This publish is being frequently up to date thanks the continual enter I get from some superior vacationers. All the data you see right here is predicated 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 rapidly!
When you ever determine to journey to Pakistan, I promise you that you should have the journey of your lifetime.
From hitchhiking on tractors and psychedelic 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, probably the most putting panorama and the truth that you may camp in the course of a paradise utterly by your self.
Touring to Pakistan is, positively, the final word expertise and journey.
Nonetheless, this isn’t notably a straightforward place to journey in. Happening a visit to Pakistan requires just a little 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 may be a lot to say about Pakistan that I made a decision to put in writing a separate article about it.
By the best way, if you wish to hold monitor of all my travels and pictures, keep in mind to observe @againstthecompass on Instagram.
This information comprises all the sensible data. For locations to go to, don’t neglect to verify my 1-month Pakistan itinerary
Right here you will discover:
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator in Pakistan
Cultural conduct and info
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 it is best to know
Complete transparency! When you like my web site and located this publish helpful, keep in mind that, in the event you any services or products by means of any of my hyperlinks, I’ll get a small fee at no additional price to you. These earnings assist me preserve and hold Towards the Compass going! Thanks
Visa for visiting Pakistan
NEW data Could 2019
1 – Earlier than April/Could 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 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 appliance permits you to apply for a visa legitimate for as much as 11 months. You may as well apply for a multi-entry visa legitimate for greater than 1 12 months.
5 – Worth – 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 price 52USD.
6 – Apparently, a Letter of Invitation will not be required anymore – Alternatively, the system permits you to add a resort reserving affirmation (as an alternative of the LOI). They only 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, while you submit your utility, the data will likely be despatched to the embassy/consulate of your nation of residence and the issue is that the embassies themselves should not absolutely 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 stories/questions, you’re welcome to remark beneath.
8 – Timing – Once more, it will depend 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 upfront.
9 – How you can get your Letter of Invitation – I like to recommend you attempt to apply with a resort reserving but when it doesn’t work, you’ll have to get a Letter of Invitation.
An LOI can solely be offered by a legitimate tour operator however, sadly, most of them 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 you must do is reserving both a Lahore Metropolis tour or a resort, that’s it.
They cost you 100USD for the LOI and the Lahore Metropolis tour begins at 10USD. Sure, it is vitally low cost, that’s why I like to recommend them.
Furthermore, you may get an unique 10% low cost through the use of the promo code ATC-PAK. Simply e-mail them by 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 by way of embassy – Some embassies (just like the one Beirut) could inform you to use by way of the normal method, which sucks loads, particularly as a result of you may solely apply on the embassy out of your nation of residence and so they all the time require an LOI.
Embassy guidelines range enormously, relying on the nation you apply from. For instance, I maintain a Spanish passport and am a Catalan resident, so I might apply on the Consulate in Barcelona, which solely price me 27€. In Madrid, they cost double no 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 – Nicely, 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 could be simply achieved 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 particular person touring to Pakistan can have a very totally different expertise after they attempt to lengthen their visa. The reason being that guidelines should not written and it’ll all depend upon the one that is behind the counter on that particular day. Welcome to Pakistan. Nonetheless, most vacationers declare that Lahore is the simplest place to do it.
Nonetheless, some folks declare that they needed to wait for two weeks to get the extension whereas others just some days. Furthermore, some folks bought an extension solely during their present visa, whereas others bought 5 months.
What appears to be a continuing is that you could solely lengthen it a number of 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, in the event you overstay for lower than 15 days, you’ll have to pay a small price. Nonetheless, I overstayed for five days and, on the customs, after I mentioned that I didn’t have any cash, they let me go together with a smile. Please word that I left by means of the Pakistan-China border, at Khunjerab Go
Journey insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan
14 – Your common journey insurance coverage resembling World Nomads (lastly) covers Pakistan – And there are two the explanation why I believe World Nomads is the perfect insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan:
- The fundamental plan already covers trekking as much as 6,000 meters (word that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is vitally straightforward to achieve 4,000-meter base camps.
- They supply with limitless medical bills (and Pakistan could 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 secure however security is a subjective subject and, if that could be a concern for you, maybe, it is best to 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, significantly, their primary coverage could be very low cost. Nonetheless, 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% lined, it ought to complement your World Nomads insurance coverage.
For extra data and choices, learn: How you can discover the proper 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 favor to journey with an skilled tour information, particularly while 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 personalized tour or trek you could provide you with.
Furthermore, you may get an unique 10% low cost (on any tour) through the use of my promo code ATC-PAK.
Simply e-mail them 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 – Nonetheless, every area has its personal (or a number of) native languages, so totally 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 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 international locations. It’s fascinating.
19 – Keep in mind, you’re the visitor – Folks are inclined to say that, in Iran, Sudan and Iraqi Kurdistan, you discover probably the most hospitable folks on the earth. Nicely, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these international locations are very hospitable, Pakistanis convey it to the following stage. 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 instances that, on many events, you’ll have to refuse.
After your refusal, they’ll insist as soon as once more, time and again. They may also insist on carrying your bag and providing you meals 100 instances even in the event you say that you’re full. These are their cultural guidelines and you’re the visitor.
20 – So overwhelming however simply don’t get offended – Sooner or later, some random males who I had by no means seen earlier than got here to my resort at 7:30 am within the morning, knocking on the door of my room, waking me up from an excellent sleep.
Apparently, they heard that there was a foreigner within the village, so they only needed to hang around with me. I bought just a little bit offended, continued sleeping however then I sort of felt unhealthy, as all they needed was to point out me across the village.
21 – Paying for meals – For some cause, Pakistanis all the time wish to pay to 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 potential, attempt to again them up.
22 – Carrying a Shalwar Kameez – The standard Pakistani gown, 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 the event you do, the locals will actually recognize it, particularly within the Pashtun areas.
23 – Islam – Pakistan is probably the most conservative nation I’ve ever been to. You ought to be cautious and all the time respect their guidelines. When you do, they may also respect you and you should have the perfect time of their nation.
Helpful books for touring to Pakistan
24 – Greatest 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 instances since 2006. The information is obtainable in numerous codecs, together with Full-color paperback, Finances Paperback, and e-book. Essential!
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 e-book gives you a deep understanding of the scenario in Pakistan these days.
247- Overcome language boundaries – Urdu-English phrasebook – Most educated folks communicate good English however, in the event you plan to go to distant villages or the mountains, you will have data of Urdu to speak with the locals.
28 – A traditional – Pakistan Lonely Planet Information – It’s actually outdated however, in the event 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 while you journey in Pakistan
29 – Pakistan will not be harmful however you ought to be cautious. You might need learn from different blogs that Pakistan is without doubt one of the most secure international locations on the earth. 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 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? In contrast to in different international locations, 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 verify 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 verify posts. Typically, to get from one vacation spot to a different, I needed to register greater than 10 instances! At every verify publish, you must 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 – Deliver 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 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, free of charge – Once more, not kidding. For safety functions, in some areas, you’re going to get a private armed guard. Typically, you might 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 data, learn my publish: Is Pakistan secure?
34 – Having a private armed guard appears sort of cool however, to be sincere, 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 lots of restrictions.
35 – Ladies touring solo is extra frequent and safer than you suppose – Ladies inform fantastic matters about their experiences throughout their journeys by means of Pakistan. I’m not probably the most certified particular person to speak about this subject however my buddy Alex has written this excellent publish: Is it secure for a girl to journey in Pakistan?As well as, the Broke Backpacker has additionally written this magnificent girls’s interview.
36 – Pakistani intelligence is the perfect secret service on the earth – One of many the explanation why Pakistan will not be a harmful nation is because of the Pakistani intelligence, which is taken into account the perfect intelligence corps on the earth, even higher than the CIA.
Remember that they’re watching your steps and they’re going to all the time know the place you’re. I keep in mind 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 mentioned, ”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 secure?
Forms and permits to your journey in Pakistan
37 – Don’t belief any supply of forms data, not even Towards the Compass – In Pakistan, guidelines should not 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 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 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 all the time have a distinct opinion. Don’t belief anybody. Test it your self, when you’re on the bottom.
38 – In Pakistan every part is feasible – If there’s something invaluable I learnt throughout my journey in Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, every part is feasible and all of it is determined by your contacts. If you realize the proper folks, you are able to do completely every part you need, together with visiting forbidden areas and not using a allow.
39 – What’s an NOC? – A No Objection Certificates, which is principally, a allow required for sure restricted areas.
40 – How you can get an NOC – One of the simplest ways to get an NOC is thru an area with contacts. When you don’t know any native, contact your embassy, however it will possibly take as much as Four or 5 working days to proceed. Moreover, Ishan, from SWAT Valley Backpackers can get it for you.
41 – When do you want an NOC – As I mentioned earlier than, don’t belief any supply of forms data. 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. Sooner or later later, I attempted to make use of that street however the NOC was not required anymore. Nonetheless, formally, you would wish an NOC to go to Balochistan, the Khyber Go 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 – The whole lot is negotiable – The whole lot could be bargained for, particularly the resort 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 crucial and that’s why in both resorts or trekking tour firms, in the event you come referenced by an area, you’re going to get a greater value.
45 – A money financial system – Pakistan barely believes in bank cards. Deliver money.
46 – Pakistani Rupees are the official forex – 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 effectively all through the nation
48 – The Chinese language are about to introduce optical fiber – Apparently, by the top of 2017, the Chinese language can have launched optical fiber to Gilgit-Baltistan so, hopefully, the web will work correctly on this space as 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, it’s good to 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 price of knowledge and calls.
Transportation for touring round Pakistan
51 – You’ll get used to the mountain roads – Most mountain roads are very scary as they’re extraordinarily slender and constructed on insanely excessive cliffs. Don’t panic. You’ll simply get used to them!
52 – You’ll be taught to be affected person – In completely nearly each lengthy bus journey I took, we had a breakdown. Typically, 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 imagine it?
53 – Public buses & minivans go in every single place – 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 probably the most luxurious bus. For touring to Gilgit from Islamabad, it is 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 practice. There are totally different practice firms however it is best to all the time take the non-public 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 adorned that they’re a blessing to your lens.
56 – Hitchhiking is simply too straightforward – It’s really easy, that generally, it’s sooner and simpler than taking public transport, particularly on the Karakoram Freeway (from Gilgit to Khunjerab Go). All people will wish to decide you up! As a normal rule, on the KKH, I didn’t hitchhike on motorbikes (there are such a lot of accidents) and vehicles 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 price as much as $100, roughly. Ebook your flights right here. Please word that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you could e-book a number of days (even weeks) upfront. Additionally keep in mind that many flights get canceled because of the climate situation.
Trekking in Pakistan
58 – Probably the most accessible mountains – Nowhere else in your entire world, will you be capable to trek to the bottom camp of an 8,000 meters excessive peak summit in solely two days. Even if you’re a newbie trekker, you are able to do quick treks and be capable to get pleasure from 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’ll all the time fry afterwards. If you find yourself in a restaurant, all the time ask for half fried.
60 – It’s nearly dry – Within the Sindh province and Islamabad, you could find liquor shops. In the remainder of the nation, alcohol is just accessible on the black market, however most locals (who drink) can get it for you simply.
61 – 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 inform you 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. 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 laborious to seek out) and don’t drink faucet water.
Lodging throughout your go to in Pakistan
64 – Costs could be negotiated to the intense – Every time they inform you the value, ask if they’ve a less expensive room. Significantly, 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 resorts have dorms and so they don’t inform you till the top of the negotiation. The great matter is that, since there should not many backpackers, you’re almost definitely to get the dorm only for your self!
66 – In most of Pakistan, you’re lined – In Pakistan, there may be lots of home tourism, so most touristic areas are crammed with resorts for completely each funds, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.
67 – However it could be tougher to seek out first rate lodging in the remainder of the nation – In cities like Peshawar, Karachi, Multan, and principally anyplace outdoors of Swat Valley, Chitral, Northern areas, Islamabad and Lahore, discovering first rate (funds) lodging could also be difficult.
68 – Couchsurfing is quiter well-liked! – There are a great deal of profiles, particularly within the massive cities.
If you wish to know all my resort suggestion per metropolis, learn my Pakistan Itinerary
Extra data it’s good 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 grow to be remoted, because of the heavy snow. Alternatively, if you wish to go to the Sindh and Punjab provinces, you could 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 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 incredible place to satisfy different vacationers who’re touring in Pakistan concurrently 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 offer you native ideas, in addition to an opportunity to satisfy up with them. Because of this group, I’ve made a few excellent native buddies! One word: ignore the folks from this group who desires to promote you garbage.
73 – Do not forget that in Pakistan you want buddies – Pakistan will not be a straightforward place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, buddies are essential for a rustic the place guidelines should not written. The Karakoram Membership is a good place to make native buddies. In massive 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 can too 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 every part it’s good to know! When you suppose I forgot one thing, please let me know! Ah, Ah, and keep in mind 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 verify posts, new native buddies and paradises the place you wish to spend ages, throughout your Pakistan travels, you’ll understand that nothing will go in keeping with your plan.