Okay. Pakistan is probably not first, second or third on your list of places to go, but it is worth considering these days I’d say even if you just fancy a quick look there to see what it’s like. If you do that, you’re city of choice is likely to be the one that was my first taste of Pakistan – Lahore. That’s because I came by land from Amritsar, India, which is pretty easy all said. Border formalities today are surely tighter than when I went in 2004, but it’s not the worst border in the world.
Lahore is not the friendliest place I visited in Pakistan – a country that on the whole is actually pretty friendly – that award would have to go to dusty Multan. However, it wasn’t the least friendliest either.
I went straight to the Regal Internet Inn – their website is HERE. It has a mixed reputation which I think comes out on the positive side. A great place to start in Pakistan where you can meet a lot of travellers – as many as you’re likely to meet in one place in Pakistan possibly – and you can hear their stories, get advice and plan further expeditions into Pakistan. There were a couple of stories about harassment here, I should warn the female travellers. However, not from any I actually met who were or who had been there. It’s cheap, central and they take people out about town pretty much for free.
And that’s the sort of start to a country I was needing at the time. From Lahore you can go south to Multan, the shrines of Uch Shariff (anyone venturing past Lahore, this has to be your prime thing to see) or northwards to Islamabad, Peshawar (check safety of the region first) and to the stunning (yet unexplored by me) Karakoram Highway.
On my first night there I was taken out with a large group to see cars and motorbikes spinning around the inside of a barrel, apparently a popular activity in Lahore. Further afield you’ll find that the Badshahi Mosque is probably Lahore’s chief attraction, and it’s beautiful and filled with its own secrets.
Opposite, separated only by a road, is the entrance to the Lahore Fort, filled with beautiful historical buildings. These two alone could take up half a day. Not far from town is the Tomb of Jahangir, another beautiful, quite tranquil site. But there are other mosques and architecture to check out. The train station is worth visiting even if you’re not taking to the rails.
It’s a bustling, busy city and a little crazy in that way, but I preferred it in a big way to Delhi, there was less haggling to be done and people were genuinely friendly and helpful. I needed photos put on a disc and the photo shop I went to didn’t do it so they put me on the back of a bike across town to an affiliate store that did for example. And when I needed a bit of western comfort, well, I went to Pizza Hut in air conditioned comfort and wrote in my journal and relaxed. Brilliant.
Lahore doesn’t see the tourists that the Indian cities do, which for me was an advantage, but it does mean you need to be a little more independent. Which I prefer. In fact, it gets big thumbs up from me. So, if Pakistan might just be on your radar, why not consider it.
If you’d like to know more about Lahore, Tim Blight of Urban Duniya is a sometimes resident of the city and blogs about it from time to time. You can find links to his Lahore posts HERE. So, perhaps you’ll consider Lahore as an option with a trip to India – it’s just over the border and a friendly place. Or better still, consider a little exploration into this amazing country.
Thanks for reading and as always, May the Journey Never End.