Pakistan was once, well and truly on the overland hippy trail from London to Kathmandu. However, following the terrorist attacks in 9/11 tourism in Pakistan halted almost overnight.
Now though, tourists are starting to return to this beautiful country, so I wanted to share my thoughts on why every intrepid traveller should visit Pakistan.
Travelling in Pakistan is truly a delight and something I would encourage anyone to do. In this post I put forward my 20 reasons to visit Pakistan.
I visited Pakistan in October 2019 as part of a two week trekking trip. The tour started in Islamabad and ventured along the Karakoram Highway to the Hunza Valley, where most of our trekking took place. This fabulous tour was run by Karakorum Nature and Discovery Pakistan and I would definitely recommend them. (I paid for my trip so I get nothing for recommending them, i just think they’re really good at what they do!)
Following the tour I travelled independently to Lahore and across the Wagah border into India. Our visits to Islamabad and Lahore coincided with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridges Royal tour of Pakistan.
If touring Pakistan is good enough for William and Kate, it’s good enough for me!
So Why Visit Pakistan?
Prefer to watch rather than read? No worries, just check out the video below. However, if that doesn’t convince you then read on below!
1. They have the most beautifully decorated trucks in the world
Truckers here like some serious bling!
2. It’s not full of terrorists
Contrary to popular belief, Pakistan is not full of terrorists waiting to kidnap the first foreigner they see. After my visit to Pakistan the most popular question I got asked was is Pakistan safe to visit, and in my experience it is.
Granted Pakistan does have its issues when it comes to terrorism, but this has improved in recent years.
“In 2018, there were an estimated 484,000 visits by British nationals to Pakistan. Most visits are trouble-free.” British Travel Advisory.
For more information on which areas are deemed safe to visit, see the official Government website for your country.
3. They have five mountains over 8000m
Most people have heard of K2 – the second highest mountain in the world. But did you know it also has four other peaks that are part of the 8000m club? Don’t worry, neither did I.
Nanga Parbat, which is the ninth highest mountain in the world is said to be the most easily accessible 8000m peak. During my visit we hiked to Nanga Parbat view point, which is just below Nanga Parbat base camp. You can read more about this adventure here.
4. Even the small mountains are huge
There are so many peaks above 4000m and 5000m that nobody has bothered to count them, and there are so many 7000m peaks that they haven’t managed to name them all.
5. Their beard game is strong!
Modern hipsters have got nothing on these guys!
6. The people are welcoming and generous
I used to say Iran was home to the most friendly and hospitable people in the world. Now after my visit to Pakistan, I’m not so sure!
During our visit we were showered with gifts. Everywhere we went we were offered food from local people. At one point we had more apples than we knew what to do with! Locals also seem genuinely pleased to see you.
Pakistanis welcome you to their country with open arms, desperate to see tourism return to the glory years before 2000.
7. The music is entrancing
A local man playing the rubab (rabab), Hunza valley.
8. The meat curries are delicious
Unlike neighbouring India, meat curry is very popular in Pakistan. I honestly don’t think I had a bad one during my 16 days there. Not so great for vegetarians though.
9. The trekking is spectacular
In northern Pakistan three huge mountain ranges collide – the Karakorams, the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. With such vast mountains whichever way you look, you’ll struggle to find a hike that isn’t spectacular.
10. Visas are easy
In an attempt to attract more tourists to Pakistan, the country has recently adopted a relatively cheap and easy e-visa system. In about two weeks you can have your visa approved and be on your way.
11. There are some impressive historical buildings
See the Mughal era Badshahi Mosque when you visit Lahore.
12. And some modern ones too
Shah Faisal Mosque built in 1986 still looks brand new and is a must for any visit to Islamabad.
13. Some of the roads are crazy…
Driving the road towards Fairy Meadows was one of the scariest experiences of my life. Seriously!
14. And some of the bridges are too!
Hussaini Suspension Bridge is also known as the most dangerous bridge in the world. I didn’t know this fact before I walked over it!
15. The glaciers are incredible
The Minapin Glacier in Nagar will take your breath away. You can get to this viewpoint by hiking to Rakaposhi base camp.
16. The lakes are beautiful
Attabad Lake was formed in 2010 when a landslide blocked the flow of the Hunza river. The Karakoram Highway was flooded and had to be rebuilt. During this time all traffic had to travel across the lake on boats just like this one.
17. You can rent a yak motorbike
18. Sunrises are worth getting up for
It’s worth braving the cold to see sunrises like this one in Fairy Meadows.
19. Sunsets are pretty awesome too
The Hunza Valley in all its glory.
20. You can see the original Silk Road
I’ve travelled the Silk Road several times through Central Asia and Iran but I don’t recall ever seeing an actual piece of original Silk Road. In northern Pakistan the old Silk Road can be seen zig zagging its way all around the steep mountain sides.
In summary, Pakistan is simply breathtaking in so many ways and is definitely one of my favourite countries. Forbes included Pakistan in its list of “10 coolest places to visit in 2019” so try and be quick and visit Pakistan before the secret truly gets out!
Are you thinking of visiting this incredible and often over-looked country? Let me know your thoughts below.
Need some more inspiration for your travels in Asia?
As mentioned above Pakistan was part of the much travelled Silk Route. Today a journey along this road will take you to some incredible countries with intriguing cultures. Here are some posts from my Silk Road highlights.
- Learn about the little land-locked country of Kyrgyzstan
- Get off the beaten track in Uzbekistan.
- Discover why I love Georgia (the country, not the state)
- Read about an epic Turkish road trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia
Finally, here are interesting reads about Pakistan and it’s neighbours:
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