This publish is being commonly 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. If in case 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’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 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 course of a paradise utterly by your self.
Touring to Pakistan is, positively, the last word expertise and journey.
Nonetheless, this isn’t notably a straightforward place to journey in. Happening a visit to Pakistan requires a little bit little bit of preparation, in addition to various matters to know beforehand.
Usually, I would come with this sort of data in a generic journey information, along with a journey itinerary. Nonetheless, there may be 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 hold monitor of all my travels and images, bear in mind to comply with @againstthecompass on Instagram.
This information accommodates all the sensible data. For locations to go to, don’t overlook to test my 1-month Pakistan itinerary
Right here you’ll find:
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator in Pakistan
Cultural habits and information
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! In the event you like my web site and located this publish helpful, do not forget that, when you any services or products by way of any of my hyperlinks, I’ll get a small fee at no additional price to you. These earnings assist me keep and hold 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 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 may apply by way of this portal. Many vacationers have already been profitable 🙂
3 – It may be used to enter by way of any port of entry – Each airport and land borders.
4 – Visa size – The appliance permits you to apply for a visa legitimate for as much as 11 months. You may also apply for a multi-entry visa legitimate for greater than 1 yr.
5 – Worth – I consider it is determined by 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 price 52USD.
6 – Apparently, a Letter of Invitation will not be required anymore – Alternatively, the system permits you to add a lodge reserving affirmation (as a substitute of the LOI). They simply 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 just a few bugs, like some capabilities don’t work (solely typically) and, once you submit your software, the data shall be despatched to the embassy/consulate of your nation of residence and the issue is that the embassies themselves will not be absolutely conscious of this course of and so they simply apply their very own guidelines.
Which means, 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 manner.
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 under.
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’s endorsed to use upfront.
9 – Find out how to 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 drive you to e book a tour.
Fortunately, I discovered the fellows from Discover my Journey, a fairly cool native tour firm who can problem 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 through the use of the promo code ATC-PAK. Simply e-mail them by way of 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 manner, which sucks loads, particularly as a result of you possibly can solely apply on the embassy out of your nation of residence and so they all the time 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 may apply on the Consulate in Barcelona, which solely price 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 every week.
11 – Visa extensions – Properly, the e-visa portal has an extension part/choice however to this point, I don’t know from anybody who has tried it.
In any case, visa extensions will be simply accomplished 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 – Severely, each individual touring to Pakistan can have a very totally different expertise after they attempt to lengthen their visa. The reason being that guidelines will not be written and it’ll all depend upon the one who is behind the counter on that particular day. Welcome to Pakistan. Nonetheless, most vacationers declare that Lahore is the simplest place to do it.
However, some folks declare that they needed to wait for two weeks to get the extension whereas others only a few days. Furthermore, some folks received an extension solely during their present visa, whereas others received 5 months.
What appears to be a continuing is that you may solely lengthen it just a few days previous to your expiring date, however not earlier than. For extra data, learn this publish from my buddy Alex: Extending your visa in Lahore
13 – Overstaying and leaving overland- Once more, all people can have totally 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, once I stated that I didn’t have any cash, they let me go along with a smile. Please notice that I left by way of the Pakistan-China border, at Khunjerab Move
Journey insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan
14 – Your common journey insurance coverage comparable to World Nomads (lastly) covers Pakistan – And there are two the explanation why I feel World Nomads is the best insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan:
- The essential plan already covers trekking as much as 6,000 meters (notice that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is rather simple to achieve 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 think about shopping for a journey insurance coverage specialised in high-risk locations, like First Allied.
Their coverage covers any terrorism-related accident and, significantly, their primary coverage could be very low-cost. Nonetheless, aside from 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: Find out how to discover the best journey insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator for visiting Pakistan
16 – Whenever 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 like to journey with an skilled tour information, particularly once you go trekking.
I positively advocate the fellows from Discover my Journey, a strong firm with a few years of expertise which may 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) through the use of 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 habits and information 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 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 wanting 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 – Bear in mind, you’re the visitor – Individuals are inclined to say that, in Iran, Sudan and Iraqi Kurdistan, you discover essentially the most hospitable folks on the planet. Properly, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these nations are very hospitable, Pakistanis deliver it to the following degree. 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 may insist as soon as once more, time and again. They may also 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 indignant – In the future, 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 simply wished to hang around with me. I received a little bit bit indignant, continued sleeping however then I sort of felt dangerous, as all they wished was to point out me across the village.
21 – Paying for meals – For some purpose, Pakistanis all the time need to pay to your meals to the extent that it will get awkward. I personally didn’t prefer it, particularly once I may see that the native folks didn’t have a lot cash. If attainable, attempt to again them up.
22 – Carrying a Shalwar Kameez – The normal Pakistani gown, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis put on, is named shalwar kameez. Must you put on it? It’s not obligatory however, when you do, the locals will actually respect it, particularly within the Pashtun areas.
23 – Islam – Pakistan is essentially the most conservative nation I’ve ever been to. Try to be cautious and all the time respect their guidelines. In the event you do, they may also respect you and you’ll 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 stuffed with maps and limitless journey ideas. The writer, Tim, is an Australian man who has visited Pakistan 10 instances since 2006. The information is offered in numerous codecs, together with Full-color paperback, Finances Paperback, and e book. Vital!
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 will provide you with a deep understanding of the state of affairs in Pakistan these days.
247- Overcome language boundaries – Urdu-English phrasebook – Most educated folks communicate good English however, when you plan to go to distant villages or the mountains, you’ll need data 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 data by no means will get outdated!
Safety and security once you journey in Pakistan
29 – Pakistan will not be harmful however you ought to be cautious. You may need learn from different blogs that Pakistan is likely one of the most secure nations on the planet. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. Whereas I feel 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 nations, in Pakistan, the police and army are fairly cool and, to 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 instances at totally different military and police test posts. Generally, to get from one vacation spot to a different, I needed to register greater than 10 instances! At every test publish, 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 test posts, in case you have a passport copy, you don’t need to get out of the automobile. In any other case, you’re going to waste your time.
33 – Sometimes, you get a private guard, without cost – Once more, not kidding. For safety functions, in some areas, you’ll get a private armed guard. Generally, you may need to pay for his meals however, in accordance with the police, you aren’t pressured to. It’s as much as you. For extra data, 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! Nonetheless, after half an hour, you would possibly begin hating him as a result of he’ll put you below a whole lot of restrictions.
35 – Ladies touring solo is extra frequent and safer than you suppose – Ladies inform great matters about their experiences throughout their journeys by way of Pakistan. I’m not essentially the most certified individual to speak about this subject however my buddy Alex has written this glorious publish: 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 perfect secret service on the planet – One of many the explanation why Pakistan will not be a harmful nation is due to the Pakistani intelligence, which is taken into account the perfect intelligence corps on the planet, even higher than the CIA.
Bear in mind that they’re watching your steps and they’re going to 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 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 publish: Is Pakistan protected?
Paperwork and permits to 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 following 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 movement all through the nation, so you will note that everybody (together with nationwide police, native police, the Military, the locals, vacationers and blogs) will all the time have a special opinion. Don’t belief anybody. Test it your self, when you’re on the bottom.
38 – In Pakistan all the things is feasible – If there’s something helpful I learnt throughout my journey in Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, all the things is feasible and all of it is determined by your contacts. If the best folks, you are able to do completely all the things 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 – Find out how to get an NOC – One of the simplest ways to get an NOC is thru an area with contacts. In the event 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 stated earlier than, don’t belief any supply of paperwork data. Throughout my journey in Pakistan, a buddy 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. Nonetheless, formally, you would wish 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 outdoors.
43 – Every thing is negotiable – Every thing will be bargained for, particularly the lodge rooms. Count on to pay totally different quantities from different company.
44 – All the time include a reference – Throughout your journey in Pakistan, contacts are essential and that’s why in both motels or trekking tour firms, when you come referenced by an area, you’ll get a greater value.
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 simple to transform.
Web and calling
47 – Web – Besides in Gilgit-Baltistan, the web works fairly effectively 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 effectively.
49 – Get ZONG – Don’t suppose 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 an area to enroll in you – The draw back of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, you should go the central workplace and pay fairly some huge cash to enroll in it ($20 or $30). Inform an area to enroll in you, so that you’ll simply pay $7 for a SIM Card plus 1 month’s value 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 gasoline! Are you able to consider it?
53 – Public buses & minivans go all over the 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’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 possibly can transfer round by practice. There are totally different practice firms however it’s best to 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 vehicles are a lifestyle – Everyone falls in love with the vehicles in Pakistan, as they’re so notably adorned 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). Everyone 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 ladies 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 price as much as $100, roughly. Guide your flights right here. Please notice that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you have to e book a number of days (even weeks) upfront. 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 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 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 may all the time fry afterwards. If you end up in a restaurant, all the time ask for half fried.
60 – It’s virtually dry – Within the Sindh province and Islamabad, yow will discover liquor shops. In the remainder of the nation, alcohol is barely accessible on the black market, however most locals (who drink) can get it for you simply.
61 – Count on 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 received sick once 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 let you know the worth, 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 funds, all the time ask if they’ve a dorm – Surprisingly, many motels have dorms and so they don’t let you know till the tip of the negotiation. The great matter is that, since there will not be many backpackers, you’re most probably to get the dorm only for your self!
66 – In most of Pakistan, you’re coated – In Pakistan, there may be a whole lot of home tourism, so most touristic areas are full of motels for completely each funds, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.
67 – However it could be tougher to search out respectable lodging in the remainder of the nation – In cities like Peshawar, Karachi, Multan, and mainly wherever outdoors 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 lodge 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 yr, they develop 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 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 Function).
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 an important place to satisfy 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 satisfy locals, who will give you native ideas, in addition to an opportunity to satisfy up with them. Because of this group, I’ve made a few excellent native mates! One notice: ignore the folks from this group who desires to promote you garbage.
73 – Do not forget that in Pakistan you want mates – Pakistan will not be a straightforward place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, mates are essential for a rustic the place guidelines will not be written. The Karakoram Membership is a superb place to make native mates. In huge 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 you may as well see all my articles and guides to Iran
And if you’re touring to Central Asia, don’t overlook to test all my guides to the Stans
That’s all the things you should know! In the event 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 accordance with your plan.