This publish is being commonly up to date thanks the continual enter I get from some superior vacationers. All the knowledge you see right here relies on the newest updates. You probably have any additional info, kindly let me know as a result of, in Pakistan, guidelines do change shortly!
Should you ever determine to journey to Pakistan, I promise you that you’ll have the journey of your lifetime.
From hitchhiking on tractors and psychedelic vehicles to driving over extraordinarily slender mountain roads constructed on a cliff 1,500 meters excessive, troopers who voluntarily offer you their AK-47 for taking a photograph, essentially the most putting panorama and the truth that you possibly can camp in the course of a paradise utterly by your self.
Touring to Pakistan is, undoubtedly, the last word expertise and journey.
Nevertheless, this isn’t notably a simple place to journey in. Happening a visit to Pakistan requires a little bit little bit of preparation, in addition to numerous matters to know beforehand.
Usually, I would come with this sort of info in a generic journey information, along with a journey itinerary. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to say about Pakistan that I made a decision to write down a separate article about it.
By the way in which, if you wish to maintain observe of all my travels and photographs, keep in mind to comply with @againstthecompass on Instagram.
This information comprises all the sensible info. For locations to go to, don’t neglect to test my 1-month Pakistan itinerary
Right here you can find:
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 basic info it is best to know
Complete transparency! Should you like my web site and located this publish helpful, do not forget that, when you any services or products via any of my hyperlinks, I’ll get a small fee at no further value to you. These earnings assist me keep and maintain In opposition to the Compass going! Thanks
Visa for visiting Pakistan
NEW info Might 2019
1 – Earlier than April/Might 2019, you couldn’t get a visa on the street – As a rule of thumb, a Pakistani visa might solely be utilized for from your own home 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 may apply via this portal. Many vacationers have already been profitable 🙂
3 – It may be used to enter via 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. It’s also possible to apply for a multi-entry visa legitimate for greater than 1 12 months.
5 – Value – I imagine it is determined by nationality and the size of your journey however I maintain a Spanish passport and the one 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 shouldn’t be required anymore – Alternatively, the system lets you add a lodge reserving affirmation (as an alternative of the LOI). They simply require a reserving for the primary few days after which you possibly can cancel it instantly.
7 – Nevertheless, it isn’t as superior because it appears – The system presents fairly a couple of bugs, like some capabilities don’t work (solely generally) and, once you submit your software, the knowledge will probably be despatched to the embassy/consulate of your nation of residence and the issue is that the embassies themselves are usually not totally conscious of this course of and so they simply apply their very own guidelines.
Because of this, whereas some embassies don’t require the LOI, some embassies do (just like the USA), whereas others (just like the one in Beirut), will let you know to use the standard approach.
I like to recommend you attempt to apply your self to see the way it works, contact your embassy and, for the newest stories/questions, you might be welcome to remark beneath.
8 – Timing – Once more, this may rely on the embassy. One traveler claimed that he acquired it in in the future whereas others say it takes a number of days. It’s endorsed to use prematurely.
9 – How one can get your Letter of Invitation – I like to recommend you attempt to apply with a lodge reserving but when it doesn’t work, you’ll have to get a Letter of Invitation.
An LOI can solely be offered by a sound tour operator however, sadly, most of them power you to e book a tour.
Fortunately, I discovered the fellows from Discover my Journey, a fairly cool native tour firm who can concern an LOI and all it’s important to do is reserving both a Lahore Metropolis tour or a lodge, that’s it.
They cost you 100USD for the LOI and the Lahore Metropolis tour begins at 10USD. Sure, it is rather low cost, that’s why I like to recommend them.
Furthermore, you will get an unique 10% low cost by utilizing the promo code ATC-PAK. Simply e mail them via 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 by way of embassy – Some embassies (just like the one Beirut) could let you know to use by way of the standard approach, which sucks quite a bit, particularly as a result of you possibly can solely apply on the embassy out of your nation of residence and so they at all times require an LOI.
Embassy guidelines fluctuate 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 concern it in lower than every week.
11 – Visa extensions – Properly, the e-visa portal has an extension part/possibility however up to now, I don’t know from anybody who has tried it.
In any case, visa extensions will be simply executed in main cities. There are passport places of work in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Chitral, Gilgit, and Skardu however apparently, the simplest place is in Lahore.
12 – Visa extension guidelines – Critically, each individual touring to Pakistan may have a totally totally different expertise once they attempt to prolong their visa. The reason being that guidelines are usually not written and it’ll all rely on the one who is behind the counter on that particular day. Welcome to Pakistan. Nevertheless, 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 acquired an extension solely throughout their present visa, whereas others acquired 5 months.
What appears to be a continuing is that you could solely prolong it a couple of days previous to your expiring date, however not earlier than. For extra info, learn this publish from my buddy Alex: Extending your visa in Lahore
13 – Overstaying and leaving overland- Once more, everyone may have totally different experiences right here. The official info says that, when you overstay for lower than 15 days, you’ll have to pay a small price. Nevertheless, I overstayed for five days and, on the customs, after I mentioned that I didn’t have any cash, they let me go along with a smile. Please be aware that I left via the Pakistan-China border, at Khunjerab Cross
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 explanation why I believe World Nomads is the best insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan:
- The fundamental plan already covers trekking as much as 6,000 meters (be aware that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is rather simple to succeed in 4,000-meter base camps.
- They supply with limitless medical bills (and Pakistan will be wild)
15 – Nevertheless, it doesn’t cowl unlucky occasions associated to battle, terrorism, kidnapping and stuff like that – In my humble opinion, Pakistan is generally protected however security is a subjective subject and, if that could be a concern for you, maybe, it is best to think about shopping for a journey insurance coverage specialised in high-risk locations, like First Allied.
Their coverage covers any terrorism-related accident and, severely, their primary coverage may be very low cost. Nevertheless, aside from these unlucky occasions, First Allied may be very restricted in the case of trekking, medical bills for getting sick, and so on., so if you wish to be 100% lined, it ought to complement your World Nomads insurance coverage.
For extra info and choices, learn: How one can discover the fitting journey insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator for visiting Pakistan
16 – Whenever you go to Pakistan, some folks favor to go on a tour – Pakistan is a fairly wild nation, so I completely perceive why some vacationers would like to journey with an skilled tour information, particularly once you go trekking.
I undoubtedly advocate the fellows from Discover my Journey, a strong firm with a few years of expertise which might organize completely something you need, from driving the Karakoram Freeway to trekking the K2 Base Camp and any custom-made tour or trek it’s possible you’ll give you.
Furthermore, you will get an unique 10% low cost (on any tour) by utilizing my promo code ATC-PAK.
Simply e mail them by way of their contact web page, mentioning my weblog and the code and inform them which sort of tour you need.
Cultural conduct and info when touring in Pakistan
17 – Urdu, which is like Hindi, is the official language – Nevertheless, every area has its personal (or a number of) native languages, so totally 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, totally different tiny nations. It’s fascinating.
19 – Keep in mind, you’re the visitor – Individuals are likely to say that, in Iran, Sudan and Iraqi Kurdistan, you discover essentially the most hospitable folks on the earth. Properly, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these nations are very hospitable, Pakistanis carry it to the following degree. On this nation, you’re the visitor, which signifies that the locals try 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 occasions that, on many events, you’ll have to refuse.
After your refusal, they are going to insist as soon as once more, again and again. They will even insist on carrying your bag and providing you meals 100 occasions 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 – Someday, some random males who I had by no means seen earlier than got here to my lodge 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 acquired a little bit bit offended, continued sleeping however then I sort of felt unhealthy, as all they needed was to indicate me across the village.
21 – Paying for meals – For some cause, Pakistanis at all times need 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 doable, attempt to again them up.
22 – Sporting a Shalwar Kameez – The normal 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 need to be cautious and at all times respect their guidelines. Should you do, they will even respect you and you’ll have one of the best time of their nation.
Helpful books for touring to Pakistan
24 – Greatest journey information – Pakistan Traveller – That is essentially the most up-to-date and supreme guidebook about Pakistan. 256 pages stuffed with maps and limitless journey ideas. The creator, Tim, is an Australian man who has visited Pakistan 10 occasions since 2006. The information is on the market in several codecs, together with Full-color paperback, Funds Paperback, and e book. A must have!
25 – To know concerning the tradition – Pakistan – Tradition Sensible!: The Important Information to Customs & Tradition
26 – For extra political background – Pakistan, a tough nation – This award-winning e book provides you with a deep understanding of the state of affairs in Pakistan these days.
247- Overcome language boundaries – Urdu-English phrasebook – Most educated folks converse 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 wish to purchase it. In any case, historical past, maps, and different touring info by no means will get outdated!
Safety and security once you journey in Pakistan
29 – Pakistan shouldn’t be harmful however you have to be cautious. You may need learn from different blogs that Pakistan is likely one of the most secure nations on the earth. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. Whereas I believe that Pakistan shouldn’t be a harmful nation, in some areas, it’s higher to be cautious, particularly within the area bordering Afghanistan.
30 – Police are there that can assist you. All through your Pakistan travels, you’ll be repeatedly interrogated by dozens of various policemen and other people 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 navy 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 test posts. I’m not kidding. Throughout my 56-day journey in Pakistan, I needed to register greater than 100 occasions at totally different military and police test posts. Typically, to get from one vacation spot to a different, I needed to register greater than 10 occasions! At every test publish, it’s important to get off the automobile or bus and write down all of your private info in a pocket book. This may decelerate your journey significantly.
32 – Convey one thousand passport & visa photocopies. It’s good to carry a great deal of photocopies as a result of, at some test posts, you probably have a passport copy, you don’t should get out of the automobile. In any other case, you’ll waste your time.
33 – Sometimes, you get a private guard, totally free – Once more, not kidding. For safety functions, in some areas, you’ll get a private armed guard. Typically, you may need to pay for his meals however, in keeping with the police, you aren’t compelled to. It’s as much as you. For extra info, learn my publish: Is Pakistan protected?
34 – Having a private armed guard appears sort of cool however, to be trustworthy, it’s not that a lot – The primary time you get an armed guard you get sort of excited. WOW! I’ve a guard who carries an AK-47 for simply myself! Nevertheless, after half an hour, you may begin hating him as a result of he’ll put you underneath numerous restrictions.
35 – Girls touring solo is extra frequent and safer than you suppose – Girls inform great matters about their experiences throughout their journeys via Pakistan. I’m not essentially the most certified individual to speak about this subject however my buddy Alex has written this excellent publish: 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 one of the best secret service on the earth – One of many the explanation why Pakistan shouldn’t be a harmful nation is due to the Pakistani intelligence, which is taken into account one of the best intelligence corps on the earth, even higher than the CIA.
Remember that they’re watching your steps and they’ll at all times know the place you might be. I do not forget that, whereas climbing round a distant space within the Astore Valley, a person sporting a salwar kameez (the standard Pakistani garments), got here to me and mentioned, ”You’re the Spanish, proper?” Sure, he was from the Pakistani intelligence.
For additional info on security, together with which areas are the most secure, learn my publish: Is Pakistan protected?
Paperwork and permits in your journey in Pakistan
37 – Don’t belief any supply of forms info, not even In opposition to the Compass – In Pakistan, guidelines are usually not written and matters are continuously altering. Locations which not require a allow, may require it in a single day, by the following day it was altering it again once more.
A navy 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 info doesn’t move all through the nation, so you will notice that everybody (together with nationwide police, native police, the Military, the locals, vacationers and blogs) will at all times 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 useful I learnt throughout my journey in Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, every thing is feasible and all of it is determined by your contacts. If you recognize 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 mainly, a allow required for sure restricted areas.
40 – How one can get an NOC – The easiest way to get an NOC is thru an area with contacts. Should you don’t know any native, contact your embassy, however it may well 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 mentioned earlier than, don’t belief any supply of forms info. Throughout my journey in Pakistan, a buddy of me was required to get an NOC to make use of the street between Timargara and Chitral. Someday later, I attempted to make use of that street however the NOC was not required anymore. Nevertheless, formally, you would wish an NOC to go to Balochistan, the Khyber Cross and Tribal Areas and Kashmir.
Costs and cash
42 – It’s fairly low cost – You may simply journey in Pakistan for lower than $20 a day, sleeping in personal rooms and consuming Three meals exterior.
43 – All the things is negotiable – All the things will be bargained for, particularly the lodge rooms. Anticipate to pay totally different quantities from different company.
44 – At all times include a reference – Throughout your journey in Pakistan, contacts are crucial and that’s why in both inns or trekking tour firms, when you come referenced by an area, you’ll get a greater worth.
45 – A money financial 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 simple to transform.
Web and calling
47 – Web – Besides in Gilgit-Baltistan, the web works fairly nicely all through the nation
48 – The Chinese language are about to introduce optical fiber – Apparently, by the tip of 2017, the Chinese language may have launched optical fiber to Gilgit-Baltistan so, hopefully, the web will work correctly on this space as nicely.
49 – Get ZONG – Don’t suppose additional. ZONG is one of the best 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 an area to join you – The draw back of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, you might want to go the central workplace and pay fairly some huge cash to join it ($20 or $30). Inform an area 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 study to be affected person – In completely virtually each lengthy bus journey I took, we had a breakdown. Typically, we have been stopped for 2 hours! And in the future, we stopped as a result of the bus ran out of fuel! Are you able to imagine it?
53 – Public buses & minivans go in every single place – 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, it is best to undoubtedly take NATCO VIP Bus ($17). Don’t fear, shouldn’t be that VIP.
54 – Practice – In Sindh and Punjab provinces to Peshawar, you possibly can transfer round by practice. There are totally different practice firms however it is best to at all times take the personal ones, as they’re extra punctual. Use AC customary, as it’s the one utilized by the Pakistani center class. It’s not costly, not smelly and comfy sufficient.
55 – Psychedelic vehicles are a lifestyle – All people falls in love with the vehicles in Pakistan, as they’re so notably embellished that they’re a blessing to your lens.
56 – Hitchhiking is just too simple – It’s really easy, that generally, it’s sooner and simpler than taking public transport, particularly on the Karakoram Freeway (from Gilgit to Khunjerab Cross). All people will need to decide you up! As a basic rule, on the KKH, I didn’t hitchhike on motorbikes (there are such a lot of accidents) and automobiles with girls inside.
57 – Aircraft 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 be aware that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you need to e book a number of days (even weeks) prematurely. Additionally keep in mind that many flights get canceled as a result of climate situation.
Trekking in Pakistan
58 – Probably the most accessible mountains – Nowhere else in the whole world, will you be capable of trek to the bottom camp of an 8,000 meters excessive peak summit in solely two days. Even in case you are a newbie trekker, you are able to do quick treks and be capable of 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 at all times fry afterwards. If you find yourself in a restaurant, at all times ask for half fried.
60 – It’s virtually dry – Within the Sindh province and Islamabad, you will discover liquor shops. In the remainder of the nation, alcohol is barely out there 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 let you know that the faucet water is sweet, because it comes from the mountains and glaciers. This can be true, however I nonetheless acquired sick after I drank from a mountain fountain. At all times 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 arduous to seek 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 let you know the value, 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 funds, at all times ask if they’ve a dorm – Surprisingly, many inns have dorms and so they don’t let you know till the tip of the negotiation. The nice matter is that, since there are usually not many backpackers, you might be almost definitely to get the dorm only for your self!
66 – In most of Pakistan, you might be lined – In Pakistan, there’s numerous home tourism, so most touristic areas are full of inns for completely each funds, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.
67 – However it could be more durable to seek out respectable lodging in the remainder of the nation – In cities like Peshawar, Karachi, Multan, and mainly anyplace exterior of Swat Valley, Chitral, Northern areas, Islamabad and Lahore, discovering respectable (funds) lodging could also be difficult.
68 – Couchsurfing is quiter common! – There are a great deal of profiles, particularly within the massive cities.
If you wish to know all my lodge suggestion per metropolis, learn my Pakistan Itinerary
Extra info you might want to know for touring to Pakistan
69 – When to journey to Pakistan – Most vacationers come to Pakistan due to the mountains. Nevertheless, these are solely accessible from mid-April to mid-October. For the remainder of the 12 months, they develop into remoted, as a result of heavy snow. Then again, if you wish to go to the Sindh and Punjab provinces, you need to are available in winter, from November till February, when the climate is cooler.
70 – Border crossing in Pakistan – You may enter or exit from China (right here’s my report), India (learn this publish from the Broke Backpacker) and Iran (learn this publish from Misplaced with Objective).
71 – Signal as much as the Backpacking Pakistan Fb Group– If you wish to get up-to-date touring info from vacationers who’ve been there just lately, this group is sort of helpful, plus can also be an incredible place to fulfill different vacationers who’re touring in Pakistan similtaneously 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. Due to this group, I’ve made a few superb native mates! One be aware: ignore the folks from this group who needs to promote you garbage.
73 – Keep in mind that in Pakistan you want mates – Pakistan shouldn’t be a simple place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, mates are essential for a rustic the place guidelines are usually not written. The Karakoram Membership is a good place to make native mates. In massive cities, particularly in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, Couchsurfing can also be an enormous 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 you can too see all my articles and guides to Iran
And in case you are touring to Central Asia, don’t neglect to test all my guides to the Stans
That’s every thing you might want to know! Should you suppose 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 limitless bus breakdowns to time-consuming test posts, new native mates and paradises the place you need to spend ages, throughout your Pakistan travels, you’ll understand that nothing will go in keeping with your plan.