The first time Zainab Khan, who was born and raised in Switzerland, travelled to Pakistan was when she was 14-years-old. But even though she was geographically distant from her motherland, it was her family that kept their culture alive at home. “My parents made sure that my siblings and I spoke fluent Pashto and understood Pakistan’s rich history through stories, movies, music and clothing.”
Zainab travelled to her homeland in an effort to dispel any remaining negative ideas about Pakistan. “Our hope is to change perceptions,” says Zainab. Keep reading to find out five reasons Zainab thinks you should put Pakistan on your travel list.
Pakistan is a an incredibly diverse country in many aspects including its landscapes. The country boasts some of the highest peaks in the world and the only subtropical desert in Asia, the Thar desert. It is also home to lovely beaches and deep sea ports as well as lush forests and jungles. All these landscapes are dotted by bustling cities, some modern and green like Islamabad, some ancient and picturesque like Lahore and some stimulating and contrasting like Karachi. Pakistan truly is a spot to satisfy any type of travel itch from someone interested in a hiking and adventure to an Instagram obsessed fashionista.
A country once ruled by the poetic Mughals, to being colonized by the British and then developing a separate identity after independence makes Pakistan a melting pot of cultures and history. The influence of all these eras is apparent in the architecture, art and customs. Modern Pakistani culture is just as unique and diverse with so many ethnic groups. There’s a rich cultural experience to be found in all corners. In a single trip, you’ll see the extravagance of a Punjabi wedding to hearing about the secrets to longevity from the people of the Hunza Valley to sipping on green tea while listening to the melodious twang of Peshawar’s rubab instrument.
Prepare to have your tastebuds blow away with the flavour of Pakistani cuisine. The north is a meat eaters paradise, while the heartiest of breakfasts (halwa puri) are found in Punjab. Karachi gets your mouth watering with its innovative street food. And let’s not forget mango, the national fruit. When they are in season, Pakistani mangoes are so beautifully fragrant, sweet and juicy that they are sure to become a trip highlight.
Pakistani fashion has slowly started to make a name for itself worldwide, especially with many international designers getting inspired by local prints, designs and textiles. For those who want the réal deal at the fraction of the price, the markets in Pakistan are the place to shop. With some of the most impressive bead work, embroidery and materials , a Pakistani piece is sure to make anyone feel regal and elegant. If you are looking for a more luxurious shopping experience, there are hundreds of local designers and brands to choose from in glistening malls.
The overarching sentiment of most travelers to Pakistan is feeling welcomed. Among all the various ethnic groups, cultures, religions and social classes in Pakistan, one value is adopted by all and that is hospitality. A country portrayed to be so harsh and dangerous always surprises tourists with how genuinely honest, caring and warm Pakistanis are. As a tourist, you are treated like an esteemed guest in a country where people feel responsible for your well-being as though you are guest in their home. Expect to be greeted with smiles, payment refusals for food, goods and services and most importantly – your next invitation to Pakistan.