Pakistan Rupee - PKR
You have no doubt heard of the rupee as a form of currency before, since Pakistan is not the only country in the world that uses it. However as is the case with the dollar, with different types in use in different countries, Pakistan has its own version of the rupee. It is a decimal currency that is divided into 100 paisa, although this is now theoretical since paisa have not been used in a while. No notes or coins now exist as legal tender in this particular instance.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
There are only three coins in use for the Pakistani rupee at present. These are the 1, 2 and 5 rupee coins. In contrast there are several banknotes you will see while you are in Pakistan. These are the 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 and 5,000 rupee notes.
From past to present – the history of the rupee
Pakistan used to be a part of the British Empire, but when it reverted to its own rule in 1947 those in charge decided to bring in a new currency. Initially they settled for the Indian rupee but with the word Pakistan on the currency to denote it as their own. The following year after independence the country started generating its own banknotes and coins in the Pakistani rupee currency.
Initially the rupee was an Imperial currency, since this is what everyone was used to, having had the former British Imperial pound sterling currency. It would not be until 1961 that the Pakistanis decided to bring in the decimal currency, at which point the paisa came into being. Of course thanks to inflation it is now not used anymore, although in theory each rupee can still be divided into 100 paisa.
How to get hold of Pakistani rupees
One of the most important things to note about the country is that it has a general preference for cash. So while you may be used to using your bank cards at home, you need to change your way of thinking while visiting Pakistan. You can get some rupees before you leave home if you visit a bureau de change. It is best to order them in advance and make sure you order Pakistani rupees and not Indian ones; double-check your order just to be sure it is right.
You can also get more cash once you arrive in Pakistan at the airport. After this you may be surprised at how challenging it can sometimes be to get hold of money. This means it is worth taking out more cash than you think you may need, just in case you cannot get cash for a day or two afterwards. While banks do have cash machines they do not all accept foreign cards, and not all of them are amenable to accepting cards on various networks. So even if you do find a cash machine you may not be able to use it. To this end it might be worth taking two cards for two different networks.
It might also be worth taking in cash in other currencies. Euros and US dollars are generally easy to exchange in banks if you need to, so it does give you another option.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Pakistani rupee
You can do this prior to leaving home by using a currency converter. You will see the current exchange rates offered at bureaux de change and banks too, but these will vary depending on the amount of commission charged. Sometimes the amount is hidden in the conversion rate and at other times it is added on top as a fee.
You might find it worthwhile to visit the website for the High Commission for Pakistan in the United Kingdom if you want to learn more about visiting the country and what you need to know. The website is at http://www.pakmission-uk.gov.pk.
Travelling safely with Pakistani rupees
Some areas of Pakistan can be dangerous for travellers to visit, but it does depend on the political situation and what is going on in the country. Many areas are perfectly safe but you should always check the latest information prior to going to Pakistan, to ensure you aren’t planning on going anywhere where trouble has occurred.
Petty theft and pickpocketing is quite common in the country. It is well worth taking every conceivable measure you can to ensure you are not an attractive target. For example you should not carry any visible jewellery or other items that are expensive and may be enticing for someone to grab and steal. You don’t want to leave anything unattended either, for the same reasons. You should also think about protecting your bank cards and not carrying any more cash than you need to. Ideally it helps to split your cash into several amounts and keeping them in different pockets and locations about your person. If you are pickpocketed at least you won’t lose the lot if you do this.
Where to spend your rupees in Pakistan – and what to spend them on
Pakistan is in Southern Asia and shares borders with Iran, Afghanistan and India. The country has also claimed an area of land to the north, but this is not controlled officially.
Obviously if you are visiting Pakistan you should be careful of where you go. While some of the main tourist destinations are perfectly safe to visit you should always check prior to travel to be on the safe side. One of the most famous areas for tourists is the Khyber Pass. This is famous to many but not everyone realises it is in Pakistan. This is a very important route and has been for a long time. It was part of the classic and historical Silk Road, a popular trade route through the country and through other countries as well. Since this connects the country with Afghanistan it is best to find out which parts of the pass are safe to visit and which parts should be avoided.
There are lots of natural sights in Pakistan, as you will soon discover when you get there. For example the country boasts lots of mountains, which comes as a surprise to some people. Indeed many of them are only really suitable for experienced mountain climbers to tackle, since they are extremely high. The world only has 14 mountains that soar above 8,000 metres in height (that’s over 26,000 feet!) and no fewer than five of them are in Pakistan. K2 is found here, surpassed in height only by the famous Mount Everest.
If mountain climbing isn’t your thing, how about paying a visit to Neelum Valley? This is a lush green valley that has wonderful views even from the valley floor. Who said you have to climb mountains to enjoy superb scenery? This valley has it all, including dwellings that look quite stunning in their surroundings. Watch out for the springs and lakes that are always to be found here.
Pakistan is also home to several World Heritage Sites, as approved by UNESCO. The southernmost one is called Makli Hill. This is a necropolis and it contains the remains of an astounding 125,000 rulers and saints among others. It is so old no one is quite sure when the area first became used as a necropolis, but it is certainly boasting a long history.
Further north you will find Shalamar Gardens, which along with the fort on the same site has also been given UNESCO World Heritage Status. The complex has been around since about 1641 AD and has seen many changes in Pakistan during those years. The gardens are large and sprawling and contain many fascinating structures and three terraces. There are more than 400 fountains in the gardens as a whole too, just to save you from counting them all!
One of the most amazing sights in the country – and there are many, as you have already seen – has to be in Kalash Valley. Many tourists head here to see the civilisation that is still living there to this day. This may not sound unusual on its own, but you might be surprised to learn the Kelash (the people who live here) have villages that are literally built into the side of the hills. Houses and dwellings built on stilts and attached to the hillsides on top of one another might sound dangerous but it is something of a feat of engineering. You must see if to believe it.
Pakistan has a long history stretching way back into ancient times. Much of this history is still there in part or in whole today, so a trip to this country should definitely include time to see some of these sights. If you are fortunate enough to visit Pakistan and you want to make the most of your time there, plan the areas you wish to visit prior to going. It makes for an easier time and ensures you will see the cream of the crop.