Majority of the people of Pakistan are mostly Muslims and there is cultural harmony among the people and with non Muslims include the Christians, Buddhist, Hindus, Sikhs and Parsees. Urdu is the national language, while English is spoken frequently in Pakistan. English language is extensively used in official and business circle in the cities. The provincial languages are spoken Punjabi in Punjab Province, Pushto in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province, Sindhi in Sindh Province, Balochi in Balochistan Province, and there are also regional languages spoken Saraiki in south Punjab & KPK, Hindko in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Hazara & some parts of Kashmir, Kashmiri is spoken in Azad Kashmir & northern region of Punjab, Potohari is spoken in Potohar region of Punjab, Shina, Balti, Brushaski & Wakhi is spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan.
HOW TO COME & TRAVEL IN PAKISTAN
By Air Traveling:
Many airlines operate flights to Pakistan from more than 40 countries. Most of the flights arrive at Jinnah International Terminal Karachi, but Pakistan International Airlines operate domestic flights as well as international flights to many countries. Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Thai Airways, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Air, Qatar Airways, Oman Air, Air Lanka, Saudi Airlines and China Southern Airlines fly directly to Benazir Bhutto International Airport Islamabad. PIA, Indian Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Thai Airways fly direct to Lahore. Pakistan International has direct flights from the main Mediterranean and European cities, as well as from New York, Toronto and Nairobi. It also runs a Far East Network from Tokyo, Beijing, Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. PIA has also flights to Kabul, Tashkent and Almaty from Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, and Karachi while other private Pakistani Airlines, Air blue, Shaheen Air International operate flights on weekly basis from Karachi, Dubai, Sharjah, Muscat, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Al-Ain, Doha, Kuwait & Tehran.
By Land Traveling:
The Khunjerab Pass is the ground entry point between China & Pakistan, which is open from 1st May to 31st October for all tourist groups and to 15th November for individual tourists. Customs Immigration opens daily from 08:30am to 11:00am for outgoing travelers and up to 04:00pm (Pakistan Standard Time) for incoming tourists. Travel time from Sost to Tashkurgan (China) is 05 hours. The Chinese border post, Tashkurgan is open 12:00 noon to 14:00hrs (Beijing Time) for outgoing tourists and up to 19:00hrs for incoming travelers. Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation & Northern Areas Transport Corporation runs daily buses, vans and Land Cruisers from Sost to Tashkurgan (China).
Wagha is the only land border open between Pakistan and India (Lahore-Amritsar). The Wagha border post is open daily for foreigners, in summer (April to October) 08:30am to 02:30pm and in winter (October to April)09:00am to 03:00pm Pakistan Standard Time. Lahore-Delhi Samjhota Express Train service has been started on Tuesday and Friday, but now it has been suspended. Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation and Delhi Transport Corporation have started a luxury direct bus service between Lahore and Delhi. The air conditioned bus service leaves simultaneously from Flatties Hotel, Lahore and New Delhi on every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Pakistan-Iran Taftan border journey is only possible through Taftan-Zahidan. A number of buses and coaches every day leave from Taftan to Quetta (634 kms and 18 hours drive). Train service is also available for the sector Quetta-Zahidan-Quetta.
Pakistan-Afghanistan border traveling is possible through historical Khyber Pass.
DOMESTIC TRAVELING IN PAKISTAN:
By Air Traveling:
PIA operates daily scheduled direct and connecting flights between major cities from Karachi, Quetta, Multan, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Sukkur, Mohenjo-Daro, D.I.Khan, D.G.Khan, Sialkot, Gwadar, Pasni and Turbat. Two private airlines, Air blue and Shaheen Air International also serve Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad as well as for Gulf Countries. PIA has daily subject to weather flights connecting the northern tourist towns of Gilgit, Skardu and Chitral with Islamabad.
By Road Traveling:
Pakistan has a wide network of roads, highways and motorways linking every big and small cities & municipalities. There are number of highways as listed below.
The Grand Trunk road (G.T. Road) between Lahore and Peshawar.
Super Highway and National Highway connecting Karachi with Interior Sindh and Punjab.
Indus Highway connecting Peshawar with the Southern Punjab.
RCD Highway connecting Karachi to Quetta and onward to Taftan.
Makran Coastal Highway (N10) connecting Karachi with Gwadar through Pasni, Ormara.
The Karakuram Highway connecting Islamabad with Kashgar (China) through Abbottabad, Besham, Chilas, Gilgit, Hunza and Khunjerab Pass, Tashkurgan up to Kashgar.
Naran-Kaghan road in the summer season connecting Islamabad to Gilgit, Skardu through Abbottabad, Mansehra, Balakot, Kaghan, Naran, Babusar Pass, connects in Chilas, Gilgit –Baltistan.
An attraction has been achieved with the completion of Peshawar-Islamabad (M1), Lahore-Islamabad Motorway (M2), and Faislabad-Pindi Bhatian Motorway (M3), which has been opened for some of areas of Pakistan for visitors.
By Train Traveling:
Pakistan has more than 12700 kms of railways network, including 8500 kms inherited after partition. Main line runs from Karachi to Peshawar connecting key tourist attractions, i.e. Mohenjo-daro, Sukkur, Bahawalpur, Multan, Lahore, Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Taxila and Peshawar. One more main Railway line linking Quetta with rest of the country. There are number of daily trains running on these lines, however, the faster trains like Shalimar Express (Lahore-Karachi) and Rail Car (Lahore-Rawalpindi) has more relaxed air-conditioned sections for travelers.
HOSPITALITY SERVICES IN PAKISTAN:
Pakistan has world class hotel accommodation with modern & well equipped chains of hotels with luxurious amenities offer their hospitality services, like Sheraton Hotel Karachi, Avari Hotel & Towers Karachi and Lahore. Pearl Continental Hotels in Pakistan (at Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Bhurban, Gwadar & Muzaffarabad), Marriott (Karachi & Islamabad), Serena Hotels (Islamabad, Faisalabad, Quetta, Gilgit, Hunza and Saidu Sharif), Hotel One Chain (Lahore, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Multan & Islamabad), Pine Park Hotels (Naran, Khannian & Shogran), Green Hotels (Nathiagali, Abbottabad, Peshawar), Shangri-La Resorts & Hotels (Chilas, Skardu, Murree & Nathiagali), Islamabad Hotel, Margalla Hotel, Shalimar Hotel, Best Western Hotel Islamabad, Hospitality Inn Lahore, Ramada Hotel Multan. Sheza Inn Multan, Fiesta Inn Multan, Sinbad Hotel Multan, Inter Pak Inn Sukkur, Forum Inn Sukkur, Indus Hotel Hyderabad, City Gate Hotel Hyderabad.
Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) also operates 2 hotels (Flatties Hotel Lahore & Flashman Hotel Rawalpindi) and 29 Motels in multiple cities and Valleys are located all over Pakistan.
Pakistan Youth Hostels Association (PYHA) was founded in 1951 which now runs a chain of Youth Hostels are available to the members of the organization. More details regarding reservation can be obtained from PYHA Head office at Garden Road, G-6/4, near Aabpara, Islamabad.
There are officially Guest Houses/Bungalows and Rest Houses at most of the stations and valleys, maintained by either Provincial Forest Department, Public Works Department (PWD) or by the local administration. All the above listed accommodation facilities are available subject to advance confirmed booking.
Pakistan is rich in exquisite handicrafts, made by people, who produce by weaving, by making designs on pots, by working on metals, wood and stone, by decorating, to build things small and large. Stoneware or pottery here is a living history in Pakistan, a traditional expertise that became an art, with its beginning going back to 3000 years B.C. Now a day, each area of Pakistan maintains its own unique jars and jugs, from sturdy terra – cotta to paper thin ceramics, in vibrant colors of mustard yellow, deep green, brick red and sky blue. For those keen on shopping on reasonable price, returning home with hand woven carpets, marble pieces, copper and brass items, woodwork, embroidered (Kurtas) & (Khussas) and many more.
The inherited cooking traditions of the Moghuls, the Turks, the Central Asians and the Iranian, eating out in Pakistan is a rich & only one of its kind experience. Most local restaurants serve genuine Pakistan dishes directly from the oven, with the sights and sounds of a bazaar in the background. Meat, fish and vegetable dishes are seasoned with spices. Particularly palatable are the grills B.B.Q; Seekh-Kabab (pulverized meat grilled on skewer), Shaami-Kabab (pulverized meat), Tikka (barbecued mutton, beef or chicken) and Saji (Barbecued leg of lamb). Pakistani mutton and chicken curries and the oriental rice dish called pullao, are also popular with inhabitants and foreigners alike.
Light weight, cotton clothes enough except for in north in winter. Men can wear suits for business meetings, social events. Casual shalwar suits are worn by all women and most men in public. Women should dress modestly.
Pakistanis a special tourist destination in South Asia. The four seasons (spring, summer, autumn & winter) have its own charm. Its main attractions include adventure & cultural tourism in the Gilgit/Baltistan, cultural and archeological sights are found in Taxila, Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, Takht-e-Bhai, Swat and early Muslim & Mughal Heritage of Multan,Lahore, Thatta and Peshawar. From the mighty Karakuram, Himalaya & Hindukush in the North to the gigantic alluvial delta of the Indus River in the South, Pakistan remains a land of high adventure & nature. Trekking, mountaineering, white water rafting, wild boar hunting, mountain and desert jeep safaris, Camel and Yak safaris, trout fishing and bird watching, are a few activities which attracts adventure and nature lovers to Pakistan.
Pakistan appeared on the map of the world as a self-governing supreme state in 14th August, 1947, resulting separation from British India in the subcontinent. Many civilizations have left their impression hence carving it into a land, which is rich in scenery, different cultures and customs. The territory of Pakistan hint out its history as extreme back as 2500 B.C. starting from the Indus Valley Civilization (Harappa & Mohenjo-Daro). Civilization starts from Aryans (1500 B.C), the Persians (5th century B.C.), the Greeks in 327 A.D, the Arabs led by Muhammad Bin Qasim, the systematic invasion of the Indo-Pakistan by central Asian Muslims (10th century A.D.), British occupied for more than 100 years in 18th century. Finally Muslims took the first step led by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and then by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who brought Pakistan on the world’s map on 14th August, 1947 as a self-governing state for the Muslims according to the inspirations envisioned by (the poet & Philosopher) Dr. Muhammad Iqbal.
Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa, Taxila, Takh-e-Bhai are excavated sites are the symbol of the great old Indus Valley and Gandhara civilizations. The structural design of the Mughal monuments, the historical Khyber Pass entrance to South Asia or the ancient static traditions of the Kafir Kalash (Chitral Valley) presents a living reflections of ancient time and with an inherent love of mountains, Pakistan offers the only one of its kind enjoyment of its northern mountain ranges, the Himalayas, the Hindukush and the Karakorum a mountain wonder land across the world with such terrifying peaks as the K-2 (Godwin Austin), the Nanga Parbat (The killer Mountain), the Rakaposhi known as (Mother of Mist) and Tirchmir (Home of Fairies).
A journey all the way through Pakistan is a personally meeting with people and attractive land that has survived immeasurable invasions & preserved the spirit of its defeaters in the shape of memorials, monuments, shrines and archaeological sites. Monuments, great mountains, rivers and deserts are over whelming in natural perception as its inheritance of the art & structural design is in human terms. Covering an area of more than 300,000 square miles surrounded by the Arabian Sea in south, India in the east, the Central Asian republics to the north through Wah Khan Corridor, China to the north east and by Iran & Afghanistan in the west. From scorching barren regions to glaciers, from rich forests to prolific plains, from great rivers and lakes to sea shore, Pakistan is a land of brilliant contrast and different cultural traditions.
Pakistan is the ultimate destination for the adventure tours and for cultural tours. The northern parts of Pakistan are well-known for its natural beauty and the people are well-known for their hospitality. Tourism was the main income stream of the people of northern Pakistan before 9/11. Due to the political instability, war and terror in Afghanistan this area has been adversely affected indirectly.