Punjab (Punjabi/Urdu: پنجاب) is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, and home to over half the country's population. It is the second largest province in area after Balochistan, and is the most developed and prosperous province. The name Punjab was introduced by the Mughals in the 17th century CE and is a combination of the Persian words panj (five) and āb (water), thus the (land of) five rivers. It is the only province that touches every other province of Pakistan.
- Islamabad — the capital of Pakistan
- Lahore — the provincial capital, and Pakistan's cultural capital
- Bahawalpur — home to one of the few natural safari parks in Pakistan, Lal Suhanra National Park
- Faisalabad — a textile hub of Pakistan
- Gujranwala — the city of wrestlers, also known for its electrical, ceramics and textile industry
- Multan — a must stop for tourists, most famous for its wonderful mangoes, friendly people and pottery, also lots of tombs and beautiful mosques
- Rawalpindi — military headquarters
- Sargodha — home of the main Pakistan Air Force base
- Sialkot — famous for its sports and leather industry
- Wah Cantt
- Khewra Salt Mine – the world's second largest salt mine & a tourist complex
- Rohtas Fort
- Cholistan desert
- Nur Mahal in Bahawalpur
- Harappa – Indus Valley Civilization
- Taxila – Gandhara civilization
- Takht-i-Bahi – Buddhist monastery
- Hasanabdal – Sikh holy site
- Nankana Sahib – Sikh holy site
Punjab is Pakistan's second largest province at 205,344 km2 (79,284 sq mi) after Balochistan and is located at the northwestern edge of the geologic Indian plate in South Asia. The capital and largest city is Lahore which was the historical capital of the wider Punjab region. Nearly 60% of Pakistan's population lives in the Punjab. It is the nation's only province that touches every other province; it also surrounds the federal enclave of the national capital city at Islamabad.This geographical position and a large multi-ethnic population strongly influence Punjab's outlook on National affairs and induces in Punjab a keen awareness of the problems of the Pakistan's other important provinces and territories.
The major language spoken in the Punjab is Punjabi, the provincial language. Educated people also generally understand and speak Urdu and English. In the South, Seraiki is the main language. The most common languages are Punjabi and Urdu. For the use of English there is a big diversity between different areas of province. Education is generally high in big cities and a great many of residents understand and speak a form of English. You will not have any problem communicating in English in major cities. At most places, English, as most people you will encounter can communicate in broken English at the very least.
Both Lahore and Islamabad have direct flights to numerous international destinations across Asia, the Greater Middle East and Europe. There are buses/Train between Delhi and Lahore. From Kashgar, China one can travel by road via the Karakoram Highway up to Gilgit for about 50$ and from Gilgit there are direct buses to Islamabad for about 5$ but 17 hours of journey on harrowingly winding roads.
- Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore has been completely renovated with a new terminal for international arrivals and departures. Many airlines are currently operating to the airport including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Indian Airlines, Mahan Air, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Singapore Airlines, Pakistan International (PIA), Saudi Arabian Airlines, Thai Airways, Kuwait Airways, Uzbekistan Airways and over four private airlines from Pakistan.
- Benazir Bhutto International Airport is currently in review to be expanded and modernized to meet the needs of the future passenger numbers as demand for air travel has increased dramatically. There are many airlines operating into Islamabad including many of the above with Ariana Afghan Airlines, British Airways and China Southern Airlines. The only problem is that the airport is also used by Government officials as well as arrivals from foreign diplomats so the airport may shut down as security is increased so flights are delayed.
Punjab has train links with its neighbour the Republic of India to the east. The Samjhauta Express is the more common, running on Tuesdays and Fridays between Delhi and Lahore via the Attari/Wagah border crossing. Tourists should be aware that after recent terrorist attacks on the train, which caused many a casualty and strained relationships between the two neighbors, it is strongly advised that you take taxis or buses to and from the border instead.
From ancient times people have been travelling through Punjab using the Grand Trunk Road that run through Pakistan and into the Indian subcontinent. It is a rewarding but time consuming way to see this part of the world. New highways have been developed and the country is due for an expansion in its highway network. Currently, a world-class motorway connects the cities of Lahore, Islamabad and Faisalabad
Punjab is connected to China through the Karakoram Highway, a modern feat of engineering that traverses a remarkably scenic route through the Karakoram and Himalayan mountains. Which is about to be expanded from current 10m wide to 30m because of the increase in trade traffic due to Gwader port opening.
From India: While there is international service running to Lahore from Delhi it is just as fast, much more flexible, and much cheaper to take the journey by stringing together local transport and crossing the Wagah border on foot.
From China: While there is international service running to Islamabad from Kashgar it is just as fast, much more flexible, and much cheaper to take the journey by stringing together local transport and crossing the border on foot.
By Plane, Train, Taxi, Bus
From ancient times people have been travelling through Punjab using the Grand Trunk Road that run through Pakistan and into the Indian subcontinent. It's a rewarding but time consuming way to see this part of the world. New highways have been developed and the country is due for an expansion in its highway network. Currently, a world-class motorway connects the cities of Lahore, Islamabad and Faisalabad
The province is home to many well known historical sites including the Shalimar Gardens, the Badshahi Mosque, and the ruins of the ancient city of Harrapa. The Anarkali Market and Jahangir's Tomb are prominent in the city of Lahore as is the Lahore Museum, while the ancient city of Taxila in the northwest was once a major centre of Buddhism. Many important Sikh shrines are in the Pakistani portion of Punjab, including the birthplace of the first Guru: Guru Nanak (born at Nankana Sahib), you can visit the Wagah border parade it is called the beating retreat ceremony between the IBSF and the Pakistani Rangers. There is also the largest salt mine in Asia situated the Khewra Salt Mines.
- Tea (or Chai as it is referred to in Pakistan) is popular throughout the country.
- Both black and green tea (Sabz chai or qahvah) are common and are traditionally drunk with cardamom and lots of sugar. Lemon is optional but recommended with green tea.
- Kashmiri chai is a milky tea with almonds and nuts added to give additional flavour. This tea is very popular during weddings and in the cold season.
- Coffee is also available in all major cities.
In the warmer southern region, sweet drinks are readily available throughout the day. Look for street vendors that have fruits (real or decorations) hanging from their roofs. Also, some milk/yogurt shops serve lassi. Ask for meethi lassi for a sweet yogurt drink and you can also get a salty lassi which tastes good if you are having "bhindi" in food or some other rich dish. There is also a sweet drink called Mango Lassi which is very rich and thick, made with yogurt, mango pulp, and pieces of mango.
Drink sealed bottled water, not the water from local taps. Water from local taps will be infected and it is highly likely you will end up ill.
The people of Punjab are hospitable. They tend to welcome any foreigner very warmly.
For your own safety it is strongly recommended not to attend any rallies, protests or religious gatherings. Security wise, Punjab is generally safe but crime exists in big cities.