Pakistan has a myriad of sites to explore, history to examine and landscape to travel through. Take a road trip on the Karakoram Highway, with the peaks of the Karakoram, Mountains soar high above you. The three remote Kalasha Valleys present an opportunity to meet the Kalasha people, ancestors of the legendary Alexander the Great's armies and amazingly, still practicing their pagan customs and beliefs in the middle of a devoutly Muslim country. Travel to Peshawar, a Middle Eastern frontier town at the foot of the Kyber pass, and a critical trade route and staging area for invasions up the pass. This old city is filled with bazaars and samovars dispensing green tea to the wealthy merchants who trade here. Modernization has taken the form of more autorickshaws than camels and the constant ring-ring of cell phones. The carnival atmosphere is contagious! And while here, why not hire an armed escort and venture through native lands and the famous gateway to Afghanistan? Then, wind down in Uch Sharif, visiting Pakistan's most inspirational shrines in this ancient town.
Major international airlines operating from the main airports are Middle East and South East Asian carriers including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Ittehad, Singapore, Air China, Cathay Pacific and Gulf Air. Marketing efforts by the Pakistan government are underway to convince European and American airlines to reestablish their operations which they preferred to abandon due to higher competition from Middle Eastern carriers and ongoing adverse situations in the area. Primary candidates for future revival are British Airways and Lufthansa. Most international carriers operate from Karachi and Lahore while a few also provide connecting services to Benazir International Airport in Islamabad. Besides the large carriers, there are a few chartered airlines that operate quite infrequently and serve destinations not covered by major airlines.
Pakistan was the first country in South Asia to receive a commercial jet and it has now more than 130 active airfields and boasts twenty-five airports that have the ability to handle large airlines. The busiest among them is the Karachi International Airport which has the capacity to handle twelve million passengers annually.
Recent renovations of Karachi and Lahore airports have seen major contracts signed by many charter and international air carriers for maintenance and operational services. Pakistan International Airlines is the flagship national airline that serves almost all of Pakistan. Other popular airlines include Air Blue and Shaheen Air which compete with PIA on routes to smaller destinations and Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, Faisalabad and Northern Areas which constitute major air traffic.
The emergence of public airports such as Sialkot International which is overseen by local Chamber of Industry and Commerce is a huge step forward toward establishing a futuristic air infrastructure in Pakistan. Growing interest by Middle East and South East Asian airlines has promoted this cause and the Pakistan government is keenly monitoring the interest of several international airlines to provide services from the underserved Islamabad airport which is fast becoming overloaded with the increase in aircraft and cargo movements. There are plans to expand the airport to allow more airlines to operate directly from Islamabad.
Climate will most likely be your deciding factor when traveling to Pakistan. It depends highly on what areas of the country you plan to visit, as the various regions experience different weather systems. Generally, Pakistan experiences three seasons. The cool season is from around October to February. The hot season is from March to June and the wet or monsoon season is from around July to September. Domestic tourism is highest during the months of June, July and August. Airfares and hotel rates will double or treble as locals flock to resort towns in the north. Festivals will also drain your pocketbook, though many people struggle when weighing the cost against missing the festivals. Ramadan (Ramazan) could possibly be the most disruptive to your vacation as many businesses shut down completely, while others curtail their operations from dawn to sunset for a whole month. Visiting various travel blogs will supply you with a wealth of information, from which are the best flights to take, to the best hotels and the tours or sites that you don't want to miss.
Look forward to the day when Pakistan is a much safer place for vacationers and hope that the rigors of war do not tear down much of what is there. Pakistan deserves exploring!
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