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With a population of 180 million, Pakistan is one of the world's most populous countries. Located in South Asia, it is a nation of strategic and historic importance. As a result, it has a rich and varied cultural history that gives the country a unique flavour that cannot be found elsewhere.
A former British colony, people here drive on the left. With millions of citizens, traffic, especially in urban areas, has a tendency to be heavy. As a result, it is important that drivers pay attention and observe traffic rules to ensure their safety on the roads.
Driving licences: foreigners driving for less than 12 months can drive on a driving license issued in their country of origin provided they have an International Driving Permit (IDP).
Which side does Pakistan drive on: the left.
- Motorways: 37 mph (60 km/hour) to 68 mph (110 km/hour) for HGVs; 75 mph (120 km/hour) for light vehicles
- Rural areas: 50 mph (80 km/hour)
- Built-up areas: 25 mph (40 km/hour)
Alcohol limits: a Muslim nation, Pakistan has strict laws on alcohol. Non-Muslim foreigners can purchase alcohol, but the alcohol limit for driving is zero and punishments for driving while drunk will be severe.
Driving age: in Pakistan the minimum driving age and car hire age is 18. When hiring a car, the driver must have held a driving license for at least one year.
Seatbelts: seatbelt use is compulsory and failure to wear one can result in a fine.
Mobile phones and GPS: mobile phones must not be used when driving. Being caught doing so can incur a fine. GPS is available in Pakistan, though drivers in more rural areas may find traditional maps more useful.
Cost of fuel in Pakistan: the cost of petrol and diesel is significantly lower in Pakistan than the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: as a general rule, all major credit cards are accepted by car hire firms. Many petrol stations accept credit cards, though a charge is sometimes applied so it may be more convenient to pay with cash.
Insurance: travel insurance or credit cards may provide cover that is more economical. However, such cover is often limited for Pakistan, in which case the car hire company will provide rental insurance.
Traffic and parking: there is a lot of traffic in Pakistan, so any drivers should be patient when navigating urban roads. While driving and parking rules in rural areas are relatively relaxed, within cities drivers should be aware of stricter regulations, including designated parking areas and traffic police to enforce any rules. Drivers must ensure they have the correct documentation (driving license, insurance and any other permits) on them at all times to avoid any troubles and additional fines when stopped by traffic officials.
Train services are provided by the state-run Pakistan Railways and span the whole country. There are a number of different train classes available at different prices and tourists are entitled to further concessions through a certificate issued by a PTDC Tourist Information Centre.
Taxis are a common sight in all Pakistani cities and towns. Prices are cheap and often open to negotiation. Another popular and similar mode of transport is the auto-rickshaw which is generally used for short journeys in Pakistan's urban areas.
Pakistan has domestic, inter-city and international bus services run by several different companies at very reasonable costs. The most popular bus companies within Pakistan are Daewoo Express, Niazi Express and Lahore Transport Company (LTC).
Pakistan has a number of airports across the country connecting domestic and international destinations. Flights go to destinations all over the world and many of the world's major airlines fly into and out of the country's numerous airports. The main airports are Kirachi- Jinnah International Airport, Lahore- Allama Iqbal International Airport & Islamabad- Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
The landscape and culture of Pakistan are fascinating and with a history stretching back thousands of years the nation can offer visitors sights that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Pakistan has six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with 18 more waiting to be added to the list, so there is an awe-inspiring range of monuments and artefacts to be seen.
Visitors can see this ancient history blend with the modern-day life in the country's major cities, which are fast developing into sophisticated urban centres able to offer visitors luxury in the way of hotels, restaurants and shops.
There are a number of festivals and public holidays that occur annually across Pakistan:
- Pakistan Day, March 23
- Labour Day, May 1
- Independence Day, August 14
- Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting
- Eid-al-Fitr, two days that commemorate the end of Ramadan.
Weather conditions in Pakistan are much more extreme than those in the UK. The climate varies across the country, though it generally has very hot dry summers and cool winters, with monsoon season from June to September.
Pakistani culture is very welcoming and nationals will go out of their way to make you feel at home. By taking care to stay courteous and respectful you will find yourself welcomed wherever your travels throughout the vast nation may take you.
Pakistan Contact Numbers
Country code: 0092
British High Commission: 00 92 51 201 2000
The official currency of Pakistan is the Pakistani rupee (PKR). ATMs in Pakistan are becoming increasingly common. Banks generally charge between 10 and 35 PKR for withdrawals from ATMs.
Health & Safety
Travel and health insurance is always recommended when travelling to any part of the world. The yellow-fever vaccine is required for travel to Pakistan. Other recommended vaccinations are polio, tetanus, MMR, TB, typhoid and meningitis. It is advised that travellers avoid drinking tap water and instead drink bottled water.
Travellers to Pakistan should be aware of pickpockets and take care of their belongings at all times.
Pakistani culture, while predominantly Muslim, is vibrant and draws influences from many different cultures. However, while its people are warm and hospitable, visitors should keep certain etiquette rules in mind.
It is important to show respect. You should rise for elders and wait to be introduced via a mutual acquaintance rather than approaching a stranger to introduce yourself. Visitors should be aware of the limited physical contact between members of the opposite sex and it is not customary to shake hands or make eye contact. Additionally, visitors should take care to dress conservatively and to avoid any public displays of affection.
Visas for Pakistan
All foreign nationalities travelling to Pakistan are required to apply for a visa via a Pakistan embassy or consulate before travelling to Pakistan.
Visitors are granted a single-entry visa of up to 30 days, though for a higher fee a 1-year multiple-entry visa can be issued. Travellers will also have to provide details of their trip and present a return ticket upon arrival in the country.
Voltage: 230 volts (V)/50 Hertz (Hz)
Plug type: C (Euro two-pin) and D (three pin)
Government offices: Monday-Thursday & Saturday 8am-3pm, Friday 8am-midday
Banks: Monday-Thursday 9am-1:30pm, Friday & Saturday 9am-12:30pm
Post offices: Monday-Thursday & Friday 9am-4pm, Friday 9am-12:30pm
These times are shortened during the month of Ramadan.
The official language of Pakistan is Urdu. Common greetings and phrases include:
Hello - Salaam
Hello (reply) - walaikum assalam
Goodbye - khuda hafiz
Yes - ha
No - nahi
Please - barai mehrbani
Thank you - sukriya
You're welcome - Koi bat nahin
Do you speak English? - apko angrezi ati hai?