Howdy all! Yes, well, it’s time for another budget stay challenge where I see how you can spend two days on less than $100USD in a place. I was really struggling to decide which city I was going to go for this month, the very merry month of May, but with Tim Blight of Urban Duniya fame releasing his updated, super-duper ultimate version of ‘Pakistan Traveller’ last month, I decided it made sense to feature a city in Pakistan at this time!
Pakistan, as I have said before, is a country slowly getting more tourists and now is not a bad time to go at all, because if enough people cotton on how fascinating, friendly and beautiful Pakistan is it could really take off. Although if I am to be honest with myself, that’s unlikely to be happening fast and soon, the potential is undoubtedly there.
And I have chose Lahore because it really is the best city to visit as a tourist. It has infrastructure, plenty of things to see and do, friendly people, it’s less chaotic than Peshawar or Rawalpindi, and it’s a very safe city to visit – I have heard that say Karachi is a place you really have to be on your guard (although I don’t want to give the impression it’s a very dangerous place either). Sure, in Lahore you need your ‘big city senses’ about you, but I feel sure equally you will be both safe and welcomed (disclaimer: NOT a guarantee bad stuff can happen anywhere in the world).
So anyways, we have two days, arriving early AM on day one and leaving late PM day two. Airfares are not included in the $100, but we do need to find accommodation for one night, pay for meals, all on the ground transportation, food and sightseeing.
So, I have never been to the airport at Lahore, I arrived by bus. We can certainly save money by taking the bus into town, public transport costs are almost negligible in Lahore, but also good luck navigating them just after you’ve touched down! But checking Uber prices, well it’s around 350 Pakistani Rupees into the city in a car, which is less than two dollars. $1USD is around 185 Pakistani Rupees based on the current exchange rate. So for transport for two days I would say $15 would be more than enough.
Accommodation is also pretty much a bargain in Lahore and just doing a quick search I found plenty of places under $30, many under $20 in fact. I stayed in a couple places that were less than $20 back in 2004, in fact they were probably around $10 but honestly, I wouldn’t stay in a place quite as grungy today! It’s hard to recommend a hotel that I haven’t stayed at though, but I am confident that if we budget $35USD we will have a reasonably comfortable room with wifi, a sit down toilet, air conditioning and house keeping.
That leaves us with $50 for food and sight seeing and indeed anything else we might like to do. The highlight of Lahore is the Badshahi Mosque is a mere 50 rupees, a little over 30 cents. It’s a stunning piece of Mughal Architecture and not to be missed, and it’s directly opposed the Lahore Fort which is also worth your time. I can’t get an exact price but I think it’s similar to the mosque, let’s say it’s a dollar for both! We still have $49. Check out the Iman-I-Pakistan and the surrounding park, it’s visible from the fort and is a modern spire and one of Lahore’s most recognisable landmarks.
Also the Tomb of Jahangir is a little outside Lahore but worth a visiting for more amazing grounds and architecture. Let’s put $5 for getting there and entrance. $44 still to go.
Walking the streets, meeting people, seeing life and neighbourhoods is very worthwhile and costs you nothing. There are some interesting entertainments also such as the giant wooden barrels where motorbike daredevils spin around on the inside as you watch from the top. Not sure if it’s you sort of thing, and I didn’t feel particularly safe but it was kinda fun and definitely different. If the Pakistan Super League (T20 Cricket) is on, check out a match from that competition guaranteed to be a great night!
Other suggestions include visiting the Wagah Border, 30km or so away, where you can see the elaborate border closing ceremony at dusk where the soldiers march up and down and put on a bit of a show (although I believe the Indian side is more elaborate). The city has more mosques worth checking out too, the Army Museum gets good raps, and there are guided tours to be had too which I’m sure we could get in our budget.
We would still have $25-$30 for food. There are actually a fair selection of American fast food outlets in Lahore including KFC and Pizza Hut, but for cheaper, local food you will have to walk the streets and see what you can find. One things for sure, outside hotels and places serving western food, $5 will more than cover you for a meal. Pakistan cuisine is spicy, and whilst similar in some respects to Indian food, it also has it’s take on it, more of an influence from say Afghanistan (you can certainly find Afghani restaurants and I recommended them, kebabs are fantastic) and so there is a lot more meat served. Even KFC won’t set you back too much, so if you only have $25 for food, you should still be able to eat two lunches and dinners out, and for that day two breakfast, that could be included in your hotel bill or you can seek something simple out for that.
So, there you have it folks! Lahore on a budget is really not a challenge I have to say, and I would encourage anyone who does visit, regardless of how many days you have, to just take your time and let Pakistani city experiences come to you, because they undoubtedly will! Thanks for popping by! May the Journey Never End!
PS – Tim Blight’s Pakistan Traveller will help you navigate Lahore if you go so click HERE if you’d like to buy a copy of the world’s best guidebook to Pakistan!