India Travel Pakistan Travel

The Differences Between India & Pakistan

Everyone I met in Pakistan was very curious about India. Their top question was, “What’s the difference between India and Pakistan? Are they similar?” The answer is, yes, there is a familiarity between India and Pakistan. After all, they used to be the same country. But at the same time, there are a few differences.

Here’s what I noticed from a traveller’s perspective.

Food: Pakistan = non-veg, India = veg

I love to eat. So the first thing I noticed upon arriving in Lahore was the fantastic meat dishes. The meat is always freshly killed and cooked, and I think that has something to with why Pakistani meat dishes are always juicy. Try a seekh kebab in Pakistan and India, and you’ll see the difference straight away, the Pakistani ones are juicier.

Pakistanis are massive meat eaters, they consume 3 times more meat than all of India. So it makes sense that they’re experts in cooking it.

India, on the other hand, knows how to cook vegetables like nobody else in the world. You’ll struggle to find vegetable dishes at restaurants in Pakistan unless it’s breakfast.

For example, it was amusing to me to find Dal Maas (lentils and meat) in Pakistan, whereas in India they don’t put meat in Dal.

India’s variety of veg. dishes is absolutely endless. Even a meat eater like me has become far less reliant on meat and consumer a lot more vegetables in India.

When it comes to food safety. I got sick in Pakistan from street food on both trips, 2018 & 2020. I get sick in India roughly every 3 months from food. If I had to choose one, I’d say Pakistani food preparation areas looked cleaner to me.

Language: Urdu & Devanagari Script

Hindi and Urdu are nearly identical languages except they have different scripts. In Pakistan, all you see is Urdu script everywhere whereas India is dominated by Devanagari.

Just looking at a photo from each country you can immediately tell which street is in India and which is in Pakistan.

Difference between Devanagari in India and Urdu script in Pakistan
Difference between Devanagari (top) and Urdu script in Pakistan. Photos by Wasif Malik andrajkumar1220.

City Design

Walking around Lahore and Islamabad, I found them similar to big Mughal influenced cities in North India like Delhi, Ajmer, and Lucknow. Clearly, South Indian design is nothing like Pakistani, but North India and Pakistan are similar. After all, both areas at one time were ruled by the same rulers.

For example, Jama Masjid in Delhi and Badshahi Mosque in Lahore are nearly identical having been built in a very similar style.

Jama Masjid, Delhi. Photo by Peter Rivera.
Jama Masjid, Delhi. Photo by Peter Rivera.
Badshahi Mosque, Lahore. Photo © Karl Rock.
Badshahi Mosque, Lahore. Photo © Karl Rock.

People & Hospitality

2018 Experience: I found people on the street in Pakistan to be helpful but wary of a foreigner. Overall I found them less warm than Indians. I think this has something to do with their distrust and dislike of America. They probably assume I’m from there.

Usually, a local’s first question to you will be, “Where are you from?” I’d love to know what their reaction would be if I told them, “America.” I’m assuming it’s going to be different from New Zealand which has a cricket team that I found many Pakistani’s complimenting me on.

I find Indians warmer to foreigners in general. There’s no hatred of America there.

2020 Experience Update: My opinion has changed since 2018. On my second trip, I felt very few people being wary of a foreigner. Below are two beautiful examples of how I was treated as I roamed the streets alone.

When it comes to meeting friends in Pakistan and India, I found hospitality to be nearly the same.

When it comes to travelling alone it’s similar, but there’s one caveat.

India’s tourism industry has been booming with over 10 million foreigners visiting every year. Pakistan on the other hand has only started taking tourism seriously since 2019.

Big Indian tourism destinations like Delhi and Jaipur have been overrun by conmen trying to scam tourists. This isn’t present in Pakistan… yet. So Pakistan is a far more relaxed experience with many locals being surprised to see foreigners and eager to show their hospitality.

In the smaller Indian cities, where tourists don’t go, you will find classic Indian “Guest is God” culture still. Just not so much in the big cities anymore. But it still can happen in the big cities as you’ll see in the below clip.

Both my Pakistani and Indian friends show fantastic hospitality and a passion for showing you their country and making sure you are comfortable and enjoying.

All for me. The spread put on by my friends in Peshawar, Pakistan. Photo © Karl Rock.
All for me. The spread put on by my friends in Peshawar, Pakistan. Photo © Karl Rock.

Friends & Foes: Pakistan China

Arriving in Lahore, I was greeted with the Pakistan-China Friendship Underpass and a massive reef of flowers celebrating the China and Pakistan friendship elsewhere in the city. They even have a China Chowk (street). There’s no doubt about it, Pakistan China.

Another example in Saidpur Village

In India, you’ll see the same for different countries, but I can’t pinpoint any one country they love, unlike all the tributes to China I saw in Pakistan.


This one is obvious whether you’ve visited or not. Pakistan is dominated by Islam. Multiple times a day you’ll hear the prayer ceremony broadcast out across the city. You’ll hear the same in Muslim majority areas in India too.

India, on the other hand, is more visibly diverse – although around 79% of Indians are Hindu. In India, you’ll see Churches, Gurudwaras, Hindu temples, Jain temples, and Mosques everywhere.

A Few More Differences

  • English is more prevalent in India.
  • There seemed to be less poverty in Pakistan.
  • Streets are generally cleaner in Pakistan.
  • Very few stray animals in Pakistan.
  • Driving on motorways in Pakistan is much safer because the Police are very strict with fines. If people speed, don’t stay in their lane or don’t use their indicators when changing lanes, they get a fine.
  • There are no liquor stores in Pakistan.
  • There are more women out and about on the streets in India.
  • Women in India are more approachable in general.

Overall Impression

Pakistan reminds me of walking into a Muslim area of Delhi like West Nizamuddin. You’ve got Urdu, butchers, Mosques, and the colour green everywhere. Coming from India, Pakistan is a familiar sight. But the above difference constantly reminds you where you are.

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

47 replies on “The Differences Between India & Pakistan”

Good assessment boss. About US , I think two decades of three ago , it was very different . When I was born USA was thought of a friendly country but things have changed

I am an Indian living in the US and I have watched a lot of your videos. Correct me if I am wrong but it seemed like life in Pakistan is a lot more relaxed and happier than life in India. Pakistan almost feels like the India that I grew up in – life feels a lot more hectic when I go back home now.

To be fair, the dude is an expert at finding nice places (and scary ones, but that just makes him better at finding the nicest places in my opinion) and literally writes guides, So I would assume that what we saw wouldn’t be representative of what a citizen of Pakistan would experience, they might also feel like everything’s hectic, who knows?


Wow! man you are really great and we very very warmly welcome you to pakistan please don,t forgot to eat Malai boti(pieces of chicken with rich cream) here
You must be big fan of it.
You are so amazing and super cool Thanks to
Be a part of pakistan even just for few days.

I am surprised you found Pakistanis less warm. Though tbh it doesnt have much to do with America. Yes, Pakistanis dont love america, but they still treat any american tourists very warmly. No one gets discriminated against because they are american. Lets be real here, pakistanis love any guests. Even indians get treated warmly, let alone americans or other foreigners. I think the lack of warmth you felt it is more to do with culture. Let’s be honest and admit, Pakistani men are a bit more shy and reserved except for punjabis 😛 That aggressive rickshaw driver being an example of an outspoken punjabi. I could easily tell that he was trying to say ‘are you having any problems?’ I know this because his tone, the cadence of the way he said it was so typical of when we ask locals if they are having any problems. He was making all the same mistakes in his spoken english that our gardener makes. Mainly taking english too literally. ‘What’s your problem?’ probably made perfect sense to him. Even his saying urdu is good, flashing the thumbs up was encouragement. Its easy to notice when you can read the cultural connotations in the body language, tone etc. It was simply a misunderstanding due to cultural differences. But I absolutely can understand why you felt spooked by that guy So I will not ask you to change your mind on that point. You felt how you felt.
Also, since you visited Peshawer, people are bound to be wary. Do you want to know why? Peshawer is mostly filled with pathans. They are wary of everyone. Even punjabis or sindhis. They even look at us with suspicion if we go there. Pathans are very traditional, conservative and they are also clannish. They like to stick together, speak their own language, wear their own clothes. But generally speaking, lower income pakistani men tend to be kinda shy and awkward especially because they dont know how to speak english. In pakistan, if you cant speak english people just remain quiet rather than trying to communicate. That is the culture here. And on average, less pakistanis can speak english than indians. On top the fact that foreign tourists are rare in Pakistan, especially outside of northern pakistan. And then you can pass off as a Pathan, especially if you’re hair is covered. You speak urdu and were wearing the local dress so people will probably be like what is up with this guy? The accented urdu doesnt work as an excuse because pathans and northern pakistanis also have accents.Unfortunately, your good urdu probably worked against you there. If you speak in english, everyone knows for sure you are a ‘gora’. There will always be some things that are lost in translation, but these small things dont matter. I hope you enjoyed your trip. Definitely share your videos from your visit to Islamabad, and Lahore as well. I hope you visited some of the nicer places, as well as the older places so that you can get a good idea of a developing country.

Also many foreigners may not know, India is very big on vegetarianism hence most restaurants are pure vegetarian.

i dont know why but i think you are little bias over pakistan.bcz you have spend lot of time in india therefore your thoughts about pakistan are same as indians have

I don’t see any bias.He said that Cleanliness,Roads in Pakistan are better.Poverty is more visible in India.
These are very important factors,and he said without hesitation that Pakistan is better.

i like your videos but after watching your videos and read these articals i realize that you are actualy narrow minded and little bias person. dont mind bro

Would you like to visit kasur city 30km from Lahore.
Give us a chance to serve you.

I would like to welcome you to Gujarat
Please visit Gujarat and explore it’s unique culture and language.

Your experience for Pakistan would me much better if you visit more cities in Pakistan like northern areas of Pakistan Giligit, Kashmir in Pakistan and Karachi. Karachi is the biggest city of Pakistan you missed that this time. I hope you will come soon to Pakistan and then explore more cities their food history etc. Waiting for your next visit in Pakistan Lots of Love Karl 🙂
Sheeraz Khan

Well Thank you for writing this blog and i just want to add something about your experience in Pakistan i know you had not much good time in Pakistan for some sought of reasons and well you Visited Peshawar even i am born in Pakistan and living here never get a chance to be there but i have visited the northern areas of Pakistan and all provinces cities in Pakistan except Peshawar and soon I am planning to go there and have some delicious food there. you have missed some cities in Pakistan especially the northern areas and Gilgit Baltistan and one and only Karachi where from I am writing this for you. You missed Karachi men Karachi. Karachi is the biggest city and you will found everything here so you missed that i hope you will come soon to Pakistan and will visit Karachi and other beautiful places in Pakistan. Waiting for your next visit in pakistan. Lots of love Karl Rock Peace

I think the reason you were spied was your earlier visit to India. Pakistani Intelligence keep an eye even at there own citizens who have cross border relations. As a nation coming out of a Trauma so agencies are extremely sensitive. If you have entered from Islamabad then perhaps situation might had been little different. Well, I am sad you missed the real beauty of Pakistan which are the Northern areas of Pakistan.

please visit eastern region of Indian I Follow all your blog videos u always make blogs of northern India but u never came here in East India; this is widely undiscovered , though its beautiful and much less crowded

As an American I had the completely opposite experience. People were much friendlier in Pakistan and no one seemed to care we were American. I still love India and Indian people but we were scammed multiple times there and encountered shadier people, where this just didn’t happen in 4 months in Pakistan. It’s interesting how everyone’s experience is different.

I totally agree. I fell in love with Pakistan and it’s people when I recently visited. India has many of its own advantages too but I didn’t find that warmth and general happiness from the people when in India. In Pakistan I was treated like a guest, I’m originally from Bangladesh and as an icebreaker they often ask where or what region are you from before the flow of a conversation starts. But this doesn’t mean they pick conversations with certain nationalities. Think this review is totally unfair especially against those kind souls. I’ve seen one of the oldest Hindu temples in Karachi visited by Indians (can see on YT) but not seen the Sikh Kartapur – so it’s worth noting they have other places of worship.

India is forgoing a change, Hindu Nationalism is on the rise and a threat to Muslims living in India (especially for my cousins there). I hope a once Secular India doesn’t fall into its demise.

Dear Amaan

About Indian Nationalism on the rise, What about Islamic nationalism in Bangladesh and Pakistan, are they declining. Recently a century old Hindu temple was attacked by Islamic extremists in Karak district, Peshawar (now KP), before that the holiest Sikh shrine Nankana Saheb was attacked by a mob of 500 people. Last July, Islamic extremist groups blocked the construction of the Shri Krishna Mandir Hindu temple in Islamabad. Although authorisation was given to resume work, which started on 21 December, the project continues to received threats.

Suesh-Bombay(now Mumbai)

Time for me to update this blog a bit I think, it’s from my 2018 trip, which was quite a different experience to my latest 2020 trip. Because of India’s booming tourism industry, conmen have been attracted to tourist sights in India, unfortunately ☹

Total BS. Im from Bangladesh, I have families living in both countries and I’ve also recently traveled in both countries but I’ve also followed your YT videos too. Indians won’t offer you free tea, free rides and to be be invited to their home for a full fledged meal. You’ve been conned, followed, hassled in Indian shops and market places.

You married into India and I see you are cheating against Pakistan. Pakistani are much more friendlier, where’s this anti-US you bought onto table. They’re opened the corridor for Sikhs (Kartarpur) and Hindus (Hinglaj Yathra) to visit their holy places.

You need to be fair and speak the truth in your writing. As your videos show a different experience altogether.

You realise this blog is over 2 years old, written during my first experience in Pakistan (2018), right? So don’t try mislead people with “your videos show a different experience.” The videos you’re seeing are from my second trip (2020). Also, yes, you will find free tea, biryani, family experiences, etc in India. I’ve shown or talked about them in my own videos. But, it’s not on the same scale as Pakistan anymore because India’s tourism industry is booming – it’s just not possible to give the 10 million yearly foreigners to India that experience anymore. Point taken though, maybe I should update this blog sometime.

All you talking about is BS. Why should tourists expect free tea, free rides in Indian?. I am Indian living in USA and here also strangers don’t offer anything. But at least in India and USA, people are free to pursuit any religion and more educated and not ruled by some BS dictators. Bangladeshis are the most scammiest people I have known…that is visible even here in USA. And by the way, in India unlike in Pakistan and Bangladesh, religion is not forced down the throat of individuals

Aamna we see foreigners everywhere now is it possible for us to invite each and everyone to our homes .. No its not the place where you go sight seeing the Indians you look around are also there for the same purpose so.e of them are not even from the same state. There was a time when people use to have time to invite tourist not that I am criticizing it but in today’s busy schedule even family members are not being invited at homes because of lack of time and if those vendors will start giving free things where will they go ??
Let’s be practical India has changed tourism is not new to India. Tourism is a business here so how can you expect such things Free food and all. We will welcome you whole heartedly we will be nice to you if you are facing inconvenience we will help you and if we will have time we will invite you also but that only depend upon our schedules.. The work life here is so hectic that parents don’t get time to enjoy with children. So with the time India is also changing and if you take this as a drawback well and fine then…

Amaan your have a true experience of Pakistan’s Hospitality. By the we Pakistani love Bangladesh from their heart❤️ no matter what is situation

All this talk about Indians not offering free food/service etc. is BS. Why would any tourist expect anything free in India??? I am living in USA and lived in Canada also and here nobody(not even neighbors) offer free food or free anything……in India they still do. And by the way, in India whether someone is rich or poor, they have total freedom unlike in Pakistan/Bangladesh which are ruled by BS dictators time to time. Also in India, religion is not forced fed down the throat as they are done in Bangladesh/Pakistan. Instead in most parts of India stress is given to education and it really shows. No foreigners want to live in countries like Pakistan/Bangladesh where their is no rule of law….in India they are safe(unless tourists are silly enough). By the way, in USA also if you are silly enough to roam into ghettos at night, you won’t return alive.

Hah You are saying this cause you have never been to Pakistan and you believe the story woven by the corrupt media in India. C’mon man first try going to Pakistan first before commenting anything. And here no one is talking about religion government and other shit. Karl here is talking about the cultural differences. There are other things also which can be used to compare 2 countries. And talking about a country being safe, roaming in ghettos is also being silly. Touring a country and living in a country are 2 different aspects. And being a US citizen of Indian origin I don’t thing any Foreigner would be comfortable living in India as it was very difficult for me when I returned to India from the US 😉

That’s the problem with so called NRIs. Don’t leave a chance to malign their own home country. You are no different. I myself being an NRI have never felt unsafe in India on any of my nine trips and I can still go back and live there forever.

Carl. Keep up the good work. I’m a US citizen of Greek origin. Can’t wait to go to India, and follow some of your footsteps. Looking forward to more videos and possibly meeting you and your wife, who just seems SO sweet. PV

The reason some pakistani people are wary of foreigners, especially Americans and Indians, is simple. In the last 20 years. Pakistan has suffered greatly from foreign funded terrorism. Over the last 20 years there have been many terrorist attacks on innocent people, even kids, such as the 2014 Army Public School massacre in Peshawar where 142 people were killed, 136 of them kids. Kulbashan Yadav is a captured Indian spy, who at the time of his capture, was an active officer of the Indian navy. He has admitted to be engaging in terrorist activities with the goal of creating unrest in Baluchistan. In the last couple years it seems the Pakistan army and intelligence agencies have taken control and are doing a better job of preventing such terrorism. Even so, just last week (June, 22, 2021) in Lahore, there was a bomb blast killing four, including a child and wounding 14 others. This recent incident like many others have proven links to India.

Having said all this, Pakistanis in general are very welcoming of foreigners.

I’m totally agree from your blog because I’ve heard this in many other YouTube videos also that Pakistan is more cleaner and has less poverty than India but Indian tourism industry is bigger than Pakistan but this is because of Pakistan had suffered very much from terrorism,and now Alhumdulillah Pakistan is safe and tourism industry is also growing very fast.

Your opinion on India appears pre dominately North India based. I don’t think most things you said about India fits with South India.

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