Pakistan is widely known as a top destination for adventure tourism. And with its rich culture and warm hospitality, it’s also a great place to travel with kids.
Pakistan is an extremely family-oriented country. People adore children here and Pakistanis usually live together in large and close-knit extended families. People will warmly welcome you and your kids into their homes, fostering long-lasting connections.
With guidance on the best places to go and things to do, along with tips to help you plan, here’s what you need to know for a memorable trip to Pakistan with children.
Is Pakistan good for kids?
Pakistan’s multicultural past contributes to its rich cultural heritage today, and there’s plenty for families to discover during their travels. Pakistani families often travel together so most hotels have spacious rooms with enough beds to accommodate the whole family, and staff will happily provide extra mattresses if required. In more developed areas, you’ll find everything from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious accommodations, but the infrastructure is more limited in less frequented destinations.
While well-established hotels usually have western-style toilets, not all provide specific family amenities such as nappy changing areas. Elsewhere, squat toilets are common; it’s best to carry hand sanitizer and toilet paper, as these items are not readily available. In cities, supermarkets offer a wide variety of groceries and imported goods; stock up on essential supplies in larger cities before heading to more remote areas.
In cities and tourist towns, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear t-shirts and pants. For women, it’s recommended to wear slightly longer, loose-fitting shirts that cover shoulders and arms. Clothing rules for kids are quite relaxed, and it’s common to see local children dressed in Western-style clothes.
Pakistani food, like its culture, is incredibly diverse, and usually quite spicy. Don’t worry! Most restaurants are accommodating and can adjust the spiciness of the dishes upon request. If the kids don’t develop a taste for the local cuisine, there are international food chains and local fast-food joints that offer foods your little ones may be more accustomed to.
Where is the best in Pakistan for kids?
You and your kids will have an unforgettable experience in this country, no matter what your interests are. Explore vibrant cities, delve into the nation’s rich history, immerse yourselves in its diverse culture, embark on exhilarating hikes in the mountains, unwind on sandy beaches, go stargazing at night, and discover countless other adventures to inspire small imaginations.
Begin your family journey in Lahore, immersing yourself in the city’s vibrant culture and modern comforts. Next, venture to Islamabad to explore the surrounding hills – or, if you’re more ambitious, travel to the majestic mountain valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan. Alternatively, head south from Lahore to discover the exquisite crafts and architecture of South Punjab and Sindh before concluding your adventure on the beach in Karachi.
Best things to do in Pakistan with babies and toddlers
Build a castle on the beach
Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to have a relaxing day by the beach with your kids while visiting coastal areas of Pakistan. Karachi is an easy base for beach days, with popular seaside strips at Clifton Beach (Seaview), French Beach, Hawke’s Bay and Sandspit Beach. The beaches come alive in the evenings; you’ll find vendors offering camel and horseback rides, beach buggy rides, and a variety of local street food.
Pakistanis generally swim in regular clothes rather than swimwear. To respect cultural norms, it’s important to be modestly dressed while swimming – bikinis and revealing beach outfits are not suitable here.
Hit the malls
You’ll find numerous malls that meet international standards, offering a combination of shopping, food courts, cinemas, and play areas, and usually with air-conditioning. Good places to start include the Packages Mall and Emporium Mall in Lahore, the Centaurus Mall in Islamabad and the Dolmen Mall in Karachi.
Spend a day at an amusement park
While Pakistan may have theme parks on the scale of Disneyland, there are still exciting options to get your kids’ adrenaline pumping. You’ll find a good range of thrill rides and gentler rides for younger kids in popular parks such as Joyland in Lahore, Lake View Park in Islamabad and Sindbad Wonderland in Karachi.
Escape to a public park
Bring your little ones for a leisurely walk in Pakistan’s parks to get closer to nature. Most parks have play areas and calm green spaces for picnics, and some have historic monuments to explore too. These parks are popular spots for locals who often visit in the evenings with their children, providing a great opportunity to meet and mingle with local families.
Lahore has calming Lawrence Gardens and Model Town Park, Islamabad has pretty Fatima Jinnah Park and Rawalpindi has kid-friendly Ayub National Park, with its Jungle World fun park. In Karachi, try beachside Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim and green Hill Park.
Best things to do in Pakistan with older kids
Delve into Pakistan’s museums
While the museums in Pakistan may not meet every international standard, they’ll help kids foster a deeper comprehension of the country’s rich history. Dig into Pakistan’s pre- and post-Independence past in the Lahore Museum, Islamabad’s Pakistan Museum of Natural History and Lok Virsa Museum, and the memorable Mohatta Palace Museum and Quaid-e-Azam House Museum in Karachi.
Head to the villages
Exploring rural areas of the country will provide your kids with a unique opportunity to experience the simple lifestyle of people in Pakistan. Playing traditional games with other children is a great way for kids to immerse themselves in the local culture.
You’ll find dozens of interesting villages within a short drive of most major cities. For convenient access to rural areas, smaller towns like Kasur, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Multan and Hyderabad make excellent starting points.
Go fruit picking
Your kids can have a great hands-on learning experience by picking fresh vegetables and fruits at local farms, discovering the journey of their food from the farm to the table. If you visit during the right season, gathering flavorful, ripe fruits from orchards may become a favorite activity for your little ones.
Rural tourism is still in the early stages of development, but villagers are warm and welcoming to visitors. A friendly chat with a farmer may be all that is needed to get permission for the kids to pick some fruit from the orchard.
In Punjab and Sindh, the key crops are mangoes, oranges, dates, guavas, pomegranates, grapes, bananas, melons and watermelons. Gilgit-Baltistan has orchards of cherries, apricots, apples, mulberries, walnuts and almonds. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, look for apples, pears, grapes and plums alongside other fruits and nuts.
Visit the Jhelum salt mines
The Khewra salt mine in Jhelum is one of the largest producers of Pakistan’s famous pink Himalayan salt. The mine is a popular tourist attraction, where you can venture deep into the tunnels and discover stunning salt formations. This is a fascinating place for kids to learn about the production and mining of this kitchen staple.
Haggle for local crafts
Talented local artisans can provide a great learning experience for kids. They may even have the chance to get hands-on and try out some of Pakistan’s diverse crafts, such as pottery making, a great way to ignite their creativity. Give the kids some pocket money and let them practice their haggling skills at local markets.
Multan and Bahawalpur are famous for blue pottery and camel-skin products, Peshawar is an important center for hand-made rugs and chappals (sandals), Hala is big for embroidery, woodwork, pottery, and Ajrak (block-printed textiles) and Lahore is known for woodwork and traditional carpets.
Best things to do in Pakistan with tweens and teenagers
Enjoy history, archaeology and architecture
If your teens have an interest in history, they’re in for an exciting time in Pakistan! The strategic location of this region has attracted invaders throughout history, each leaving a significant mark on the country. From the Aryans and Persians to the Greeks and Mughals, the historical footprints of these conquerors lie waiting to be explored.
The ancient Indus Valley Civilization thrived along the banks of the Indus River, and budding archaeologists can explore two significant sites from this era, Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Fascinating stone sculptures from the Gandhara Civilization, which thrived in central Pakistan until the 5th century CE, portray the life and teachings of Buddha; visit remarkable archaeological sites such as Taxila and Takht-i-Bahi to delve into this fascinating historical period.
Pakistan was one of the heartlands of the Mughal Empire, and you’ll find numerous awe-inspiring architectural marvels from the Mughal period. Lahore has some particularly stunning examples, including Lahore Fort, the imposing Badshahi Mosque, the Wazir Khan mosque, the elegant Shalimar Gardens and Jehangir’s tomb.
Make for the mountains
If your medium-sized travelers are nature enthusiasts, you’ve picked the perfect destination. Out of the fourteen 8000m-high (26,246ft) peaks in the world, five are located in Pakistan – your kids are going to love the adventure!
Pakistan’s mountains offer an abundance of glaciers, lakes, diverse flora and fauna, and countless other wonders to explore. Hunza and Skardu are the top destinations in Gilgit-Baltistan for families, offering reliable infrastructure and good facilities for exploring the mountains.
Traveling overland to Gilgit-Baltistan with kids may pose some challenges due to the long and bumpy drive of over 20 hours. As an alternative, you can take a one-hour flight from Islamabad to Gilgit or Skardu, although the schedule for these flights is often affected by weather conditions. Once you arrive in the breathtaking mountain valleys, the mesmerizing views will more than make up for any discomfort.
Other top mountain spots include the Kalash region near Chitral, where you can discover the fascinating culture and customs of the Kalasha people, whose colorful dress and vibrant festivals will delight travelers of all ages. North of Islamabad, the hill station of Malam Jabba transforms into a winter wonderland from December to February, with skiing opportunities for both beginners and more seasoned skiers.
If you’re short on time, consider exploring the hiking trails in Islamabad’s beautiful Margalla Hills. For a quick weekend getaway, head to Murree and Nathia-Gali just northeast of Islamabad, where you can enjoy gentle, family-friendly walks and the fresh scent of mountain air infused with the fragrance of pine trees.
Planning tips for traveling with kids in Pakistan
The most favorable season for traveling to the mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is spring to early summer (March to May) and late summer to fall (September and October). If you are interested in exploring Punjab and Sindh, travel during the winter months from November to February, to avoid the scorching summer heat, when temperatures can exceed 40°C (104°F).
The most comfortable way to travel with kids is by renting a private car and driver. Costs are reasonable and you’ll have more flexibility than if you use public transportation (including being able to stop for toilet breaks). Brightly colored local buses provide cost-effective transfers and they’re a fun experience for small people. Traveling by train can also be an interesting experience for kids who are up for an adventure (stick to air-conditioned classes for more space and comfort).
In the cities, hospitals have modern facilities, providing reliable medical care. However, when traveling to rural villages and remote valleys, health services may become less accessible. Hygiene standards here may not align with Western norms so carry and use hand gel and stick to filtered water for drinking. Be wary of uncooked street food and dairy products, especially if your kids have sensitive stomachs.
Before traveling to Pakistan, visit your home doctor for guidance on recommended vaccinations for kids. Common illnesses in Pakistan include hepatitis, typhoid, cholera, dengue, malaria and polio.
Safety in Pakistan
Pakistan has a turbulent history and political unrest is a periodic problem, but the situation has improved significantly in recent years, putting the country back on the global tourism map. However, it is important to remain vigilant while traveling, particularly with children in your group. Monitor the local press and government travel advisory information for potential trouble spots.
Traffic in larger cities can be chaotic, and street-crime is a risk in some areas, including parts of Karachi, so take extra care and remind kids to keep valuables out of sight. Check the latest government advisories (for example, from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office) so you are aware of any potential trouble spots.