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From Deosai to Kund Malir, Pakistan’s top tourist spots

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From the mighty peaks of the Himalayas to the sandy, white beaches of the Arabia Sea, Pakistan is rich in natural beauty, culture and history. Over the years, thanks to an improvement in the security situation and increased accessibility, a lot of these spots, previously unknown, have become tourist hotspots.

On the occasion of World Tourism Day, let’s celebrate all the wonderful places our country has to offer.

Deosai

‘Deosai’ which translates to ‘The Land of Giants’ is a high-altitude alpine plain located largely within the Skardu District in Gilgit Baltistan. It remains covered with snow for 8 months. The rest of the year, it hosts a range of beautiful flowers of all hues and colours, attracting tourists from far and wide. The area is also home to the brown bear.

Naltar

Naltar, a valley near Gilgit, Hunza and Nomal, in the Gilgit–Baltistan province of the country, is popular for its three lakes which boast vivid colours of blue and green. Naltar is a forested region known for its dramatic mountain scenery and towering high peaks. The area is also known for its Ski Resort which hosts ski competitions regularly.

Neelum Valley – Arang Kel/Taobat/Sharda

The picturesque Neelam Valley is the northern most region and district of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan. The valley is dotted with quaint villages and towns which make the perfect retreats away from the hustling and bustling of city life. The River Neelum meanders through the valley, the water making soft sounds as well as soothing the eyes.

Lahore

Though Lahore doesn’t appear to be a tourist spot, the provincial capital is rich in history which dates back to the Mughal era, making it the perfect place for all those interested in history. Monuments and buildings dating back to the Mughals including the Lahore Fort, Badshahi Masjid, Wazir Khan Masjid and Shalimar Gardens are popular tourist spots. Moreso, buildings from the British era including Governor House, Quaid-e-Azam Library and Railway Station are also an integral part of the city’s history.

The mouthwatering dishes and food the city has to offer is also close to none. And as the locals say, “Whoever hasn’t seen Lahore, isn’t born.

Taxila

Taxila meaning “City of Cut Stone” is an important archaeological site situated a few kilometres north-west of the capital, Islamabad. The city dates back to c. 1000 BCE  and in its glory days was one of the main cities of the ancient Kingdom of Gandhara. What makes Taxila unique and fascinating is the mainly Buddhist art and architecture of the Gandharan period. The city is dotted with monasteries and stupas which provide a unique insight into Buddhism as well.

Derawar Fort, Cholistan Desert

Built in the 9th Century, the historic Derawar Fort, is a large square fortress located a few hundred kilometres south of Bahawalpur in the heart of the Cholistan Desert. The fort is an architectural marvel featuring massive bastions.

Meanwhile, the Cholistan Desert is rich in culture and tradition. The dry bed of the Hakra River runs through the area, along which many settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization have been found.

Kund Malir Beach/Hingol National Park

Kund Malir is a beach in Balochistan, Pakistan located in Hingol National Park. The drive between Kund Malir and Ormara is considered to be scenic. The area is part of Hingol National Park which is the largest in Pakistan. The Princess of Hope is also located in the area which is rich in flora and fauna and also has mud volcanos.

Beauty

4 Facebook Groups with Great Initiatives that Serve Significant Purposes

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Old were the days when a review was not a “thing” and it was extremely difficult to get information about anything be it travel, food, medical issues or any problem related to everyday life. It was not common to have a forum where people would share their experiences directly with the public. Reading first-hand experiences was rare and forums like Quora and Yahoo Answers were considered the only reliable sources. 

Now, everything is available on the internet and is just a click away. But, should we rely on such sources to be authentic and true? It depends and varies from source to source. It also depends on who moderates the source and how.

When the trend of having groups on Facebook started, people only used it for fun, to gather at a place to talk and share jokes. At that time, a few were trying to utilize this source for a meaningful purpose and those people gave birth to some amazing groups that, now, have a huge following and are considered reliable sources for any information related to the subject matter of the group.

Now groups have become a popular and the safest space for like-minded people to congregate and discuss specific stuff- from hobbies to pets and celebrities.

If you are still living in the stone age or looking for answers to your riddles related to food, travel, pets, allergies, mental health, etc., these are the groups that are at your service with a meaningful purpose and a great initiative to help the masses through a direct communication and dissemination of information through various posts.

 

Foodies ‘R US

Created in 2013, now this group has over 95k followers. This is the place where you will find reviews about any restaurant. You name it and people will share their experiences. If you are a foodie, this is surely going to be your favorite group as it has all the solutions to deal with your appetite. Not only the masses, but this has also helped a lot of restaurateurs and home-based chefs with their businesses.

The founder of the group, Asad Sheikh says “I started this group 6 years ago for one reason only and that’s the passion for food. I just want to tell and guide people on what’s good out there to try and what’s good that our country has to offer. I don’t write bad reviews of any kind but that doesn’t mean that I have not had my share of bad food. Always try to highlight the good while telling owners of the restaurant about things that need improvement.

We all are ambassadors of our city or country and others who see our posts or reviews create an image of where we are from. Over the years Foodies ‘R Us has helped many people living out of city or out of country to pick the eateries when they visit Lahore Karachi or even Islamabad. The same passion was translated into encouraging home-based talent to post as much as they can and later encouraging them to turn this talent into a business.

Many small businesses have blossomed from this platform and we later encouraged them further to be part of our Coke Food Festival, giving them a face to face experience with their consumers.

We have never charged anyone to advertise on our platform and that’s the reason for the success of many small businesses.” 

Soul Sisters Pakistan

This group is home to 212K women who interact and share their issues and experiences related to health, relationships, feminism, networking, their moments of happiness, moments of suffering or any piece of advice related to the ongoing discussion. Not only this, through the group, women were able to find their long lost friends, online jobs, solutions to their problems and a lot more. This has become a safe place for them to talk about stuff they do not normally share publicly or are afraid to talk about. Anonymous posts have become the new trend to send your message across.

“In a culture where women are often silenced and their issues trivialized, I felt that we needed a space and people to talk to, other than their immediate family and friends; a space where we could give unbiased advice as a third person, for each other’s problems and a space where we could come together to share our stories, experienced and inspire each other.

And so in August 2013, Soul Sisters Pakistan was formed, and within months we were getting scores of requests to join the group as the concept of a safe space like this wasn’t so common back then! From discussing taboos to breaking stereotypes to providing legal aid and emotional support – the community has really made a mark and become a household name. It is also one of the 115 most impactful communities in the world, recognized, supported and trained by Facebook itself!- Kanwal Ahmed (the Founder)

The Travel Diary 

Earlier, it was extremely difficult to know about the experiences of people who travel. Now, you just have to post a query and hundreds will be there to assist you or guide you about a particular thing, food place, culture or about people of a certain country. All in all, this group is a complete package to know about anything related to a country. Founded in 2016 with more than 72K members, this group is a query-home for all travel enthusiasts.

 Mishaal Hashmi, the founder of the group says, “Traveling is something that is an innate part of me. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to travel, be exposed to cultures and people. As an adult, I’m even more fortunate to be able to share my passion with like-minded individuals, who share a similar passion. The idea to create the Travel Diary arose from my desire to share my travel experiences as well as gain wisdom from the experiences of others. Never in my dreams had I imagined my passion to take on such a gigantic form and for a forum such as The Travel Diary to exist is a humbling experience and a dream come true.”

Soul Brothers Pakistan 

Even though most of the posts are light-heart humor and user-generated content; the group generally talks about various topics including networking, recruitment, and counseling. Similarly, it talks about issues that surround the men’s ecosystem i.e. relationship, health, masculinity, and mental state. Moreover, It discusses these issues in depth through live talk sessions also known as #SBPGuyTalk, where group members from all walks of life come and discuss issues varying from Depression, Suicide, legal affairs, and health-related topics. Their popular segment #AnonymousSoulBrother is also widely used by members who seek suggestions and valuable insights on a variety of topics.

We identified a need where we could create a crowd-sourced platform for men which would offer a healthy support system for Pakistani brothers here and abroad.” – Danish Javed (Co-Founder) 

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5 Beautiful And Affordable Destinations For Pakistanis This Summer

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Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive. Us Pakistanis are passionate about traveling and entertainment and this passion has increased the tourism to the northern areas of the country by up to 100%. Thousands of people visit northern areas of Pakistan each year which has made Pakistan a tourists’ heaven. However, most of the Pakistanis would love to travel to other countries if they are given a choice. This could be done in budget spending under 100,000 rupees for a nice trip.

Here are the cheapest tourist destinations for Pakistanis to travel to.

1. Iran

This Muslim nation has one of the cheapest currencies in the world which makes it one of the cheapest countries for tourists. Iran has beautiful landscapes and well-built infrastructure which are enough to tempt the tourists for a visit. One Pakistani Rupee is equal to almost 264 Iranian Rials and this currency comparison can attract thousands of Pakistanis for visit. The return ticket from Lahore to Iran would cost around Rs.70,000.

2. Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a newly established state after the breakage of Soviet Union. The country offers a diverse culture and vast natural beauty. Azerbaijan has a much stronger currency than Pakistan and one Azerbaijani Manat costs around 93 Pakistani Rupees. The airfare from Lahore to Baku and Baku to Lahore would cost you around Rs. 65,000. Its capital, Baku, is famed for its medieval walled Inner City. Within the Inner City lies the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a royal retreat dating to the 15th century, and the centuries-old stone Maiden Tower, which dominates the city skyline.

3. Thailand

Thailand is known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha. In Bangkok, the capital, an ultramodern city-scape rises next to quiet canal side communities and the iconic temples of Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew). Nearby beach resorts include bustling Pattaya and fashionable Hua Hin. 1 Baht is equal to around 5 PKR and shopping in Thailand is really affordable as well. Not to mention, you save a lot on tuk tuk rides as well as Bangkok’s traffic is really bad and you mostly travel on foot. The airfare starts from Rs. 65,000.

3. Malaysia

Malaysia is tourists’ heaven with diverse culture and godly natural beauty which give you a glimpse of fairy tale and some mythological land. Majority of the population is practicing Muslim which gives you a sense of harmony and acceptance. It’s known for its beaches, rain forests and mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultural influences. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is home to colonial buildings, busy shopping districts such as Bukit Bintang and skyscrapers such as the iconic, 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers.

Currency of Malaysia is stronger than Pakistan as one Malaysian Ringgit is equal to more than 37 Pakistani Rupees but still, it offers you cheap traveling and living cost. The airfare starts around Rs. 38,000.

5. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an island nation in the Indian Ocean with extremely friendly people and pleasant weather. The country offers beautiful beaches and peaceful outdoor activities. It is a world famous tourist destination due to its beautiful forests, beaches and landscapes, in addition to its rich cultural heritage. The country is well known for the many natural resources it produces; such as coffee, tea, rubber, coconuts, and cinnamon.

Sri Lanka has diverse wildlife and deep forests which offer a heavenly tour to animal loving people. Sri Lankan currency is also known as Rupee and it is cheaper than Pakistani Rupee. One Pakistani Rupee is equal to 1.11 Sri Lankan Rupee which gives you the luxury of enjoying the trip to Sri Lanka. The airfare starts from Rs. 84,000.

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Spotted: Saad Shahid In Bali

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This summer, Saad Shahid, the owner of 9 lines, is vacationing in Indonesia and we’re going to give you an inside scoop on how beautiful Bali is! It is the most popular island holiday destination in the Indonesian archipelago. The island’s home to an ancient culture that’s known for its warm hospitality. Exotic temples and palaces set against stunning natural backdrops are some of its top attractions. Dining in Bali presents endless choices of local or far-flung cuisine. After sunset, famous nightspots come to life offering exciting clubbing and packed dance floors. Inland, towering volcanoes and pristine jungles greet you with plenty to see and do. Most can’t stay away from the beach for long, though. Enjoy amazing beach resorts and luxury resorts in any of Bali’s famous areas. These include Kuta, Seminyak and Jimbaran where most of the great hotels and villas are right on the beach. They’re also home to most of Bali’s exciting surf spots.

Saad Shahid spotted at the Beachwalk Shopping Mall in Kuta Beach, Bali
Gorgeous view of the Mengwi Royal Family Temple
Enjoying Bali food: Nasi Goreng, which is Indonesian stir fried rice
Chilling and soaking some sun on Kuta Beach with a bottle of Coca Cola
Breathtaking view of the Mengwi Royal Family Temple reflected on water
Monkey Temple in Ubud
Saad Shahid beating the heat in Seminyak in white shorts and matching shoes paired with a chic buttoned down shirt
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple in Bali
Rice plantation in Ubud
Saad Shahid in Badung (regency of Bali)

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