Where is Pakistan On the Map?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Pakistan, a beautiful south Asian country, is almost synonymous with terror. And I won’t deny that it’s a high-risk destination. But among those attacks and blasts, something remains unmentioned – the natural beauty of Pakistan. So, where is Pakistan?

There’s more to Pakistan than what media and movies show. It is a paradise for the adventure seekers and mountain climbers. Pakistan has picture-perfect valleys and spectacular peaks. There is beauty, and there is history. It is one of the charismatic tourist destinations, but the political instability hit it hard.

The government though care for your security and the people are friendly and eager to know you and help you.

Let’s find out where is Pakistan and why should you go there.

Where is Pakistan?

Where is Pakistan on the map? It is located between India and Afghanistan.
Where is Pakistan on the map? It is located between India and Afghanistan.

Although Pakistan is situated just beside India and share similar landscapes, it failed to attract tourists. One of the primary reasons people are skeptical about visiting Pakistan is the ongoing security problems. The country is deeply affected with terrorism.

But, sandwiched between India and Afghanistan, most of Pakistan is safe for tourists. The places are guarded well, and the locals are keen to keep you away from danger. You are free to roam around the city. The restrictions are there only in the disturbed parts of the country. And if the place isn’t travel-friendly, you may even get a personal bodyguard.

With the northern part which has valleys like Neelum Valley, Pakistan boasts of some of the unparalleled beauties on the earth. Along with numerous other beautiful valleys, Chitral Valley, Kaghan Valley, Neelum Valley, and Hunza Valley, Pakistan also has some eye-candy architectures and Mohenjo-Daro. And not to forget the mouthwatering kebab Pakistan offers.

So, let’s explore this untrodden land and see what all you can discover.

If you want to learn more about countries in this region, make sure to check out our IranTajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan guides!

Places to visit in Pakistan

What are the best places to visit in Pakistan?
What are the best places to visit in Pakistan?

Now that you know where is Pakistan, I think it would be just perfect for you to learn about a few places to visit in Pakistan during your stay!

1) Islamabad

The majestic Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.

Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and has quite some landmark monuments for you to visit. The first in the list is the flower-shaped Pakistan Monument which symbolizes its four provinces – Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Nearby is the museum which displays the history of Pakistan.

There also is the Lok Virsa Museum which introduces you to the Pakistani culture and traditions. Then, on the outskirts of Islamabad is Daman-e-Koh. It’s a place on the slopes of Margalla Hills which offers a view of the city, and you can take in the beauty of Shah Faisal Mosque from a distance.

Now, while you already are on Margalla Hills, don’t forget to visit the Saidpur Village. It’s a town from the Mughal era, up kept in a modern style.

2) Lahore

The Old City of Lahore.

The historic city of Lahore is a mixture of religion and art. There are beautiful mosques and massive forts. There are gardens, and there is pain.

OK, one of the first places to visit in Lahore is the Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila. It’s a massive Mughal style architecture which has gardens, palaces, and other buildings in its compound. Among the most visited palaces, there is the Sheesh Mahal.

Next in the list of Lahore’s tourist destinations is the Badshahi Mosque. Built during the reign of Aurangzeb, entirely in marble and red sandstone, the mosque can accommodate 40,000 people for prayers. Then, near Lahore is the Wagah border between India and Pakistan. The border ceremony every evening is worth the wait.

3) Azad Kashmir

Neelum Valley is just one of the beautiful green valleys of Pakistan.

Would you not like to know where mesmerizing valleys of Pakistan are? The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK, in short) region is where you will find some of the most beautiful places in Pakistan. This is the area you will find the green valleys; Neelum and Jhelum being the most popular. And Azad Kashmir is where you will find freshwater lakes.

Among the greens and streams of the Neelum valley, Sharda is a picturesque spot of Pakistan. Rawalkot is another.

“Then one day, when you least expect it, the great adventure finds you.”
– Ewan Mcgregor

4) Gilgit-Baltistan

The infamous Karakoram Highway.

While the Azad Kashmir is for the lovers of greenery, Gilgit-Baltistan is for those who love naked mountains. It’s a favorite among the rock-climbers, mountaineers and the trekkers. And you can also get some stunning views when traveling the infamous Karakoram Highway.

Infamous? Just for the dangerous turns and the rocky terrain. And while you’re exploring the area, the Hunza Valley tourism is a must-do thing. The Gilgit-Baltistan region also has the highest polo ground in the world, at Shandur.

5) Kalash Valley

Kalash Valley is a doorway to a totally different culture than the rest of Pakistan.

It’s a place situated in the Chitral Valley of Pakistan. In the valley of Kalash, Pakistan has one of the indigenous tribes of the country, the Kalash tribe. The Kalash Valley is one of the best places to visit in Pakistan and also, has a culture different from the rest of the country.

The Kalash people have their separate religion and celebrate many festivals full of colors.

6) Kaghan Valley

Kaghan Valley is simply amazing.

Kaghan, Pakistan boasts of having some of the most picturesque locations of Pakistan. Among the places to visit there are the beautiful Lake Saiful Muluk and the Babusar Pass. Naran is another place, a hill station, at its best during the summer season.

The green geography of Naran and its climate makes it a favorite tourist spot to get away from the hustle bustle of the cities. And, you can also catch a glimpse of Pakistan wildlife at the nearby Saiful Muluk National Park.

7) Sindh

Mohenjo-Daro ruins show how advanced Indus Valley civilization actually was.

One of the main attractions in Sindh are the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro. It’s a site which has the signs of the Indus Valley Civilizations, one of the most advanced civilizations of the world. Detailed excavations and research show that back then, in 2500 BCE, the people built a planned city along with an irrigation system. Mohenjo-Daro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a short flight away from Karachi.

Karachi also has some historical monuments like Mohatta Palace, Frere Hall, and Mazar-e-Quaid, the final resting place of Pakistan’s founder (Muhammad Ali Jinnah). And, there also is the spectacular Hawke’s Bay beach.

8) Baluchistan

Hingol National Park is full of amazing sights like this.

Baluchistan is the province sharing Pakistan’s borders with Iran and Afghanistan. Although many places aren’t safe to visit, Baluchistan is the home to many natural attractions in Pakistan. There are waterfalls, the beautiful Kund Malir Beach, and the awestriking Hingol National Park.

Instead of trees, like in natural wildlife parks, Hingol National Park is surrounded by rocky mountains. Waadi-e-Bolan is another remarkable place nearby. Hanna Lake near Quetta is a local favorite and is equally gorgeous. The Baluchistan is cool during the summers, and the Ziarat City serves as a hill station during those times.

In Ziarat, you can also visit the historical Quaid-e-Azam residency. It’s a beautiful place surrounded by hills and trees where Muhammad Ali Jinnah spent his last days.

Things to do in Pakistan

Where is Pakistan, there are numerous fun things to do!
Where is Pakistan, there are numerous fun things to do!

There are quite a few exciting places to visit in Pakistan, aren't there? But, what are the best activities that Pakistan can offer you? Here are some tips for you!

1) Go trekking on untraveled routes

Pakistan is amazing for trekking!

As said earlier, Pakistan is a paradise for those who seek for adventures. There are valleys, there are mountains, and since not many know where is Pakistan, there are roads not traversed yet.

Pakistan has some of the highest peaks in the world, including K2 and Nanga Parbat. You may not be climbing those, but many others are waiting for you to climb. And while you trek through the mountains, you will get some spectacular views of other mountains above and the valleys below.

Moreover, it’s peaceful there, and you may find yourself to be the only one exploring the opportunities for tourism in Pakistan.

2) Visit the Khewra Salt Mine

Khewra Salt Mine interior has many peculiar wall shapes.

About 200 km away from Islamabad, in the Punjab region, is the large salt mine. With a cover of around 110 sq. km, the Khewra Salt Mine is the second largest salt mine in the world. Although an offbeat tourist destination of Pakistan, it still is popular among the tourists because of the salt architecture.

Once you are inside, you will see the caves and various structures made of salt. A small Badshahi Mosque and the Great Wall of China are among the many miniature monuments made with salt bricks. The tunnels in there run for almost half a mile, and the well-lit mounds of colorful salt bricks is an eye-catching experience.

Then, there are saltwater pools inside, a 25-foot long bridge made of salt and even a functional post office made up of salt bricks.

3) Celebrate with the Kalash tribe

Kalash Tribe has three festivals that they celebrate - Chilam Joshi, Uchau and Chaumos.

Although an Islamic nation, there are people from other religions who exist together. And then, there are the people from Kalash tribe who have a separate religion and celebrate festivals of their own. Living in the remote areas of the Chitral region, they have been mostly undisturbed of the ongoing developments. And it kept their culture and traditions intact.

The Kalash people celebrate three festivals – Chilam Joshi, Uchau and the third and the most important is the Chaumos, the harvest festival. And each festival is full of colors, dancing, and drinking. Yes, they love alcohol and brew their wines.

Pakistan food – What to eat there?

The food of Pakistan is filled with many different spices and smells.
The food of Pakistan is filled with many different spices and smells.

Pakistani food culture is a mixture of Indian cooking style and that of Mughal. You will find spicy nihari and also the milder kadhi here. Oh, by the way, kadhi is a dish made of yogurt and small vegetable dumplings. Nihari, on the other hand, is a meat stew and is the national favorite of Pakistan.

Find out what is the best food to try in Pakistan!

Pakistani cuisine involves a lot of dishes made of beef, lamb, and chicken. And haleem (a meat stew, slow-cooked along with lentils) is another favorite. It’s though, prepared mostly during festivals. But chicken karahi curry, aloo gosht (mutton and potato curry), chicken korma and keema (minced meat) are typical all year round.

Biryani is a popular staple food of Pakistan.

Rice and chapati (flatbread), both are widely eaten along with the curries. The biryani (rice cooked along with chicken or meat), however, can be found everywhere. You can understand its popularity from the fact that biryani is famous in neighboring countries too.

A standard breakfast in Pakistan.

The breakfast, by the way, is lighter with kulcha-chhole or paratha-chhole (variants of flatbread along with chickpeas). Eggs, jam, butter, bread, and fresh fruits are also eaten. And if you want to try street food, you sure would go bonkers over their seekh kebab and chicken tikka. Both are grilled meat and are served usually with naan (oven-cooked flatbread).

Aloo Tikki is a popular evening snack in Pakistan.

Aloo tikki (deep fried potato cutlets), chana masala (a spicy chickpea dish) and different kebabs (grilled meat) are also popular in evening snacks. You also have got a lot of options in Pakistani desserts if you crave for sweets.

Jalebis is one of the main desserts of Pakistan.

There are jalebis (fried spiral-shaped sweets coated with sugar syrup), kheer (rice pudding), and sewaiyan (vermicelli cooked in milk and sugar). You will also find other desserts that are popular in India. Rasgulla, gulab jamun, faluda, kulfi, and rasmalai, you can taste them all.

A Lassi shop in Pakistan.

And as far as drinks are considered, most Pakistanis love a glass of lassi (a drink made of yogurt) after the meal. Some also prefer chai (milk tea). Both of these are also served as welcome drinks. Talking about drinks, there also is rooh afza, a sweet drink made of rose and other ingredients. 

You won’t find alcohol commonly in Pakistan. Someone may be able to “smuggle” it in for you but try staying away from problems.

How to reach Pakistan?

Reaching Pakistan on land is no easy feat.
Reaching Pakistan on land is no easy feat.

I hope you now know where is Pakistan. But how do you reach there? Although Pakistan has road links with India, China, Iran, and Afghanistan, it’s easier and safer to enter the country via air. Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad are the main international airports connecting Pakistan to the Middle East and the Southeast Asian countries. There also are a few flights to European countries.

Crossing the borders by roads can be thrilling though. Coming from China, you will get to experience the breathtaking Karakoram Highway. And entering from Afghanistan requires you to cross the deadly Khyber Pass, along with an armed escort.

Within Pakistan too, foreign governments warn people not to explore remote areas. Also, the Pakistan government recommends and provides an armed escort to the travelers. But those who dare to visit Pakistan, are bound to get agog by the hospitality and the friendliness of the locals.

“What is it we want out of travel? It's to glimpse what life is like somewhere else.”
– Chris Pavone

It’s time for a new adventure!

Abhijeet Kumar a freelance content writer for aSabbatical.com
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.