This publish is being often 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. When you’ve got any additional info, kindly let me know as a result of, in Pakistan, guidelines do change rapidly!
In the event 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 slim mountain roads constructed on a cliff 1,500 meters excessive, troopers who voluntarily offer you their AK-47 for taking a photograph, essentially the most placing panorama and the truth that you’ll be able to 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 significantly a simple place to journey in. Happening a visit to Pakistan requires slightly little bit of preparation, in addition to numerous matters to know beforehand.
Usually, I would come with this type of info 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 jot down a separate article about it.
By the best way, if you wish to maintain monitor of all my travels and pictures, keep in mind to observe @againstthecompass on Instagram.
This information accommodates all the sensible info. For locations to go to, don’t neglect to verify my 1-month Pakistan itinerary
Right here you can see:
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator in Pakistan
Cultural conduct and details
Books for touring in Pakistan
Safety & security
Paperwork and permits
Costs and cash
Web and calling
Trekking in Pakistan
Meals, alcohol & chai
Different basic info you must know
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Visa for visiting Pakistan
NEW info Could 2019
1 – Earlier than April/Could 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 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 possibly can apply by this portal. Many vacationers have already been profitable 🙂
3 – It may be used to enter by 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. It’s also possible to apply for a multi-entry visa legitimate for greater than 1 12 months.
5 – Value – I imagine it is dependent upon nationality and the size of your journey however I maintain a Spanish passport and the only entry 2-month visa prices 35USD. Then, I attempted to use for the multi-entry visa and it price 52USD.
6 – Apparently, a Letter of Invitation isn’t required anymore – Alternatively, the system lets you add a resort reserving affirmation (as an alternative of the LOI). They simply require a reserving for the primary few days after which you’ll be able to cancel it instantly.
7 – Nonetheless, it isn’t as superior because it appears – The system presents fairly a couple of bugs, like some capabilities don’t work (solely generally) and, while you submit your software, 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 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 let you know 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 might be welcome to remark under.
8 – Timing – Once more, this may 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 prematurely.
9 – Learn how 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 offered by a sound tour operator however, sadly, most of them power you to e book a tour.
Fortunately, I discovered the fellows from Discover my Journey, a fairly cool native tour firm who can subject an LOI and all it’s important 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 will get an unique 10% low cost through the use of the promo code ATC-PAK. Simply electronic mail them by 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 custom-made excursions.
10 – Making use of through embassy – Some embassies (just like the one Beirut) might let you know 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 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 may apply on the Consulate in Barcelona, which solely price 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 subject it in lower than every week.
11 – Visa extensions – Nicely, the e-visa portal has an extension part/possibility however thus far, I don’t know from anybody who has tried it.
In any case, visa extensions will be simply finished 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 after they attempt to prolong their visa. The reason being that guidelines should not written and it’ll all rely 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 only a few days. Furthermore, some folks obtained an extension solely during their present visa, whereas others obtained 5 months.
What appears to be a continuing is you can solely prolong it a couple of days previous to your expiring date, however not earlier than. For extra info, learn this publish from my good friend Alex: Extending your visa in Lahore
13 – Overstaying and leaving overland- Once more, all people may have completely different experiences right here. The official info says that, for those who overstay for lower than 15 days, you’ll have to pay a small charge. 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 be aware that I left by the Pakistan-China border, at Khunjerab Cross
Journey insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan
14 – Your common journey insurance coverage resembling World Nomads (lastly) covers Pakistan – And there are two the reason why I believe World Nomads is the best insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan:
- The fundamental plan already covers trekking as much as 6,000 meters (be aware that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is extremely straightforward 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 warfare, terrorism, kidnapping and stuff like that – In my humble opinion, Pakistan is generally protected however security is a subjective subject and, if that could be a concern for you, maybe, you must contemplate shopping for a journey insurance coverage specialised in high-risk locations, like First Allied.
Their coverage covers any terrorism-related accident and, significantly, their fundamental coverage could be very low-cost. Nonetheless, aside from these unlucky occasions, First Allied could be very restricted with regards to trekking, medical bills for getting sick, and many others., so if you wish to be 100% lined, it ought to complement your World Nomads insurance coverage.
For extra info and choices, learn: Learn how to discover the correct journey insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator for visiting Pakistan
16 – Once you go to Pakistan, some folks desire 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 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 custom-made tour or trek chances are you’ll provide you with.
Furthermore, you will 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 type of tour you need.
Cultural conduct and details when touring in Pakistan
17 – Urdu, which is like Hindi, is the official language – Nonetheless, every area has its personal (or a number of) native languages, so completely different from one another. English is extensively spoken amongst educated folks.
18 – Pakistan is without doubt one of the most ethnically and culturally various international locations – From the South Asian trying folks of Punjab and Sindh; to the folks of the Pashtun areas, nearer to Iran or Afghanistan; the pagan tradition of Kalash; the Shias from Gilgit and Nagar; the Ismailis of decrease Hunza and the Wakhis (and likewise Ismailis) of higher Hunza. Touring in Pakistan is like touring in a number of, completely different tiny international locations. It’s fascinating.
19 – Bear in mind, you’re the visitor – Folks are likely to say that, in Iran, Sudan and Iraqi Kurdistan, you discover essentially the most hospitable folks on the planet. Nicely, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these international locations are very hospitable, Pakistanis deliver it to the following 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 folks’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 may 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 slightly bit offended, continued sleeping however then I type of felt dangerous, as all they needed was to point out me across the village.
21 – Paying for meals – For some purpose, Pakistanis all the time need to pay on your meals to the extent that it will get awkward. I personally didn’t prefer it, particularly after I may see that the native folks didn’t have a lot cash. If doable, attempt to again them up.
22 – Carrying a Shalwar Kameez – The normal Pakistani costume, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis put on, known as shalwar kameez. Do you have to put on it? It’s not obligatory however, for those who do, the locals will actually recognize it, particularly within the Pashtun areas.
23 – Islam – Pakistan is essentially the most conservative nation I’ve ever been to. You have to be cautious and all the time respect their guidelines. In the event you do, they may even respect you and you should have one of the best time of their nation.
Helpful books for touring to Pakistan
24 – Greatest journey information – Pakistan Traveller – That is essentially the most up-to-date and supreme guidebook about Pakistan. 256 pages filled with maps and limitless journey ideas. The creator, Tim, is an Australian man who has visited Pakistan 10 occasions since 2006. The information is offered in several codecs, together with Full-color paperback, Price range 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 limitations – Urdu-English phrasebook – Most educated folks communicate good English however, for those who 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, for those who like to gather Lonely Planet guides, maybe you want to purchase it. In any case, historical past, maps, and different touring info by no means will get outdated!
Safety and security while you journey in Pakistan
29 – Pakistan isn’t harmful however you need to be cautious. You might need learn from different blogs that Pakistan is without doubt one of the most secure international locations on the planet. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. Whereas I believe that Pakistan 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 navy are fairly cool and, on 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 publish, it’s important to get off the automotive or bus and write down all of your private info 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 verify posts, you probably have a passport copy, you don’t should get out of the automotive. In any other case, you’re going to waste your time.
33 – Often, you get a private guard, without spending a dime – Once more, not kidding. For safety functions, in some areas, you’re going to get a private armed guard. Generally, you might need to pay for his meals however, in accordance with the police, you aren’t pressured to. It’s as much as you. For extra info, learn my publish: Is Pakistan protected?
34 – Having a private armed guard appears type of cool however, to be sincere, it’s not that a lot – The primary time you get an armed guard you get type of excited. WOW! I’ve a guard who carries an AK-47 for simply myself! Nonetheless, after half an hour, you may begin hating him as a result of he’ll put you underneath loads of restrictions.
35 – Ladies touring solo is extra widespread and safer than you suppose – Ladies inform great matters about their experiences throughout their journeys by Pakistan. I’m not essentially the most certified individual to speak about this subject however my good friend Alex has written this excellent publish: Is it protected for a lady to journey in Pakistan?As well as, the Broke Backpacker has additionally written this magnificent girls’s interview.
36 – Pakistani intelligence is one of the best secret service on the planet – One of many the reason why Pakistan isn’t a harmful nation is due to the Pakistani intelligence, which is taken into account one of the best 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 might be. I do not forget that, whereas mountain climbing round a distant space within the Astore Valley, a person carrying 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 info on security, together with which areas are the most secure, learn my publish: Is Pakistan protected?
Paperwork and permits on your journey in Pakistan
37 – Don’t belief any supply of forms info, not even Towards the Compass – In Pakistan, guidelines should not written and matters are continually altering. Locations which not require a allow, may require it in a single day, by the following day it was altering it again once more.
A navy 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 info doesn’t circulation all through the nation, so you will note that everybody (together with nationwide police, native police, the Military, the locals, vacationers and blogs) will all the time have a distinct opinion. Don’t belief anybody. Examine it your self, when you’re on the bottom.
38 – In Pakistan the whole lot is feasible – If there’s something useful I learnt throughout my journey in Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, the whole lot is feasible and all of it is dependent upon your contacts. If you realize the correct folks, you are able to do completely the whole lot 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 – Learn 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 might probably take as much as Four or 5 working days to proceed. Moreover, Ishan, from SWAT Valley Backpackers can get it for you.
41 – When do you want an NOC – As I mentioned earlier than, don’t belief any supply of forms info. Throughout my journey in Pakistan, a good friend 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 want an NOC to go to Balochistan, the Khyber Cross 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 non-public rooms and consuming Three meals exterior.
43 – Every thing is negotiable – Every thing will be bargained for, particularly the resort 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 corporations, for those who come referenced by an area, you’re going to get a greater value.
45 – A money economic 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 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 may 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 one of the best cell operator, particularly within the northern areas. Besides within the Kalash Valley and a few distant areas in Higher Hunza, ZONG has the quickest web.
50 – Inform an area to enroll in you – The draw back of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, it’s essential 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 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 virtually each lengthy bus journey I took, we had a breakdown. Generally, we have been stopped for 2 hours! And in the future, we stopped as a result of the bus ran out of gasoline! Are you able to imagine it?
53 – Public buses & minivans go in all places – Like in most growing international locations the place most individuals can’t afford to purchase a 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 positively take NATCO VIP Bus ($17). Don’t fear, isn’t that VIP.
54 – Prepare – In Sindh and Punjab provinces to Peshawar, you’ll be able to transfer round by prepare. There are completely different prepare corporations however you must 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 cozy sufficient.
55 – Psychedelic vehicles are a lifestyle – Everyone falls in love with the vehicles in Pakistan, as they’re so significantly embellished that they’re a blessing to your lens.
56 – Hitchhiking is simply too straightforward – It’s really easy, that generally, it’s quicker and simpler than taking public transport, particularly on the Karakoram Freeway (from Gilgit to Khunjerab Cross). Everyone will need to choose 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 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 be aware that, for flying to and from Gilgit, it’s essential to e book a number of days (even weeks) prematurely. 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 – 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 get pleasure from 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, you’ll find 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 – Anticipate to have ten cups of chai a day – Chai, which is tea with milk, is a lifestyle in Pakistan and an indication of hospitality.
62 – Faucet water, be careful! – Don’t dare drink faucet water. Within the northern a part of the nation, the locals will let you know that the faucet water is nice, because it comes from the mountains and glaciers. This can be true, however I nonetheless obtained 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 onerous to search out) and don’t drink faucet water.
Lodging throughout your go to in Pakistan
64 – Costs will be negotiated to the acute – At any time when they let you know the worth, ask if they’ve a less expensive room. Critically, 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 let you know till the top of the negotiation. The nice matter is that, since there should not many backpackers, you might be probably to get the dorm only for your self!
66 – In most of Pakistan, you might be lined – In Pakistan, there may be loads of home tourism, so most touristic areas are stuffed with resorts for completely each funds, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.
67 – However it might be more durable to search out first rate lodging in the remainder of the nation – In cities like Peshawar, Karachi, Multan, and mainly anyplace exterior of Swat Valley, Chitral, Northern areas, Islamabad and Lahore, discovering first rate (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 resort advice per metropolis, learn my Pakistan Itinerary
Extra info it’s essential 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 develop into remoted, as a result of heavy snow. Alternatively, if you wish to go to the Sindh and Punjab provinces, it’s essential to are available 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 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 info from vacationers who’ve been there lately, this group is kind of helpful, plus can be an important 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 (largely 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. Due to this group, I’ve made a few excellent native pals! One be aware: ignore the folks from this group who desires to promote you garbage.
73 – Do not forget that in Pakistan you want pals – Pakistan isn’t a simple place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, pals are essential for a rustic the place guidelines should not written. The Karakoram Membership is a superb place to make native pals. In huge cities, particularly in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, Couchsurfing can be a giant 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 the whole lot it’s essential 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 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 accordance with your plan.