All of us have been itching to travel, but the pandemic has made that nearly impossible. Here’s how you can get out within Pakistan.
Tourism in Pakistan is growing quickly. Not only due to the country’s geographical diversity but also its rich culture as well as history. Pakistan was actually ranked ‘The Best Holiday Destination’ for 2020 (thank you once again for your untimely timing, Coronavirus).
Even more, it was declared the third-highest Potential Adventure Destination for 2020. Basically, if you want to travel, Pakistan is a pretty great place to do it.
Due to improvements in security all over Pakistan, and increasing development specifically in touristy areas has helped and will help Pakistan’s tourism industry grow.
I’m sure I’m not the only one whose travel plans have been postponed due to the Coronavirus. So, if your plans didn’t make it or you just like to travel (SAFELY), here’s a list of 13 insanely breathtaking places where you can experience the international vibe all while staying in Pakistan:
1. Gwadar Beach – South of France Beach
If you’ve ever wanted to travel to France, the first thing you would’ve gone to see is probably the Eiffel Tower. However, the second is probably a southern French beach. Some say Cassis port is the best-kept secret of France; it’s located between Marseilles and Toulon. The best thing about it? You can avoid the massive crowds you usually encounter when visiting other cities on the coastline.
Unfortunately, travel plans to France are out of the question for many of us whether it’s due to budget constraints or the pandemic. But don’t worry! We’ve got your back. If you want to experience the same vibe of the Cassis port, you can always go to Gwadar!
It’s a port city on the coast of Balochistan, located on the Arabian Sea opposite of Oman. It’s a truly undiscovered treasure. However, it is quickly gaining popularity for its unmatched beauty. There are also various attractions in Gwadar such as hammerhead, Omani Fort, the boatyard, and of course the Gwadar Port itself.
2. Nushki Dunes – Red Dunes Dubai
Dubai is a convenient place to travel to as a Pakistani, not only because of no visa issues but because it’s so close. One of Dubai’s most popular attraction is the Dunes! I’ve actually been to Red Dunes Dubai. It was a great experience (if you like adrenaline). We hired a tour guide to drive us around the dunes.
I don’t know if it was part of the whole fun experience or if it was our driver’s insanity, but on the tip of a huge dune, where our Landcruiser was see-sawing due to the passengers’ weight, our driver turned off the ignition and said we had run out of petrol.
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESSERT.
Suffice to say, I had a mini-heart-attack. Anyways, if you aren’t able to make it to Dubai, but still want to have fun driving around the dunes, or going for camel rides, Nushki Dunes is where it’s at. It’s also located in Balochistan, (did I not tell you Balochistan has a bunch of hidden treasures?).
3. Naltar Valley – Switzerland
Funny story, I’m allergic to dust. If my allergies get out of control, I end up going to my doctor, who tells me to move to Switzerland… I wish. It’s actually on my travel list!
Switzerland is a beautiful country, to say the least. Tourists are drawn to its greenery, tranquillity, and, of course, the alps. Not surprisingly, a lot of pre-given scenery wallpapers are taken from Switzerland!
The above picture on the right side is of Bernese Oberland. It is a popular and attractive region south of the Swiss capital of Bern. It’s quite small, but you’ll find it has a very diversified landscape with lakes, snow-capped mountains, mountain villages, hiking trails, and much, much more. Switzerland is a dream, but Alhamdullilah Pakistan doesn’t lack these sorts of landscapes either.
When people think about traveling in Pakistan, they usually jump to Northern Areas. Naltar Valley is the perfect destination if you want to experience the whole Switzerland vibe without traveling all the way to the Swiss Alps.
Naltar Valley is near Gilgit and Hunza. It can be reached by jeeps. Most places up north require jeeps as their mode of travel because of the less developed, steep roads. It’s known for its emerald forests and sapphire waters, and of course, it’s dramatic mountain backdrop. Amongst hiking, sightseeing, and canoeing, you can go skiing! Yes, ski competitions are held at Naltar ski resort. And of course, summer is the best time to visit, to escape all the heat.
4. Clock Tower – Big Ben
London is a very popular destination for travel for Pakistanis. And if you’re in London, there’s no way you can miss the Big Ben, which is actually the nickname for the Great Bell of the striking clock of the Palace of Westminster. It’s famous for its accuracy and its huge bell which weighs 15.1 tonnes. Both the clock and the bell were installed in 1859.
What’s pretty cool is that there’s a clock tower in Faislabad that also was made by the British in the nineteenth century. Faisalabad Clock Tower is one of the oldest historical sites, from the time of the British Raj. There are many sites made by the British, unfortunately, unlike the Clock Tower, they are not in their original state.
Through the Clock Tower, 8 roads are connected, making it a major hub of economic activity for the city. It stands in the center of a buzzing town and is surrounded by many restaurants. If you want to avoid the crowds, I think after 10 pm works!
5. Sheesh Mahal – Taj Mahal
I might get a lot of backlash for adding India to this list but guys, the Taj Mahal is honestly beautiful. It roughly translates into the Crown of the Palace. It’s an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the river, Yamuna, in the Indian city of Agra. It’s actually a love story. The palace was made by a Mughal emperor in 1632 to house the tomb of his favorite wife (and then later himself). It also includes a mosque and a guest house and many gardens.
What’s insanely interesting is that the Sheesh Mahal also known as the Palace of Mirrors, in Punjab, Pakistan was also made for the same emperor, for that same wife when she lived in Lahore. However, she passed away before she could set foot inside the Palace. Both are rich in culture, love, and beauty. If you can’t cross the border to go to India, you can visit the Sheesh Mahal, in our own Lahore.
6. Landsdowne Bridge – Sydney Harbour Bridge
I’ve been to both the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. But both of these are pretty aam in their looks (sorry if I offended anyone)! Next on my list is Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a famous bridge in Australia known for its “coat hanger” appearance. It’s a steel arch bridge across the Sydney Harbour, that carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district and the North Shore. You can see the iconic Syndey Opera House from the bridge which together is a pretty iconic image of Australia itself.
Similar in shape, our very own Landsdowne Bridge! It was made back in the 19th century (before the Australian bridge which was made in 1932) and spanned the Indus river between the two cities – Sukkur and Rohri in the Sindh province. When completed in 1889, it held the record of being “the longest rigid girder bridge” in the world. Although there’s no Opera House in the background, I still think it’s one of the coolest looking bridges ever.
7. Hawke’s Bay Beach – Maldives
Nothing screams paradise like the Maldives. Never been, but it’s definitely on my top ten list, with its soft beaches, turquoise waters, and dreamy resorts, it’s literally relaxing to even think about it! It’s definitely a honeymoon destination.
If you are looking for a place to destress but can’t go take a plane ride to the Maldives, Hawke’s Bay Beach is your next best choice. Located in Karachi, Sindh it’s 20km southwest of Karachi city. The beach is very popular, but only because it’s so beautiful!
8. Mohenjo-Daro – Mayan Ruins
If you’re looking for a more historic-styled site, you’d probably love to go to the Mayan Ruins in Yucatan, Mexico. Yucatan is known for its beaches but more importantly, the Mayan Ruins. There are massive pyramids, stone temples, preserved sculptures, and much more that represent the Mayan civilization. Similar to the Mayan Civilization in Yucatan, parts of the ancient Indus Valley civilization have been preserved in Mohenjo-Daro, Sindh Province.
Mohenjo-Daro translates into “Mound of the dead men”. Creepy, right? It was built around 2500 BCE and is one of the world’s earliest major cities. It was abandoned in the 19th century as the Indus Valley civilization declined. This spot is rich in culture and history, and significant excavations have been conducted since it’s discovery.
9. Frere Hall – Hogwarts
This is a bit of a stretch but I was so excited when I saw this picture of Frere Hall in Karachi it just reminded me of Hogwarts! Frere Hall was completed back in 1865 and was supposed to serve as Karachi’s town hall but instead serves as an exhibition space and library. Although Hogwarts doesn’t actually exist (sadly), they filmed the first few movies in Alnwick Castle in England which seriously doesn’t look as cool from the outside as Frere Hall does.
10. Saif Ul Malook – Banff, Canada
Many of you might not know Banff. It’s a national park situated in Alberta, Canada. I went to Banff many times but a long time ago. It’s just picturesque waters, mountains, and greenery. It’s a jewel of a place to visit in the summers when the waters are cold but not at freezing temperatures!
I went to Naran/Kaghan recently almost a month ago during this quarantine. When I visited Lake Saif Ul Malook, all I could think was that it looks exactly like Banff National Park. I was in awe. Although much less developed, it had all the hiking trails, mini-waterfalls, mountains with ice-caps, and the serene, tranquil lake itself. If you guys haven’t been to Naran, you’re definitely missing out. This one is a must-see.
11. Jarogo Waterfall – Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is also located in Canada! But in Ontario. It’s linked to the United Stated by the Rainbow bridge. It’s not the largest waterfall in the world but it has the largest volume of water traveling through it, with the Horseshoe Falls being the most expansive section.
But don’t worry, you guys don’t have to go all the way to Canada to see Niagara Falls, although it is beautiful. We have our own waterfall in Swat, KPK. Jarogo.
It’s actually the tallest waterfall in all of Pakistan, with a developed road from the city of Mingora it’s only about an hour’s drive. The waterfall itself is spell-bounding with its crystal clear water and thick pine trees scattered about. The best thing about it? It’s not even that far away from Islamabad. Only a 4-5 hour drive will get you to the waterfalls.
12. Astola Island – Thai Phi Phi Islands
Island getaways are better than any beachy getaway. It’s your little slice of heaven. One of the top places people travel to when looking for an island getaway is, of course, the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. To reach the islands you can either take a 45-minute boat ride or a 90-minute ferry ride! That is after the several hour plane ride…
So, if you’re not up for the long journey, Astola Island is perfect for you. Astola Island is one of the most breathtaking spots in the southern area of Pakistan. It’s also known as the Jezira-e-Haft Talar (The Island of the Seven Hills). Astola is also the first-ever marine protected area in Pakistan so if you have your snorkeling gear, you’re in for a treat!
13. Ranikot Fort – Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is an ancient wall that was finished in the 19th century. It was made to protect the empire of China from enemy attacks. It’s actually the longest structure that humans have ever even built at over 21 thousand kilometers. It has 7000 watchtowers and even houses for soldiers.
If you’ve ever wanted to see the Great Wall of China, well you’re in luck because Ranikot Fort in Sindh, Pakistan is commonly compared to the Great Wall of China! Ranikot Fort dates back to the 17th century but additions and renovations have taken place in the 19th century. It’s a perfect spot to visit if you’re into historic sights!
Let us know in the comments which place you’re planning to visit soon!
Cover Image: Munib Asad Malik/World Tour Guide