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5 reasons to pack for Pakistan


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This is a Student Travel Writer 2018 competition entry


I bet Pakistan hasn’t been on your bucket list this year, or the years past. Maybe it is not something that seems as easy to reach, pretty or safe compared to other holiday spots.

However, I have 5 reasons why Pakistan is a beautiful and amazing place to visit. Not only will you experience something that no European place can give you, but you will learn a lot about yourself and be surprised how much a developing country actually has to offer.

1. It is full of history and culture

Pakistan, India and Bangladesh were one country named India or ‘Hindustan’. The partition of India took place once the British Empire, aka British Raj, dissolved in 1947. The Punjab province of Pakistan is very much like India with its foods, languages and culture, especially as Lahore has the main border gates between the two countries. However, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, also known as KPK, offers a completely different atmosphere. Both are amazing, welcoming and loving – but very different. Make sure to check the local laws and customs to ensure you don’t unintentionally disrespect that culture or group of people by doing something that seems normal in England!

2. The food

If you think you have tried a curry, think again. You are going to where it all originally comes from and the guys in the street cook it the best! Be prepared for the spice –  unless you tell them to tone it down a bit – and a chicken korma here is not the same chicken korma there. Here we have it ‘creamy’ and ‘sweet’, but originally it is really spicy and hot. So, watch out but trust me, the food is amazing! Try everything from the street foods to the posh high-end restaurants or hotel buffets. And if you’re daring enough to go in the July heat (hitting 40+ degrees) be sure to try the Pakistani MANGOS! They are simply THE BEST you will ever find in this world. They are soft, sweet and juicy. Yum.

3. The scenery

Have you heard of Hunza Valley? Or Swabi Valley? North of Pakistan is where a glimpse of heaven is seen, and it is utterly breath taking. Coming away from the hot cities full of people and traffic – these valleys and villages in the north are a completely different world. So serene, so surreal. I can’t say any more than that; let your imagination run wild (or Google it and take a look at what I am talking about!) You don’t need to go all the way there for your nature fix either – you can experience similar beauty all around the northern areas of Pakistan. Plan your journey, arrange your health insurance and take your pick on where to explore!

4. Jaw-dropping architecture

No matter what city you go to or where you decide to explore, the architecture will show itself off in all corners of the country. Each museum, mosque or government building has this grand style of design. Unlike Turkey for example, where most local mosque’s architecture seems to imitate the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Pakistani mosques are all unique and vary in design. The Faisal mosque in Islamabad lacks the typical dome feature usually associated with these buildings, however it is the biggest one in the country with huge courtyards and a marble interior. The Badshahi mosque in Lahore boasts design from the Mughal era and is the second largest in the country. Please do check local laws and customs when entering places of worship and also be aware of thieves! Check the FCO crime pages on the website for more information on how to keep safe.

5. The budget

Okay, so flying there and obtaining the visa might be a little harsh on the pocket, but when you are actually there, everything is peanuts. British currency is very strong in Pakistan and £1 can get you, depending on where you are, a meal. Going to the street bazaars and the markets are way better on the bank account compared to the shiny new shopping centres. They have a lot of American franchise shops and restaurants there such as Hard Rock Café, Pizza Hut and KFC so you won’t feel completely alien either, but the pricing will be like England. However, buying your gifts and souvenirs will be something not to bother budgeting for and there are even hotels that start from 300 rupees a night (equivalent to £2). Even better, there are some AirBnb places to rent, so keep your options open when you plan your stay. I would recommend exchanging your money in Pakistan for better rates!

I have been to Pakistan numerous times and I enjoy the hustle and bustle, the language, culture and atmosphere, but I would highly recommended going as a responsible, mixed gender group. Some areas don’t allow women to leave the house without a man, although other areas are more modern and liberal.

Lastly, most people in Pakistan speak English! So, all is not so alien in Pakistan, and there are elements of comfort and familiarity when you are there.

Pakistan is a lovely country with amazing people, but unfortunately it is prone to terrorist attacks and bomb blasts. The best way to educate yourself on the dos and don’ts of the country is by visiting the FCO website and I recommended doing further research on the area you plan to go. Taking out travel insurance will be one of the main things to do if you plan to go to Pakistan and also make sure it covers you for everything you think may be necessary.

So, have you got what it takes to travel out of your comfort zone?

In order to provide no entrant with an unfair advantage, Student Travel Writer 2018 competition entries are edited for grammar only - stylistic choices and headlines are solely the work of the writer in question and not of The National Student's editorial staff. 

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