This put up is being frequently up to date thanks the continual enter I get from some superior vacationers. All the data you see right here relies on the newest updates. You probably have any additional data, kindly let me know as a result of, in Pakistan, guidelines do change rapidly!
If you happen to 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 slim mountain roads constructed on a cliff 1,500 meters excessive, troopers who voluntarily offer you their AK-47 for taking a photograph, probably the most hanging panorama and the truth that you’ll be able to camp in the midst of a paradise fully by your self.
Touring to Pakistan is, positively, the last word expertise and journey.
Nevertheless, this isn’t significantly a straightforward place to journey in. Occurring a visit to Pakistan requires a bit little bit of preparation, in addition to numerous matters to know beforehand.
Usually, I would come with this type of data 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 best way, if you wish to preserve observe of all my travels and photographs, bear in mind to comply with @againstthecompass on Instagram.
This information accommodates all the sensible data. For locations to go to, don’t neglect to verify my 1-month Pakistan itinerary
Right here one can find:
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator in Pakistan
Cultural habits and information
Books for touring in Pakistan
Safety & security
Forms and permits
Costs and cash
Web and calling
Trekking in Pakistan
Meals, alcohol & chai
Different normal data you must know
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Visa for visiting Pakistan
NEW data Might 2019
1 – Earlier than April/Might 2019, you couldn’t get a visa on the highway – As a rule of thumb, a Pakistani visa may 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 possibly can apply by means of this portal. Many vacationers have already been profitable 🙂
3 – It may be used to enter by means of 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 can even apply for a multi-entry visa legitimate for greater than 1 12 months.
5 – Worth – I imagine it will depend on 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 shouldn’t be 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’ll be able to cancel it instantly.
7 – Nevertheless, it isn’t as superior because it appears – The system presents fairly a number of bugs, like some capabilities don’t work (solely typically) and, once you submit your utility, the data might 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 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 inform you to use the normal method.
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 under.
8 – Timing – Once more, it will rely upon the embassy. One traveler claimed that he obtained it in in the future whereas others say it takes a number of days. It is suggested to use upfront.
9 – The way 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 supplied by a legitimate tour operator however, sadly, most of them power you to e-book a tour.
Fortunately, I discovered the blokes from Discover my Journey, a reasonably cool native tour firm who can situation an LOI and all you need 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 extremely low-cost, that’s why I like to recommend them.
Furthermore, you may get an unique 10% low cost by utilizing the promo code ATC-PAK. Simply e mail them by means of their contact web page, mentioning my weblog and the promo code.
By the best way, this 10% low cost can be utilized on any of their personalized excursions.
10 – Making use of through embassy – Some embassies (just like the one Beirut) could inform you to use through the normal method, which sucks quite a bit, particularly as a result of you’ll be able to 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 may 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 situation it in lower than per week.
11 – Visa extensions – Properly, the e-visa portal has an extension part/choice however up to now, I don’t know from anybody who has tried it.
In any case, visa extensions will be simply carried out 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 – Significantly, each individual touring to Pakistan could have a totally completely different expertise once they attempt to prolong their visa. The reason being that guidelines will not be written and it’ll all rely upon the one that 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 individuals declare that they needed to wait for two weeks to get the extension whereas others only a few days. Furthermore, some individuals obtained an extension solely at some point of their present visa, whereas others obtained 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 pal Alex: Extending your visa in Lahore
13 – Overstaying and leaving overland- Once more, all people could have completely different experiences right here. The official data says that, for those who overstay for lower than 15 days, you’ll have to pay a small charge. Nevertheless, I overstayed for five days and, on the customs, once I stated that I didn’t have any cash, they let me go together with a smile. Please notice that I left by means of 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 the reason why I feel 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 extremely 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 warfare, 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, you must take into account 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. Nevertheless, other than these unlucky occasions, First Allied could be very restricted in the case of trekking, medical bills for getting sick, and so on., so if you wish to be 100% coated, it ought to complement your World Nomads insurance coverage.
For extra data and choices, learn: The way to discover the suitable journey insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator for visiting Pakistan
16 – If you go to Pakistan, some individuals favor to go on a tour – Pakistan is a reasonably wild nation, so I completely perceive why some vacationers would like to journey with an skilled tour information, particularly once you go trekking.
I positively suggest the blokes from Discover my Journey, a stable firm with a few years of expertise which might prepare completely something you need, from driving the Karakoram Freeway to trekking the K2 Base Camp and any personalized tour or trek chances are you’ll provide you with.
Furthermore, you may get an unique 10% low cost (on any tour) by utilizing my promo code ATC-PAK.
Simply e mail them through their contact web page, mentioning my weblog and the code and inform them which form of tour you need.
Cultural habits and information 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 completely different from one another. English is broadly spoken amongst educated individuals.
18 – Pakistan is likely one of the most ethnically and culturally various nations – From the South Asian wanting individuals of Punjab and Sindh; to the individuals 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 – Individuals are inclined to say that, in Iran, Sudan and Iraqi Kurdistan, you discover probably the most hospitable individuals 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 subsequent stage. On this nation, you’re the visitor, which implies that the locals try 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 individuals’s homes so many occasions that, on many events, you’ll have to refuse.
After your refusal, they may insist as soon as once more, again and again. They will even insist on carrying your bag and providing you meals 100 occasions even for those who say that you’re full. These are their cultural guidelines and you’re the visitor.
20 – So overwhelming however simply don’t get offended – In the future, 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 simply needed to hang around with me. I obtained a bit bit offended, continued sleeping however then I form of felt unhealthy, as all they needed was to indicate me across the village.
21 – Paying for meals – For some purpose, 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 once I may see that the native individuals didn’t have a lot cash. If potential, attempt to again them up.
22 – Sporting a Shalwar Kameez – The normal Pakistani gown, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis put on, is known as shalwar kameez. Do you have to put on it? It’s not obligatory however, for those who do, the locals will actually respect it, particularly within the Pashtun areas.
23 – Islam – Pakistan is probably the most conservative nation I’ve ever been to. You have to be cautious and at all times respect their guidelines. If you happen to do, they will even respect you and you’ll have the most effective time of their nation.
Helpful books for touring to Pakistan
24 – Finest journey information – Pakistan Traveller – That is probably the most up-to-date and supreme guidebook about Pakistan. 256 pages stuffed with maps and limitless journey ideas. The writer, Tim, is an Australian man who has visited Pakistan 10 occasions since 2006. The information is out there in numerous codecs, together with Full-color paperback, Funds Paperback, and book. Vital!
25 – To know in regards to the tradition – Pakistan – Tradition Good!: The Important Information to Customs & Tradition
26 – For extra political background – Pakistan, a tough nation – This award-winning e-book offers you a deep understanding of the state of affairs in Pakistan these days.
247- Overcome language limitations – Urdu-English phrasebook – Most educated individuals converse good English however, for those who plan to go to distant villages or the mountains, you will have information of Urdu to speak with the locals.
28 – A traditional – Pakistan Lonely Planet Information – It’s actually outdated however, for those who 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 once you journey in Pakistan
29 – Pakistan shouldn’t be 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 the earth. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. Whereas I feel 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 will help 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 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 automotive or bus and write down all of your private data in a pocket book. It will 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 verify posts, when you’ve got a passport copy, you don’t need to get out of the automotive. 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’re going to get a private armed guard. Generally, you might need to pay for his meals however, in response to the police, you aren’t pressured to. It’s as much as you. For extra data, learn my put up: Is Pakistan protected?
34 – Having a private armed guard appears form of cool however, to be trustworthy, it’s not that a lot – The primary time you get an armed guard you get form of excited. WOW! I’ve a guard who carries an AK-47 for simply myself! Nevertheless, after half an hour, you would possibly begin hating him as a result of he’ll put you beneath plenty of restrictions.
35 – Girls touring solo is extra widespread and safer than you suppose – Girls inform great matters about their experiences throughout their journeys by means of Pakistan. I’m not probably the most certified individual to speak about this subject however my pal 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 ladies’s interview.
36 – Pakistani intelligence is the most effective secret service on the earth – One of many the reason why Pakistan shouldn’t be a harmful nation is due to the Pakistani intelligence, which is taken into account the most effective intelligence corps on the earth, even higher than the CIA.
Remember that they’re watching your steps and they’re going to at all times know the place you might be. I do not forget that, whereas mountain climbing round a distant space within the Astore Valley, a person sporting a salwar kameez (the normal 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?
Forms and permits in your journey in Pakistan
37 – Don’t belief any supply of forms data, not even In opposition to the Compass – In Pakistan, guidelines will not be written and matters are continually 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 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 circulation 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 unique opinion. Don’t belief anybody. Examine it your self, when you’re on the bottom.
38 – In Pakistan all the things is feasible – If there’s something useful I learnt throughout my journey in Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, all the things is feasible and all of it will depend on your contacts. If you realize the suitable individuals, you are able to do completely all the things you need, together with visiting forbidden areas with out a allow.
39 – What’s an NOC? – A No Objection Certificates, which is mainly, a allow required for sure restricted areas.
40 – The way to get an NOC – The easiest way to get an NOC is thru a neighborhood with contacts. If you happen to don’t know any native, contact your embassy, however it may 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 forms 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. In the future later, I attempted to make use of that highway however the NOC was not required anymore. Nevertheless, 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 possibly can simply journey in Pakistan for lower than $20 a day, sleeping in personal rooms and consuming Three meals exterior.
43 – The whole lot is negotiable – The whole lot will be bargained for, particularly the resort rooms. Anticipate to pay completely different quantities from different company.
44 – At all times include a reference – Throughout your journey in Pakistan, contacts are essential and that’s why in both lodges or trekking tour corporations, for those who come referenced by a neighborhood, you’re going to get a greater worth.
45 – A money financial system – Pakistan barely believes in bank cards. Convey money.
46 – Pakistani Rupees are the official forex – 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 could 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 the most effective 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 enroll in you – The draw back of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, you want to go the central workplace and pay fairly some huge cash to enroll in it ($20 or $30). Inform a neighborhood to enroll in you, so that you’ll simply pay $7 for a SIM Card plus 1 month’s value of information 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 slim 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 nearly each lengthy bus journey I took, we had a breakdown. Generally, we had 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 all over the place – Like in most growing nations the place most individuals can’t afford to purchase a automotive, buses and minivans journey to even the remotest areas within the nation. In Sindh and Punjab provinces, Daewoo is probably the most luxurious bus. For touring to Gilgit from Islamabad, you must positively take NATCO VIP Bus ($17). Don’t fear, shouldn’t be that VIP.
54 – Prepare – In Sindh and Punjab provinces to Peshawar, you’ll be able to transfer round by practice. There are completely different practice corporations however you must at all times take the personal 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 – All people falls in love with the vans in Pakistan, as they’re so significantly embellished that they’re a blessing to your lens.
56 – Hitchhiking is simply too simple – It’s really easy, that typically, it’s quicker and simpler than taking public transport, particularly on the Karakoram Freeway (from Gilgit to Khunjerab Move). All people will need to choose you up! As a normal rule, on the KKH, I didn’t hitchhike on motorbikes (there are such a lot of accidents) and automobiles with ladies 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. E-book your flights right here. Please notice that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you will need to e-book a number of days (even weeks) upfront. Additionally keep in mind that many flights get canceled as a result of climate situation.
Learn: 80 Ideas for touring to Iran
Trekking in Pakistan
58 – Essentially the most accessible mountains – Nowhere else in all the world, will you be capable of 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 brief treks and be capable of take pleasure in probably 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 may at all times fry afterwards. If you end up in a restaurant, at all times ask for half fried.
60 – It’s nearly dry – Within the Sindh province and Islamabad, yow will discover liquor shops. In the remainder of the nation, alcohol is simply 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 inform you that the faucet water is sweet, because it comes from the mountains and glaciers. This can be true, however I nonetheless obtained sick once 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 exhausting to seek out) and don’t drink faucet water.
Lodging throughout your go to in Pakistan
64 – Costs will be negotiated to the intense – Every time they inform you the worth, ask if they’ve a less expensive room. Significantly, on many events, I managed to get half of the preliminary worth.
65 – In case you are on a funds, at all times ask if they’ve a dorm – Surprisingly, many lodges have dorms and so they don’t inform you till the tip of the negotiation. The nice matter is that, since there will not be many backpackers, you might be most definitely to get the dorm only for your self!
66 – In most of Pakistan, you might be coated – In Pakistan, there’s plenty of home tourism, so most touristic areas are stuffed with lodges for completely each funds, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.
67 – However it might be more durable to seek out respectable lodging in the remainder of the nation – In cities like Peshawar, Karachi, Multan, and mainly wherever exterior of Swat Valley, Chitral, Northern areas, Islamabad and Lahore, discovering respectable (funds) lodging could also be difficult.
68 – Couchsurfing is quiter widespread! – There are a great deal of profiles, particularly within the huge cities.
If you wish to know all my resort advice per metropolis, learn my Pakistan Itinerary
Extra data you 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 change into remoted, as a result of heavy snow. However, if you wish to go to the Sindh and Punjab provinces, you will need to are available in 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 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 not too long ago, this group is sort of helpful, plus can also be an ideal 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 (principally Pakistanis) that is an superior discussion board to fulfill locals, who will offer you native ideas, in addition to an opportunity to fulfill up with them. Due to this group, I’ve made a few excellent native pals! One notice: ignore the individuals from this group who needs to promote you garbage.
73 – Do not forget that in Pakistan you want pals – Pakistan shouldn’t be a straightforward 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 huge cities, particularly in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, Couchsurfing can also be an enormous deal. Each websites helped me immensely.
Right here you’ll be able to learn all my guides and articles about Pakistan
Are you touring to Iran? Right here you can even see all my articles and guides to Iran
And if you’re touring to Central Asia, don’t neglect to verify all my guides to the Stans
That’s all the things you want to know! If you happen to 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 surprising occasions. From limitless 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 response to your plan.