Your Trip To Bahawalpur: Everything You Need To Know

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 The Desi Wonder Woman 18 Comments

Here's my final post on Bahawalpur, a city you probably know by now, I loved, loved, loved.

Earlier, I did only a photodiary of our trip to give you an idea of most of the spots we touched and in what order. Today I plan on adding icing to this cake (great, now I want cake) by listing down for you, what places in Bahawalpur need access permissions, how to get them, tips for navigating the city, which hotel we stayed at, food recommendations, trip costs and any places that I wanted to see but couldn't and think you definitely should.

Boys, there's no blog post like this on the internet anywhere. So we're creating history. I hope you're with me. Let's go.

TRAVEL TO BAHAWALPUR
Flights from Dubai: I booked via Travelwings.com which is an online travel agency that has fares for a bunch of locations from Pakistan to the UAE and from the UAE to Pakistan. To get maximum time in the city, we took the outgoing 6 am flight from Sharjah to Multan on a Friday on Air Arabia and took the return flight on Sunday from Multan to Dubai at about 9 pm on Emirates. Both flights were booked on Travelwings. At the time of my booking, the fares Travelwings was offering were less than on the host airline websites themselves (I checked so I could tell you later).

Wannabe Bahawalpuris at 5 am on a flight

We traveled from Multan to Bahawalpur by road. Our transport was arranged by FindMyAdventure, which is an online marketplace for travel and tours in Pakistan. They do group tours as well as custom tours (like they did for me). The drive was about 1.5 hours along a well-made road through really gorgeous green fields and mustard farms (the signature yellow sarson ke khet in Punjab).

Travel within Pakistan: FindMyAdventure does group trips to Bahawalpur. You could sign up and join them in whichever city they're starting from; they'll handle all travel from that point onwards for you. Or you could join them in Bahawalpur after flying in there directly. And I'm not just plugging this because they partnered with me. After doing the trip with them, I KNOW it's the best choice at very affordable rates (and I can't wait to see more of Pakistan with them so these emotions are legit).

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STAY IN BAHAWALPUR
My hotel in Bahawalpur was booked by FindMyAdventure. We stayed at Qatar Banquet Hotel & Hall on Civil Hospital Road. I would have never booked this hotel myself because it looked weird and shady from the outside and I debated if I should move to Hotel One by PC. But once we checked in and spent one night, we realized it was the PERFECT choice. Super affordable, clean and with all basic essentials. Things I liked about it: 1) Clean. 2) Great staff. Friendly, polite, respectful. 3) Hot water. 4) Good complimentary breakfast (had amazing chai paratha omelette) 5) Gave extra blankets when requested. 6) Super close to the old city, everything we wanted to see in BWP was at a 5-10 minute drive. I don't know if it's safe for a girl staying alone but if you're two persons I think you should be fine, no matter what gender (this is my own experience from December 2016, feel free to check it out in person first before booking and make your own assessment). Their website is here and Facebook page here. This was our room.

The best nashta at our hotel, courtesy Irfan from the staff

If you're not sure, then PC has Hotel One in the city which you can always book. You can book it here.
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ACCESS PERMISSIONS IN BAHAWALPUR

The following places need access permission prior to visiting. All of these permissions were secured for us by FindMyAdventure.
1. Derawar Fort (tour inside the fort)
2. The Royal Graveyard of the Nawabs
3. Sadiq Garh Palace
4. Darbar Mahal

The following places are open to visit for all.
1. Derawar Fort (area outside the fort)
2. Abbasi Mosque (outide Derawar Fort)
3. Noor Mahal (Rs. 30 ticket per person, pay at entry)
4. Noor Mahal Light Show on Saturdays (Rs. 300 or 600 per person, I've forgotten, pay at entry)
5. Noor Mahal lit up with lights every night (not the light show)
6. Lal Suhanra National Park
7. Central Library
8. Local Bazaar (of course)



In my opinion, your experience will be phenomenal if you go with FindMyAdventure because they'll handle all access for you; you'll only have to be there, take pictures and enjoy. Even coordinating the permissions with the onsite tour guides etc is a bit of a hassle so it was perfect that we didn't have to think about any of that. GENUINE EMOTIONS.

If you don't want to go with FindMyAdventure, then these are the following ways you can try for permissions but this is based on tips from other people, I haven't tried these myself so I'm not sure how well they would work.
1. Sourcing a contact in the army who can find a local resource for you to help out
2. Contacting TDCP Bahawalpur and asking them to help
3. Ask a local resident who can help with their personal contacts with getting into places

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TIPS FOR YOUR TRIP (STRAIGHT FROM MY HEART)

1. Stay in the old city. There's no better way to get the real flavor of a place than by staying somewhere where it all started. I couldn't have known this before but because our hotel was right there in the middle of the action, I realized that it was a very happy coincidence.

2. The local, old bazaar which has all the gems is closed on Fridays. The market is open but the shops of relevance are closed. Plan your shopping for another day. See my full post on Bahawalpur shopping here.


3. Take a torch with you to Sadiq Garh Palace. The palace is fully abandoned and has no electricity. If you want to explore it fully, take a torch because the onsite guide didn't have one when we went. Also remember, you can hear screeching bats the second you step into the palace (which is freaky for a second) but they're all in the basement.

4. Noor Mahal is open access for all so if you want to enjoy the place while it's not so crowded, choose to go either on a weekday or early morning.

5. At Derawar Fort, which is in Cholistan, all phone connections went on emergency mode except Ufone (imagine our Dubai Etisalat connection was working on roaming but Mobilink, Telenor, all died). FindMyAdventure's guy Raza who was with us, had Ufone which was working which was critical because you have to call the guide to coordinate once you're there. Have one Ufone sim on you.

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WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO IN BAHAWALPUR

1. Central Library: I missed this because I wasted a few hours in the bazaar (which is why I did a whole post on shopping so it doesn't happen to anyone else). But it looks gorgeous in photos and you should take out time to see it.

2. Sadiq Public School: The school is gorgeous from outside and we saw it while driving by. But we didn't have the time to see it, so if you do, check it out.

How Noor Mahal is lit up every night (but the light show is different and only on Saturdays)

3. Noor Mahal Light & Sound Show on Saturdays: The light and sound show is on every Saturday at 8 pm. You can purchase tickets at the entrance and go see it. We had it planned but when we got there at 7:30 pm (ahead of time, please note), the guards told us that someone in the army had decided that they wanted to see it at 7 pm that day (mashallah) and so the light show had happened an hour earlier. He said it had never happened before but if you really, really want to see it, maybe go around 7 pm and just hang out in the grounds facing the palace, so you don't get screwed over. Have chai and kulfi, or maybe even food; there were quite a few food options there. (Backstory: We were actually at Noor Mahal at 6 pm that day but left for our hotel because we thought 8 pm was too far off; while leaving we double checked about the light show timing and the guard said, be here by 7:45. He later apologized a lot but it wasn't in his control, poor guy).

4. Gulzar Palace: I don't know if you can get access permissions for this easily. This was not on my list because I was pretty chill with seeing three palaces already but you might want to check it out.

5. Desert Camping in Cholistan. I wish I had the time to do this. It would be legendary. FindMyAdventure does this, ask them about it.

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WHAT TO WEAR
For the wimmenz, look it's your call what you want to wear. Because I was in the old city, I stuck to shalwar kameez with a shawl, to be respectful. If you go to Derawar Fort which is in the Cholistan Desert, definitely wear shalwar kameez or have a large chaadar. I optionally and randomly covered my head in some places (just out of respect, no one asked me to).

I went in mid-December and for clothing, I only needed a light shawl at night. The days were warm so just linen clothing was enough. At night, if you plan on going desert camping, you would need thicker clothing. At night, a blanket was necessary in the hotel room.

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FOOD RECOMMENDATIONS
I mostly ate out of small roadside hotels, I somehow didn't want to go to any proper restaurants. I did however go to Four Seasons, which is an old classic so I wanted to try that out (I think it's like Copper Kettle). The following is the food I had that I loved.

Stuffed Chicken Breast at Four Seasons, so good.

1. Stuffed Chicken Breast at Four Seasons (don't miss it!). The Four Seasons guys actually invited us in for dinner (a lot of people had recommended them to us so I said yes instantly). Also, wanted to tell you that these guys have opened Shahjahan Grill in Lahore as well, so any Lahori friends, please go check them out cos I loved their food in BWP. Facebook here and Instagram here.

2. Halwa puri, Chana Paratha and Lassi nashta at Data Restaurant. The best chai I've ever had. And they were able to give it to me without sugar. Instant love. Also, the other stuff was super delicious.

3. Falooda at Data Sweets. Not the kulfi falooda (no kulfi in it), more like rabri falooda but very delicious.



4. Balochi Karahi and Kebabs at City Café. Good food, proper fine dining restaurant. This was when we had just reached Bahawalpur so I went to the first place I could find.

5. Kulfi at Noor Mahal. Yummy.

6. Lunch at a local dhaba. Not much help to you here but the daal mash and qorma was yum. Try out a local dhaba.

7. Gol Gappay. Never had such massive gappas. And with aloo bukharay ki chutney.

8. Chai, omelette paratha breakfast at our hotel.

Recommendations from readers: Taj Hotel, Libra Valley, Pizza at Zanzibar, Masala Village Restaurant, BBQ in Cantt Market, Baba's Icecream, Scoop Icecream, Cone at Ice Touch and desserts at City Café.

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TRIP COSTING
Other than flight costs, which are going to be different for everyone, here's a rough costing of a trip with FindMyAdventure.

Group Trip starting from Lahore (set itinerary):
Cost: Rs. 8500 per person (a group size of 15-20 people usually so you might even make new friends)
Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Includes: Travel to Bahawalpur (via coasters), hotel stay, food, access permissions to places in Bahawalpur, desert camping and all essentials like sleeping tents/bags/mats, camel safari, local musician.
Verdict: It's very affordable and a no-miss, honestly. Also, FMA is very professional so you'll be super happy once you're done. I'm not the type to enjoy having someone with me on a trip, but after traveled with one from their team, I realise it's actually such a fun experience to share some trips with a bunch of people.


Custom Trip starting from Multan (customized itinerary like for me):
Cost: Rs. 40,000 for a couple or group of 2-3 persons
Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Includes: Travel to Bahawalpur from Multan (your own private car), hotel stay, access permissions to all places you want to see in Bahawalpur. You basically tell them what all you want to do and when, and they'll plan it out for you.
Verdict: If you want to do your own thing completely and are a group of three friends, you could easily get a custom trip which would come out to be about 13,000 per person which is not bad at all. Otherwise just go for the group trip.

Also, FindMyAdventure are the kings of customization, so if you don't want to join a group, but have a few friends who want to go exploring together, just ask them for a quote based on your requirements. The more people, the less the cost, so give it a shot.
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And here's a travelogue of my trip, I wanted you guys to feel the city as much as possible. Let me know if you loved it! (the answer is of course we are crazy about it you're awesome make more videos I love you you love me bye). You can watch this on YouTube here if you don't want to watch within this post.


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THAT'S IT! I think that covers about it all but I'm happy to answer any more questions you have so send them my way.

I really, really, really loved this city and once you get an in-depth look into the history you'll see that the properties of the Nawabs are not just interesting to look at but their lives talk about a chapter from Pakistan's past that not many of us know about. It's going to be enriching in more ways than one. Get yourself going to this beautiful city. You won't regret it.

Read about my two days in Bahawalpur right here (I had a BLAST): Day 1, Day 2.

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My Bahawalpur trip was in collaboration with Travelwings.com which is an online travel agency based out of UAE. They have flight options and great fares from UAE to anywhere in Pakistan and from Pakistan to the UAE. And other than Pakistan, they have incredible travel packages to really interesting places around the world which you can discover by following them on Facebook here and Instagram here.

I also partnered with FindMyAdventure which is an online marketplace for amazing tours across Pakistan. You've got to see their website and all that they have on offer right here. I loved, loved, LOVED the experience with them and cannot recommend them enough. Follow them on Facebook here and Instagram here, because they keep posting awesome trips and can also do custom trips for you/your friends/your neighbors/eraaybaady.

All opinions about any collaborations are entirely my own because I don't like anyone else's opinions in my head. Thank youuuu.  

18 comments :

  1. This is how you do a sponsored post, bloggers of the world! Amazing job! You are a breath of fresh air.

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  2. I saved the post for my bedtime reading but sneakily watched the video at work, loved it!!

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  3. if i dont make Bwp happen this year i will hurl, i even have a couple friends from Sadiq Public School! it's like Eton or something. love love all your details and your extremely detailed round up, must have taken forever to put together but your hard work shines!

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    1. Please, please go and then tell me all about it :D

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  4. This blog is becoming my Addiction.loved the video BTW.

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  5. Try mushtarqa balochistan, folks! It's a dhaba-like place and they serve authentic balochi food. Everything on the menu is amazing but I particularly loved their seekh kebabs, nosh and daal maash.

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  6. Hey this post is amazing and the video at the end is awesome. Too bad that our historical sites are not preserved the way other sites in the world are. Your post can make ppl realize how beautiful Pakistan is. you go girl (y)

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    1. I knowww! Imagine if all of these had been preserved.

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  7. Love love love. Read the post at work but saved the video for now and man so so so nicely done :) such a beauty the city is and you are adorable ! I really want to go as even have family in Multan now !!! That phulkari has my heart ♡

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  8. This coverage just couldnt get any better.. wah

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