I have 2.5 months to travel and I'm flying to Kuwait first, then taking a boat to Khorramshahr, travelling around Iran, visiting Herat and surrounding areas in Afghanistan, going back to Iran, then crossing to Pakistan.
Asking advice from people who've been there before about cool things to do or see. I've been to Iran before so I've seen most of the major attractions, but any lesser known points of interest would be good to know about. I know very little about Pakistan so any insider tips there would be appreciated.
>I know very little about Pakistan so any insider tips there would be appreciated.
Pakistan can be more dangerous than parts of Afghanistan, but luckily for you the chances of you going anywhere near those areas is unlikely.
Islamabad isn't worth it, unless your really interested in going there because its the capital city or you really want to learn about politics.
I'd recommend going into Kashmir, shits good and its very safe as long as you dont get close to the Indian boarder, ive always wanted to do the Karakorum highway too which could be good if you had time. Another place i'd recommend is Swat valley, the name might ring a bell because there was an Islamist insurgency there early last decade, but its completely safe now, before the insurgency it used to be a big tourist location and there's heaps of mountain resorts dirt cheap trying to bring tourists back.
Quetta is alright, but a bit shifty, i dont think its very dangerous its more they dont get many western tourists there so people look at you funny. You go through Quetta if your getting the train from Iran.
Karachi is good for shopping.
Peshawar is also good, though many people say it is dangerous, though it has a real different culture from most of the other cities, its much more Afghan and a different feel to it. The train goes there so its easy transport, i think it would be fine to stay a day or two there to check it out.
In terms of everywhere else, probably best to not go there, try and stay out of Khyber province and please, dont go to the tribal areas, a friend of mine said some places were trying to run tours to Dara Khel and Khyber pass when he went there, dont do those, Dara is especially dangerous, the tribal guards dont let you near the places that sell the heroin anyway apparently.
Also Herat is cool and as safe as you get in Afghanistan, but dont go far outside of it.
Excellent, thanks for the info. How long ago were you in Pakistan? Is it possible to visit the Swat Valley without prior arrangements?
Yeah I was already planning on venturing up to Gilgit, I'll put Peshawar on the list as well as that sounds interesting.
And did you visit Herat yourself? I'd like to hear more about that if you did. I speak enough Persian to get around so I'm pretty keen to get outside the city a bit and visit some rural areas, of course I'd ask around concerning the security side of things.
I saved some info from a thread about Pakistan from september 2013, so this might be outdated. But here goes.
But first a question from me: can you make yourself understood in Pakistan with Persian?
Baltistan seems to be good.
>Islamabad is a constructed city, sort like brazilia. Its not very nice and not much to do. If you are going to stay there, stay in rawalpindi, which is where most people who work in islamabad live. Also, go to fucking Peshawar, you will not regret it. >Dat frontier/Kiplingesque/wartorn feel.
>Gilgit is a place to see, super cozy, stay at the Medina hostel. Didnt do baltistan/kashmir much, at least not hiking. But its beautifull. The country is really really cheap, but roads etc are shit, so things there takes forever. If you want to renew your visa, do it in the countryside where they are just laughing (smoking tons of hashish) and they will do it in a day, while in islamabad its more serious and organized.
>Islamabad is no fun. The conjoined city of Rawalpindi is more fun.
Cool, thanks for that. As far as Persian goes, I don't think it would be a lot of use in Pakistan unless you run into a lot of Dari speaking Afghans. I've heard it might give a leg up in learning Urdu, but they aren't mutually intelligible.
>Karachi is good for shopping.
What does this mean? What kind of shopping? I always want to know what people mean when they say somewhere in the developing world is good for shopping.
I was there 3 years ago, though ive had a friend there in the past 6 months so i got updates.
You can literally rock up in Swat and assuming its not holiday season you can get fucking sweet accommodation in cheap ass mountain resorts super easy, when i went there only like a handful of bungalows were occupied. Owner said since the insurgency its scared off almost all western visitors from the area and the only time it gets busy is during the Pakistani holiday period (i have no idea when that is though, some time in summer). Prices are expensive in terms of Pakistani accommodation (it is a resort, way cheaper than anything European of the same standard), but its worth it, cant remember how much i paid but all i remember was i really wasn't worried about the price.
I'd still check up on it before i went there though, although i doubt anything will happen its good to get some local advice just encase.
>And did you visit Herat yourself?
No, unfortunately not, i came through central asia, first wanted to do Afghanistan through the Wakhan corridor but getting through Gorno-Badakhshan was too costly and complicated, not to mention the hike itself was over priced. We then went down to the boarder on the Tajik side, was thinking about doing a 3 day trip into Afghanistan, doing 1 day in Kunduz, driving to Khlom on the second day and then Mazari and up to Uzbekistan on the third. We got there and was told that Kunduz was not safe at all (and if you have been following the news, Kunduz was taken over by the Taliban within the past few months) and that the road between Kunduz and Khlom was literally just a bunch of sand tracks and that we would need a 4wd or to catch a lift on a truck which didnt run to a time schedule.
So we skipped Afghanistan, it was a shame really, at the time we were there it was as safe as it got, had no time to go to Herat because it was 2 days travel just to get there. Peshwar gave me a good Afghan feel anyway.
This is actually good advice OP, there's not really much to add. I take it you're a male? I would not recommend a caucasian female to go to Pakistan.
Since you've been to Iran I take it that you're highly aware of the kind of place you're getting into, but while for me Iran felt relatively safe and not uneasy, Pakistan is the only country I've been where I didn't feel at ease lots of times. People are generously looking at you with distrust and you have to be highly aware that you follow the "rules" that apply to its different cities and regions. Be modest, while Iran has its high society and you can walk around wearing "expensive" clothing, just wear simple neutral clothing in Pakistan.
Furthermore since you are planning on crossing the border from Iran, take very good care at the border. The country is as corrupt as can be and they might as well try to suck you dry or pin some made up offense on you. I would recommend entering the country through air.
Anyways, enjoy your trip OP. I loved Iran, Pakistan was an experience but I'm not sure if the good points balanced out the occasions of unease on my part.
Yeah I'm a male. Did you cross the Baluchistan border yourself? I know it used to be popular but I haven't heard of many people doing it in recent times.
Anyway thanks, I'll report back in Feb when I'm done with the trip.