Lahore is the second largest city in Pakistan with a population of roughly 8.5 million. The traditional capital of Punjab for a thousand years, it had been the cultural center of Northern India extending from Peshawar to New Delhi. The origins of Lahore are shrouded in the myths of antiquity but Lahore is undoubtedly ancient.
Today, Lahore is certainly worth a visit – but don’t come expecting a tranquil city overflowing with history, art and culture – these qualities do exist but are hidden under the surface of a sprawling south Asian city. Forward planning is recommended if the tourist is going to get the most out of what Lahore has to offer – the time of year to visit, the choice of hotel, the restaurants to dine at, the art galleries and the shopping areas to frequent are all key to getting the most out of your stay.
Lahore is a friendly and socially liberal city. There is an old saying, that in every Lahori, there is a Mughal prince. The city has known ages of cultural, intellectual, musical, literary and humanistic evolution, which has consequently led to the fermentation and over fermentation of this rich brew we call Lahore.
The most common languages are Punjabi and Urdu. For the use of English there is a big diversity between different areas of Lahore. Education is generally high in Lahore and a great many of residents understand and speak a form of English. You will not have any problem communicating in English in Lahore, especially if you are visiting the old city, The Fort, The Food Street or any surrounding area including The Mall Road.
Allama Iqbal International Airport is located about 20-30 minutes from the city centre. Taxis and shuttles are available to take passengers from the city to the airport – with unmetered taxis it is advisable to set the rate beforehand. The new proposed Lahore Mass Rapid Transit System will be linked from different parts of the city to the airport.
The airport is a major hub of Pakistan International Airlines which flies to to the rest of Pakistan, as well as Qatar, Dubai, Bangkok for onward connections to the Middle East, Europe, North America, and South-East Asia.
Other airlines operating in and out of Lahore are:
- Pakistan International Airlines – PIA
- Thai Airways
- Gulf Air
- Qatar Airways
- Etihad Airways
- Shaheen Airlines
- Air Blue
- Saudi Airlines
…and many more.
The main railway station is located near the city centre. There are routes from all major Pakistani cities. The Samjhauta (Friendship) Express runs twice a week between Lahore and Amritsar, across the border in India.
Apart from that, trains to southern e.g., Multan, DG Khan, Karachi etc and northern parts e.g., Gujrat, Gujranwala, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Peshawar etc. run from the main station. It also connects to the western part of Pakistan to Faisalabad and beyond.
Local Stations of Lahore are Shahdara Bagh, Badami Bagh, Moghalpura, Baghbanpura, Harbanspura, Jallo, and Wagah. There is mostly peak hour services operate within these local stations for commuters to Lahore.
A modern motorway connects Lahore to Islamabad, Faisalabad and Peshawar. The motorway is considerably better than the GT road, even though it is longer.
While Pakistani traffic is generally chaotic and highly dangerous, the motorway is very comfortable and one of the few places traffic laws are enforced. Now a days, new Traffic Police has arrived and is enforcing traffic laws on Highways too.
Taxis are possible to/from the Indian border for ~Rs 400.
From the Indian border, bus #4 runs to the Main train station for Rs 20.
Minibuses are the cheapest way to get between the larger cities, and the only way to get to some more remote destinations. They can be uncomfortably crowded, so if possible opt for a more comfortable larger bus.
Skyways, Niazi Express and a couple others operate large, comfortable buses to Islamabad, Peshawar, Faisalabad and many other cities and towns from their own bus terminals near M2 Motorway Interchange. These services are rather affordable and convenient way of inter city travel.
Daewoo has its own terminal away from the main bus station on Ferozpur Road near Kalma Chowk. This terminal is only minutes away from famous Liberty Market, Gaddafi Stadium & other popular shopping areas. Clean, comfortable, air-conditioned coaches run regularly between Lahore to all major cities of Punjab, KP and Sindh including Karachi plus many smaller cities and towns such as Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad and Peshawar. Daewoo is more expensive but much more comfortable and reliable than the competition. Between Lahore and Rawalpindi/Islamabad they have a ‘Premium Plus service’ which gives you a business class style seat and more space.