Destination 2023 | Footloose | thenews.com.pk

Nushki. — Photo by Mobin Ansari

Angkor Wat

ambodia has many wonders to offer. Though the main attraction may be a cliché, it offers an un-miss-able opportunity to appreciate the tradition of yet another culture creating the art of divinity. The main draw for me here is the old temples, where nature merges into the stones laid by man, weaving a new narrative. I cannot wait to meet this place in person.

– Ayesha Mirza, a sociology teacher with a passion for photography and exploration

Bahawalpur

Although relatively small, the city has a rich history. One of the sites one must visit while in town is Darawar Fort, a historical marvel in the Cholistan desert. Sadiq Garh Palace is a close second. Although almost a ruin now, the palace still speaks of grandeur and royalty. Uch Sharif, located at a distance of around two hours from there, is another place that should not be missed. Within the city, one can visit Noor Mahal, Sadiq Mosque, Main Bazaar, Museum, Sadiq Public School and Lal Suhanra Park, the house of blackbucks.

Sulman Ali, media person and a photography and travel enthusiast

Baku

It is the ultimate place to forge a connection with local culture and history. Full of impressive architecture, it almost looks like a refined version of some places in Pakistan. The country has maintained a perfect blend of history and modernisation, which is one of the key factors in boosting tourism. It is a good place to start if you are travelling abroad for the first time or are on a budget.

– Huma Tarik, founder of MyEffinTours

Chitral

It is famous among tourists primarily due to Kalash Valley and Shandur Polo Tournament. However, if one moves further, there are serene towns like Booni and Mastuj to witness and provide calm moments away from the hustle and bustle. However, one pro tip is always to book a guest house or a hotel away from the main roads. Then, trekkers can head towards the stunning Karambhar Lake or Thalo Pass and descend into the Kumrat Valley. – Sulman Ali

Kumrat Valley. — Photo by Sulman Ali
Kumrat Valley. — Photo by Sulman Ali

If you ignore the deteriorating roads, the whole Chitral experience is mesmerising and unlike anything you may have come across in other Northern Areas. The people of Chitral are quite hospitable, the food is fantastic and you are surrounded by culture and history.

– Huma Tarik

Citta de Eterna

Sorrentino fittingly referred to Citta de Eterna, Rome, as La Grande Bellezza in his ode to the city and there can be no more befitting a name. On my first trip, I spent eight days there, only to realise that it was not enough time to appreciate even an eighth of the splendour of this city. Its concentration of gorgeous gardens, piazzas, fountains and statues is simply the veneer. The city’s art is in the air, the people, the music, the sounds and the sunsets. Rome is my great love, one that I am not too jealous to share, it is experiential and I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

Ayesha Mirza

Gorakh Hill

Station

Located at the border of Sindh and Balochistan, this place is a part of the Kirthar mountain range. The best thing about the hill station is its gorgeous sunsets, which one can witness from the Benazir viewpoint. It has been said that this scene is paisa vasool of the trip.

Sulman Ali

Gwadar

The city boasts rich history and folklore. It was an overseas possession of Oman from 1783 to 1958. One can still see reminders of the Omani era, including a fort and a mosque. My favourite place is the boat basin, where one can see fishing activities and a beautiful sunset over the sea while the fishing boats are out in the ocean. There is a promenade that one can walk by to take in the scenery. Old abandoned ships caught my attention, providing a unique glimpse into history.

– Mobeen Ansari, photographer, filmmaker, artist & author based in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Hazro

In my 17 years as a photographer, I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to every part of Pakistan. As the world becomes a global village, Pakistan, too, has been opening up to tourism beyond the famous Northern Areas. Hazrois a small town in Attock. Ir is home to old havelis, mandirs and gurdwaras. Its streets offer an insight into its history, thankfully left alone by modernity. It is best known for the 200-year-old Hari temple and a gurdwara, where one can still see frescos on the walls, although both places need restoration work. I am particularly drawn to Hazro because of a pre-partition library that is centrally located and home to a 600 years old handwritten copy of the Quran as well as other religious and philosophical literature. Avid readers and scholars from around the world, particularly from Iran, have visited this place. It was owned by the late Rashid Alizai and his family.

Mobeen Ansari

India

I often feel that owing to the shared history and culture of the neighbouring countries; it’s about time their citizens were given a chance to visit each other in amiable conditions. Visiting places with similar cultural or historical backgrounds can help us understand the world from a better perspective. It can also make us realise the possibilities we have as a country.

– Huma Tarik

Japan, South Africa, Morocco

The year 2023 will be markedly different in terms of consumer preferences, owing primarily to the solubilisation of post-Covid global restrictions and the fact that the destinations easily accessible in the year 2022 have already been heavily travelled, resulting in frequent travellers. Therefore, they would also look for less travelled destinations, which would diversify consumer demand. Furthermore, travellers will mostly choose destinations based on their budget allocation, which has become the deciding factor due to the volatile economy. Thus, the consumers will be divided into two segments: one for frequent travellers who want to visit new places, such as Japan, South Africa and Morocco, and the other for budget-conscious travellers, i.e. Azerbaijan, Dubai, Turkey or Thailand.

Fahd Dogar, CEO, One58Travel

Kumrat Valley

Located in Upper Dir, the Valley is 45 minutes from Thank and on the bank of Panjkora River; excellent for a small tour. One can also enjoy trekking in the surrounding jungles or the famous starry nights while relaxing beside the serene river. However, the once-calm place is fast becoming another Murree due to increased tourism and development projects.

– Sulman Ali

Mohenjodaro

Built in 26 BCE (2,500 years old), Mohenjodaro (or mound of the dead) is known to be the largest settlement of the ancient Indus Valley. The prehistoric city is located around 28 kilometres from the town of Larkana, Sindh and is a must-see for history buffs.

– Sulman Ali

Nushki

Nushki. — Photo by Mobeen Ansari
Nushki. — Photo by Mobeen Ansari

I spent a lot of time in Balochistan this year and witnessed the stunning desert town of Nushki. It is the most beautiful desert in the country. It changes colour with the time of day and the weather. It feels different every time you see it. Its landscape is diverse, and sand dunes mix with lush green fields and rugged mountains. The milky way covers this desert at night, leaving everyone in awe of its magnificence. In addition to the desert, Nushki also has famous shrines, a lake and a football field. – Mobeen Ansari

My top destinations would be the many beautiful places of Balochistan. The region is relatively unexplored, has considerable tourism potential and offers something new to people who are used to heading to the north for travel. However, due to the unstable security conditions, I can’t say if that is something I shall be able to achieve in 2023.

– Huma Tarik

Phuket

For those looking for an unforgettable travel experience in 2023, Thailand’s Phuket, Greece’s Santorini and Egypt’s Cairo are three cities sure to provide the perfect destination. Phuket, a stunning island with something for everyone, boasts beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife and a unique culture. So whether you’re seeking a peaceful escape or an adventure-filled holiday, there is something for everyone to enjoy. From its warm climate and friendly locals to its delicious cuisine, it’s no surprise why Phuket is one of the world’s most popular destinations.

– Gul Jabeen, a travel blogger and data scientist based in Germany

Santorini

An island in Greece, Santorini will leave you in awe with its whitewashed buildings, spectacular views and amazing sunsets. I can still vividly remember my unforgettable experience at Kamari beach on summer nights. The warm sand, the sound of the waves crashing against the shore and the starry night sky were like something out of a dream. I can’t wait to return and have that same feeling again. I’m sure that the next time I return to Kamari beach on a summer night, it will be just as magical as it was before. It’s the perfect place for a romantic getaway or a relaxing break and is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

– Gul Jabeen

Sost, Markhoon. — Photo by Ayesha Mirza
Sost, Markhoon. — Photo by Ayesha Mirza

Sost, Markhoon

Most people headed to Gilgit Baltistan aim for Hunza and Naltar, but I encourage you to push farther north; maybe, all the way to the entry to the Khunjerab National Park where you will find the quiet town of Sost in the region of Markhoon. Sost will offer you all the amenities to make this your base as you head out to various small villages and seldom-explored treks. Here you will witness pure nature, as undisturbed by man’s hand as possible. Here you will find pure divinity. Take it.

– Ayesha Mirza

Taobat

It is the last village before the Line of Control near Kashmir. Located in Sharda tehsil, 200 kilometres from Muzaffarabad and 39 kilometres from Kel, it is Taobat where River Neelum enters Azad Kashmir. Visiting this beautiful valley is a unique and memorable experience with its unforgettable sights of the mighty river and the green pastures.

– Sulman Ali

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