TRAVEL!

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From the snow-capped mountains of the north to the sparkling waters of the south, from the unique wildlife to the mighty Indus River that flows into the Arabian Sea, Pakistani tourism has a lot to offer. World Tourism Day, celebrated annually around the world on September 27, promotes awareness of the social, cultural, political and economic value of tourism and the contribution the sector can make to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. .

As the world begins to restart its tourism, we have seen many people touring Pakistan, especially the north side. And we know you must be craving a getaway, too. So, in light of this, we decided to take a closer look at the local scene and talk to tourists to learn from their experiences. This week you! has put together a list of real tips and tricks, so you can start planning your next adventure …

TRAVEL!

Plan according to your budget

Alas, to travel you need moolah. When it comes to travel within the country, it can sometimes be more expensive than expected. For example, a trip to Skardu from Islamabad can cost around 70k for one person depending on the hotels and mode of transport you want to book. Munawar Sultana Siyal is a lawyer based in Lahore and also a frequent traveler. Having traveled to most parts of Pakistan, Munawar understood what to expect in terms of budgets. “Since I am traveling from Lahore it costs around 10k for a three day group trip to Kashmir. Skardu and Naltar are expensive tours costing around 25,000-28,000 kilometers, everything else is less than these two places. The minimum you can pay for a trip is 9,000, which is Swat from Lahore, ”Munawar informs. “I have the impression that people who travel from Karachi have expensive packages. For them, I recommend coming to Lahore by train. Even if you travel business class by train, it will cost you $ 5,000 for a one-way ticket, which is still a lot less than a plane trip. You can spend a day in Lahore to rest and then leave with a tour group, which will save you a lot of money.

TRAVEL!

The rush for the season is real

Now that the trips are easier to do, you will find a lot of crowded places. Yusra Salim, a Karachi-based journalist who recently visited Hunza this summer agrees with this. “The crowd has grown dramatically over the past two years. We went to Hunza in 2018 and the place was serene and peaceful. This year, there were lots of people. In Naran, as we were leaving the hotel, we only saw the faces of people, ”she informs.

Don’t crowd too much in one trip

Islamabad-based Hafsah Sarfraz visited Ayun, a small town near Chitral this summer, but she also raves about Khaplu Palace near Skardu, which is her favorite. In terms of planning your trip, Hafsah has some helpful tips. “Travel out of season which is April, May, September and October and avoid June, July and August. It is less crowded and hotels are able to provide better service. There will be a better experience overall, ”she said. “Don’t try to cram it too much into your itinerary, like taking a three day trip to Chitral, don’t expect to see everything there. Just focus on two areas and explore them. If you like a place you can always visit it later too.

TRAVEL!

Be practical on road trips

Road trips sound like a lot of fun, but they can be tiring and require some planning before you get into your wagon. Yusra Tarique Jamall is a Karachi-based clinical psychologist who recently took a road trip with her husband and one-year-old daughter. They went from Karachi to Multan, Islamabad, Nathiagali, Naran. In Naran, they stayed two days and went to Lake Lulusar, Batakundi and Lalazar. From there they continued to Muzaffarabad, the Neelum Valley (Upper Neelum and Lower Neelum) and AJK. “I planned my trip through online research and Facebook pages, then I wrote my roadmap through the research I did online. This was my third time traveling, so obviously I loved it. The north has beautiful places, but the more a place is visited by tourists, it becomes less attractive because of the pollution, ”says Jamall.

Yusra’s family took their own vehicle and drove all the way by road. “I think it was more economical, as tour guides charge an arm and a leg for private cars; double what only gasoline costs you. We took estimates from tour guides and got a rough idea of ​​the overall cost of gasoline. Our trip cost us about 1.25 lakes in total for two adults and a toddler including gas, accommodation and food.

Travel groups are a great option, especially for women

Women looking to explore Pakistan, travel groups are a great option. Not only are they economical, but they can also help smooth out your travel issues. “I have traveled personally, with tour groups and custom packages as well,” Munawar said. “Make sure you travel with reliable groups. Check them out and look for their ratings and reviews. I think tour groups are generally more economical because they know people. If you rent a jeep yourself, it can get quite expensive. For example, Skardu easily costs me around a lake just because we have to hire the jeeps, unless I’m traveling with tour groups. Overall my travel experience in Pakistan has been amazing. Most of the North is safe enough to travel, with the exception of Upper Dir and Swat, which I find a little inconvenient.

Yusra Salim believes that it is completely safe for women to travel. “It is safe to travel in a group. In every trip we’ve been, at least one woman travels. Two years ago my mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law and I went to Hunza without men. And it was the best trip I have ever taken.

TRAVEL!

Tour groups also have an advantage in managing things. Alefyah Hasnain traveled with her family this summer with her mother and three-year-old son. “The trip was planned through a tour operator and it cost a bit more, but that was because we couldn’t risk it with my mom and son. We also had great hotels and a comfortable van, ”says Alefyah. “I would suggest avoiding going during the Eid rush because it was terrible. We got trapped as our trip lengthened due to the landslides. My advice is that if you are going in high season, go with reliable tour operators. We met a lot of people who booked rooms but didn’t prepay so the hotel gave their rooms for some reason. And if you take the road, take extra gasoline in the car, because that’s what saved us from this terrible rush!

Facilities may not be great

Although we are fortunate to have panoramic views, unfortunately we do not have decent facilities. “We especially struggled to find clean toilets. All along the highway there are very well maintained rest areas with bakeries and everywhere except Sindh the situation is pitiful. There is no concept of a public toilet unless you come to a gas station and the situation is really bad. It’s the same with the North, but a little better, perhaps. Also, the roads are better in the North now, but there is still a lot of room for improvement, ”says Jamall.

“We basically lack facilities like clean toilets and signals. In addition, there is a need to strengthen local carriers. However, this time around the roads have really improved, ”adds Munawar.

“Some toilets were awful and some were passable. Gas stations have a few that you can pay to use, they were much better. But you have to keep the bar low otherwise you cannot survive the trip. However, I would add that we don’t get that level of facilities that we pay in a hotel. If you paid the same amount abroad, you would get much better hotels with facilities, ”Alefyah believes.

TRAVEL!

Be prepared for the storm

For people coming from big cities, especially those used to spicy food, the food may not be the best. And as you go further north, you might not get much variety. If you wish, you can take snacks for rainy days.

As you go up, many hotels don’t have 24/7 hot water running, although you pay a lot for it. There are schedules for hot water, so when you go to take a shower, be sure to call the front desk and confirm.

Light pack. You’re going to be changing a lot of hotels, so carrying a lot of luggage won’t be something you want to do on a trip where you want to relax. You can wash your clothes yourself during your trip (bring small surf bags), but drying can be a problem as most days are cloudy.

Farwa Kumail recommends leaving early for your next stop. She remembers that it saved them from a lot of traffic and their trip was much more stuffy.

If you are traveling with children, Alefyah recommends that you do not bring a light for children, as the weather can be unpredictable. In addition, it is difficult to keep a child engaged for so long on the road, but with older children you can play games. So when planning the trip with toddlers keep this in mind.

But the view is worth it

Pakistan is a beautiful country and it is worth seeing in any season. Our respondents felt that the landscapes of this country are truly a sight to behold. You can’t compare it to anywhere in the world; and the photos don’t do them justice at all. And this wonderful view is complemented by humble, very welcoming and helpful locals. It’s an experience worth braving a storm to …


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