There is a famous saying about Lahore, “you haven’t lived yet if you haven’t seen Lahore”. We absolutely agree with this. Lahore, the capital of Punjab province of Pakistan, is undoubtedly a cultural gem which one must not miss on a trip to Pakistan. The city is home to Pakistan’s most famous historical attractions from the Mughal Empire including Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort and Wazir Khan Mosque which was built in the 17th Century.
Lahore is the liveliest city of the country where they say, ‘people never sleep’. Almost all the streets of Lahore are lit with colorful lights all night long. You’ll see an array of activities to do here no matter which part of the city you are in. The bustling streets of Lahore are filled with small carts and big restaurants offering mouth-watering food from various cuisines. In addition to the delicious food, the city is famous for its amazing shopping experience. From huge malls to colorful bazaars, there is a wide variety of shops to buy from when you are in Lahore.
If you haven’t been to Lahore before, its time to plan your trip now. Before visiting, go through our guide below which will prepare you for the most adventurous trip of your life to Lahore:
Best time to visit
Lahore is blessed with four seasons; summer, winter, monsoon and autumn. It is recommended to visit Lahore in winter season; November to February. These months offer pleasant weather throughout the day with foggy mornings and chilled nights. Winter season is ideal to visit all the cultural landmarks in Lahore. You must also try the famous Lahore fish which is sold almost everywhere in the city. The crispy fried and spicy fish; which will make you lick your fingers for sure.
Summers in Lahore can be extreme with maximum temperature going up to 47 C degree. In summer season, it can be difficult to walk outdoors due to the scorching heat. Hot weather in Lahore usually lasts from May to July and hence, it is best to avoid visiting the city during these months. Monsoon season in Lahore sees a lot of rain along with dust and heat waves. It’s always best to check the weather forecast before you plan to visit Lahore.
Visiting with family
Visiting Lahore with family is an amazing opportunity to enjoy activities together. There is a lot to see and do in Lahore for families. From sightseeing to eating delicious food, you will have a memorable time in Lahore with your kids. Here are the few of the things to do in Lahore:
Visit the historic mosques
Lahore is blessed with the most beautiful mosques of Pakistan; Badshahi Mosque and Wazir Khan Mosque. While the Badshahi Mosque has beautiful red brick structure, the Wazir Khan mosque is adorned with unique architecture. Visit both the mosques in the morning and you’ll enjoy peaceful time with less crowd. In the evening, it starts to get crowded in the mosques. Just avoid visiting during pray hours as the mosques are closed for sightseeing 5 times a day to pray.
Take a tour of Lahore Fort
Near the Badshahi Mosque, you’ll find the magnificent Lahore Fort. It is said that the fort was built in the 11th century but it was destroyed and rebuilt a few times until the Mughal Emperor Akbar occupied it in 1575. The fort has a few beautiful palaces, gardens and gates. The most notable palace inside the fort is “Sheesh Mahal” also known as “The Palace of Mirrors”. This palace is adorned with complex mirror work all over it and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to this fort is must when you are in Lahore.
Enjoy the history of Pakistan at Lahore Museum
The Lahore Museum is another must-see attraction when you are in the city. This museum was builtin 1865 during the British Colonial period and today, it is the most visited museums of Pakistan. Lahore Museum contains unique collection of Mughal paintings, relics from the Indus Valley civilization, the Fasting Buddha, Greco-Buddhist sculptures and much more. Your kids are going to love the collection displayed in Lahore Museum.
Witness the flag lowering ceremony at Wagah Border
Watch a live parade at the border of Pakistan and India in Lahore. In this “Flag Lowering Ceremony”, soldiers from both countries perform a parade which shows the contention, as well as brotherhood, shared between Pakistan and India. The parade starts at 4.15 pm in winter season and 5.15 pm during the summer season and lasts for 45 minutes. Due to crowds, you might not get in. Therefore, its best to arrive an hour before the ceremony starts.
Eat the local food of ‘Walled City of Lahore’
You’ve not really visited Lahore if you haven’t tried the authentic cuisine of the city. From mouthwatering Chicken Karahi to the fresh and juicy BBQ to the spicy Fried Fish to the Lassi (drink made of yogurt), you’ll get to eat a variety of delicious food items in the city.
Money saving tips
Traveling to Lahore is extremely cheap unless you are staying in 5-star hotels and eating in elite restaurants. You can easily live on $20 a day only in Lahore. Here is how you can save money in Lahore:
Eat at local places:Lahore has the most delicious food in Pakistan. Instead of eating at lavish restaurants, prefer having food from the local dhabas (a roadside food stall) or any other small restaurant. For instance, you can enjoy a delicious Lahori breakfast in no more than $1.5 USD at Butt Sweets in Lakshmi Chowk, Lahore. In this price you’ll get puri (deep fried bread) with chickpea gravy, potatoes, halwa (a kind of sweet widely eaten in Pakistan) along with pickle. Amazing isn’t it?
Use local transport:Instead of paying heaps to the driver, it’s best to travel in local transport (tuktuk/auto rickshaw). You’ll not only save the money but also enjoy the ride around the city in the colorful rickshaws. These rickshaws go almost everywhere in the city.
Negotiate prices:Whenever you buy something, negotiate especially in the local bazaars. In the malls, the prices of stuff are fixed but not that expensive.
Couchsurfing:You could save a lot of money through couchsurfing. Instead of staying in hotels, go for this option which will let you stay with locals. People of Pakistan are extremely hospitable. If you stay with them, they will not only feed you a lot of delicious food items but will also take you around and feel pride in showing their city.
There used to be a time when Pakistan was represented as “unsafe” country due to some unfortunate reasons. But, for last many years, Pakistan has been seeing a rapid increase in tourism and Lahore is no exception. It’s absolutely safe to roam around Lahore and enjoy your trip. No matter which part of Lahore you are in, you are going to have the best experience ever. On top of that, you’ll be won over by the amazing hospitality of local people who are always willing to go extra mile to help you. Still, there are only a few things that you should keep in mind:
- Avoid traveling alone at night at not-so-busy streets. Better take a local (the one you know) with you or your travel partner.
- Dress modestly especially when you are visiting the old side of Lahore to see the mosques etc.
- Though many people understand English, it’s better to learn some Urdu words in order to avoid yourself from something which could put you into any unwanted situation.
- Don’t get into any talks related to politics or religion as it can make things complex.
- Don’t carry any illegal item such as drugs with you as it can lead to serious consequences.
- If you are traveling alone and don’t know anything about the city, better to hire a tour guide who will show you around.
- In case of any issue, police men are always there to help you out.
Important Words to Learn:
Being a foreigner in Pakistan, you’ll get to meet a lot of people who’d be willing to interact with you. To make the communication easier and to win the hearts of locals, it’s best if you learn some words in Urdu and respond to them in this language. See below some of the important phrases which you can learn before visiting Lahore:
Assalam-o-Alaikum – Peace be upon you
This is the most common way of saying hello when you are in Pakistan. Men, women, children, everyone you see greets each other by this phrase. You can say this when you meet someone in Lahore and they are going to respond to you with “walaikum assalam”.
Khuda Hafiz – Goodbye / May God be your guardian
This phrase is used when you are seeing someone off. The literal meaning of Khuda Hafiz is, “May God be your guardian”. When you are seeing someone off, better say this as Goodbye.
Shukriya – Thank you
Whenever you want to say thank you, use this phrase. It’s the simplest yet useful phrase used by the locals.
Kiya haal hai? – How are you?
This phrase is used when you want to know how someone is doing. Like other phrases of Urdu, people in Pakistan ask this to each other whenever they meet or even when they talk on phone.
Mein theek hoon – I’m fine
If somebody asks how are you, you should use this phrase which translates that you are absolutely fine.
Aapko English aati hai? Do you know English?
Many people in Pakistan speak in English. Even if they are not proficient, they can understand a few phrases. If you want to know if a person speaks English or not, you can use this phrase.
Maaf kijiya gha – Excuse me or Sorry
In case of apology or if you want to be excused, you can use this phrase.
Aap se mil kar Khushi hui - It was a pleasure meeting you
This is a phrase which you say at the end of conversation to someone that you have just met for the first time. You can use this when meeting a local in Lahore.
Meri madad karna ka shukrya – Thanks for helping me
You’ll need to use this phrase a lot. As I mentioned earlier, people of Pakistan are always willing to go extra mile for you. They will be willing to help you out, buy you food or even pay your bills as a goodwill gesture. When this happens, you may say this phrase to them.
I really hope this guide will help you plan your trip to not only Lahore but also the other parts of Pakistan. If you haven’t planned your trip yet, do it now. Believe me, you’ll have the best and most memorable time of your life here in Lahore and I can assure, you’ll visit again!