Of all the places I’ve been I find Pakistan one of the most difficult places to describe. It’s such a mix of different extremes of culture, religious perspective, and politics that its more like several countries under one roof. Some parts of Pakistan couldn’t be more different from each other, yet they are only a few hours drive apart. Naturally the most dangerous regions are the ones that receive world attention and drown out the rest of the country’s wonders. What I found interesting about this trip is that many Pakistanis I know back in the United States said they wouldn’t even visit Pakistan and tried to persuade me not to go. All in all I had a successful trip with no issues and I’m happy with all the places I was able to explore. I truly believe that if Pakistan was a more stable country it would be a significant world travel destination!
With over 10,000 people per square kilometer, Karachi is the most dense city on earth. Karachi is sort of the New York City of Pakistan coupled with a reputation of an incredibly high crime rate. The best places to visit are Karachi’s downtown areas and the beaches, although the remains of more modern British architecture all the way to ancient temples and palaces can be found all over the city. The beaches are packed with thousands of people with camel riders and snake charmers and others looking to impress visitors. With tens of millions of people, Karachi also has several modern areas such as Port Grand and many international restaurants and night clubs.
Pakistan’s eastern province that borders India is home to Lahore, the country’s second largest city. The city is unique in Pakistan as Lahore is the only part of the country that has a passable border between its archrival India. Largely considered the capital of Pakistani culture, Lahore is famous to dozens of important archaeological sites and religious places of worship. The Badshahi mosque, Jahangir Tomb, Lahore Fort and Lahore Gate, plus countless other ancient places are within the city limits. Lahore is also Pakistan’s most educated city and has a reputation for being one of the friendliest cities in the country.
By far the cleanest and most peaceful city in Pakistan, Islamabad was a planned city that came up in the mid 1960’s. Thoughtful civil engineers built open streets and walkways with plenty of city parks and attractions. Despite the city having over a million people, Islamabad feels more like a small quiet suburb than a capital of one of the world’s most populous countries. The city is home to several new museums, monuments and has a nice selection of restaurants. Built close to the base of the Himalayas, Islamabad also offers numerous outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking.
The northern areas are home to Pakistan’s Himalayas, offering some of the world’s most dramatic scenery. The most difficult mountain challenges on earth such as K2 and Nanga Prabat attract mountaineers from all nations. For the rest of us, there are plenty of places for hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and other activities where you can safely admire the glacier covered Himalayan giants.