This put up 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. If in case you have any additional data, kindly let me know as a result of, in Pakistan, guidelines do change shortly!
Should you ever resolve to journey to Pakistan, I promise you that you’ll 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 placing panorama and the truth that you may camp in the midst of a paradise utterly by your self.
Touring to Pakistan is, positively, the final word expertise and journey.
Nonetheless, this isn’t significantly a simple place to journey in. Occurring a visit to Pakistan requires a bit of 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 observe @againstthecompass on Instagram.
This information comprises all the sensible data. For locations to go to, don’t overlook to verify my 1-month Pakistan itinerary
Right here you can see:
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator in Pakistan
Cultural habits and details
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 it’s best to know
Whole transparency! Should you like my web site and located this put up helpful, do not forget that, in case you any services or products via any of my hyperlinks, I’ll get a small fee at no additional value to you. These earnings assist me preserve and preserve Towards the Compass going! Thanks
Visa for visiting Pakistan
NEW data 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 house 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 means that you can apply for a visa legitimate for as much as 11 months. You can even apply for a multi-entry visa legitimate for greater than 1 12 months.
5 – Worth – I consider it depends 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 will not be required anymore – Alternatively, the system means that you can add a lodge reserving affirmation (as a substitute of the LOI). They simply require a reserving for the primary few days after which you may cancel it instantly.
7 – Nonetheless, it isn’t as superior because it appears – The system presents fairly a number of bugs, like some capabilities don’t work (solely generally) and, whenever you submit your utility, the knowledge shall 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.
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 means.
I like to recommend you attempt to apply your self to see the way it works, contact your embassy and, for the newest experiences/questions, you might be welcome to remark beneath.
8 – Timing – Once more, this can rely upon the embassy. One traveler claimed that he bought it in sooner or later whereas others say it takes a number of days. It is strongly recommended to use prematurely.
9 – 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 legitimate tour operator however, sadly, most of them power you to guide a tour.
Fortunately, I discovered the blokes from Discover my Journey, a fairly cool native tour firm who can problem an LOI and all you need 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 vitally 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 electronic 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 through embassy – Some embassies (just like the one Beirut) might let you know to use through the standard means, which sucks lots, particularly as a result of you may solely apply on the embassy out of your nation of residence they usually at all times require an LOI.
Embassy guidelines differ 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 not less than 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 problem it in lower than per week.
11 – Visa extensions – Effectively, 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 best place is in Lahore.
12 – Visa extension guidelines – Severely, each individual 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 rely upon the one who is behind the counter on that particular day. Welcome to Pakistan. Nonetheless, most vacationers declare that Lahore is the best place to do it.
However, some folks declare that they needed to wait for two weeks to get the extension whereas others just some days. Furthermore, some folks bought an extension solely in the course of their present visa, whereas others bought 5 months.
What appears to be a continuing is you can solely prolong it a number of days previous to your expiring date, however not earlier than. For extra data, learn this put up from my good friend 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, in case you overstay for lower than 15 days, you’ll have to pay a small payment. 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 via the Pakistan-China border, at Khunjerab Move
Journey insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan
14 – Your common journey insurance coverage similar to World Nomads (lastly) covers Pakistan – And there are two 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 (notice that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is vitally straightforward to succeed in 4,000-meter base camps.
- They supply with limitless medical bills (and Pakistan will be wild)
15 – Nonetheless, it doesn’t cowl unlucky occasions associated to struggle, terrorism, kidnapping and stuff like that – In my humble opinion, Pakistan is generally protected however security is a subjective subject and, if that may be a concern for you, maybe, it’s best to contemplate 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 could be very low cost. Nonetheless, other than these unlucky occasions, First Allied could be very restricted with regards to 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 data and choices, learn: discover the best journey insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator for visiting Pakistan
16 – Once you go to Pakistan, some folks choose to go on a tour – Pakistan is a fairly wild nation, so I completely perceive why some vacationers would favor to journey with an skilled tour information, particularly whenever you go trekking.
I positively advocate the blokes from Discover my Journey, a stable 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 you might give you.
Furthermore, you will get an unique 10% low cost (on any tour) by utilizing my promo code ATC-PAK.
Simply electronic mail them through their contact web page, mentioning my weblog and the code and inform them which sort of tour you need.
Cultural habits and details 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 broadly spoken amongst educated folks.
18 – Pakistan is without doubt one of the most ethnically and culturally various international locations – 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 international locations. 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 planet. Effectively, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these international locations are very hospitable, Pakistanis convey it to the subsequent degree. On this nation, you’re the visitor, which implies that the locals attempt so that you can have the very 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 in case 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 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 bought a bit of 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 – Carrying a Shalwar Kameez – The standard Pakistani costume, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis put on, known as shalwar kameez. Do you have to put on it? It’s not obligatory however, in case 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 have to be cautious and at all times respect their guidelines. Should you do, they will even respect you and you’ll have the very 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 filled with maps and countless journey ideas. The writer, Tim, is an Australian man who has visited Pakistan 10 occasions since 2006. The information is accessible in numerous codecs, together with Full-color paperback, Price range Paperback, and e book. Vital!
25 – To know in regards to the tradition – Pakistan – Tradition Sensible!: The Important Information to Customs & Tradition
26 – For extra political background – Pakistan, a tough nation – This award-winning guide will provide you with a deep understanding of the scenario in Pakistan these days.
247- Overcome language boundaries – Urdu-English phrasebook – Most educated folks converse good English however, in case you plan to go to distant villages or the mountains, you’ll need information of Urdu to speak with the locals.
28 – A traditional – Pakistan Lonely Planet Information – It’s actually outdated however, in case you like to gather Lonely Planet guides, maybe you wish to purchase it. In any case, historical past, maps, and different touring data by no means will get outdated!
Safety and security whenever you journey in Pakistan
29 – Pakistan will not be harmful however try to be cautious. You might need learn from different blogs that Pakistan is without doubt one of the most secure international locations on the planet. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. Whereas I believe that Pakistan will not 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 folks from the military. Who’re you? Why are you right here? The place are you going? Not like in different international locations, 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 verify posts. I’m not kidding. Throughout my 56-day journey in Pakistan, I needed to register greater than 100 occasions at completely different military and police verify posts. Generally, to get from one vacation spot to a different, I needed to register greater than 10 occasions! At every verify put up, you need to get off the automobile or bus and write down all of your private data in a pocket book. This can decelerate your journey significantly.
32 – Carry one thousand passport & visa photocopies. It’s good to convey a great deal of photocopies as a result of, at some verify posts, you probably have a passport copy, you don’t must get out of the automobile. In any other case, you’re going to waste your time.
33 – Often, you get a private guard, totally free – Once more, not kidding. For safety functions, in some areas, you’re going to get a private armed guard. Generally, you might need to pay for his meals however, in accordance with the police, you aren’t compelled to. It’s as much as you. For extra data, learn my put up: 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! Nonetheless, after half an hour, you would possibly begin hating him as a result of he’ll put you beneath a variety of restrictions.
35 – Ladies touring solo is extra frequent and safer than you assume – Ladies inform fantastic matters about their experiences throughout their journeys via Pakistan. I’m not essentially the most certified individual to speak about this subject however my good friend Alex has written this glorious put up: Is it protected for a lady to journey in Pakistan?As well as, the Broke Backpacker has additionally written this magnificent girls’s interview.
36 – Pakistani intelligence is the very best secret service on the planet – One of many explanation why Pakistan will not be a harmful nation is because of the Pakistani intelligence, which is taken into account the very best intelligence corps on the planet, 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 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 put up: 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 always altering. Locations which now 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 instructed 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 circulation all through the nation, so you will note that everybody (together with nationwide police, native police, the Military, the locals, vacationers and blogs) will at all times have a unique opinion. Don’t belief anybody. Examine it your self, when you’re on the bottom.
38 – In Pakistan the whole lot is feasible – If there’s something worthwhile I learnt throughout my journey in Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, the whole lot is feasible and all of it depends upon your contacts. If you already know the best folks, you are able to do completely the whole lot you need, together with visiting forbidden areas with no allow.
39 – What’s an NOC? – A No Objection Certificates, which is mainly, a allow required for sure restricted areas.
40 – get an NOC – The easiest way to get an NOC is thru a neighborhood with contacts. Should you don’t know any native, contact your embassy, however it will probably 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 good friend of me was required to get an NOC to make use of the street between Timargara and Chitral. Sooner or later later, I attempted to make use of that street however the NOC was not required anymore. Nonetheless, formally, you would want an NOC to go to Balochistan, the Khyber Move 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 non-public rooms and consuming Three meals exterior.
43 – The whole lot is negotiable – The whole lot will be bargained for, particularly the lodge rooms. Anticipate to pay completely different quantities from different friends.
44 – At all times include a reference – Throughout your journey in Pakistan, contacts are essential and that’s why in both resorts or trekking tour firms, in case you come referenced by a neighborhood, you’re going to get a greater value.
45 – A money economic system – Pakistan barely believes in bank cards. Carry 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 moderately properly all through the nation
48 – The Chinese language are about to introduce optical fiber – Apparently, by the tip 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 very 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 a neighborhood to join you – The draw back of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, you’ll want to 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 study to be affected person – In completely virtually each lengthy bus journey I took, we had a breakdown. Generally, we have 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 consider it?
53 – Public buses & minivans go in all places – Like in most growing international locations 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’s best to positively take NATCO VIP Bus ($17). Don’t fear, will not be that VIP.
54 – Prepare – In Sindh and Punjab provinces to Peshawar, you may transfer round by prepare. There are completely different prepare firms however it’s best to at all times 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 cozy sufficient.
55 – Psychedelic vans are a lifestyle – All people 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 Move). All people will need to decide 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. Guide your flights right here. Please notice that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you should guide 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 all the world, will you have the ability to 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 brief treks and have the ability 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 at all times fry afterwards. If you end up in a restaurant, at all times ask for half fried.
60 – It’s virtually dry – Within the Sindh province and Islamabad, you could find liquor shops. In the remainder of the nation, alcohol is barely obtainable 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 nice, because it comes from the mountains and glaciers. This can be true, however I nonetheless bought 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 – At any time when they let you know the value, ask if they’ve a less expensive room. Severely, on many events, I managed to get half of the preliminary value.
65 – In case you are on a price range, at all times ask if they’ve a dorm – Surprisingly, many resorts have dorms they usually don’t let you know till the tip of the negotiation. The nice matter is that, since there will not be many backpackers, you might be most certainly to get the dorm only for your self!
66 – In most of Pakistan, you might be lined – In Pakistan, there’s a variety of home tourism, so most touristic areas are full of resorts for completely each price range, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.
67 – However it could be more durable to seek out first rate 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 first rate (price range) lodging could also be difficult.
68 – Couchsurfing is quiter widespread! – There are a great deal of profiles, particularly within the large cities.
If you wish to know all my lodge suggestion per metropolis, learn my Pakistan Itinerary
Extra data you’ll want to 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, as a result of heavy snow. Alternatively, if you wish to go to the Sindh and Punjab provinces, you should 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 put up from the Broke Backpacker) and Iran (learn this put up 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 lately, this group is kind of helpful, plus can be an awesome 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 pals! One notice: ignore the folks from this group who desires to promote you garbage.
73 – Keep in mind that in Pakistan you want pals – Pakistan will not be a simple place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, pals are essential for a rustic the place guidelines will not be written. The Karakoram Membership is a good place to make native pals. In large cities, particularly in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, Couchsurfing can be a giant deal. Each websites helped me immensely.
Right here you may learn all my guides and articles about Pakistan
Are you touring to Iran? Right here you may as well see all my articles and guides to Iran
And in case you are touring to Central Asia, don’t overlook to verify all my guides to the Stans
That’s the whole lot you’ll want to know! Should 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 surprising occasions. From countless bus breakdowns to time-consuming verify posts, new native pals and paradises the place you need to spend ages, throughout your Pakistan travels, you’ll notice that nothing will go in accordance with your plan.