Good afternoon All About Sana readers. Hope you all are doing well. I have been getting queries about traveling to Pakistan and I am so pleased to help you with information I feel is critical to have a healthy and enjoyable trip to Pakistan. As you can probably assume I will advise, Pakistan is a country that can’t be visited in one trip. I know my husband and his family visited Pakistan numerous times and lived there for some time before they said to me, “You have shown me Pakistan”. You can visit my other posts to learn about MY Pakistan travels.
I have extensively explained you the geography of the country and warned you about the misinformation that is present online and even in literature. So I will try to relay as much information I can today.
Pakistan has 5 provinces and 2 large states. The provinces are Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Kashmir, and N.W.F.P. The two states are India and Afghanistan. Those carrying US passports require a visa stamped before entering the country. The US Pakistani Consulates are in Los Angeles, California, Chicago, Illinois, Washington D.C., Houston, Texas, and New York, New York only.
My only recommendation to international travelers is to fly into Islamabad, Punjab to avoid a blatant culture shock. Islamabad is a beautiful city I grew up and can’t recommend it enough.
In the province of Punjab you may have heard of cities like Lahore aka Calcutta, Rawalpindi aka New Delhi, Multan aka Kolkotta, and Bahawalpur aka Lucknow. These four cities are very historic and can be accessed with a car or a bus. However I will only recommend you visit them if you have traveled around in Islamabad for 5-6 days. If time is of the essence then don’t fit these cities in your trip. Do not shop in Punjab as it is highly overpriced.
If you are traveling with family aka families with teenagers and ages above, consider taking a train down to Karachi aka Udaipur, Sindh. This is another city I lived in before moving to The United States Of America. The two-day train ride is comfortable and goes through saffron fields and small villages of Punjab and Sindh. Do not leave the train anytime to take pictures or explore. It is critical you take precautions when it comes to your health. Pack supplies like a first aid kit, wipes, your luggage, and lastly food for the train ride itself. It will be a trip of a lifetime, I promise.
In the province of Sindh, I can only recommend Karachi as a tourist destination for international travelers. It is a great place to eat food, visit places close to Pakistan’s founder, Muhammed Jinnah, and see the beaches. The famed city of Mohenjadaro near Hyderabad aka Delhi (there is no New Delhi here) that I haven’t mentioned on the All About Sana cannot be accessed without pre-arranged credentials.
Balochistan & N.W.F.P
I have never been to Balochistan and N.W.F.P (yes China though) so I cannot provide you with the insider’s tips. I can tell you that the cultures of these two provinces are very “Afghani” so it is best you avoid them and opt to fly into Afghanistan.
Most people will be surprised to learn that there isn’t much to see in the state of India other than the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort in Agra.
Afghanistan is a beautiful state of the Indian Subcontinent aka Pakistan. If you are interested in getting Afghani or Turkish carpets this is the source of getting your hands on authentic carpets. Fabrics, home goods such as bedspreads, pillow covers, and crafts available here are unlike any other place in the world. Please learn no one in Afghanistan haggles. You won’t find many haggling shops in Pakistan either. The only city I recommend in the state of Afghanistan (PLEASE CONFIRM WITH YOUR HOTEL IN ISLAMABAD FOR MORE RECOMMENDATIONS) is Bombay/Mumbai. You can meet Sabyasachi here. He He.
ROAD TRIP IN PAKISTAN
Punjab and Kashmir have a wonderful road system so these are the only two places I would recommend looking into further for a road trip. Remember when you rent a car here you get a driver with it. Also note your hotel in Islamabad can give you a package deal for a trip of your dreams. Just email or call beforehand with questions about the arrangements.
I remember taking a road trip of a lifetime with my family and the Vanderbilts in 1986 (but not the Windsors which caused my oldest Duchess to be very upset). We all packed ourselves in vans (I think they were 2) and made out way through these notorious regions with security, cooks (I had to include them in the trip), and drivers. Our route included these locations but not in the same order: Balakot; Murree; Gilgit; Skardu; Askole; Astor; Bunji; Ghangche; Ghizere; Gulmit; Karimabad (Hunza); Ishkoman; Khaplu; Minimerg; Misgar; Passu; Shimshal; Skardu; Sust; Taghafari; Thorar; Jaglot? Chalt (Nagar); Thole (Nagar); Qasimabad Masoot (Nagar); Nagar Proper; Ghulmat (Nagar). I recommend you read this blog post as well with others tagged ‘Pakistan Travel’. Thanks.