This submit is being usually up to date thanks the continual enter I get from some superior vacationers. All the knowledge you see right here is predicated on the newest updates. When you have any additional data, kindly let me know as a result of, in Pakistan, guidelines do change shortly!
In the event you ever determine to journey to Pakistan, I promise you that you should have the journey of your lifetime.
From hitchhiking on tractors and psychedelic vans to driving over extraordinarily slender mountain roads constructed on a cliff 1,500 meters excessive, troopers who voluntarily provide you with their AK-47 for taking a photograph, essentially the most hanging panorama and the truth that you possibly can camp in the midst of a paradise utterly by your self.
Touring to Pakistan is, undoubtedly, the last word expertise and journey.
Nonetheless, this isn’t significantly a straightforward place to journey in. Happening a visit to Pakistan requires somewhat little bit of preparation, in addition to various matters to know beforehand.
Usually, I would come with this type of data in a generic journey information, along with a journey itinerary. Nonetheless, there’s a lot to say about Pakistan that I made a decision to jot down a separate article about it.
By the way in which, if you wish to preserve observe of all my travels and photographs, keep in mind to comply with @againstthecompass on Instagram.
This information accommodates all the sensible data. For locations to go to, don’t overlook to examine my 1-month Pakistan itinerary
Right here you will see that:
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator in Pakistan
Cultural conduct and info
Books for touring in Pakistan
Safety & security
Paperwork and permits
Costs and cash
Web and calling
Trekking in Pakistan
Meals, alcohol & chai
Different common data you must know
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Visa for visiting Pakistan
NEW data Could 2019
1 – Earlier than April/Could 2019, you couldn’t get a visa on the highway – As a rule of thumb, a Pakistani visa might solely be utilized for from your property nation or nation of residence.
2 – However lastly, they’ve launched an e-visa system – As much as 176 nationalities can now apply for a Pakistani visa on-line. You possibly can apply by this portal. Many vacationers have already been profitable 🙂
3 – It may be used to enter by any port of entry – Each airport and land borders.
4 – Visa size – The applying lets you apply for a visa legitimate for as much as 11 months. You too can apply for a multi-entry visa legitimate for greater than 1 12 months.
5 – Value – I imagine it is dependent upon nationality and the size of your journey however I maintain a Spanish passport and the only entry 2-month visa prices 35USD. Then, I attempted to use for the multi-entry visa and it value 52USD.
6 – Apparently, a Letter of Invitation is just not required anymore – Alternatively, the system lets you add a resort reserving affirmation (as a substitute of the LOI). They only require a reserving for the primary few days after which you possibly can cancel it instantly.
7 – Nonetheless, it’s not as superior because it appears – The system presents fairly a number of bugs, like some features don’t work (solely generally) and, if you submit your utility, the knowledge will probably be despatched to the embassy/consulate of your nation of residence and the issue is that the embassies themselves will not be totally conscious of this course of they usually simply apply their very own guidelines.
Which means that, whereas some embassies don’t require the LOI, some embassies do (just like the USA), whereas others (just like the one in Beirut), will inform you to use the standard method.
I like to recommend you attempt to apply your self to see the way it works, contact your embassy and, for the newest reviews/questions, you’re welcome to remark beneath.
8 – Timing – Once more, this may depend upon the embassy. One traveler claimed that he received it in sooner or later whereas others say it takes a number of days. It is strongly recommended to use prematurely.
9 – Find out how to get your Letter of Invitation – I like to recommend you attempt to apply with a resort reserving but when it doesn’t work, you’ll have to get a Letter of Invitation.
An LOI can solely be offered by a legitimate tour operator however, sadly, most of them power you to guide a tour.
Fortunately, I discovered the blokes from Discover my Journey, a reasonably cool native tour firm who can challenge an LOI and all it’s important to do is reserving both a Lahore Metropolis tour or a resort, that’s it.
They cost you 100USD for the LOI and the Lahore Metropolis tour begins at 10USD. Sure, it is vitally low cost, that’s why I like to recommend them.
Furthermore, you may get an unique 10% low cost through the use of the promo code ATC-PAK. Simply e-mail them by their contact web page, mentioning my weblog and the promo code.
By the way in which, this 10% low cost can be utilized on any of their custom-made excursions.
10 – Making use of through embassy – Some embassies (just like the one Beirut) could inform you to use through the standard method, which sucks so much, particularly as a result of you possibly can solely apply on the embassy out of your nation of residence they usually all the time require an LOI.
Embassy guidelines range enormously, relying on the nation you apply from. For instance, I maintain a Spanish passport and am a Catalan resident, so I might apply on the Consulate in Barcelona, which solely value me 27€. In Madrid, they cost double at the least and, so far as I perceive, UK passport holders pay as much as 100USD. Furthermore, it took me 40 days to get my visa, whereas different embassies challenge it in lower than every week.
11 – Visa extensions – Properly, the e-visa portal has an extension part/possibility however to date, I don’t know from anybody who has tried it.
In any case, visa extensions will be simply performed in main cities. There are passport workplaces in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Chitral, Gilgit, and Skardu however apparently, the simplest place is in Lahore.
12 – Visa extension guidelines – Critically, each particular person touring to Pakistan can have a totally completely different expertise after they attempt to prolong their visa. The reason being that guidelines will not be written and it’ll all depend upon the one that is behind the counter on that particular day. Welcome to Pakistan. Nonetheless, most vacationers declare that Lahore is the simplest place to do it.
Nonetheless, some folks declare that they needed to wait for two weeks to get the extension whereas others just some days. Furthermore, some folks received an extension solely all through their present visa, whereas others received 5 months.
What appears to be a relentless is you could solely prolong it a number of days previous to your expiring date, however not earlier than. For extra data, learn this submit from my pal Alex: Extending your visa in Lahore
13 – Overstaying and leaving overland- Once more, all people can have completely different experiences right here. The official data says that, when you overstay for lower than 15 days, you’ll have to pay a small price. Nonetheless, I overstayed for five days and, on the customs, after I stated that I didn’t have any cash, they let me go together with a smile. Please notice that I left by the Pakistan-China border, at Khunjerab Go
Journey insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan
14 – Your common journey insurance coverage equivalent to World Nomads (lastly) covers Pakistan – And there are two the reason why I believe World Nomads is the perfect insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan:
- It covers trekking as much as 6,000 meters (notice that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is vitally straightforward to achieve 4,000-meter base camps.
- They supply with limitless medical bills (and Pakistan will be wild)
15 – If you wish to know extra choices, learn how one can discover the fitting journey insurance coverage for Pakistan.
Tour operator for visiting Pakistan
16 – While you go to Pakistan, some folks desire to go on a tour – Pakistan is a reasonably wild nation, so I completely perceive why some vacationers would favor to journey with an skilled tour information, particularly if you go trekking.
I undoubtedly advocate the blokes from Discover my Journey, a stable firm with a few years of expertise which may prepare completely something you need, from driving the Karakoram Freeway to trekking the K2 Base Camp and any custom-made tour or trek you might give you.
Furthermore, you may get an unique 10% low cost (on any tour) through the use of my promo code ATC-PAK.
Simply e-mail them through their contact web page, mentioning my weblog and the code and inform them which type of tour you need.
Cultural conduct and info when touring in Pakistan
17 – Urdu, which is like Hindi, is the official language – Nonetheless, every area has its personal (or a number of) native languages, so completely different from one another. English is extensively spoken amongst educated folks.
18 – Pakistan is likely one of the most ethnically and culturally various nations – From the South Asian trying folks of Punjab and Sindh; to the folks of the Pashtun areas, nearer to Iran or Afghanistan; the pagan tradition of Kalash; the Shias from Gilgit and Nagar; the Ismailis of decrease Hunza and the Wakhis (and likewise Ismailis) of higher Hunza. Touring in Pakistan is like touring in a number of, completely different tiny nations. It’s fascinating.
19 – Bear in mind, you’re the visitor – Folks are likely to say that, in Iran, Sudan and Iraqi Kurdistan, you discover essentially the most hospitable folks on this planet. Properly, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these nations are very hospitable, Pakistanis deliver it to the subsequent stage. On this nation, you’re the visitor, which implies that the locals attempt so that you can have the absolute best time of their nation or area.
19 – The hospitality may even be overwhelming – Throughout your journey in Pakistan, you’ll be invited for lunch, dinner and even to remain at folks’s homes so many instances that, on many events, you’ll have to refuse.
After your refusal, they are going to insist as soon as once more, time and again. They may even insist on carrying your bag and providing you meals 100 instances even when you say that you’re full. These are their cultural guidelines and you’re the visitor.
20 – So overwhelming however simply don’t get offended – Sooner or later, some random males who I had by no means seen earlier than got here to my resort at 7:30 am within the morning, knocking on the door of my room, waking me up from an excellent sleep.
Apparently, they heard that there was a foreigner within the village, so they only needed to hang around with me. I received somewhat bit offended, continued sleeping however then I type of felt dangerous, as all they needed was to point out me across the village.
21 – Paying for meals – For some cause, Pakistanis all the time wish to pay in your meals to the extent that it will get awkward. I personally didn’t prefer it, particularly after I might see that the native folks didn’t have a lot cash. If attainable, attempt to again them up.
22 – Carrying a Shalwar Kameez – The standard Pakistani gown, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis put on, is named shalwar kameez. Do you have to put on it? It’s not obligatory however, when you do, the locals will actually recognize it, particularly within the Pashtun areas.
23 – Islam – Pakistan is essentially the most conservative nation I’ve ever been to. You ought to be cautious and all the time respect their guidelines. In the event you do, they may even respect you and you should have the perfect time of their nation.
Helpful books for touring to Pakistan
24 – Finest journey information – Pakistan Traveller – That is essentially the most up-to-date and supreme guidebook about Pakistan. 256 pages filled with maps and countless journey ideas. The creator, Tim, is an Australian man who has visited Pakistan 10 instances since 2006. The information is on the market in several codecs, together with Full-color paperback, Funds Paperback, and book. A must have!
Funds model: CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES ON AMAZON
Full-color model: CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES ON AMAZON
25 – To know concerning the tradition – Pakistan – Tradition Good!: The Important Information to Customs & Tradition
26 – For extra political background – Pakistan, a tough nation – This award-winning guide offers you a deep understanding of the scenario in Pakistan these days.
27- Overcome language obstacles – Urdu-English phrasebook – Most educated folks communicate good English however, when you plan to go to distant villages or the mountains, you’ll need information of Urdu to speak with the locals.
28 – A basic – Pakistan Lonely Planet Information – It’s actually outdated however, when you like to gather Lonely Planet guides, maybe you want to purchase it. In any case, historical past, maps, and different touring data by no means will get outdated!
Safety and security if you journey in Pakistan
29 – Pakistan is just not harmful however you have to be cautious. You might need learn from different blogs that Pakistan is likely one of the most secure nations on this planet. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. Whereas I believe that Pakistan is just not a harmful nation, in some areas, it’s higher to be cautious, particularly within the area bordering Afghanistan.
30 – Police are there that will help you. All through your Pakistan travels, you’ll be constantly interrogated by dozens of various policemen and folks from the military. Who’re you? Why are you right here? The place are you going? Not like in different nations, in Pakistan, the police and army are fairly cool and, in your personal safety, they’re commanded to ask you these questions.
31 – You’ll have to register at greater than 100 safety examine posts. I’m not kidding. Throughout my 56-day journey in Pakistan, I needed to register greater than 100 instances at completely different military and police examine posts. Generally, to get from one vacation spot to a different, I needed to register greater than 10 instances! At every examine submit, it’s important to get off the automobile or bus and write down all of your private data in a pocket book. This may decelerate your journey significantly.
32 – Convey one thousand passport & visa photocopies. It’s good to deliver a great deal of photocopies as a result of, at some examine posts, in case you have a passport copy, you don’t must get out of the automobile. In any other case, you’ll waste your time.
33 – Sometimes, you get a private guard, free of charge – Once more, not kidding. For safety functions, in some areas, you’ll get a private armed guard. Generally, you might need to pay for his meals however, in keeping with the police, you aren’t pressured to. It’s as much as you. For extra data, learn my submit: Is Pakistan protected?
34 – Having a private armed guard appears type of cool however, to be trustworthy, it’s not that a lot – The primary time you get an armed guard you get type of excited. WOW! I’ve a guard who carries an AK-47 for simply myself! Nonetheless, after half an hour, you would possibly begin hating him as a result of he’ll put you underneath quite a lot of restrictions.
35 – Ladies touring solo is extra widespread and safer than you assume – Ladies inform great matters about their experiences throughout their journeys by Pakistan. I’m not essentially the most certified particular person to speak about this matter however my pal Alex has written this glorious submit: Is it protected for a girl to journey in Pakistan?As well as, the Broke Backpacker has additionally written this magnificent girls’s interview.
36 – Pakistani intelligence is the perfect secret service on this planet – One of many the reason why Pakistan is just not a harmful nation is due to the Pakistani intelligence, which is taken into account the perfect intelligence corps on this planet, even higher than the CIA.
Remember that they’re watching your steps and they’ll all the time know the place you’re. I do not forget that, whereas climbing round a distant space within the Astore Valley, a person carrying a salwar kameez (the standard Pakistani garments), got here to me and stated, ”You’re the Spanish, proper?” Sure, he was from the Pakistani intelligence.
For additional data on security, together with which areas are the most secure, learn my submit: Is Pakistan protected?
Paperwork and permits in your journey in Pakistan
37 – Don’t belief any supply of paperwork data, not even Towards the Compass – In Pakistan, guidelines will not be written and matters are continuously altering. Locations which not require a allow, would possibly require it in a single day, by the subsequent day it was altering it again once more.
A army man advised me as soon as that, when this occurs, it’s as a result of they’re suspicious of some Taliban or terrorism exercise. This data doesn’t stream all through the nation, so you will notice that everybody (together with nationwide police, native police, the Military, the locals, vacationers and blogs) will all the time have a distinct opinion. Don’t belief anybody. Examine it your self, when you’re on the bottom.
38 – In Pakistan every thing is feasible – If there’s something beneficial I learnt throughout my journey in Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, every thing is feasible and all of it is dependent upon your contacts. If you understand the fitting folks, you are able to do completely every thing you need, together with visiting forbidden areas and not using a allow.
39 – What’s an NOC? – A No Objection Certificates, which is principally, a allow required for sure restricted areas.
40 – Find out how to get an NOC – One of the simplest ways to get an NOC is thru a neighborhood with contacts. In the event you don’t know any native, contact your embassy, however it will possibly take as much as Four or 5 working days to proceed. Moreover, Ishan, from SWAT Valley Backpackers can get it for you.
41 – When do you want an NOC – As I stated earlier than, don’t belief any supply of paperwork data. Throughout my journey in Pakistan, a pal of me was required to get an NOC to make use of the highway between Timargara and Chitral. Sooner or later later, I attempted to make use of that highway however the NOC was not required anymore. Nonetheless, formally, you would want an NOC to go to Balochistan, the Khyber Go and Tribal Areas and Kashmir.
Costs and cash
42 – It’s fairly low cost – You possibly can simply journey in Pakistan for lower than $20 a day, sleeping in non-public rooms and consuming Three meals outdoors.
43 – All the things is negotiable – All the things will be bargained for, particularly the resort rooms. Anticipate to pay completely different quantities from different company.
44 – All the time include a reference – Throughout your journey in Pakistan, contacts are crucial and that’s why in both resorts or trekking tour corporations, when you come referenced by a neighborhood, you’ll get a greater worth.
45 – A money economic system – Pakistan barely believes in bank cards. Convey money.
46 – Pakistani Rupees are the official foreign money – On the time of writing, 1USD = 100PKR, which makes it fairly straightforward to transform.
Web and calling
47 – Web – Besides in Gilgit-Baltistan, the web works fairly properly all through the nation
48 – The Chinese language are about to introduce optical fiber – Apparently, by the top of 2017, the Chinese language can have launched optical fiber to Gilgit-Baltistan so, hopefully, the web will work correctly on this space as properly.
49 – Get ZONG – Don’t assume additional. ZONG is the perfect cell operator, particularly within the northern areas. Besides within the Kalash Valley and a few distant areas in Higher Hunza, ZONG has the quickest web.
50 – Inform a neighborhood to join you – The draw back of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, you should go the central workplace and pay fairly some huge cash to join it ($20 or $30). Inform a neighborhood to join you, so that you’ll simply pay $7 for a SIM Card plus 1 month’s price of knowledge and calls.
Transportation for touring round Pakistan
51 – You’ll get used to the mountain roads – Most mountain roads are very scary as they’re extraordinarily slender and constructed on insanely excessive cliffs. Don’t panic. You’ll simply get used to them!
52 – You’ll be taught to be affected person – In completely nearly each lengthy bus journey I took, we had a breakdown. Generally, we had been stopped for 2 hours! And sooner or later, we stopped as a result of the bus ran out of fuel! Are you able to imagine it?
53 – Public buses & minivans go in all places – Like in most creating nations the place most individuals can’t afford to purchase a automobile, buses and minivans journey to even the remotest areas within the nation. In Sindh and Punjab provinces, Daewoo is essentially the most luxurious bus. For touring to Gilgit from Islamabad, you must undoubtedly take NATCO VIP Bus ($17). Don’t fear, is just not that VIP.
54 – Practice – In Sindh and Punjab provinces to Peshawar, you possibly can transfer round by prepare. There are completely different prepare corporations however you must all the time take the non-public ones, as they’re extra punctual. Use AC normal, as it’s the one utilized by the Pakistani center class. It’s not costly, not smelly and comfy sufficient.
55 – Psychedelic vans are a lifestyle – Everyone falls in love with the vans in Pakistan, as they’re so significantly adorned that they’re a blessing to your lens.
56 – Hitchhiking is simply too straightforward – It’s really easy, that generally, it’s quicker and simpler than taking public transport, particularly on the Karakoram Freeway (from Gilgit to Khunjerab Go). Everyone will wish to choose you up! As a common rule, on the KKH, I didn’t hitchhike on motorbikes (there are such a lot of accidents) and vehicles with girls inside.
57 – Airplane is fairly handy – Touring by bus from Islamabad to the northern areas, together with Chitral, Gilgit and Skardu takes ages (from 15 to 20 hours). There are flights connecting Islamabad with all these cities. Tickets value as much as $100, roughly. Ebook your flights right here. Please notice that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you have to guide a number of days (even weeks) prematurely. Additionally keep in mind that many flights get canceled because of the climate situation.
Learn: 80 Ideas for touring to Iran
Trekking in Pakistan
58 – Probably the most accessible mountains – Nowhere else in all the world, will you be capable to trek to the bottom camp of an 8,000 meters excessive peak summit in solely two days. Even if you’re a newbie trekker, you are able to do quick treks and be capable to take pleasure in essentially the most superior mountains!
Meals, drinks, and alcohol
59 – Meals is extraordinarily oily – Pakistanis love oil an excessive amount of. They put tons of it in completely each meal, together with within the steamed rice, which they are going to all the time fry afterwards. If you find yourself in a restaurant, all the time ask for half fried.
60 – It’s nearly dry – Within the Sindh province and Islamabad, you’ll find liquor shops. In the remainder of the nation, alcohol is just accessible on the black market, however most locals (who drink) can get it for you simply.
61 – Anticipate to have ten cups of chai a day – Chai, which is tea with milk, is a lifestyle in Pakistan and an indication of hospitality.
62 – Faucet water, be careful! – Don’t dare drink faucet water. Within the northern a part of the nation, the locals will inform you that the faucet water is sweet, because it comes from the mountains and glaciers. This can be true, however I nonetheless received sick after I drank from a mountain fountain. All the time use a water air purifier.
63 – You’ll get sick – I don’t know anybody who didn’t get sick in his abdomen throughout his journey in Pakistan. Attempt to keep away from salad, meals stalls with flies (they’re onerous to search out) and don’t drink faucet water.
Lodging throughout your go to in Pakistan
64 – Costs will be negotiated to the intense – Each time they inform you the worth, ask if they’ve a less expensive room. Critically, on many events, I managed to get half of the preliminary worth.
65 – If you’re on a finances, all the time ask if they’ve a dorm – Surprisingly, many resorts have dorms they usually don’t inform you till the top of the negotiation. The great matter is that, since there will not be many backpackers, you’re most certainly to get the dorm only for your self!
66 – In most of Pakistan, you’re lined – In Pakistan, there’s quite a lot of home tourism, so most touristic areas are stuffed with resorts for completely each finances, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.
67 – However it might be tougher to search out first rate lodging in the remainder of the nation – In cities like Peshawar, Karachi, Multan, and principally wherever outdoors of Swat Valley, Chitral, Northern areas, Islamabad and Lahore, discovering first rate (finances) lodging could also be difficult.
68 – Couchsurfing is quiter widespread! – There are a great deal of profiles, particularly within the massive cities.
If you wish to know all my resort advice per metropolis, learn my Pakistan Itinerary
Extra data you should know for touring to Pakistan
69 – When to journey to Pakistan – Most vacationers come to Pakistan due to the mountains. Nonetheless, these are solely accessible from mid-April to mid-October. For the remainder of the 12 months, they turn into remoted, because of the heavy snow. However, if you wish to go to the Sindh and Punjab provinces, you have to are available winter, from November till February, when the climate is cooler.
70 – Border crossing in Pakistan – You possibly can enter or exit from China (right here’s my report), India (learn this submit from the Broke Backpacker) and Iran (learn this submit from Misplaced with Goal).
71 – Signal as much as the Backpacking Pakistan Fb Group– If you wish to get up-to-date touring data from vacationers who’ve been there just lately, this group is kind of helpful, plus can be a fantastic place to fulfill different vacationers who’re touring in Pakistan concurrently you.
72 – Signal as much as The Karakoram Membership Fb Group – With over 80,000 members (largely Pakistanis) that is an superior discussion board to fulfill locals, who will give you native ideas, in addition to an opportunity to fulfill up with them. Because of this group, I’ve made a few excellent native associates! One notice: ignore the folks from this group who needs to promote you garbage.
73 – Keep in mind that in Pakistan you want associates – Pakistan is just not a straightforward place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, associates are essential for a rustic the place guidelines will not be written. The Karakoram Membership is a superb place to make native associates. In massive cities, particularly in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, Couchsurfing can be a giant deal. Each websites helped me immensely.
Right here you possibly can learn all my guides and articles about Pakistan
Are you touring to Iran? Right here it’s also possible to see all my articles and guides to Iran
And if you’re touring to Central Asia, don’t overlook to examine all my guides to the Stans
That’s every thing you should know! In the event you assume I forgot one thing, please let me know! Ah, Ah, and do not forget that, in Pakistan, you shouldn’t plan an excessive amount of! Welcome to the nation of sudden occasions. From countless bus breakdowns to time-consuming examine posts, new native associates and paradises the place you wish to spend ages, throughout your Pakistan travels, you’ll notice that nothing will go in keeping with your plan.