Traveling in Pakistan… When I first told my Mum that I planned to travel to Pakistan as part of my hitchhiking adventure across The Middle East, she was somewhat skeptical. She was probably wondering “for what reason would you travel to Pakistan?”
Pakistan is a country which is often portrayed in the media as a war-torn hellhole and tourism in Pakistan is almost non-existent. Every year, only a very small number of adventure backpackers and die-hard climbers travel to Pakistan, I was determined to be one of them…
Traveling in Pakistan is a truly unique experience, it can be frustrating, enlightening, life-changing and, more often than not, surprising. Pakistan is the ultimate backpacking destination and if you are a fan of real adventure, it’s time for you to travel to Pakistan!
Here are the 6 Reasons why you should pack your bags and travel to Pakistan…
1: People are simply amazing
he Pakistani people are, without a doubt, the most hospitable, kind and welcoming folk that I have ever encountered. From the bustling streets of Lahore to the quaint mountain towns of Hunza, every time a local person spotted me I would, without fail, be rewarded with a huge grin and often an invitation to dinner. I lost count of just how many cups of free chai I drank but it was a lot…
On one occasion, a kindly man named Rehman invited me to visit his family in a small village in the mountains, I stayed for almost a week – hiking on the nearby glaciers and playing cricket with Rehman’s kids. I’ve been lucky enough to make many friends on my travels but the friendships I forged in Pakistan were some of the most genuine I have ever made; the people simply cannot do enough for you.
I couchsurfed my way around the country, being welcomed into the homes of numerous strangers who always insisted on feeding me like a king and showing me around their local town. I cannot wait to return to see my many friends again.
2: Unbelievable Landscapes
OK, even the most illiterate of map readers should know that Pakistan is famous for its mountains, valleys, rivers, glaciers, and forests… This is a country with more than its fair share of truly wondrous sites and tourism in Pakistan is bound to take off eventually!
Five of the world’s fourteen highest peaks, including the famed and deadly K2, are found in Pakistan. If you are into your climbing, rafting or trekking, Pakistan is the country for you.
I have explored over seventy countries and I can safely say that Pakistan is the most diverse and beautiful country I have ever visited. There are plenty of unclimbed peaks just waiting to be conquered by a worthy adventurer…
3: Everything is possible in Pakistan… even raves.
Whilst in Lahore, word got out that a backpacker was visiting and, before I knew it, I had been invited to a very exclusive party set up in the middle of nowhere…
I passed a small army of private security, proved I was on the guest list and finally, I was into one of the craziest parties I have ever been to. An international DJ, plenty of young, rich and beautiful Pakistani people, trippy lights and plenty of energizers to keep me going… It was a mad night.
4: Pakistan is safe
Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Pakistan, the main one is simply – the answer is relatively simple. Yes, as long as you steer clear of the Afghanistan border regions.
It’s true that Pakistan does sometimes get hit by terrorist attacks (there was two whilst I was there) but, right now, every country in the world seems to be fair game and you are no safer sitting at home. The media feeds on fear and prejudice, do not let yourself be influenced.
Pakistani people are extremely anti-Taliban (and the Pakistani armed forces are currently kicking Taliban asses in the border regions) and will do everything they can to keep you safe at all costs.
On occasion, you might be assigned a police escort. This does not necessarily mean you are in a dangerous area, it just means the local police branch wants to keep an eye on you.
I had a couple of bodyguards, one of whom was a sixty year old with the strength of a dozen twenty-year-olds. I quickly made friends with them even though they spoke no English – simply smile, be respectful and, just like in any other country, you will be fine.
5: It was a part of the British Raj
It wasn’t too long ago that Pakistan was a part of The British Empire. As such English is widely taught in school’s and is often the de facto language for all business and political dealings. For those on a tour of Pakistan, this means that you will be able to communicate very well with the locals.
It still pays to learn a little Urdu because Pakistani people will be very impressed to hear you speak it. Often they will shower you with compliments and huge smiles. The mountainous regions will be less able to speak English as well so Urdu actually pays when you’re visiting Gilgit-Baltistan.
6: The Historical Silk Road
To travel in Pakistan is to step back into the pages of history. Marco Polo was one of the first European explorers to tackle The Silk Road, an ancient trade route that spanned the Orient, linking the treasuries of the Roman Empire to the Imperial Dynasties of China.
At the trade route’s heart lies the Karakoram, a pivotal crossroad between The Indian Subcontinent, The Middle East, and Central Asia. It is the corridor through which advanced three great faiths – Islam to the east, Buddhism to the north, and curry to the West.
Today, the unendingly impressive Karakoram Highway runs the length of the country and offers stunning views, epic motorbike adventures and the chance to follow in the footsteps of history. My good friend Shah is now running motorcycling tours in Pakistan.