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While there is an opinion that the Western media paints an overly bleak picture of Pakistan, the country’s security issues should not be ignored.
That said, Pakistanis are renowned for their warm hospitality and great resilience in the face of adversity. Over 270,000 visitors from the UK travel to Pakistan every year – the vast majority of these trips are incident-free, but it is worth noting all travel advice.
Language: Urdu | Currency: Pakistan rupee | Local time: GMT+5 hrs | Avg. Flight time: 11 hrs 50m
Bordered by Afghanistan, Iran, China and India, Pakistan comprises of over 13 ethnic groups that historically derives influences from its neighbours but has a distinct overall Islamic identity. Muslims make up approximately 96% of the population, the majority Sunni and a small minority Shia, with Hindus and Christians making up less than 2% of the population respectively.
Social etiquette conforms closely with Islamic principles. Both men and women wear salwar kameez, a traditional dress worn widely around the Indian sub-continent, and it’s advised that visitors should do the same and respect local customs.
Pakistan is a beautiful country. At Gilgit-Baltistan in the north, three great mountain ranges meet – the Hindu Kush, Himalayas and Karakorams. The breath-taking mountain terrain attracts climbers, hikers and fishermen.
When it comes to sightseeing tips, Badashi Mosque in the eastern city of Lahore continues to fascinate visitors. Built in 1673, it’s topped with cream-coloured domes that represent the vaults of heaven. In the southern city of Karachi, the modern Masjid e Tooba mosque, built in 1969, has one singular dome composed entirely of pure white marble.
Islamabad, the capital city, offers modern day shopping at the Centaurus shopping mall, and visitors can also marvel at the intricate dome-shaped Pakistan Monument which is magnificent when lit up at night.
Pakistani cuisine is a blend of Indian, Far Eastern and Middle Eastern cooking, but varies from region to region. A popular dish is seekh kebab, beef or lamb skewers that are marinated in a blend of red chillies, coriander and cumin before being grilled on an open fire.
For something sweet, try the national drink of Pakistan, roh, a drink made from pressed sugarcane juice. Meanwhile, kulfi (ice cream topped with pistachios), is a delicious treat, perfect for cooling off in the fierce Pakistani heat. When eating out, it’s customary to tip your waiter.
Almost all car rental agencies in Pakistan can provide a local chauffeur to safely drive travellers to designated locations, and this is strongly advised. Major car hire companies like Avis, Budget, and Hertz all offer easy pick-ups at major airports like Allama Iqbal International in Lahore or Jinnah International in Karachi.
For the latest travel advice to Pakistan, check out the FCO page.