This publish is being recurrently up to date thanks the continual enter I get from some superior vacationers. All the knowledge you see right here is predicated on the most recent updates. When you’ve got any additional data, kindly let me know as a result of, in Pakistan, guidelines do change rapidly!
In the event 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 hanging panorama and the truth that you may camp in the midst of a paradise utterly by your self.
Touring to Pakistan is, undoubtedly, the final word expertise and journey.
Nevertheless, 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 sort 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 jot 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 observe @againstthecompass on Instagram.
This information incorporates all the sensible data. For locations to go to, don’t overlook to verify my 1-month Pakistan itinerary
Right here you’ll discover:
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator in Pakistan
Cultural habits and info
Books for touring in Pakistan
Safety & security
Paperwork and permits
Costs and cash
Web and calling
Trekking in Pakistan
Meals, alcohol & chai
Different basic data you must know
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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 private home nation or nation of residence.
2 – However lastly, they’ve launched an e-visa system – As much as 176 nationalities can now apply for a Pakistani visa on-line. You may apply 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 lets you apply for a visa legitimate for as much as 11 months. You too can apply for a multi-entry visa legitimate for greater than 1 yr.
5 – Value – I consider it will depend on nationality and the size of your journey however I maintain a Spanish passport and the one entry 2-month visa prices 35USD. Then, I attempted to use for the multi-entry visa and it value 52USD.
6 – Apparently, a Letter of Invitation isn’t required anymore – Alternatively, the system lets you 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 – Nevertheless, it’s not as superior because it appears – The system presents fairly a number of bugs, like some features don’t work (solely typically) and, whenever you submit your utility, the knowledge can 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 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 inform you to use the normal approach.
I like to recommend you attempt to apply your self to see the way it works, contact your embassy and, for the most recent experiences/questions, you’re welcome to remark under.
8 – Timing – Once more, it will rely on the embassy. One traveler claimed that he acquired it in at some point whereas others say it takes a number of days. It is suggested to use upfront.
9 – The right way 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 power you to ebook a tour.
Fortunately, I discovered the fellows from Discover my Journey, a reasonably cool native tour firm who can concern an LOI and all it’s a must 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 extremely 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 electronic 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) might inform you to use through the normal approach, which sucks loads, particularly as a result of you may solely apply on the embassy out of your nation of residence they usually 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 value me 27€. In Madrid, they cost double a minimum of and, so far as I perceive, UK passport holders pay as much as 100USD. Furthermore, it took me 40 days to get my visa, whereas different embassies concern it in lower than every week.
11 – Visa extensions – Effectively, the e-visa portal has an extension part/choice however to date, I don’t know from anybody who has tried it.
In any case, visa extensions could be simply executed 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 – Critically, each individual touring to Pakistan may have a totally completely different expertise once they attempt to lengthen their visa. The reason being that guidelines will not be written and it’ll all rely on 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 folks declare that they needed to wait for two weeks to get the extension whereas others just some days. Furthermore, some folks acquired an extension solely during their present visa, whereas others acquired 5 months.
What appears to be a relentless is 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 good friend Alex: Extending your visa in Lahore
13 – Overstaying and leaving overland- Once more, everyone may have completely different experiences right here. The official data says that, should you overstay for lower than 15 days, you’ll have to pay a small payment. Nevertheless, 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 observe 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 akin to World Nomads (lastly) covers Pakistan – And there are two the reason why I believe World Nomads is the perfect insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan:
- The essential plan already covers trekking as much as 6,000 meters (observe that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is extremely straightforward to succeed in 4,000-meter base camps.
- They supply with limitless medical bills (and Pakistan could be wild)
15 – Nevertheless, 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, 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, critically, their fundamental coverage may be very low cost. Nevertheless, other than these unlucky occasions, First Allied may be very restricted in relation to trekking, medical bills for getting sick, and many others., so if you wish to be 100% coated, it ought to complement your World Nomads insurance coverage.
For extra data and choices, learn: The right way to discover the proper journey insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator for visiting Pakistan
16 – Whenever you go to Pakistan, some folks desire 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 whenever you go trekking.
I undoubtedly advocate the fellows from Discover my Journey, a strong firm with a few years of expertise which may prepare 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 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 info when touring in Pakistan
17 – Urdu, which is like Hindi, is the official language – Nevertheless, every area has its personal (or a number of) native languages, so completely different from one another. English is broadly spoken amongst educated folks.
18 – Pakistan is among 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 – Bear in mind, you’re the visitor – Folks are inclined to say that, in Iran, Sudan and Iraqi Kurdistan, you discover essentially the most hospitable folks on the earth. Effectively, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these international locations are very hospitable, Pakistanis deliver 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 may also insist on carrying your bag and providing you meals 100 occasions even should 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 – 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 needed to hang around with me. I acquired just a little 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 motive, Pakistanis all the time need to pay in your meals to the extent that it will get awkward. I personally didn’t prefer it, particularly after I might see that the native folks didn’t have a lot cash. If doable, attempt to again them up.
22 – Sporting a Shalwar Kameez – The normal Pakistani gown, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis put on, is known as shalwar kameez. Do you have to put on it? It’s not obligatory however, should 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. You have 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 most effective 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 filled with maps and limitless journey ideas. The creator, Tim, is an Australian man who has visited Pakistan 10 occasions since 2006. The information is accessible in several codecs, together with Full-color paperback, Finances Paperback, and e-book. Essential!
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 ebook offers you a deep understanding of the scenario in Pakistan these days.
247- Overcome language obstacles – Urdu-English phrasebook – Most educated folks converse good English however, should you plan to go to distant villages or the mountains, you have to data of Urdu to speak with the locals.
28 – A basic – Pakistan Lonely Planet Information – It’s actually outdated however, should 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 isn’t harmful however you ought to be cautious. You might need learn from different blogs that Pakistan is among the most secure international locations on the earth. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. Whereas I believe that Pakistan isn’t a harmful nation, in some areas, it’s higher to be cautious, particularly within the area bordering Afghanistan.
30 – Police are there that can assist you. All through your Pakistan travels, you’ll be repeatedly interrogated by dozens of various policemen and other people from the military. Who’re you? Why are you right here? The place are you going? In contrast to 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. Typically, to get from one vacation spot to a different, I needed to register greater than 10 occasions! At every verify publish, it’s a must 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 – Carry one thousand passport & visa photocopies. It’s good to deliver 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 automotive. In any other case, you will waste your time.
33 – Often, you get a private guard, without cost – Once more, not kidding. For safety functions, in some areas, you’ll get a private armed guard. Typically, you might need to pay for his meals however, in line with the police, you aren’t compelled 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! Nevertheless, after half an hour, you may begin hating him as a result of he’ll put you below lots of restrictions.
35 – Ladies touring solo is extra frequent and safer than you assume – Ladies inform fantastic matters about their experiences throughout their journeys by means of Pakistan. I’m not essentially the most certified individual to speak about this subject however my good friend 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 most effective secret service on the earth – One of many the reason why Pakistan isn’t 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.
Bear in mind that they’re watching your steps and they’ll 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 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 publish: Is Pakistan protected?
Paperwork 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 consistently altering. Locations which now not require a allow, may 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 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 unique opinion. Don’t belief anybody. Examine it your self, when you’re on the bottom.
38 – In Pakistan all the pieces is feasible – If there’s something beneficial I learnt throughout my journey in Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, all the pieces is feasible and all of it will depend on your contacts. If you understand the proper folks, you are able to do completely all the pieces 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 – The right way to get an NOC – One of the best 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 might 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 good friend of me was required to get an NOC to make use of the street between Timargara and Chitral. In the future later, I attempted to make use of that street however the NOC was not required anymore. Nevertheless, formally, you would wish an NOC to go to Balochistan, the Khyber 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 – All the things is negotiable – All the things could be bargained for, particularly the lodge rooms. Anticipate to pay completely different quantities from different friends.
44 – All the time include a reference – Throughout your journey in Pakistan, contacts are essential and that’s why in both resorts or trekking tour firms, should you come referenced by an area, you’ll get a greater value.
45 – A money financial 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 may 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 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 an area to join 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 join it ($20 or $30). Inform an area to join you, so that you’ll simply pay $7 for a SIM Card plus 1 month’s 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 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 at some point, 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 creating international locations 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 essentially the most luxurious bus. For touring to Gilgit from Islamabad, you must undoubtedly take NATCO VIP Bus ($17). Don’t fear, isn’t that VIP.
54 – Practice – In Sindh and Punjab provinces to Peshawar, you may transfer round by practice. There are completely different practice firms however you must 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 cozy sufficient.
55 – Psychedelic vans are a lifestyle – All people falls in love with the vans 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 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 decide you up! As a basic 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 value as much as $100, roughly. Guide your flights right here. Please observe that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you need to ebook a number of days (even weeks) upfront. Additionally keep in mind that many flights get canceled as a result of climate situation.
Trekking in Pakistan
58 – Essentially the most accessible mountains – Nowhere else in the complete world, will you be capable 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 quick treks and be capable 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 all the time fry afterwards. If you end up 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 out there on the black market, however most locals (who drink) can get it for you simply.
61 – Anticipate to have ten cups of chai a day – Chai, which is tea with milk, is a lifestyle in Pakistan and an indication of hospitality.
62 – Faucet water, be careful! – Don’t dare drink faucet water. Within the northern a part of the nation, the locals will inform you that the faucet water is sweet, because it comes from the mountains and glaciers. This can be true, however I nonetheless acquired sick after I drank from a mountain fountain. 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 exhausting to search out) and don’t drink faucet water.
Lodging throughout your go to in Pakistan
64 – Costs could be negotiated to the acute – At any time when they inform you the value, ask if they’ve a less expensive room. Critically, on many events, I managed to get half of the preliminary value.
65 – If you’re on a funds, all the time ask if they’ve a dorm – Surprisingly, many resorts have dorms they usually don’t inform you till the tip of the negotiation. The nice matter is that, since there will not be many backpackers, you’re almost certainly to get the dorm only for your self!
66 – In most of Pakistan, you’re coated – In Pakistan, there’s lots of home tourism, so most touristic areas are full of resorts for completely each funds, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.
67 – However it could be more durable to search out first rate lodging in the remainder of the nation – In cities like Peshawar, Karachi, Multan, and mainly anyplace outdoors of Swat Valley, Chitral, Northern areas, Islamabad and Lahore, discovering first rate (funds) lodging could also be difficult.
68 – Couchsurfing is quiter in style! – 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 it’s good 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 yr, they change into remoted, as a result of heavy snow. However, if you wish to go to the Sindh and Punjab provinces, you need to are available in winter, from November till February, when the climate is cooler.
70 – Border crossing in Pakistan – You may enter or exit from China (right here’s my report), India (learn this publish from the Broke Backpacker) and Iran (learn this publish from Misplaced with 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 not too long ago, this group is kind of helpful, plus can also be an important 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 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 associates! One observe: ignore the folks from this group who needs to promote you garbage.
73 – Do not forget that in Pakistan you want associates – Pakistan isn’t a straightforward place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, associates are essential for a rustic the place guidelines will not be written. The Karakoram Membership is a superb place to make native associates. In huge cities, particularly in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, Couchsurfing can also 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 also 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 all the pieces it’s good to know! In the event 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 limitless bus breakdowns to time-consuming verify posts, new native associates and paradises the place you need to spend ages, throughout your Pakistan travels, you’ll notice that nothing will go in line with your plan.