Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad
Where We Go
Our journeys in Pakistan have primarily focused on Lahore and Islamabad.
Where and When to Shop in Lahore
Lahore's Shopping Central has every shop you can imagine. European, American, and Middle Eastern designer boutiques cover miles within the shopping district. Malls usually carry the more moderate brands.
The Walled City opens midday and operates late into the night.
Shop the endless mazes of kiosks offering clothing, materials, embellishments, and delicacies.
Shopping hours begin at 11:00 am until 10:00 pm.
Inner-city travel should be planned around peak traffic times.
Local brands we love are Khaadi, Ethnic, and Metro.
What to See in Lahore
Lahore is the center of art and culture. This congested city offers the glam and glitter of a European city against a backdrop of an ancient civilization.
The Ancient Walled City offers you a glimpse of how life existed hundreds of years ago. Take note of the architecture of the city and the expansion over decades. Walk the maze of narrow streets that wind throughout the city.
A mosque that should not be missed is Wazir Khan Hamam. It is located just to the left of the Delhi Gate inside the Walled City. Restoration was completed in 2016.
Badshahi Mosque is an important religious site and significant landmark in Lahore. Ancient walls surround the mosque protecting the courtyard. The mosque was built in 1673 under the Mughal Empire. Many of the original frescos are well maintained. This mosque is the second largest in Pakistan.
The roads of India and Pakistan are exciting. Massive interstates to two lane dirt roads exist in most major cities. Vehicles range from 18 wheelers trucks to ox-drawn carts. All exist together with the tutus, which maneuver around the traffic. Drivers of trucks have created a new art form in both countries. Traveling long distances for weeks at a time, their trucks become their home away from home. Drivers take great pride in decorating and personalizing their vehicles. Their religion, culture, villages, music and family influence is proudly displayed on their vehicles.
Military sites are visible throughout the town. You will find armory museums, memorials, functioning compounds active today.
Gardens are throughout the city. Many are open to the public.
Islamabad is located to the north from Lahore. Flights fly direct throughout the day or the interstate motorway is a good option for travel. It is a cosmopolitan city and the center of government. It is a garden `city with tree-lined streets, upscale restaurants, and shopping malls.
Restoration was recently completed outside the city -- a historical medieval city restored.
Where to Stay in Lahore
In Lahore, Pearl Continental is located in the heart of the city on Mall Road. What is lacking in ambiance is made up by its location. The Pearl is a large hotel that hosts conferences, trade shows, etc. They are accustomed to foreign visitors and can accommodate your needs. You will find an abundance of restaurants, boutiques, fast food chains, malls, and cinemas -- all within walking distance.
Avari Hotel Lahore is one of the most popular hotels in Lahore. They offer rooms and suites, a nice pool, gym, multiple restaurants, and beautiful gardens. They are centrally located on Mall Road, next to the gardens and zoo. Breakfast is included with your room. The Japanese Restaurant inside is good but not outstanding (but you can order a nice Pakistani beer, which is a rarity!)
Where to Eat in Lahore
Lahore has every type of food imaginable. Pricing is as varied as the restaurant offerings. We do not recommend eating from street vendors.
Andaz Restaurant is one of the top restaurants in the city. It is considered fine dining and offers A range of Indian, Pakistani, and Vegetarian dishes. The food, ambiance, and service is excellent. In additional to wonderful food and service, the view of The Baadshaahl Mosque is worth the steep price tag. The daal makhni, Malai both and nizami murgh are just a few of their most popular dishes.
Cafe Aylanto is one of our favorites and is located in the Gilberg neighborhood. Excellent Mediterranean dishes are prepared in a sophisticated environment. There is good value for your money and the Moroccan chicken is my favorite.
Cuckoo's Den is not for everyone. The offering is traditional street fare cuisine in a restaurant setting. There are great views from the roof top and a non traditional museum within. Reasonable prices but the wait time might put you off if you are on a schedule.
Street markets are a common sight near all central areas. One of the largest is directly outside the walled city. Produce, meats, and local treats are readily available. Don't miss the charred corn, heated nuts, and sweet dried fruits.
The Emporium Mall provides you shopping under one roof. They offer well known brands and international boutiques. A food court offers allows you to rest and take a coffee while you eye your bounty!
Islamabad serves as the capital of Pakistan since the sixties. It is a planned city divided into sectors and grids. You will find the city easy to negotiate, clean and tree lined. The city lies at the base of the Himalayas.
Paths in Islamabad
Faisal Mosque is the largest Mosque in Pakistan and one of the grandest in the world and is the seat of learning and higher education in the country. The mosque was built with funding from Saudi Arabia. You will find separated prayer areas designated by gender. The interior is modern and displays master pieces of calligraphy. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a camera for spectacular vistas, and remember that women should cover their heads as a sign of respect.
The Margalla Hills offers a complete view of the city. Parliament, the malls, Faisal Mosque and the Presidents residence are all visible. There are numerous well marked trails for those seeking a workout. Worth it, but challenging.
A fun stop and a great shopping experience is Lok Virsa Museum. The museum is filled with cultural facts encompassing the history of the country. The museum offers film clips, open mic, curios, etc. Events are scheduled weekly and it is recommended that you review before planning your visit. They even sponsor youth programs.
Where to Shop in Islamabad
Islamabad offers all shopping experiences, from stalls, flea markets, malls, and boutiques.
Centaurus Mall is the largest mall and offers a variety of local brands plus international boutiques. After shopping, you can relax in the food court and then take in a movie at the theater Aabpara Market is one of the oldest and most comprehensive markets in Islamabad. It hosts a great variety of shops selling dry fruit, toys, consumer goods, kitchen utensils, sporting and leather goods. You will a little bit of everything here and it's reasonable.
Where to Eat in Islamabad
Islamabad is an international city with all foods represented. Options range from fine dining to street carts.
The Monal Restaurant offers moderately priced food in a formal atmosphere. It is the favorite among most international visitors. Their specialities include barbecue, Asian, Pakistani, vegetarian, even vegan.
Chaya Kahana is good for a quick bite. Reasonably priced and the equivalent of Pakistan fast food. Dishes range from American, bistro cafe bites, and vegetarian. Great breakfasts.
Kabul Restaurant is one of my favorites. Based on the famous barbecue of Afghan, it's one of the best for Afghani plates.
Street 1 Cafe is another option to find good food and deserts. American, Pakistani, and vegetarian options are all available. It's clean with pleasant service.
Where to Stay in Islamabad
Islamabad Serena Hotel is the city's upscale hotel. It's lacking atmosphere, large, with a prestigious air. They offer all the standard amenities, pool, WiFi, gym, restaurants, and breakfast is included. If you are lucky, you may be able to see a wedding in the downstair reception halls. Stunning.
Islamabad Marriott is the standard convention hotel. The location is central, rooms pleasant, and the staff is courteous.
Guest houses are popular with seasoned travelers. The are usually quite reasonable, offer breakfast, libations and are usually outside city center. One of the best ways to decide on which guest house is to determine the posh neighborhoods. These guest houses usually offer large rooms, nice views, and room amenities.
What to Know About the Culture of Pakistan
Pakistan is a Muslim country. You will find all religions present, but Islam is pervasive throughout the country. Be respectful of Islamic practices.
Women should wear long skirts, pants and sleeved garments.
It is required that women covers their heads when visiting mosques and sacred sites.
Alcohol is not accepted within the Muslim faith. Experience many of the wonderful teas, juices, and nonalcoholic beverages.
Pakistan has suffered great losses over the last ten years. Military checkpoints are visible and operating throughout all cities. This is an ongoing effort to restrict the movement of terrorists. Be sure to carry proper identification outside your hotels.
People are polite. Formal greetings should begin with "Good Morning" or "Evening."
It is traditional to offer a meal, tea, or snack to any visitors.
More: Refer to the Go Kismet Tipping Guide.