourist destinations. With the exception of these upper-end hotels, the term "hotel" in Pakistan is reserved for simpler establishments, with "Guest House" referring to medium-sized establishments where the standard is typically higher. Also note that restaurants are also called "hotels", creating a fun potential for confusion.
[Edit this travel guide] Work
Many Pakistani companies are looking for Sales representatives and usually all manner of companies will be happy to speak to a well-dressed Westerner about business.
Many tourists are known to buy leather goods and other curios in Pakistan sell them in Goa India or somehow get them shipped back to the West.
Otherwise your best way of working is contact the numerous Aid agencies that work out of Peshawar, Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
[Edit this travel guide] Safety Information
Pakistan has endured several bomb attacks over the last few years against security forces, so called western institutions (e.g the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad) and has seen the public assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto upon her return from exile. Currently these attacks are increasing due to increased military action against the Taliban. For the ordinary traveler it's a fairly hospitable country but social protests tend to turn violent and political demonstrations are always sensitive. Before traveling you should check with your embassy about off-limits areas, the latest political & military developments and keep an close eye on current issues with independent news sources.
Use common sense and a healthy dose of courtesy when in conversation with Pakistanis. Kashmir is a particularly sensitive topic and best avoided altogether. Discussion about religion and Islam should remain respectful and positive — some Pakistanis are not tolerant of other religions, and if theirs is spoken about negatively, it could result in violence.
The line of control between Azad Kashmir and the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir is off-limits for foreign tourists, though domestic tourists can visit Azad Kashmir without any restriction (but should keep their identity cards with them).
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas & all regions near the sensitive Afghan border should not be visited at any time by foreign tourists, as the Pakistan government has little to no authority in these areas and cannot aid you in an emergency. If you do have reason to visit, seek expert guidance, including that of your embassy, who can advise you on the special permissions required.
Swat Valley is currently the epicenter of fierce fighting between the Pakistan army and the Taliban and even the locals are evacuating due to increased violence. Northern and Western Balochistan are considered dangerous and not fit for travelers.
Prostitution has no legal recognition in Pakistan. Moreover despite growth of male prostitution, homosexuality is outlawed in the nation. Under Section 377 of the Pakistan Penal Code, whoever voluntarily has "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than two years nor more than ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offense described in this section. Pakistani law is greatly influenced by the Penal Code drawn up by the British in 1892. This remains a major element of the current Pakistani law. However, arrests are not common for homosexuality evidenced by a vibrant gay nightlife existing in many metropolitan areas.
[Edit this travel guide] Stay healthy
Visitors are strongly advised to refrain from drinking tap water; many Pakistani locals themselves drink boiled or purified water. Take every precaution to drink only boiled, filtered or bottled water. Tap water is known to contain many impurities. Ice is usually made from regular tap-water, and may be even harder to avoid. Fresh milk from the carrier should be boiled and cooled before consumption. Non-pasteurized dairy can spread tuberculosis. Be careful of the people with a hacking cough. Nestle Milk Pak, Haleeb Milk, and others are trusted brands and are available at most grocery stores.
Take precautions against malaria, which is spread by mosquitoes. The first and most effective way is to avoid getting bitten, but if you plan to stay in a place where malaria is common, you may need to eat prophylactic medicine as well. The risk of getting Malaria decreases with higher altitudes.
In the summer it gets very hot. Be careful to stay hydrated. Temperature ranges between 40C to 50C in June-July. But as soon as Monsoon rains set in during Aug-Sept months, it gets to around 30C but with high level of humidity.
Do not eat food that has been lying out for some time, as high temperatures speed up deterioration. Avoid posh but unfrequented restaurants.
Some Pakistani dishes can be very spicy! Always notify your host, cook or waiter if you can not take very spicy food.
[Edit this travel guide] Respect
Pakistanis pride themselves on their tradition of hospitality to guests (mehmanawazi in Urdu, milmastia in Pashtu, puranadari in Punjabi). When entering a house, you will often be showered with tea, sweets and gifts — it's considered ungrateful to refuse these. Finishing a meal involves a delicate balance.... cleaning your plate will invite more to be served, while leaving too much may be a sign you didn't care for it. Aim for leaving just a little, announcing you're full, and heavily praising the food.
Business tends to move slowly, and will often be preceded by a lot of socializing, tea drinking, and meeting of the family. Rushing to the point may be considered rude, and even sour the deal.
Pakistan is a conservative country and it is advisable for women to wear long skirts or trousers in public (Pakistani women wear the traditional shalwar kameez). Dress codes for men are more lax, though shorts are uncommon. Men should never shake hands with or touch a woman they don't know very well.
As with most of South Asia, you should use your right hand for eating, shaking hands and giving or receiving everything (including money), and reserve your left hand for handling shoes and assisting in toilet duties.
[Edit this travel guide] Contact Details
The country code for Pakistan is +92 if you are calling from outside the country. Phone numbers are seven digits long with two digit city code in larger districts, and six digits long with three digit city code in smaller districts, for a total of nine digits as a standard nationwide (except for Azad Kashmir). All mobile numbers, however, are seven digits long and begin with a four digit city code "03XX", where XX indicates the cellular provider. Thus Pakistani mobile numbers are linked to one particular cellular provider, NOT one particular city as in some other countries. Therefore the city prefix should not be dialled in addition to the cellular prefix. As in many countries, omit the initial zero when dialing a city or cell code from outside Pakistan and prefix the '92' country code after dialling your country's international access code. Thus Telenor™ cell number 7654321 dialled from the USA/Canada would be 011-92-345-7654321 and Peshawar landline 2345678 dialled from France or the UK would be 00-92-91-2345678. The int'l access code for outgoing calls from Pakistan is 00.
PTCL  offers landline and wireless phone services.
Public Call Offices can be found all over the country. You will find a PCO in nearly 50% of the general stores where there is usually someone who operates the phone and fax. Fees will be charged according to the time spent, and you will pay when you have finished your call.
[Edit this travel guide] Cell phone
|Same circle||Local||92-area code-number||92-51-12345678|
|Different circle||STD||0-area code-number||051-12345678|
Major providers of mobile phone service (GSM) are:
One very convenient feature is that all Pakistani cellular operators use the GSM platform, so that cellular handsets nationwide are freely interchangeable between providers.
[Edit this travel guide] Internet
Cybercafes can be found on virtually every street corner and the rates are as low as Rs.15-20 per hour. They usually don't have a very fast operating system so don't be too impatient. They usually use 14" monitors, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows XP are usually installed on these machines. Most of the cafes have a decent speed internet connection.
Internet Access can be obtained easily on notebook computers with the help of GPRS enabled mobile connections, supported by almost all of the 5 mobile operators. Mobilink provides EDGE based connection in very limited areas of Karachi, however Telenor's coverage of EDGE is wider. The standard cost of GPRS/EDGE usage is Rs 15 - Rs 18/MB data transfer but Zong offers Rs 15/hour, however if you wish to download much more you may want to use unlimited packages, provided only by Mobilink and Telenor at this time. World Call and Ufone also offers USB Modem.
There are several Wi-Fi hotspots in Pakistan, in hotels, malls, and cafes/restaurants.
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