This publish is being frequently up to date thanks the continual enter I get from some superior vacationers. All the knowledge you see right here relies on the most recent updates. You probably have any additional data, kindly let me know as a result of, in Pakistan, guidelines do change rapidly!
If you happen to ever resolve 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, probably the most placing panorama and the truth that you possibly can 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 significantly a simple place to journey in. Occurring a visit to Pakistan requires just a little little bit of preparation, in addition to numerous 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 observe @againstthecompass on Instagram.
This information accommodates all the sensible data. For locations to go to, don’t neglect to examine my 1-month Pakistan itinerary
Right here one can find:
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator in Pakistan
Cultural habits 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 common 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 highway – As a rule of thumb, a Pakistani visa might solely be utilized for from your own 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 means that you can 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 consider it is determined by nationality and the size of your journey however I maintain a Spanish passport and the only entry 2-month visa prices 35USD. Then, I attempted to use for the multi-entry visa and it price 52USD.
6 – Apparently, a Letter of Invitation shouldn’t be required anymore – Alternatively, the system means that you can add a lodge reserving affirmation (as a substitute of the LOI). They only require a reserving for the primary few days after which you possibly can cancel it instantly.
7 – Nevertheless, it’s not as superior because it appears – The system presents fairly just a few bugs, like some features don’t work (solely typically) and, if you submit your software, the knowledge will probably 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 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 standard 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 reviews/questions, you might be welcome to remark beneath.
8 – Timing – Once more, this may rely on the embassy. One traveler claimed that he received it in in the future whereas others say it takes a number of days. It’s endorsed to use prematurely.
9 – Tips on how to get your Letter of Invitation – I like to recommend you attempt to apply with a lodge reserving but when it doesn’t work, you’ll have to get a Letter of Invitation.
An LOI can solely be offered by a sound tour operator however, sadly, most of them power 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 lodge, that’s it.
They cost you 100USD for the LOI and the Lahore Metropolis tour begins at 10USD. Sure, it is rather low-cost, that’s why I like to recommend them.
Furthermore, you will get an unique 10% low cost through the use of the promo code ATC-PAK. Simply electronic mail them by means of their contact web page, mentioning my weblog and the promo code.
By the way in which, this 10% low cost can be utilized on any of their custom-made excursions.
10 – Making use of by way of embassy – Some embassies (just like the one Beirut) might inform you to use by way of the standard approach, which sucks lots, particularly as a result of you possibly can solely apply on the embassy out of your nation of residence they usually at all times require an LOI.
Embassy guidelines fluctuate 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 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 problem it in lower than every week.
11 – Visa extensions – Effectively, the e-visa portal has an extension part/possibility however up to now, 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 individual touring to Pakistan can have a totally completely different expertise once they attempt to prolong their visa. The reason being that guidelines should not 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 received an extension solely in the course of their present visa, whereas others received 5 months.
What appears to be a continuing is which you can solely prolong it just a few 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 can have completely different experiences right here. The official data says that, if you happen to overstay for lower than 15 days, you’ll have to pay a small charge. 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 be aware 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 comparable to World Nomads (lastly) covers Pakistan – And there are two explanation why I believe World Nomads is the best insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan:
- The essential plan already covers trekking as much as 6,000 meters (be aware that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is rather straightforward to achieve 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 secure however security is a subjective subject and, if that could 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, severely, their fundamental coverage may be very low-cost. Nevertheless, other than these unlucky occasions, First Allied may be very restricted on the subject of trekking, medical bills for getting sick, and so forth., so if you wish to be 100% coated, it ought to complement your World Nomads insurance coverage.
For extra data and choices, learn: Tips on how to discover the fitting journey insurance coverage for Pakistan
Tour operator for visiting Pakistan
16 – If you go to Pakistan, some folks choose to go on a tour – Pakistan is a fairly wild nation, so I completely perceive why some vacationers would favor to journey with an skilled tour information, particularly if you go trekking.
I undoubtedly advocate the fellows from Discover my Journey, a stable 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 custom-made tour or trek it’s possible 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 by way of their contact web page, mentioning my weblog and the code and inform them which sort of tour you need.
Cultural habits and 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 without doubt one of the most ethnically and culturally various nations – From the South Asian wanting folks of Punjab and Sindh; to the folks of the Pashtun areas, nearer to Iran or Afghanistan; the pagan tradition of Kalash; the Shias from Gilgit and Nagar; the Ismailis of decrease Hunza and the Wakhis (and in addition Ismailis) of higher Hunza. Touring in Pakistan is like touring in a number of, completely different tiny nations. 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 probably the most hospitable folks on this planet. Effectively, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these nations are very hospitable, Pakistanis carry it to the following stage. On this nation, you’re the visitor, which signifies that the locals attempt so that you can have the absolute best time of their nation or area.
19 – The hospitality may even be overwhelming – Throughout your journey in Pakistan, you’ll be invited for lunch, dinner and even to remain at folks’s homes so many occasions that, on many events, you’ll have to refuse.
After your refusal, they may insist as soon as once more, time and again. They may also insist on carrying your bag and providing you meals 100 occasions even if you happen to 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 received 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 motive, Pakistanis at all times 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 doable, attempt to again them up.
22 – Sporting a Shalwar Kameez – The standard Pakistani costume, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis put on, is known as shalwar kameez. Must you put on it? It’s not obligatory however, if you happen to do, the locals will actually admire it, particularly within the Pashtun areas.
23 – Islam – Pakistan is probably the most conservative nation I’ve ever been to. You need to be cautious and at all times respect their guidelines. If you happen to do, they may also respect you and you should have the perfect time of their nation.
Helpful books for touring to Pakistan
24 – Finest journey information – Pakistan Traveller – That is probably the most up-to-date and supreme guidebook about Pakistan. 256 pages stuffed with maps and infinite journey suggestions. The writer, Tim, is an Australian man who has visited Pakistan 10 occasions since 2006. The information is accessible in numerous codecs, together with Full-color paperback, Funds 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 will provide you with a deep understanding of the scenario in Pakistan these days.
247- Overcome language limitations – Urdu-English phrasebook – Most educated folks converse good English however, if you happen to plan to go to distant villages or the mountains, you have to information of Urdu to speak with the locals.
28 – A basic – Pakistan Lonely Planet Information – It’s actually outdated however, if you happen to 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 if you journey in Pakistan
29 – Pakistan shouldn’t 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 nations on this planet. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. Whereas I believe that Pakistan shouldn’t be a harmful nation, in some areas, it’s higher to be cautious, particularly within the area bordering Afghanistan.
30 – Police are there that can assist you. All through your Pakistan travels, you’ll be constantly interrogated by dozens of various policemen and folks from the military. Who’re you? Why are you right here? The place are you going? Not like in different nations, in Pakistan, the police and army are fairly cool and, to your personal safety, they’re commanded to ask you these questions.
31 – You’ll have to register at greater than 100 safety examine 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 examine posts. Generally, to get from one vacation spot to a different, I needed to register greater than 10 occasions! At every examine publish, you must 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 – Convey one thousand passport & visa photocopies. It’s good to carry a great deal of photocopies as a result of, at some examine posts, you probably have a passport copy, you don’t should get out of the automobile. In any other case, you will waste your time.
33 – Sometimes, 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. Generally, you might need to pay for his meals however, in accordance 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 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 beneath loads of restrictions.
35 – Ladies touring solo is extra frequent and safer than you assume – Ladies inform great matters about their experiences throughout their journeys by means of Pakistan. I’m not probably the most certified individual to speak about this subject however my good friend Alex has written this glorious publish: Is it secure 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 perfect secret service on this planet – One of many explanation why Pakistan shouldn’t be a harmful nation is because of the Pakistani intelligence, which is taken into account the perfect intelligence corps on this planet, even higher than the CIA.
Bear in mind that they’re watching your steps and they’re going to at all times know the place you might be. I keep in mind that, whereas climbing round a distant space within the Astore Valley, a person sporting a salwar kameez (the standard Pakistani garments), got here to me and stated, ”You’re the Spanish, proper?” Sure, he was from the Pakistani intelligence.
For additional data on security, together with which areas are the most secure, learn my publish: Is Pakistan secure?
Forms and permits to your journey in Pakistan
37 – Don’t belief any supply of paperwork data, not even Towards the Compass – In Pakistan, guidelines should not written and matters are always 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 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 note that everybody (together with nationwide police, native police, the Military, the locals, vacationers and blogs) will at all times have a distinct opinion. Don’t belief anybody. Verify it your self, when you’re on the bottom.
38 – In Pakistan all the things is feasible – If there’s something worthwhile I learnt throughout my journey in Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, all the things is feasible and all of it is determined by your contacts. If the fitting folks, you are able to do completely all the things you need, together with visiting forbidden areas and not using a allow.
39 – What’s an NOC? – A No Objection Certificates, which is mainly, a allow required for sure restricted areas.
40 – Tips on how to get an NOC – The easiest way to get an NOC is thru an area with contacts. If you happen to don’t know any native, contact your embassy, however it could take as much as Four or 5 working days to proceed. Moreover, Ishan, from SWAT Valley Backpackers can get it for you.
41 – When do you want an NOC – As I stated earlier than, don’t belief any supply of paperwork data. Throughout my journey in Pakistan, a 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. 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 may simply journey in Pakistan for lower than $20 a day, sleeping in personal rooms and consuming Three meals outdoors.
43 – Every little thing is negotiable – Every little thing could be bargained for, particularly the lodge rooms. Count on to pay completely different quantities from different visitors.
44 – At all times include a reference – Throughout your journey in Pakistan, contacts are crucial and that’s why in both accommodations or trekking tour firms, if you happen to come referenced by an area, you’re going to get a greater worth.
45 – A money economic system – Pakistan barely believes in bank cards. Convey money.
46 – Pakistani Rupees are the official foreign money – On the time of writing, 1USD = 100PKR, which makes it fairly straightforward to transform.
Web and calling
47 – Web – Besides in Gilgit-Baltistan, the web works fairly nicely 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 nicely.
49 – Get ZONG – Don’t assume 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 join you – The draw back of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, you should 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 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 be taught to be affected person – In completely nearly 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 consider it?
53 – Public buses & minivans go in all places – Like in most growing nations the place most individuals can’t afford to purchase a automobile, buses and minivans journey to even the remotest areas within the nation. In Sindh and Punjab provinces, Daewoo is probably the most luxurious bus. For touring to Gilgit from Islamabad, you must undoubtedly take NATCO VIP Bus ($17). Don’t fear, shouldn’t be that VIP.
54 – Practice – In Sindh and Punjab provinces to Peshawar, you possibly can transfer round by prepare. There are completely different prepare firms however you must at all times 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 cozy 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 just too straightforward – It’s really easy, that typically, 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 common rule, on the KKH, I didn’t hitchhike on motorbikes (there are such a lot of accidents) and vehicles with ladies inside.
57 – Airplane is fairly handy – Touring by bus from Islamabad to the northern areas, together with Chitral, Gilgit and Skardu takes ages (from 15 to 20 hours). There are flights connecting Islamabad with all these cities. Tickets price as much as $100, roughly. Guide your flights right here. Please be aware that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you should e-book 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 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 if you’re a newbie trekker, you are able to do brief 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 may at all times fry afterwards. If you end up in a restaurant, at all times ask for half fried.
60 – It’s nearly dry – Within the Sindh province and Islamabad, you will discover liquor shops. In the remainder of the nation, alcohol is barely obtainable 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 sweet, because it comes from the mountains and glaciers. This can be true, however I nonetheless received 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 exhausting to search 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 worth.
65 – In case you are on a finances, at all times ask if they’ve a dorm – Surprisingly, many accommodations have dorms they usually don’t inform you till the top of the negotiation. The great matter is that, since there should not many backpackers, you might be almost definitely to get the dorm only for your self!
66 – In most of Pakistan, you might be coated – In Pakistan, there may be loads of home tourism, so most touristic areas are stuffed with accommodations for completely each finances, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.
67 – However it might be tougher to search out first rate lodging in the remainder of the nation – In cities like Peshawar, Karachi, Multan, and mainly wherever outdoors of Swat Valley, Chitral, Northern areas, Islamabad and Lahore, discovering first rate (finances) lodging could also be difficult.
68 – Couchsurfing is quiter common! – There are a great deal of profiles, particularly within the large cities.
If you wish to know all my lodge suggestion per metropolis, learn my Pakistan Itinerary
Extra data you should know for touring to Pakistan
69 – When to journey to Pakistan – Most vacationers come to Pakistan due to the mountains. Nevertheless, 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, you should 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 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 just lately, this group is kind of helpful, plus can also be an amazing 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 give you native suggestions, in addition to an opportunity to fulfill up with them. Due to this group, I’ve made a few excellent native mates! One be aware: ignore the folks from this group who needs to promote you garbage.
73 – Keep in mind that in Pakistan you want mates – Pakistan shouldn’t be a simple place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, mates are essential for a rustic the place guidelines should not written. The Karakoram Membership is a superb place to make native mates. In large cities, particularly in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, Couchsurfing can also 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 it’s also possible to see all my articles and guides to Iran
And if you’re touring to Central Asia, don’t neglect to examine all my guides to the Stans
That’s all the things you should know! If you happen to assume 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 infinite bus breakdowns to time-consuming examine posts, new native mates and paradises the place you wish to spend ages, throughout your Pakistan travels, you’ll notice that nothing will go in accordance with your plan.