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Holidays in Pakistan

Understanding Pakistan

History

The history of Pakistan traces back to the beginnings of human life in South Asia Pakistan is home to the Indus Valley civilization, which is amongst the oldest in the world Prior to the 1900's the area of Pakistan was the area from which the Muslims ruled over Central and Southern Asia for over 300 years Today Pakistan is made up of people from various races including Arabs from after the Islamic expeditions, Persians from Bukhara and Samarkand, Turks from Central Asia and the native Sindhus who were converted to Islam

The official name of Pakistan was used after the partition of British India into the 2 nation-states of India and Pakistan in 1947 However, the word Pakistan was first used by Ch Rehmat Ali back in 1933 in his declaration, Now or Never - calling for its separation from the Empire Afterwards, British-ruled India was divided into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with two sections West and East and secular India A third war between these countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan seceding and becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh A dispute over the state of Jammu and Kashmir is ongoing between India and Pakistan

Terrain

Pakistan is one of those few countries in the world which has every kind of geological structure It has the sea, desert Sindh & Punjab, green mountains North West Provice, dry mountains Balochistan, mountains covered with ice, rivers, rich land to cultivate Punjab & Sindh, water resources, water falls, forests etc The North West Frontier Province and Gilgit-Baltistan contain the mountain ranges of the Himalayas, the Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush Pakistan's highest point is K2, at 8,611 meters, which is the second highest peak in the world The Punjab province is a flat, alluvial plain whose rivers eventually join the Indus River and flow south to the Arabian Sea Sindh lies between the Thar Desert the Rann of Kutch to the east, and the Kirthar range to the west The Balochistan Plateau is arid and surrounded by dry mountains Pakistan experiences frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe, especially in north and west

Climate

Mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north Flooding along the Indus after heavy rains July and August Fertile and sub humid heat in the Punjab region

Holidays

  • Eid-ul-Fitr - the largest holiday of the year, it celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan Food is the highlight, and if you're lucky you'll be invited into a private home for a feast Businesses close for at least a couple days if not a week
  • Eid-ul-Azha - the festival of sacrifice, commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son
  • Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi - Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, varies according to Hijera calendar
  • Pakistan Day - March 23
  • Labour Day - May 1
  • Independence Day - August 14
  • Quaid-e-Azam's deathday - September 11
  • Quaid-e-Azam's birthday - December 25
  • Ramadan - the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Muslim's fast everyday for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk Nothing including water and cigarettes are supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset Foreigners and travelers are exempt from this, but you should still refrain from doing it in public

Talking in Pakistan

Urdu is the national language and is spoken throughout Pakistan as lingua franca In addition to Urdu most Pakistanis speak their regional languages or dialects such as Punjabi, Pothohari, Sindhi, Pashto Pushtun, Balochi, Saraiki, Shina, Burushaski, Khowar, Wakhi, Hindko etc

English is the official language used in all government and most educational and business entities, and is also understood and spoken at varying levels of competence by many people around Pakistan, especially the upper classes and people who have gone through higher levels of education, and those residing in the larger cities

What to see in Pakistan

Observe the wonders of Karachi, Pakistan's former capital and its largest city, situated on the shores of the Arabian Sea The magnificent Quaid-e-Azam's Mazar, the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan, is made entirely of white marble with impressive north African arches Other places to visit are the National Museum and the beach at Clifton

  • Shah Faisal Masjid Mosque Islamabad A majestic white building comprises four 88m 288ft minarets and a desert tent-like structure, which is the main prayer chamber and can accommodate 1 hundred thousand worshippers
  • Mountains, including K2, Nanga Parbat Pakistan boasts some of the highest mountains in the world in Kashmir, including the famous Nanga Parbat and the second-highest mountain in the world, K2 The Baltoro Glacier and the Batura Glacier are the largest outside the polar regions
  • Peshawar North West Frontier Province The city is surrounded by high walls with 20 entry gates Much of the surrounding area is still under the jurisdiction of tribal law These areas can only be visited with a permit from the relevant authorities
  • The Khyber Pass Afridis Visit the legendary 1,067m- 3,501ft- high break in the sheer rock wall separating Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Chitral Hindu Kush Mountains north of Peshawar Visit this wild and beautiful area of Pakistan It is inhabited by the Kalash people, the last of the non-Islamic tribes of Kafiristan This valley is noted for its hot springs and trout-filled rivers
  • Swat Valley East of Chitral An area of wild mountains and fantastic alpine scenery In ancient times, it was home to the famous Gandhara school of sculpture, a manifestation of Greek-influenced Buddhist forms The ruins of great Buddhist stupas, monasteries and statues remain It also boasts popular mountain retreats such as Miandam and Mingora
  • A Cricket or Polo Match Some of the most popular sports in Pakistan Polo is particularly popular in the northern towns of Gilgit and Chitra

What to do in Pakistan

Go and see the Silk Road

Buying stuff in Pakistan

The national currency of Pakistan is the rupee PKR Coins are issued in 1, 2, and 5 rupee denominations while banknotes come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 rupee values

ATMs exist in most areas and accept major credit cards

  • You can buy very cheap garments, bed sheets, shirts, T-shirts, It is to be mentioned that many world renowned brands like Adidas, Levis, Slazenger, HangTen, Wal-Mart etc get their products prepared from Faisalabad which has got one of the largest textile industries of the world You can find cheap products of these brands at local stores You can get a pair of Levis jeans or any other good brand for that matter for just 800 PKR 10 USD
  • Buy leather goods like shoes, jackets and bags
  • Buy sports goods like cricket bats, balls, kits, footballs, sports wear and almost anything related to sports you can imagine You will not find such high quality equipment at such low cost anywhere else To mention, Sialkot produces 90 percent of the world’s sports goods and is the largest provider of sports equipment to FIFA for the World cup
  • Pakistan produces economical and high quality musical instruments You can even get an acoustic guitar for as low as 2000 PKR 34 USD
  • Buy surgical instruments
  • Buy computer accessories
  • Buy Chinese goods especially Electronics & Cameras which are re-exported from Pakistan and is cheaper than other parts of the world
  • Buy Arabian, Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani carpets
  • Buy Wood Carvings such as decorative wooden plates, bowls, artwork, furniture, and other miscellaneous items
  • Buy Jewellery such as necklaces, bracelets etc are very inexpensive in Pakistan
  • Buy gems, handicrafts Ajrak from Sindh, Blue pottery from Multan, Clay pottery from Karachi, glassware, brassware, marble products, crystal works and antiques Also buy pashmina, rugs, wool-shawls or wraps, which can cost anywhere between $15 to as much as $700 Remember to bargain
  • Buy Books
  • Buy souvenirs such as decorative items from Sea Shells
  • For food stuffs go to any super store like Dmart, Makro, Metro; especially buy Swat honey, Biscuits, Mitchells chocolate which are the best in the world
  • Buy home accessories
  • Buy Kitchen Utensils and Cutlery
  • For art lovers, get in touch with a local to take you around There are so many art galleries in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad that are worth visiting and each will offer a completely different range of artwork, style and pricing All the facilities should be visited if you are an art lover

Food and eating in Pakistan

Pakistani food mainly consists of various kinds of kababs eaten with either flatbread or rice Food tends range from mild to spicy depending on where you are and who your cook is So state your preference before beginning to eat In general, most of the food that you find in the high end hotels is also available in the markets but European-style food is generally reserved for the former

  • The types of flatbread collectively referred to as Naan are:
    • Naan - A soft and thick flat bread that often requires special clay ovens tandoor and cannot be properly made on home stoves
    • Roti/Chapatti - A homemade bread, much thinner then naan and usually made out of unrefined flour, and which is ready in minutes
    • Paratha - An extremely oily version of the roti Usually excellent if you're going out to eat, but beware of health concerns; often it is literally dripping with oil because it is meant to be part of a rich meal Paratha is more declicious if you cook it in pure oil like "desi ghee"
    • Sheer Mal - This is a slightly sweetened, lightly oiled bread that has waffle-like squares punched in it It is often considered the most desirable bread and is a delicacy to most people Often paired with nihari Another breakfast version of sheermal is very much like the Italian Panettone albeit in a flat naan-like shape with added dried fruits and candy
    • Taftan - Much like the 'sheer mal' but with a puffed-up ring around it

As you might have noticed, 'Naan' is usually used to pick up liquid and soft foods like shorba and beans Forks and knives not commonly used during meals in Pakistan unless someone is eating rice or is dining out Attempting to cut a naan with a knife may elicit some amusement around you Watching others may help

  • Types of 'kababs' mainly made of Beef or Lamb:
    • Seekh Kabab سيخ کباب - A long skewer of minced beef mixed with herbs and seasonings
    • Shami Kabab شامي کباب - A round patty of seasoned beef and lentils, softer than seekh kababs
    • Chapli Kabab چپلي کباب - A spicy round kabab that is a specialty of Peshawar
    • Chicken Kabab مرغ کباب - A popular kabab that is found both with bone and without
    • Lamb Kabab کبابِ برہ گوشت - The all lamb meat kabab is usually served as cubes
  • More Pakistani Foods:
    • Roasted Chicken whole مرغ بريان - A whole chicken roasted Very famous around Pakistan You'll see them on the rotisserie while driving on Lahore streets Also known as 'charga' locally
    • Biryani برياني - A dish with mixed pieces of chicken and rice It smells nice from the saffron and other seasonings added
    • Chicken Tikka - Barbequed chicken with a spicy exterior Looks like a huge, red chicken leg and thigh For all meat lovers Is available most anywhere
    • Haleem - Thick stew-like mix of tiny chunks of meat, lentils and wheat grains

There are too many shorbas, or sauces/soups, to enumerate However, you should know of the most common ones

  • Vegetarian
    • Daal - Yellow made of yellow/red lentils or brown slightly sour lentil "soup" Usually unspiced Common to all economic classes
    • X + ki sabzi - A vegetarian mixture with 'X' as the main ingredient
  • With Meat

Meat is a major ingredient in most dishes The variety is endless, but here are a few examples:

    • Aloo Gosht Potatoes and Meat - Chunks of potato and goat meat in gravy Levels of spice vary One example of a generic dish that includes most things + Goshtmeat
    • Nihari- Beef simmered for several hours A delicacy often eaten with Nan, Sheer Mal, or Taftan Few people will have this available without spice Eat with lemon, fried onion and caution: it is one of the spiciest curries
    • Paye - or 'Siri Paye' is a stew of goat/beef/mutton bones typically hooves, skull and bone marrow Extremely nutritious and generally eaten for breakfast with naan
  • Desserts
    • Enjoy a variety; ice cream can be found in an abundance of flavors such as the traditional pistachio flavoured Kulfi;
    • Falooda فلودہ is tasty rosewater dessert Traditional ice-cream known as 'kulfi' mixed with vermicelli, pistachio nuts and flavored with rose-water Most ice-cream shops have their own versions
    • Shirini or Mithai: is the generic name for a variety of sweet treats in Pakistan The sweets are extremely popular in Pakistan and called different things depending on where you go Eat small chunks at a time, eating large pieces can be rude and will generally be too sweet
    • Kulfi is a very traditional made ice-cream mixed with cream and different types of nuts
    • If you want to go to some ice-cream parlors, there are some good western ice-cream parlors in Lahore like "Polka Parlor" "Jamin Java" "Hot Spot" For traditional ice creams, the 'Chaman' ice cream parlor across town is quite popular

A part from local restaurants, international fast food chains have also popped up throughout Pakistan They include, KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Subway, Nandos, MrCod, Papa Johns, Dominoes etc You are also prone to finding more European chains than North American

Drinking in Pakistan

Tap water can be unsafe for drinking However, some establishments have water filters/purifiers installed, in which case the water is safe to drink Packed drinking water normally called mineral water in Pakistan is a better choice

The taste of the water is said to be very good in the north-eastern side of Pakistan, especially in the district of Sialkot Ask for bottled water wherever possible, and avoid anything cold that might have water in it

  • Tea or Chai as it is referred to in Pakistan is popular throughout the country
    • Both black and green tea Sabz chai or qahvah are common and are traditionally drunk with cardamom and lots of sugar Lemon is optional but recommended with green tea
    • Kashmiri chai is a milky tea with almonds and nuts added to give additional flavour This tea is very popular during weddings and in the cold season
  • Coffee is also available in all cities

In the warmer southern region, sweet drinks are readily available throughout the day Look for street vendors that have fruits real or decorations hanging from their roofs Also, some milk/yogurt shops serve lassi Ask for meethi lassi for a sweet yogurt drink and you can also get a salty lassi which tastes good and is similar to the Arabic Laban if you are having "bhindi" in food or some other rich dish There is also a sweet drink called Mango Lassi which is very rich and thick, made with yogurt, mango pulp, and pieces of mango

Alcohol both imported and local is available to non-Muslim foreigners at off licenses and bars in most top end hotels The local alcoholic beer is called 'Murree Beer It is illegal for Muslims to buy, possess or consume alcohol in Pakistan There is a huge black market across the country and the police tend to turn a blind eye to what is going on in private

Accommodation in Pakistan

Hotels are usually found around busy transportation hubs like bus and train stations Don't be fooled by an impressive lobby - ask to see the room and check the beds, toilets, lights, etc before checking in If you have a big enough wallet you may want to try the reputable luxury hotels such as the Pearl Continental 11, Holiday Inn and others located in all major cities as well as many tourist destinations With the exception of these upper-end hotels, the term "hotel" in Pakistan is reserved for simpler establishments, with "Guest House" referring to medium-sized establishments where the standard is typically higher Also note that restaurants are also called "hotels", creating a fun potential for confusion

Working in Pakistan

Many Pakistani companies are looking for Sales representatives and usually all manner of companies will be happy to speak to a well-dressed Westerner about business

Many tourists are known to buy leather goods and other curios in Pakistan sell them in Goa India or somehow get them shipped back to the West

Otherwise your best way of working is contact the numerous Aid agencies that work out of Peshawar, Islamabad and Rawalpindi

Cities in Pakistan

adilpur  ahmadpur east  ahmadpur sial  akora  alipur  alizai  amangarh  arifwala  attock  badah  baddomalhi  badin  baffa  bagarji  bahawalnagar  bahawalpur  bandhi  bannu  barkhan  basirpur  bat khela  begowala  bela  berani  bhag  bhakkar  bhalwal  bhan  bhawana  bhera  bhit shah  bhopalwala  bozdar  bulri  burewala  chak azam sahu  chak  chak jhumra  chakwal  chaman  chambar  charsadda  chawinda  cherat  chichawatni  chiniot  chishtian mandi  chitral  choa saidan shah  chor  chuhar kana  chunian  dadu  dajal  dalbandin  daro  darya khan  darya khan mari  daska  daud khel  daulatpur  daultala  daur  dera bugti  dera ghazi khan  dera ismail khan  dhadar  digri  dijkot  dina  dinga  dipalpur  diplo  dir  doaba  dokri  duki  dullewala  dunga bunga  dunyapur  eminabad  faisalabad  faqirwali  faruka  fatehpur  fazalpur  fort abbas  gambat  garhi khairo  garhi yasin  garh maharaja  gharo  ghauspur  ghotki  gilgit  gojra  gujar khan  gujranwala  gujrat  gwadar  hafizabad  hala  hangu  haripur  harnai  harnoli  harunabad  hasan abdal  hasilpur  havelian  haveli  hazro  hingorja  hunza  hyderabad  isa khel  islamkot  jacobabad  jalalpur jattan  jalalpur pirwala  jampur  jam sahib  jandiala sherkhan  jand  jaranwala  jati  jatoi  jauharabad  jhawarian  jhelum  jhol  jiwani  johi  kabirwala  kadhan  kahna nau  kahror pakka  kahuta  kalabagh  kalaswala  kalat  kaleke  kalur kot  kamalia  kambar  kamir  kamoke  kamra  kandiari  kandiaro  kanganpur  karachi  karak  kashmor  kasur  keti bandar  khadro  khairpur  khairpur nathan shah  khalabat  khanewal  khangah dogran  khangarh  khanpur  khanpur  kharan  kharian  khewra  khipro  khurianwala  khushab  khuzdar  kohat  kohlu  kot addu  kot diji  kotli loharan  kot radha kishan  kotri  kot samaba  kulachi  kundian  kunjah  kunri  lachi  lahore  lakhi  lakki marwat  lalian  larkana  liaqatabad  liliani  lodhran  loralai  mach  madeji  mailsi  malakwal  mamu kanjan  mandi bahauddin  mangla  mankera  mansehra  mardan  mastung  matiari  matli  mehar  mehrabpur  mian channun  mianwali  minchinabad  mingaora  miram shah  miro khan  mirpur bathoro  mirpur khas  mirpur mathelo  mirpur sakro  mirwah  mitha tiwana  mithi  moro  multan  muridke  murree  mustafabad  muzaffarabad  muzaffargarh  nabisar  nankana sahib  narang  narowal  nasirabad  naudero  naukot  naushahro firoz  nawabshah  nowshera  nushki  okara  ormara  pabbi  paharpur  pakpattan  pano aqil  pasni  pasrur  pattoki  peshawar  phalia  phulji  pind dadan khan  pindi bhattian  pindi gheb  pishin  pithoro  qadirpur ran  quetta  rabwah  radhan  raiwind  raja jang  rajanpur  rajo khanani  ranipur  rasulnagar  ratodero  rawalpindi  renala khurd  risalpur  rohri  rojhan  rustam  sadiqabad  sahiwal  sakrand  samaro  samasatta  sambrial  sanghar  sanjwal  sann  sarai alamgir  sarai naurang  sarai sidhu  sargodha  sarhari  sehwan  setharja  shabqadar  shahdadkot  shahdadpur  shahpur chakar  sharqpur  shekhupura  shikarpur  shinpokh  shujaabad  sialkot  sibi  sillanwali  sinjhoro  sita road  sodhra  sohbatpur  sujawal  sukheke  sukkur  surab  swabi  talagang  talhar  tandlianwala  tando adam  tando ghulam ali  tando jam  tando muhammad khan  tangi  tangwani  tank  taunsa  thano bula khan  thatta  thul  toba tek singh  topi  turbat  ubauro  uch  umarkot  usta muhammad  uthal  utmanzai  vihari  wah  wana  warah  warburton  wazirabad  yazman  zafarwal  zahir pir  zaida  zhob  ziarat  

What do you think about Pakistan?

How expensive is Pakistan?
(1 PKR = 0.01 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant220.8 PKR
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)1.11 PKR
McDonalds meal506 PKR
Local beer (0.5 draft)270 PKR
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 553.5 PKR
Cappuccino129.36 PKR
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)31.71 PKR
Water (0.33 bottle)27.8 PKR
Milk (1l)88.52 PKR
Fresh bread (500g)51.21 PKR
White Rice (1kg)138.45 PKR
Eggs (12) 103.26 PKR
Local Cheese (1kg) 383.96 PKR
Chicken Breast (1kg) 271.75 PKR
Apples (1kg) 111.94 PKR
Oranges (1kg) 87.73 PKR
Tomato (1kg) 60.07 PKR
Potato (1kg) 47.03 PKR
Lettuce (1 head) 39.86 PKR
Water (1.5l)51.67 PKR
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 1.11 PKR
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)389.44 PKR
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 538.24 PKR
Cigarettes132.48 PKR
One way local bus ticket22.1 PKR
Monthly pass for bus0.99 PKR
Taxi start96 PKR
Taxi 1km44.16 PKR
Taxi 1hour waiting221 PKR
Gasoline (1 liter) 108.46 PKR
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 703.68 PKR
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 11.1 PKR
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 21.39 PKR
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 14.56 PKR
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