10 Reasons You Should Travel To Pakistan

Travelling in Pakistan… When I first told my Mum that I planned to travel to Pakistan as part of my hitchhiking adventure across The Middle East, she was somewhat sceptical. Pakistan is a country which is often portrayed in the media as a war-torn hellhole and tourism in Pakistan is almost none-existent. Every year, only a very small number of adventure backpackers and die-hard climbers travel to Pakistan, I was determined to be one of them…

Travelling in Pakistan is a truly unique experience, it can be frustrating, enlightening, life changing and, more often than not, surprising. Pakistan is the ultimate adventure backpacking destination and if you are a fan of real adventure, it’s time for you to travel to Pakistan, here’s why….

Here are my Ten Reasons why you should pack your bags and travel to Pakistan…

1: The People are simply amazing 

And they want you to enjoy their country. 

The Pakistani people are, without a doubt, the most hospitable, kind and welcoming people that I have ever encountered. From the bustling streets of Lahore to the quaint mountain towns of Hunza, every time a local person spotted me I would, without fail, be rewarded with a huge grin and often an invitation to dinner. I lost count of just how many cups of free chai I drank but it was a lot… On one occasion, a kindly man named Rehman invited me to visit his family in a small village in the mountains, I stayed for almost a week – hiking on the nearby glaciers and playing cricket with Rehman’s kids. I’ve been lucky enough to make many friends on my travels but the friendships I forged in Pakistan were some of the most genuine I have ever made, the people simply cannot do enough for you. I couchsurfed my way around the country, being welcomed into the homes of numerous strangers who always insisted on feeding me like a king and showing me around their local town. I cannot wait to return to see my many friends again.

Travel to Pakistan, People are great

A bunch of Pakistanis I met on the train…

2: Unbelievable Landscapes

The world’s most beautiful country – it might just be Pakistan. 

OK, even the most illiterate of map readers should know that Pakistan is famous for its mountains, valleys, rivers, glaciers and forests… This is a country with more than it’s fair share of truly wondrous sites and tourism in Pakistan is bound to take off eventually! Five of the world’s fourteen highest peaks, including the famed and deadly K2, are found in Pakistan. If you are into your climbing, rafting or trekking, Pakistan is the country for you. I have explored over seventy countries and I can safely say that Pakistan is the most diverse and beautiful country I have ever visited. There are plenty of unclimbed peaks just waiting to be conquered by a worthy adventurer… 

Travel to Pakistan, Hunza Valley

Stunning Hunza, filled with cherry blossom trees, ancient towns and towering peaks

3: Everything is possible in Pakistan… even raves.

Pakistan is not what you might expect. Whilst in Lahore, word got out that a backpacker was visiting and, before I knew it, I had been invited to a very exclusive party set up in the middle of nowhere…  I passed a small army of private security, proved I was on the guest list and finally, I was into one of the craziest parties I have ever been to. An international DJ, plenty of young, rich and beautiful Pakistanis, trippy lights and plenty of energizers to keep me going… It was a mad night.

Travel to Pakistan with train

Unfortunately, taking pictures at said raves was impossible due to intoxication of the fun kind.

4: Pakistan is safe

And you can play with guns! 

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Pakistan, the main one is simply – is it safe to travel to Pakistan? – the answer is relatively simple. Yes, as long as you steer clear of the Afghanistan border regions. It’s true that Pakistan does sometimes get hit by terrorist attacks (there was two whilst I was there) but, right now, every country in the world seems to be fair game and you are no safer sitting at home. The media feeds on fear and prejudice, do not let yourself be influenced. Pakistanis are extremely anti-Taliban (and the Pakistani armed forces are currently kicking Taliban asses in the border regions) and will do everything they can to keep you safe at all costs. On occasion, you might be assigned a police escort. This does not necessarily mean you are in a dangerous area, it just means the local police branch wants to keep an eye on you. I had a couple of bodyguards, one of whom was a sixty year old with the strength of a dozen twenty year olds, and I quickly made friends with them even though they spoke no English – simply smile, be respectful and, just like in any other country, you will be fine. As Pakistan was once part of The British Empire, most local people speak some English.

Travel to Pakistan and score a kick-ass bodyguard

My police escort in Hunza scanning the mountains

5: The Historical Silk Road

Follow in the footsteps of the explorers of old. 

To travel in Pakistan is to step back into the pages of history. Marco Polo was one of the first European explorers to tackle the silk road, an ancient trade route that spanned the Orient, linking the treasuries of the Roman Empire to the Imperial Dynasties of China. At the trade route’s heart lies the Karakoram, a pivotal crossroad between The Indian Subcontinent, The Middle East and Central Asia and the corridor through which advanced three great faiths – Islam to the east, Buddhism to the north, and curry to the West. Today, the unendingly impressive Karakoram Highway runs the length of the country and offers stunning views, epic motorbike adventures and the chance to follow in the footsteps of history. My good friend Shah is now running motorcycling tours in Pakistan.

Travel to Pakistan to see the Karakoram highway

The Karakoram Highway viewed from Karimabad Fort

6: Travelling in Pakistan is cheap

Chai for just three cents… 

Pakistan is the second cheapest country I have been to. It’s possible to visit Pakistan on a budget of around $100 a week – this will cover food, accommodation, transport and plenty of awesome activities. If you have Pakistani friends, they will almost certainly insist on treating you to everything – Pakistanis are unbelievably generous and although I tried on many occasions to pay for dinner, my couchsurfing hosts would never allow it. Accommodation in Pakistan can be quite expensive but there are multiple places you can camp and it’s easy to find a couchsurfing host. Check out the ultimate list of the ten cheapest places to go backpacking

Travel to Pakistan to climb Batura Glacier

And adventuring is free!

7: Fantastic Treks

Get lost in the mountains of Pakistan, just not literally – as you shall die. 

Pakistan has some of the world’s best trekking, even better than Nepal. There are hundreds of truly stunning treks that you can do in Pakistan – from simple day treks to multi-week expeditions – and even the laziest of backpackers will have the chance to see some truly stunning terrain. Whilst backpacking in Pakistan, I went on a few stunning treks, the best of which was a hike to the legendary Fairy Meadows where I spent three days soaking in the incredible views of Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth highest mountain. I had the spot entirely to myself, it was low-season and I had to trek through waist-deep snow to get there, and it was a truly peaceful, special place. 

Travel to Pakistan to be amazed

An adventurer’s lunch of dried apricots and home-baked bread in the mountains of Hunza

8: Multi-cultural awesomeness 

Festivals, weddings, ceremonies and parties… 

Pakistan is a country which is often depicted in the media as being a place of religious intolerance. This is far from true, you can find Muslims, Christians and Hindus living side by side in many of the countries cities and there are many tribal groups still living, largely undisturbed, within the more remote parts of the country. Within the province of Chitral, budding explorers can visit the Kalash tribe, a very distinct tribe of Dardic indigenous people, once thought to be descended from soldier’s of Alexander The Great’s army – deserters who had disappeared into the hills and now live in legend. The Kalash people practise their own religious beliefs and are very fond of colourful festivals. To travel in Pakistan is to be assaulted from all sides by new colours, tastes, sights and smells; I truly felt like I was getting back to the raw spirit of adventuring and I was fascinated by the many colourful characters I met upon my travels in Pakistan.

Travel to Pakistan and experience the culture

The colours of Lahore

9: The hash is some of the best in the world… 

It’s always 4:20 somewhere… 

It is illegal for Muslims to drink in Pakistan but it is legal for foreigners, and local Christians, to enjoy a beer or two and there is even a Pakistani brewery set up for this purpose. I didn’t drink whilst in Pakistan, preferring instead to enjoy the extremely good quality hashish which can be easily found throughout most of the country. Hashish is an important part of Pakistani culture and, whilst illegal, many Pakistanis enjoy a cheeky smoke whilst watching the sunset paint the mountains in gorgeous shades of orange, red and gold.

Travel to Pakistan and drink Chai by the road

Stopping for a chai break along the Karakoram Highway

10: Pakistan is an Adventure Playground! 

For real adventure, get your ass to Pakistan

In a nutshell, Pakistan is an adventure playground. This is a country which truly has everything; friendly locals, stunning landscapes, incredible treks, untapped white water rafting, undiscovered adventures, colourful festivals, tasty food and just enough thrills to keep you on your toes. A trip to Pakistan is not your standard adventure, this is a chance to really connect with the local people and to see a country which, really, nobody knows much about. Keen to visit Pakistan with a group of like minded people? Check out Broke Backpacker Adventure Tours. 

Travel to Pakistan to see this adventure bridge

An insane adventure bridge, leading into the unknown…

I cannot recommend Pakistan highly enough, this is a country with so much adventure potential and, to be honest, it was hard to pick just ten reasons you should travel to Pakistan, this really is a country that has everything.

If you’re travelling to Pakistan on a solo trip and want to meet up with other backpackers heading that way, or are keen to pick the brains of myself and other Pakistan backpacking veterans – join this Facebook Group: Backpacking Pakistan and feel free to fire away with questions! 

For more information on how to travel to Pakistan, check out my Backpacking Pakistan Travel Guide.

Next year, I am hoping to open Pakistan’s first backpacking hostel in the Hunza mountain region. Keen to travel to Pakistan with a group of fellow adventurers? Check out Broke Backpacker Adventure Tours.

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41 Comments

  • Sonya says:

    Great blog! It’s so nice to see this beautiful country painted in a different light. I didn’t know there was so much trekking there to be honest. I’ve never been to Pakistan yet, but it’s definitely on my list 🙂

  • Saqib Ghafoor says:

    Yeah you are right. This green country has unbelievable trekks. I am a lake trekker and I just can’t forget the trekks of Lakes like 21 KM Dudipatser Lake Trek from Jalkhand (Naran Region), Ratti Ghali Trek, K-2 Trek, Satpara Trek, etc etc.
    Unbelievable landscapes like Siri Paye Meadows, Kel etc.
    Amazing base camps of mountains like Doomni (Rakaposhi), Broad Peak, Tirchmir, K-2 etc
    Stunning Festivals like Shandoor Festivels, Kalash Festivels…
    In short Pakistan is a complete country. you can find every thing here.

  • Billy says:

    I’m dying to get to India. And when I’m done exploring India, I definitely want to get back and visit the non-Indian parts of the sub-continent, starting with Pakistan. Funny about the hash!

  • Jessica says:

    Great article about Pakistan Will! I loved your adventures in the country on Snapchat, I think you showed a lot of people how friendly the people are and how amazing the nature is 🙂

  • Travel Blog says:

    These photos are amazing!! You’ve visited a country that a lot of people won’t dare.

  • sadaf says:

    thanks alot for depicting our country in a beautiful way

  • Thanks for visiting Pakistan, you had seen how much Pakistan is beautiful. I think you should visit to Kashmir (Pakistani Part). It’s also one of the beautiful piece of land on earth. Once again thanks for writing for Pakistan and sharing good image of Pakistan.

  • Hannah T. says:

    Nice post! Definetely makes me want to book a ticket. That last pic is awesome!

  • mariko says:

    Wow, your photographs are amazing! And almost all of those things are reasons I will now put Pakistan on my must see list. Mostly it was the photos though 🙂

  • Hassan Baloch says:

    That Hash part was funny!

  • Wasia Uswah says:

    Thank you so much for visiting Pakistan and describing it so beautifully in your article. We’re glad you liked us.
    People around the globe do have a very wrong perception of Pakistan being terrorised country, yes it has some serious security issues but it’s mostly on a specific area like Waziristan the locals are completely safe here and now its getting much better thanks to the extremely hard working Armed forces of Pakistan.
    Thankyou for showing the world a positive and beautiful side of Pakistan. Your articles really encourage us to see the world for from a positive point of view.
    Will your Snapchat stories are exceptionally so motivating to go on adventures and being so brave.
    Keep up the amazing work we love you.?

  • Mike42night says:

    Did you learn any Urdu while there and how useful is it?

  • Diane Gallo says:

    I just came back from a month in India and after reading your blog, u am curious about Pakistan. Is it safe for a women traveling alone?

  • Man I was smiling the entire time that I was reading this. Pakistan has been a place that I’ve always wanted to visit, especially the Karakoram Highway. I admittedly fell into the western way of thinking, believing that it was to unsafe to travel to, but it looks like thats mostly media hype then. It’s definitely high on my list, next to Iran. I’ll make it there eventually though. And they had an international DJ?! That’s just mad!

  • We always wanted to visit but your post convinced us 100pourcent! Keep up the great work! Well done for producing a rich and informative article. As usual 🙂
    Patrick and Cecile from http://www.travel4lifeblog.com

  • WOW, you’ve sold us. Hunza, in particular looks incredible!

    We love hearing about what countries are REALLY like as opposed to what the media tells us they are like. Brilliant post!

  • Sold! Pakistan looks amazing, much different than what you see on the news…

  • Khalid Alvi says:

    Dear Will Hatton,
    Indeed it was a Devine pleasure reading throughout your blog. I being a Pakistani ?? did not have the courage to travel up country simply out the hype n fear created by our insensitive n stupid medias who have themselves shown our country as one of the most dangerous n unsafe countries in the world ?. We Pakistanis are indebted to you for all the glory n wonderful things you written about us. I wish you a safe n happy journey every time you visit our beautiful beloved country. Long Live Pakistan ?? Ameen. The best nation n people on earth ?!!

  • Ahmed says:

    Hi Will. I simply cannot thank you enough for portraying our country with sucj artfulness. Yes we have stunning landscapes and people with hearts bigger than the mountains. Will, i strongly recommend you to explore Neelum Valley. This valley stretches across like 260 km long river. In Pakistan it’s referred to as Examplery Paradise.

  • it’s amazing what you write about Pakistan and I am excited because I will visit Lahore Pakistan on 14 December, thanks for sharing your experience, greetings.

  • Anum Nasir says:

    Ahh I’ve lived in Pakistan most of my adult life yet haven’t had the courage to make the journey up north on account of being a single woman. Hopefully one day!
    PS I’m glad people were hospitable to you, however I might attribute it to you being white haha! great post though

    • Khizer Sheikh says:

      Hey Anum,

      The people up north, after passing Chillas, are some of the most amazing people in the world. They have nothing, yet they are insanely hospitable, enlightened, progressive and accepting of everyone and everything. A common misconception is that the north is made up of tribal Pukhtoons (infamous for a lot of reasons). The actual inhabitants of the land are Gilgitis, Baltis, Khowars, Wakhi, Burusho, etc. None of them could be farther from being Pukhtoons or having that tribal culture which is often feared (unduly at times). Their women will entertain you with discussions about everything while the men will do everything they can to make sure you feel like a king no matter who you are or where you’re from. Take it from a Pakistani living abroad who grew up in Lahore and spent all most half his life stumbling around our North. I’ve knocked on random doors at 3 am for shelter in the middle of nowhere without ever being turned away. The fact is that almost no one knows anything about these people and their land, not even other Pakistanis.

  • Beautiful photos. Pakistan looks so stunning and raw. We’d love to explore it one day. Just need to get the visa when we are home in Oz. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mike says:

    Awesome. It’s not every day you get a travel review of Pakistan. I’m randomly living with a guy from there at the moment. I showed him this and he loved it! Good work bud

  • Wow, Thanks WILL you really help us to write about Pakistan.

    Regards,

  • Farishtay Yamin says:

    Hey Will,

    I’ve read this post as well as the backpacker’s guide to Pakistan. I’ve done a lot of backpacking in Chile, mostly staying in cheap hostels and doing day treks. I’m Pakistani by heritage and can speak Urdu, but haven’t been back since I was five. I’m hoping to go for two months alone in the summer of 2017. While a month will be spent staying with family in Karachi and Mirpurkhaas, I wanted your honest opinion on-
    — is it safe for a younger woman (I’m 21) to be traveling alone, especially in the north?
    —- do you think some of the hospitality was attributed to you being a man, and being white?
    — you mentioned in the backpacker’s guide that you’d upload an article with some women’s perspectives on solo travel. Is this coming along?

    Thank you so much!

    • Will Hatton says:

      I would absolutely love to go to Chile! In answer to your question – I think as a Pakistani women you would probably be OK but your best bet is to tap into the Karakoram Club – get in touch with Nida Aziz – and arrange to meet up with other adventourous female Pakistanis along the way (there’s a few and they are awesome!). In answer to the hospitality – Pakistanis are famously hospitable however in some of the less developed areas (cough – Swat – cough) men do not really know how to interact with women and tend to just ignore women and talk to them through male companions, it can be a little odd but this is not the norm, it’s just like that in this one place, that I encountred. I will definitely upload the article on women’s perspectives, I’ve just been swamped recently and right now I’m trekking in Myanmar – hence the late response 🙂

    • Khizer Sheikh says:

      I don’t know if I’m allowed to mention another traveller’s account here or not but, apart from Will’s account on the matter (which I can’t wait for), there is a whole series of a young Dutch origin woman biking all across Pakistan. Check it out.

  • Mohsin Ali says:

    Will, thanks for writing this nice article–depicting Pakistan, its people, and its natural treasures in your beautiful and companionable style of writing. I am a Pakistani. Reading your article made me long even more for my country as I am living aboard. Please keep sharing stories and pictures from your next trips to Pakistan. You have included Kashmir to your must-see list, suggest you also visit some beautiful shrines stretched across country. Particularly, I would recommend you visit Multan (a 6-hour car drive from Lahore) in Southern Punjab for a breathtaking visit to one of its famous shrines and the tomb of Hazarat Shah Ruknuddin Alam.

  • Pakistan is a beautiful place indeed. I have always wanted to be there but due to tempting news and TV shows it was not possible for me to go there. Reading this article i have made up my mind one more time. I am planning to visit Philippines and India this summer, i might add Pakistan to my list.

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