Currency: Rupee (PKR)
Exchange rate: 196.81 PKR per € (September 2020)
Time zone: UTC +5
Country code: +92
Climate (capital): subtropical, temperate
In the major cities of Pakistan, hotels and inns can be found in almost all standards. Most hotels and upscale guest houses have air conditioning, satellite television and internet in their offerings. Despite the regular power outages, a continuous power supply is usually guaranteed by generators / UPS. In smaller towns there are mostly inns and sometimes two to three star hotels. A continuous power supply is not always guaranteed there. Internet access and television are also not necessarily to be expected.
Private accommodations (apartments and houses) are also available in all price ranges in large cities. As a foreigner, you pay much higher rental prices than locals (usually in dollars). Since looking for accommodation can be very laborious, so-called “property dealers”, ie real estate agents, are often asked to provide private accommodation.
Life in the big cities
According to payhelpcenter, Islamabad has been the capital of Pakistan since 1960. With about 1.15 million residents, it is an artificially built but peaceful government and civil servants town in the countryside, in a scenic location at the foot of the Margalla range of hills (geographically in the north of Punjab). The city map consists of uniform, square districts without a distinctive city center. Despite its short history, Islamabad has a lot to offer, especially in the areas of nature, restaurants and cultural life. Due to the many international organizations and INROs, a lively international scene has developed.
In addition, the Asian Study Group (ASG) offers interesting and varied events for locals and foreigners. The elite Islamabad Club with an expensive membership is a place for high society events, sports and relaxation.
Karachi has been the capital from the founding of Pakistan in 1947 to 1960. With an estimated 20 million residents, it is not only the largest city in Pakistan, but also one of the largest metropolises in the world. As a port city in the province of Sindh, it houses the country’s financial center and is therefore one of the most important cities in economic terms. Karachi is a metropolis that has grown over time and has many typical characteristics of a big city in a developing country, such as mass traffic (chaos), slums, environmental pollution and political violence. But Karachi also has a lot to offer in terms of art and culture, fashion, music, theater and attractions.
However, life in the big cities of Pakistan, especially in the huge metropolis of Karachi, has changed fundamentally due to the continuously deteriorating security situation. The economic situation, especially of medium-sized entrepreneurs, is deplorable.
Lahore is the second largest city in Pakistan with about seven million residents. It is the (cultural) heart of Pakistan, not least because of its history. It is also the second most important economic center of Pakistan, not far from the Indian-Pakistani border. Lahore is rich in architectural features, art and culture, theater, music, fashion, and a wide variety of attractions. The city is also considered to be the culinary center of the country.
Peshawar is the capital of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) with about three million residents. It is about two and a half hours by car from Islamabad and close to the Afghan-Pakistani border. Compared to the big cities described above, Peshawar has far less to offer in terms of entertainment, which is partly due to the conservative attitude of its residents. However, as an old city with a historical background, it has interesting historical and archaeological sights to offer.
Quetta is the capital of Balochistan with around one million residents. Surrounded by desert-like stretches of land and high mountains, it is located near the border with Afghanistan and is considered part of the Central-South Asia Corridor. Similar to Peshawar, there is good supply, but entertainment and entertainment options are very limited. Both tribal traditions and more modern ways of life can be found in Quetta; Since Quetta is the refuge and headquarters of the Afghan Taliban movement, conservative tendencies have increased in recent years.
Everyday necessities, western clothing, national and international books, and other things are relatively easy to get in the big cities, especially in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. Bargaining in the bazaar and in shops is common, only a few supermarkets have set prices. Alcohol is produced to a small extent in the country, but Muslim Pakistani citizens are forbidden to purchase it. Non-Muslim foreigners are not affected by these restrictions and can consume and purchase alcohol in certain hotels. But locals also find ways to consume alcohol.
Other useful sites about living, traveling and working in Pakistan are:
- Pakistan Tourism Development Cooperation
- Lonely Planet online travel guide – Pakistan
- Pactive – Annotated information on large cities
- Danka – Pakistan´s Cultural Events Guide