Pakistan Destination Guide
Poised near the top of the world, Pakistan boasts geography of all descriptions – from high mountain peaks, desert terrain and flat plains to coastal sea areas, fertile valleys, forests and waterfalls.
Home to one of the oldest civilisations in East Asia, the Indus Valley, modern Pakistan came into being after the partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947.
Today, the country shares an uneasy relationship with its neighbour India and an ongoing dispute over the state of Kashmir. It can be seen in the somewhat farcical and exaggerated display of the daily closing-of-the-border ceremony at Wagah – a tourist must-see.
Decipher misunderstood cities
With Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest and India and China to the east, it's fair to say this Muslim country is in a pretty volatile region. Despite the unrest, Pakistan has plenty to offer the been-there-seen-that traveller.
Pakistan's major cities are the somewhat laidback federal capital of Islamabad, the historic ancient city of Lahore where the Mughals once reigned, and the largest city, Karachi, which is a port city and the financial capital of the country.
For visitors, Karachi is the place to wander the beach or cosmopolitan streets, while Lahore will mesmerise with its ancient Mughal monuments and enigmatic Old City. For a bustling bazaar experience, head to the desert outpost of Quetta in the south to explore its maze of ancient stalls.
Far from its gritty portrayal on the evening news, Pakistan has some of the world's most awe-inducing scenery. The world's second-highest peak, K2, is in the north with excellent mountain trekking and stunning views on offer.
Are you keen to climb the K2?
Another option for the adventurous is to hit the slopes at Pakistan's only ski resort Malam Jabba. Malam Jabba is newly rebuilt with modern facilities and has a highest peak of 2,808 metres.
Described as paradise on earth and the original 'Shangri-La', the lush surrounds of the Hunza Valley framed by snow-capped peaks is another must-visit destination.
While caution must still be exercised in Pakistan and tribal areas are mostly off limits to foreigners, Pakistan is home to many more attractions that won't be a secret for long if Pakistan can find a way to reconcile its conflict and political instability.
From the legendary Khyber Pass to the outlaw city of Peshawar and the gateway to Afghanistan, cross your fingers that soon it'll be 100% safe to see the local section of the historic Silk Road trading route and drive through the mountains of the Karakoram Highway.