Pakistan is where my parents were born and raised, before they immigrated to the United States. Growing up, our parents took my sister and I to Pakistan once or twice a year to visit extended family and stay connected to the culture. As we have gotten older, we go less often, but still make the effort every few years.
Pakistanis are truly some of the most hospitable and loving group of people I can think. I hope to raise my kids with certain Pakistani characteristics, such as welcoming guests with open arms, constantly showing up for not only immediate family, but extended relatives and friends, and having a good humor during even the darkest times.
Our children are Pakistani-American’s, living in Europe. They are blessed to see different parts of the world, but I was incredibly excited to take them to the land of all of their grandparents. We visited Lahore, where my parents have substantial relatives. To see my kids in their ‘grandmother-land’, with all the family members and culture that I love so much, was a special feeling. We hope to continue making trips to explore the rest of the country with the kids in the future.
Key Tips on Enjoying Lahore, Pakistan
Where to stay in Lahore, Pakistan:
Ultimately, the choice of where to stay in Lahore will depend on your preferences, budget, and travel plans. Some popular options for accommodation in Lahore include:
|Pearl Continental||This 5-star hotel is located in the heart of the city and offers luxurious accommodations, multiple dining options, and a range of facilities including a fitness center, swimming pool, and spa.|
|Avari Lahore Hotel||This 5-star hotel is located in the heart of Lahore, the Avari Lahore Hotel offers comfortable rooms and suites, multiple dining options, and facilities like a swimming pool, gym, and spa.|
|Defense Raya Golf & Country Club Guest Houses||This resort is located in the Defense neighborhood, and offers comfortable rooms. It has a an 18-hole championship golf course, a tennis court and a fitness centre, a 24-hour front desk and a restaurant at the property, as well as an indoor pool and an ATM.|
What to do in Lahore, Pakistan:
Lahore is a vibrant and culturally rich city located in Pakistan, offering visitors a variety of experiences to explore. Here are some recommendations for things to do in Lahore:
|Visit Lahore Fort||This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit destination for history buffs. The fort features several impressive buildings and structures, including the Sheesh Mahal and Naulakha Pavilion.|
|Explore Badshahi Mosque||This grand mosque is one of the most iconic landmarks of Lahore. Built in 1673, it is a prime example of Mughal architecture.|
|Attend the Wagah-Attari border ceremony||The Wagah-Attari border is situated on the road between Lahore and Amritsar. It is the only open-land border crossing between India and Pakistan. The border ceremony happens at the border gate, two hours before sunset each day and is conducted by Pakistan Ranger’s the Indian Border Security Force.|
|Shop traditional markets and modern stores||There are traditional bazaar experiences, like Liberty Market. Visit ‘Dupatta Gali‘. You can also visit more modern shopping areas such as the plaza, Raya Fairways Commercial or the Packages Mall.|
|Spend time with locals||There is nothing like spending time with the people who live in the city you are visiting, to truly get a sense of the culture and their routines. For my family who live there, they spend weekends at their farmhouses – and doing this was a highlight for our kids!|
We took an official tour through the Lahore Walled City (see here for the tour details) and saw sites including the Lahore Fort. I recommend taking this tour, as it was very informative and we saw sites we would not have otherwise.
Where to eat in Lahore, Pakistan?
Lahore is famous for its food, and visitors should not miss out on trying traditional dishes such as Lahori fried fish, nihari, and pani puri. Here is a list of some of our favorite food spots.
|Gawalmandi Food Street||This is going to be the most authentic/tastiest food, but also the highest risk of getting sick. I would incorporate the tips from my ‘food hygiene’ section in this blog post, when visiting the market.|
|Haveli Restaurant||Situated in the Mughal-era Haveli of a former prime minister, this restaurant offers traditional Pakistani cuisine in a beautiful setting. I personally enjoyed the views more than I enjoyed the food – but I did get mild entrees for the kids that they actually ate, which as any parent knows, is always the priority.|
|Salt n Pepper||One of the oldest and most famous restaurants in Lahore, Salt n Pepper offers a variety of Pakistani and Continental dishes in a cozy setting.|
|Village Restaurant||Known for its rustic ambiance and traditional Pakistani food, Village Restaurant offers a unique dining experience with dishes such as roasted lamb, kebabs, and curries.|
|Layers Bakery||The chocolate cake is delicious!|
|Nandos||This is family friendly for kids.|
|Sweet Cream||This is basically Dairy Queen|
|Fast food places like Papa Johns and McDonalds||These fast food spots are better quality here! Papa Johns peri-peri chicken pizza and chicken tikka pizza are delicious.|
These are just a few of the many delicious food spots Lahore has to offer. Happy eating!
Things to consider when taking kids to Lahore, Pakistan
Most people need a visa to enter Pakistan, except for citizens of a few countries that have visa-free travel agreements with Pakistan. Visa requirements for Pakistan vary based on the traveler’s nationality, purpose of travel, and length of stay. The most common types of visas for visitors to Pakistan are tourist visas, business visas, and student visas.
To obtain a visa for Pakistan, travelers must apply through the Embassy or Consulate of Pakistan in their home country or through an authorized visa processing center. Make sure to apply in advance of the intended travel dates, as as processing times can vary and may take several weeks. I used this website. Applicants will need to provide various documents such as a passport, visa application form, photographs, and proof of travel arrangements. Once the visa application is accepted, is it important to take a hard copy of the visa to the airport.
Car Seat Safety in Lahore
While car seats for children are not commonly used in Pakistan, the use of car seats has been gaining popularity in recent years, especially in urban areas. The use of car seats is recommended for the safety of children and is required by law in some countries, but it is not mandatory in Pakistan. However, it is worth noting that the use of car seats can significantly reduce the risk of injuries or fatalities in the event of a collision. It is up to the parents to decide if they want to use a carseat in the car.
Vaccines in Pakistan
It is important to consult with a healthcare provider or travel medicine specialist before traveling to Pakistan to determine which vaccines are necessary based on individual health status and travel itinerary.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that travelers to Pakistan be vaccinated against:
- Hepatitis A and typhoid
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Hepatitis B (Optional)
- Rabies (Optional)
- Japanese encephalitis (Optional)
Cash Culture in Pakistan
Although some major restaurants might take credit cards, cash is more commonly used. Always have a variety of cash notes to pay larger sums or smaller tips, which are given out often (i.e., parking attendants, servers, etc.)
Food, Water, and Milk Safety in Pakistan
|Food Hygiene||Maintaining safe food hygiene practices is essential to prevent food borne illnesses in Pakistan. Here are some tips to help maintain food hygiene practices or request your hosts to ensure it is incorporated.
|Water Safety||Access to clean and safe drinking water can be a concern in certain areas of Pakistan, especially in rural regions or in areas affected by natural disasters.
In general, tap water in Pakistan may not be safe to drink without treatment, as it can be contaminated with harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis A. Therefore, it is recommended to drink bottled or filtered water instead. When purchasing bottled water in Pakistan, it is important to ensure that the seal on the bottle is intact and that it is from a reputable brand. We only used bottled water for ourselves and our kids.
Additionally, it is a good practice to avoid consuming ice made from tap water or eating raw fruits and vegetables that have been washed in tap water, as they can also be contaminated.
|Milk Safety||If the milk has been properly pasteurised, which is a process of heating milk to a specific temperature for a specific amount of time to kill harmful bacteria, then it should be safe to drink. There are potential health risks associated with consuming unpasteurised milk or dairy products, regardless of the country, particularly for pregnant women.
Unpasteurized milk or improperly handled can contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, or Listeria, which can cause foodborne illnesses. Therefore, if you are unsure about the safety of the milk or dairy products, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming them. For more information on pastuerized milk impacts on pregnancy, visit my blog post here. It is always important to take necessary precautions to ensure that the food and drinks you consume are safe and healthy.
We personally opted to not have our kids drink milk while we were in Pakistan, which was a huge adjustment to them as their nightly milk bottle is part of their routine. We contemplated taking Oatly Oat Milks with us, to give them something that was familiar, but ended up not having space in our suitcases – so our kids had to go a week without it.