This submit 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. You probably have any additional data, kindly let me know as a result of, in Pakistan, guidelines do change shortly!
Should 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 vehicles to driving over extraordinarily slender 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 possibly can camp in the course of a paradise fully by your self.
Touring to Pakistan is, positively, the last word expertise and journey.
Nevertheless, this isn’t significantly a straightforward place to journey in. Happening a visit to Pakistan requires a bit 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. Nevertheless, 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 way in which, if you wish to maintain monitor of all my travels and images, keep in mind to comply with @againstthecompass on Instagram.
This information incorporates all the sensible data. For locations to go to, don’t overlook to test my 1-month Pakistan itinerary
Right here you’ll discover:
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator in Pakistan
Cultural conduct and information
Books for touring in Pakistan
Safety & security
Forms and permits
Costs and cash
Web and calling
Trekking in Pakistan
Meals, alcohol & chai
Different basic data you need to know
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Visa for visiting Pakistan
NEW data Might 2019
1 – Earlier than April/Might 2019, you couldn’t get a visa on the highway – As a rule of thumb, a Pakistani visa might solely be utilized for from your property 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 permits you to 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 yr.
5 – Value – I imagine 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 isn’t required anymore – Alternatively, the system permits you to add a resort reserving affirmation (as an alternative of the LOI). They simply require a reserving for the primary few days after which you possibly can cancel it instantly.
7 – Nevertheless, it isn’t as superior because it appears – The system presents fairly just a few bugs, like some capabilities don’t work (solely typically) and, while you submit your software, the data will probably be despatched to the embassy/consulate of your nation of residence and the issue is that the embassies themselves usually are not totally 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 let you know to use the standard means.
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 can 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’s endorsed to use prematurely.
9 – Easy methods 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 legitimate tour operator however, sadly, most of them power you to guide a tour.
Fortunately, I discovered the fellows from Discover my Journey, a fairly cool native tour firm who can difficulty an LOI and all you need to do is reserving both a Lahore Metropolis tour or a resort, that’s it.
They cost you 100USD for the LOI and the Lahore Metropolis tour begins at 10USD. Sure, it is rather low-cost, that’s why I like to recommend them.
Furthermore, you will get an unique 10% low cost by utilizing the promo code ATC-PAK. Simply e-mail them by 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 through embassy – Some embassies (just like the one Beirut) might let you know to use through the standard means, which sucks so much, particularly as a result of you possibly can 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 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 difficulty it in lower than every week.
11 – Visa extensions – Nicely, the e-visa portal has an extension part/possibility however to this point, I don’t know from anybody who has tried it.
In any case, visa extensions might be simply accomplished 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 – Severely, each particular person touring to Pakistan could have a very totally different expertise after they attempt to prolong their visa. The reason being that guidelines usually are not written and it’ll all rely upon the one that is behind the counter on that particular day. Welcome to Pakistan. Nevertheless, most vacationers declare that Lahore is the simplest place to do it.
Nonetheless, some individuals declare that they needed to wait for two weeks to get the extension whereas others only a few days. Furthermore, some individuals obtained an extension solely in the course of their present visa, whereas others obtained 5 months.
What appears to be a relentless is which you could solely prolong it just a few days previous to your expiring date, however not earlier than. For extra data, learn this submit from my buddy Alex: Extending your visa in Lahore
13 – Overstaying and leaving overland- Once more, everyone could have totally 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 mentioned that I didn’t have any cash, they let me go together with a smile. Please word that I left by the Pakistan-China border, at Khunjerab Go
Journey insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan
14 – Your common journey insurance coverage reminiscent of World Nomads (lastly) covers Pakistan – And there are two explanation why I believe World Nomads is the perfect insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan:
- It covers trekking as much as 6,000 meters (word that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is rather simple to succeed in 4,000-meter base camps.
- They supply with limitless medical bills (and Pakistan might be wild)
15 – If you wish to know extra choices, learn the best way to discover the appropriate journey insurance coverage for Pakistan.
Tour operator for visiting Pakistan
16 – Once you go to Pakistan, some individuals 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 might prepare completely something you need, from driving the Karakoram Freeway to trekking the K2 Base Camp and any custom-made tour or trek it’s possible you’ll give you.
Furthermore, you will get an unique 10% low cost (on any tour) by utilizing my promo code ATC-PAK.
Simply e-mail them through their contact web page, mentioning my weblog and the code and inform them which form of tour you need.
Cultural conduct and information when touring in Pakistan
17 – Urdu, which is like Hindi, is the official language – Nevertheless, every area has its personal (or a number of) native languages, so totally different from one another. English is extensively spoken amongst educated individuals.
18 – Pakistan is without doubt one of the most ethnically and culturally numerous international locations – From the South Asian trying individuals of Punjab and Sindh; to the individuals of the Pashtun areas, nearer to Iran or Afghanistan; the pagan tradition of Kalash; the Shias from Gilgit and Nagar; the Ismailis of decrease Hunza and the Wakhis (and likewise Ismailis) of higher Hunza. Touring in Pakistan is like touring in a number of, totally different tiny international locations. It’s fascinating.
19 – Keep in mind, you’re the visitor – Individuals are likely to say that, in Iran, Sudan and Iraqi Kurdistan, you discover essentially the most hospitable individuals on the planet. Nicely, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these international locations are very hospitable, Pakistanis carry 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 individuals’s homes so many instances 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 will even insist on carrying your bag and providing you meals 100 instances 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 – Someday, 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 obtained a bit bit offended, continued sleeping however then I form of felt dangerous, as all they needed was to indicate me across the village.
21 – Paying for meals – For some cause, Pakistanis all the time wish to pay on your meals to the extent that it will get awkward. I personally didn’t prefer it, particularly after I might see that the native individuals didn’t have a lot cash. If potential, attempt to again them up.
22 – Carrying a Shalwar Kameez – The normal Pakistani gown, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis put on, known as shalwar kameez. Must you put on it? It’s not obligatory however, should you 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. Try to be cautious and all the time respect their guidelines. Should you do, they will even respect you and you’ll have the very 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 stuffed with maps and countless journey suggestions. The creator, 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, Funds Paperback, and book. A must have!
Funds model: CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES ON AMAZON
Full-color model: CLICK HERE TO CHECK PRICES ON AMAZON
25 – To know concerning the tradition – Pakistan – Tradition Good!: The Important Information to Customs & Tradition
26 – For extra political background – Pakistan, a tough nation – This award-winning guide will provide you with a deep understanding of the state of affairs in Pakistan these days.
27- Overcome language boundaries – Urdu-English phrasebook – Most educated individuals communicate good English however, should you plan to go to distant villages or the mountains, you will have information of Urdu to speak with the locals.
28 – A traditional – Pakistan Lonely Planet Information – It’s actually outdated however, should you like to gather Lonely Planet guides, maybe you want 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 isn’t harmful however you ought to be cautious. You may 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 will help you. All through your Pakistan travels, you’ll be constantly interrogated by dozens of various policemen and other people from the military. Who’re you? Why are you right here? The place are you going? Not like in different 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 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. Typically, to get from one vacation spot to a different, I needed to register greater than 10 instances! At every test submit, you need to get off the automobile or bus and write down all of your private data in a pocket book. This can decelerate your journey significantly.
32 – Carry one thousand passport & visa photocopies. It’s good to carry a great deal of photocopies as a result of, at some test posts, if in case you have a passport copy, you don’t should get out of the automobile. 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’re going to get a private armed guard. Typically, you may need to pay for his meals however, in line with the police, you aren’t pressured to. It’s as much as you. For extra data, learn my submit: Is Pakistan protected?
34 – Having a private armed guard appears form of cool however, to be trustworthy, it’s not that a lot – The primary time you get an armed guard you get form of excited. WOW! I’ve a guard who carries an AK-47 for simply myself! Nevertheless, after half an hour, you may begin hating him as a result of he’ll put you underneath quite a lot 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 Pakistan. I’m not essentially the most certified particular person to speak about this subject however my buddy Alex has written this glorious submit: Is it protected for a girl to journey in Pakistan?As well as, the Broke Backpacker has additionally written this magnificent ladies’s interview.
36 – Pakistani intelligence is the very best secret service on the planet – One of many explanation why Pakistan isn’t a harmful nation is due to the Pakistani intelligence, which is taken into account the very best intelligence corps on the planet, 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 carrying a salwar kameez (the standard 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 submit: Is Pakistan protected?
Forms and permits on your journey in Pakistan
37 – Don’t belief any supply of paperwork data, not even In opposition to the Compass – In Pakistan, guidelines usually are not written and matters are continually altering. Locations which now 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 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 circulation all through the nation, so you will notice that everybody (together with nationwide police, native police, the Military, the locals, vacationers and blogs) will all the time have a special opinion. Don’t belief anybody. Test it your self, when you’re on the bottom.
38 – In Pakistan every thing is feasible – If there’s something beneficial I learnt throughout my journey in Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, every thing is feasible and all of it is determined by your contacts. If you recognize the appropriate individuals, you are able to do completely every thing you need, together with visiting forbidden areas with out a allow.
39 – What’s an NOC? – A No Objection Certificates, which is mainly, a allow required for sure restricted areas.
40 – Easy methods to get an NOC – One of the simplest ways to get an NOC is thru a neighborhood with contacts. Should you don’t know any native, contact your embassy, however it could actually 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 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. Someday later, I attempted to make use of that highway however the NOC was not required anymore. Nevertheless, 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 possibly can simply journey in Pakistan for lower than $20 a day, sleeping in personal rooms and consuming Three meals exterior.
43 – Every part is negotiable – Every part might be bargained for, particularly the resort rooms. Count on to pay totally different quantities from different company.
44 – At all times include a reference – Throughout your journey in Pakistan, contacts are essential and that’s why in both resorts or trekking tour corporations, should you come referenced by a neighborhood, you’re going to get a greater value.
45 – A money economic 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 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 top of 2017, the Chinese language could 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 very 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 a neighborhood to join you – The draw back of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, you have to go the central workplace and pay fairly some huge cash to join it ($20 or $30). Inform a neighborhood 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 study to be affected person – In completely virtually each lengthy bus journey I took, we had a breakdown. Typically, we had 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 all over the 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 essentially the most luxurious bus. For touring to Gilgit from Islamabad, you need to positively take NATCO VIP Bus ($17). Don’t fear, isn’t that VIP.
54 – Practice – In Sindh and Punjab provinces to Peshawar, you possibly can transfer round by practice. There are totally different practice corporations however you need to all the time take the personal ones, as they’re extra punctual. Use AC commonplace, 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 significantly 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 Go). All people will wish 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 automobiles with ladies inside.
57 – Aircraft is fairly handy – Touring by bus from Islamabad to the northern areas, together with Chitral, Gilgit and Skardu takes ages (from 15 to 20 hours). There are flights connecting Islamabad with all these cities. Tickets price as much as $100, roughly. Guide your flights right here. Please word that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you have to guide a number of days (even weeks) prematurely. Additionally keep in mind that many flights get canceled as a result of climate situation.
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 in case you are 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 are going to all the time fry afterwards. When you’re in a restaurant, all the time ask for half fried.
60 – It’s virtually dry – Within the Sindh province and Islamabad, you will discover liquor shops. In the remainder of the nation, alcohol is simply out there 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 sweet, because it comes from the mountains and glaciers. This can be true, however I nonetheless obtained sick after I drank from a mountain fountain. At all times use a water air purifier.
63 – You’ll get sick – I don’t know anybody who didn’t get sick in his abdomen throughout his journey in Pakistan. Attempt to keep away from salad, meals stalls with flies (they’re onerous to seek out) and don’t drink faucet water.
Lodging throughout your go to in Pakistan
64 – Costs might be negotiated to the intense – Every 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 resorts have dorms they usually don’t let you know till the top of the negotiation. The nice matter is that, since there usually are 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 quite a lot 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 seek out respectable 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 respectable (funds) lodging could also be difficult.
68 – Couchsurfing is quiter widespread! – There are a great deal of profiles, particularly within the huge cities.
If you wish to know all my resort advice per metropolis, learn my Pakistan Itinerary
Extra data you have 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 grow to be remoted, as a result of heavy snow. Then again, if you wish to go to the Sindh and Punjab provinces, you have to are available in winter, from November till February, when the climate is cooler.
70 – Border crossing in Pakistan – You possibly can enter or exit from China (right here’s my report), India (learn this submit from the Broke Backpacker) and Iran (learn this submit 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 sort of helpful, plus can be a fantastic 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 (largely Pakistanis) that is an superior discussion board to fulfill locals, who will offer you native suggestions, in addition to an opportunity to fulfill up with them. Due to this group, I’ve made a few superb native pals! One word: ignore the individuals from this group who desires to promote you garbage.
73 – Keep in mind that in Pakistan you want pals – Pakistan isn’t a straightforward place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, pals are essential for a rustic the place guidelines usually are not written. The Karakoram Membership is a good place to make native pals. In huge cities, particularly in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, Couchsurfing can be an enormous 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 too can see all my articles and guides to Iran
And in case you are touring to Central Asia, don’t overlook to test all my guides to the Stans
That’s every thing you have to know! Should 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 countless bus breakdowns to time-consuming test posts, new native pals and paradises the place you wish to spend ages, throughout your Pakistan travels, you’ll understand that nothing will go in line with your plan.