Deciding to go to a place where you never have been is quite a tough job. It was my first experience to visit Pakistan and lot of uncertainties were prevailing in my mind regarding the stay there, the gears to pack, the attitude of people, the places to visit and last but not least how to cope with the environment there.
But the first thing I had to encounter with was my family reaction. Straight after describing my idea of visiting Pakistan, I had to deal with a lot of demoralizing questions about the current unstable state of tourism in Pakistan. Media coverage hardly portrays a pleasant story of the country, which is the seventh most populous around the globe, but remains shaken by military coups and terrorism. But Pakistan has different story to tell. A few regions, particularly Baluchistan on the Afghan border and Indian-occupied Kashmir, may not be the best place to be for a white woman. But the entire country is enriched with non-violent areas, such as the regions of Punjab, Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan, which can be discovered as long as you get acquainted with some basic security procedures and keep yourself updated about the contemporary situation.
Before we delve into how this land of beauty became a source of tranquillity for me, let me suggest you some tips to travel in Pakistan. Alright, I’ll get onto it:
Packing the gears as required
There were two things which I took under my notice. First, my comfort. Second, the culture of the region that I was going to pay a visit to. I first made a list of things which I needed the most during my stay. Keeping a close weather on my necessities and the cultural aspects of Pakistan, my luggage became more than limited weight, then I got the services of a company which sends excess baggage to Pakistan from UK.
The other thing is to dress in accordance with the culture and tradition of Pakistan. Being a Muslim region, you should be in a proper and appropriate dress for “Pardah” (Veil) purposes. This doesn’t mean you have to put on the veil around the face but just wear proper dress. No shorts. That’s it. And if you want to enjoy their customs, then wearing the dresses of locality will be more joyous than anything else.
Advance Bookings can save extra cost
Just imagine how hectic it will be roaming down the streets with your luggage to find out a suitable hotel for stay. Nasty! Isn’t it? So, you must book the hotel in advance to save from the chaotic situation. Not only this, but you can also save extra cost as there are discounts on booking online. Booking cab for your trip can also be another benefitted tip for you.
Be prepared to cope with the extreme love of People –
Is this really a tip? Blowing up your mind? You are living in a nation where people just mind their own businesses and don’t get involved in the matters of others. Remember, you are about to dive into a place full of super hospitable and loving people.
Pakistani people will feel it honour for themselves to see you in their homeland. So try to give them a positive response. You can be more than a star for them, so don’t feel hesitated if they want a Selfie with you. They may offer you a gift or something to eat, you must accept them whether use or not afterward. That will be a good gesture from your side.
Do inform your Bank to use your credit and Debit card in Pakistan
It is necessary for you to inform your bank that you want to use your debit or credit card in Pakistan, otherwise they can block it when you’ll use it on account of suspicion. By keeping your bank card with you is safe for you than keeping a lot of cash. Definitely, you will have to need some cash with you as all shops in Pakistan don’t possess credit card machines. So, a little amount of Pakistani Rupees should be in your pocket all the time.
Enjoy Pakistani Food but look for a hygienic place
Pakistani food is more than love. Don’t believe it? When you’ll visit and eat “Karahi”, “Tikkas” you would be ending up licking your fingers. No doubt, Pakistani food is delicious, but the thing to remember is taking care of the cleanliness of the place. Any restaurant you visit, first look with a hawk eyes the environment and the utensils used by the chefs. This shall make you stay healthy during the whole trip.
Don’t forget to capture every moment and scenario
If you are planning to visit different beautiful and captivating scenes, then you may make them a part of your memory forever. So, bring a good camera (DSLR preferable) with you to capture photos in the night or in daylight. When the trip will be over, whenever you feel alone, just take out your images and you will find yourself again there. Whoa!
It’s time to move into the land of splendour beauty and let me take you to the lap of nature.
Daman e Koh- feeling the world under the feet
Inspirational experience, spectacular views, and Tasty food are the main things Daman-e-Koh offers to all of its visitors. Located at 2400 ft. above sea level and 500 ft. above ICT (Islamabad Capital Territory), this place presents an incredible view of the city. At First, I got surprised to see the marvelous view of the whole city from the top. It is actually a midpoint on the way to the higher point named as Pir Sohawa that is located at an elevation of about 3600ft.
Daman-e-Koh offers remarkable panoramic sights of the city specially the newly constructed Seventh Avenue, the Faisal Mosque, Rawal Lake and Centaurus Mall. Be aware of monkeys that roam these areas though. I saw plenty of them at the car park, stealing people’s food!
The view from bottom to top is spectacular and the experience of going up and down the mountain in itself is incredible.
Neela Sandh Picnic Spot
As I landed in the capital city of Pakistan, therefore, I planned to explore this area before moving on to other places, so that I might judge to what extent this country would fascinate me up. But my start was more enthusiastic than I thought. The guide I hired knew each and every part of this city and proposed me to visit unique places which are unknown to even the residents of Islamabad.
It would surely be very surprising to even the residents of Islamabad and Rawalpindi that outer edge of Islamabad in reality host a waterfall and adjoined natural swimming pools. This Waterfall runs during the whole year. Not only this, but it presents a very cool and peaceful atmosphere.
This spot is about 40 km away from main city Islamabad that is only about 50 minutes of drive from the City’s Centre. Neela Sandh offers two identical waterfalls, each one engulfing its own natural swimming pool. One pool on the top of waterfall has been used by the male visitors and the other one by the female that significantly highlights the respect for women in the traditions of Pakistan.
Keeping in view the safety, I used life jacket while swimming as water was deep enough and it could be risky to swim without it. I would like to suggest everyone to visit this place at least once due to its sheer beauty and glamour.
From the capital city, I decided to visit the northern areas to soothe my eyes with more natural scenes. So the first place I visited in northern Pakistan was Shogran. This rural area located in the Naran Valley made me to rethink my entire concepts of colors as all the shades of rainbow seemed popping up when I set eyes upon the beauty that is its land.
The greenest of greens and the brightest of blues, the view seemed to have been perfectly portrayed in real life and time. The grassy green valley paved way for the most delightful thick clutters of pine trees, which happened to be set against an absolutely breathtaking backdrop of gray steely mountains capped by the whitest fluffs of clouds floating around in the finest hues of the skies. The air was dense with the sweetest scents of flowers and the view was captivating all in all.
Horse riding and hiking are some of the most pleasurable ways to spend time there. Rest houses, hotels and huts are also available for those fixing their gaze on a prolonged pleasure trip.
This green bow-shaped valley is situated in Azad Kashmir, near Muzaffarabad, and surrounded by grand snowcapped mountains which separate it from the neighboring valley of Kaghan. The hills seem to be practically carpeted with the lush grass that is representation of this valley, while the gushing white waterfalls and miniature flowing springs are also common to the attractive scenery.
The Neelam River flowing through this picturesque area is the main attraction, and the voice of the flow of the lashing cold waters take over the natural symphony of this remarkable panorama.
There are also a number of makeshift rope crossings made by the locals for traveling and transportation of goods across the flowing river. Though apparently creative, they are almost as sturdy as they look: that is, not at all! For that reason, it is advisable to steer away of these shortcuts as far as possible.
Pine, Fir and Deodar are some of the trees which can be found in great quantity here, along with a multitude of other types of flora, including wild walnut and strawberry cultivation. These add to the charming beauty of the valley, while also offering a healthy stream of income for the locals.
Shangrila Resort, Skardu
In the north of Pakistan, Skardu, the central valley of Gilgit-Baltistan, is an epitome of nature’s beauty, tranquility and magnetism.
After Jaglot on the Karakoram Highway, a constricted road turns towards Skardu. During the eight-hour travel, one is summoned with a couple of streams, springs, and the joyfulness of the area individuals.
Skardu has more worth seeing places than any other northern area of Pakistan. The lovely climate, road infrastructure and the hospitality of natives are some of the features of this area. The beauty can never be compared at human scale, there are more gigantic views in Skardu with more treat for trekker and hiker.
White Palace Swat
White Palace Marghazar is the only magnificent location in the Swat district that’s situated at a distance of around 12 km from the city of Mingora. Not only I visited Marghazar for its natural beauty and pleasant weather but also due to the historic White Palace (1941), built during the period of Swat state.
After the White Palace was built on the directives of the founder of modern Swat state, Miangul Abdul Wadood also recognized as Badshah Sahab, Marghazar became the capital of Swat state during summer season. Even today, after seven decades, White Palace remains an attraction for tourists.
The Palace doesn’t just look striking in summer; even during winter it remains enthralling particularly after snowfall.
The Natural Beauty and paradise on earth – Azad Kashmir
It is said that if you want to see the blessing of nature in Pakistan, immediately plan your trip to the Kashmir.
On the map, Azad Kashmir looks a small strap of land. Be that as it may, travelling from one place of Kashmir to another can be highly time-consuming due to mountainous areas and unpaved roads. As I went deeper into Kashmir, three things which struck my mind, heart and eyes were the astonishing natural beauty; simplicity and loving nature of residents and numerous tourist facilities. The flourishing green lands, hilly valleys, tempting rivers, booming meadows and the picturesque spots make it one of the most heavenly regions of Pakistan.