Tips for travelling Pakistan

Do… learn basic phrases in Urdu

While only about 10% of the population speaks Urdu as a native language, many more use it as a trade language. I’ve found that pulling out even basic Urdu phrases can result in lower prices and invitations for chai.

Don’t… fill up on the first course

Often when you visit a Pakistani house for a meal, you’ll be served an array of fried appetizers, meats, cookies, and sweets. This is not the main meal, even if there are a dozen dishes.
If there isn’t bread or rice on the table, it’s probably just a starter.

Do… budget your stomach space

Save room for the main course and dessert.
This is particularly important during Ramadan, when locals host iftar parties to break the fast.
Iftar is a special meal eaten when the sun goes down, but almost immediately after it dinner is served, which in turn is followed by a sweet dish.

Don’t… assume “no” means “no”

In Urdu it’s polite to say “no thanks” (Nahin, shukriya) at least once before accepting something. If you offer something to a local, always ask at least three times.

Do… make it clear when you really mean “no”

When you genuinely don’t want something, like a seventh serving of biryani, it can be hard to communicate it.
Put your hands over your heart in a gesture of sincere thanks while saying, “Bas, shukriya,” — No more, thank you.

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