“Islamabad” Known As The Capital City OF Pakistan
Islamabad- Another Heaven
Islamabad is the model of what a modern Pakistani city should look like. Clusters of buildings are divided into zones, laid out as a grid with a vast network of roads connecting them all together like a spider web. In between the buildings, green vegetations are sprinkled all over the city, making it the greenest city in the country. Rickshaws are banned due to loud noises and the streets are as clean as day. It is what the government envisioned a capital city should be and they went all in with it.
Islamabad also has an ugly twin sister city called Rawalpindi which is situated next to it. You may also have noticed traveling from Lahore that buses coming to Islamabad is labeled Rawalpindi instead of Islamabad (yes, I was confused at first too) so do not be alarmed.
Rawalpindi is an old city that is the polar opposite of Islamabad. It’s loud, dirty, terrible traffic and unorganized. If you want a calmer experience, I would recommend avoiding accommodation in Rawalpindi. Also, be sure that an accommodation you booked is really in Islamabad and not Rawalpindi because that makes a big difference.
The best time to go to Islamabad is from September to October as the weather becomes much cooler around the city especially at night when the weather is most comfortable. September and October is also a good time if you are planning to go to the north and do some hiking as the weather is mostly calm and the colors of the autumn are in full swing.
Islamabad is a lush green city with a population just below 1.9 million people. This city doesn’t have a single city centre. You will find a variety of shops and restaurants in various areas, but the Blue Area is considered one of the main central locations in the city.
It is good to book your accommodation not too far from the Blue Area. If you book anywhere in the sectors G6-G8 or the sectors F6-F8, you will have to walk 20 to 30 minutes or get a taxi to get to the main shopping malls and restaurants in the Blue Area.
There are a variety of options for different budgets. Keep in mind that accommodation is quite cheap in Pakistan compared to the other parts of the world, and you should be able to book a decent room in a good hotel for less than £50 per night.
Use Uber all the way. It is cheaper, less headaches and it takes you where you want to go. I took Uber to all the places I listed here so you will have no problem with it.
One caveat with using Uber to go to Daman-e-Koh and Pir Sohawa viewpoints is that there is no connection on that hill and Uber might continue to bill you until your connection is restored so it would be best to negotiate with your driver to wait for you and take you down as well so there is no surprise charge to your credit card.
6 Best Things To Do In Islamabad
First thing in the morning, take an Uber and visit Pakistan Monument. The monument is built on top of a hill in a spacious park and by being there early in the morning, you will have the whole place to yourself so you can walk around at your own leisure.
Only a few minutes walk away from the Pakistan Monument, you will find the Lok Virsa Heritage Museum, a great modern museum of history, art and culture of Pakistan and other Central Asian countries. The museum consists of both outdoor and indoor exhibitions ranging from a collection of displays showcasing the vibrant and diverse cultures of Pakistan from different areas to allowing you to listen to recordings of traditional music and watch several locally-produced cultural documentaries. There is no better place to learn about Pakistan than at the Lok Virsa Museum.
I know, I know, you are probably wondering why visiting a mall is on this list but hear me out. Pakistan, from the outside, is a very conservative country and when you walk around a city like Lahore or Rawalpindi, you might forget that there is also a modern side to this country and it is best seen in a place like the Centaurus Mall. Also, they have a food court full of both local and western food chains that will indulge you for days. I had the best naan sandwich here.
This is also the best place to stock up food and snack before you start heading up north in the mountains of Pakistan.
At around 3 PM, where the light is just perfect, take an Uber up to the Daman-e-Koh viewpoint where you will be able to see why they call Islamabad the greenest city in the country. There is no better view of the city than this.
If you are there on a Sunday, you will also be greeted with a small carnival-like market full of snacks and small amusement rides (bouncing castles and the spinning teacups) and lots and lots of locals enjoying themselves, having fun with their families. It is one of the best time to go mingle with the locals in Islamabad. They are very welcoming, especially when they are happy!
Further up the hill from the Daman-e-Koh viewpoint, you will find a nice restaurant called Monal where you can dine both local and western food with a high vantage point of Islamabad surrounded by the hills of Margalla Hills. The food is quite expensive and may not be the most delicious but you can’t beat the view of Islamabad from above at sunset.
Faisal Mosque is one of the most well-known landmarks in Islamabad and a for good reason. It is the largest mosque in the country that can hold 100,000 worshippers at once and 200,000 more in the courtyard area. The design of the mosque is very unique with the structure shaped as a Bedouin tent instead of the typical dome-shaped exterior that you find in most mosques around the world.
The structure is impressive, but even more so right after sunset as the natural light subsided and the artificial light takes over, illuminating the structure with an orange hue. I was there around 6:00 PM and waited as the sky turned purple, the structure turned orange and the prayer call echoed throughout the city. It was one of the most spiritual moments in Pakistan. If you can make it to the mosque, make sure you are there at sunset. You will not regret it.Share this tour
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