Helpful ideas for touring to Pakistan in 2020

travel Pakistan

In case 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 vans to driving over extraordinarily slim 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 possibly can camp in the course 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.

Occurring a visit to Pakistan requires somewhat little bit of preparation, in addition to numerous matters to know beforehand.

This Pakistan journey information accommodates every little thing it’s worthwhile to know, together with all journey data concerning visas, transportation, cultural etiquette, cultural conduct, prices and extra!

Traveling to Pakistan

On this Pakistan journey information you’ll discover:

Visa guidelines
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Greatest time to go to
How one can get to Pakistan
Pakistan as we speak
Cultural conduct and information
Books for touring in Pakistan
Safety & security
Forms and permits
Costs and cash
Web and calling
Meals, alcohol & chai
Extra data

Are you aware what a VPN is? A Digital Personal Community means that you can entry blocked websites if you journey, in addition to it helps you to entry content material solely obtainable in your house nation (like Netflix), plus it prevents hackers from stealing your private information. Be taught right here why you need to at all times use a VPN if you journey

How one can get a visa for visiting Pakistan

Right here you may have essentially the most up to date data

Earlier than Could 2019 – Getting a visa on the highway was not attainable, however you could possibly solely get it from your private home nation or nation of residence. 

After Could 2019 – They’ve lastly launched an e-visa system and as much as 176 nationalities can now apply for a Pakistani visa on-line.

How one can apply for a Pakistani e-visa 

You’ll be able to apply by way of this portal.

Matters it’s worthwhile to know concerning the e-visa:

  • Visa size – Formally, you will get a visa for as much as Three months. The applying says that you could stand up to 12 months however up to now, there aren’t any experiences from vacationers who’ve been in a position to get one. 
  • Multi-entry – You can too apply for a multi-entry visa legitimate for as much as 1 yr.
  • Value – I imagine it depends upon nationality and the size of your journey, however I maintain a Spanish passport and a single entry 2-month visa value me 35USD. Then, I attempted to use for a multi-entry visa and it value 52USD. 
  • Timing – The applying says the method might take as much as 7 days however it additionally might rely in your 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 prematurely. 
  • Letter of Invitation – For many nationalities, an LOI just isn’t required anymore. Alternatively, the system means that you can add a lodge 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. Within the hypothetical case you want an LOI, contact a tour operator. 
  • It may be used to enter by way of any port of entry, each airport and land borders.

After submitting your utility, your embassy has the suitable to name you for an interview, which implies that you’d must be in your house nation. Nevertheless, this solely occurs in uncommon circumstances. 

For extra data, Marco from Monkey Rock World has written a complete information/tutorial about tips on how to get a Pakistani e-visa.

How one can make a visa extension

Would you wish to spend extra time in Pakistan? No drawback.

Extending your visa whereas touring in Pakistan was a complicated course of, as all people has totally different experiences and guidelines had been consistently altering however, lastly, you will get your visa extension by way of the common e-visa portal, so long as you’re already in Pakistan and in possession of an e-visa. 

In case you traveled to Pakistan with a daily visa, you possibly can solely lengthen it on the passport workplace of any main metropolis, together with Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Chitral, Gilgit, and Skardu however, apparently, the simplest place is Lahore.

Visa for Pakistan
My visa for Pakistan, with each the entry & exit stamp – I acquired it within the Consulate of Barcelona

Journey insurance coverage for touring in Pakistan

Touring in Pakistan is a reasonably wild, adventurous expertise so getting correct journey insurance coverage is a should. 

World Nomads covers Pakistan and I like to recommend it for the next causes:

  • It covers trekking as much as 6,000 meters (be aware that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is extremely simple to succeed in 4,000-meter base camps. 
  • They supply with limitless medical bills (and Pakistan could be wild)


Pakistan tourism
Rakaposhi Base Camp, one of many prime and most accessible mountains I climbed once I visited Pakistan

Greatest time to go to Pakistan

Pakistan has many various areas, starting from sea-level, flat deserts to eight,000-meter peaks, so every season will current its personal peculiarities.

Winter (mid-November to February) – The very best time to go to the south a part of the nation, particularly Sindh province. These lands might not have the mountains Pakistan is known for however that is essentially the most religiously various area in Pakistan. However, most mountains in northern Pakistan stay completely inaccessible within the wintertime. You’ll be able to nonetheless get to the Northern Areas by way of the Karakoram Freeway, however you received’t be capable to go to any facet valley.

Summer season (June to September) – The very best season for visiting the Northern Areas, particularly when you like trekking in excessive altitude mountains.

Spring & Autumn – I personally traveled to Pakistan in April and Could and the mountains had been at their greatest, because the climate was attractive (most days), plus they weren’t busy with home tourism. Nevertheless, when you journey to Pakistan in early spring, late autumn, the mountains might not be that accessible. 

Touring in Pakistan throughout Ramadan – A subject by itself, with its professionals & cons. Misplaced with Goal traveled in Pakistan throughout Ramadan and wrote this insightful publish.

travel in Pakistan
This photograph was from mid-April. Not dangerous!

How one can go to Pakistan

By air – Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad have worldwide airports connecting with many Center Japanese cities, particularly Doha and Dubai

By land – Pakistan shares a border with Iran, Afghanistan, India, and China. You’ll be able to’t use the Afghan border to cross however the remainder are open:

  • China – The best border crossing on this planet. Learn my report.
  • India – A simple one, regardless of the diplomatic relationship between each nations. Learn this report
  • Iran – It goes by way of Baluchistan and it’s fairly an journey. Learn this report
visit Pakistan
Khunjerab Move, the Pakistani – Chinese language border and the best border crossing on this planet

What’s wish to journey in Pakistan as we speak

Earlier than 9/11, Pakistan was a touristic nation. 

Nicely, not that touristic, however its breathtaking mountains had been a preferred stopover for backpackers going alongside the well-known Hippie Path.

Actually, within the Northern Areas, you will discover a number of backpacker hostels which one way or the other, are the stays of what was a preferred vacation spot for intrepid backpackers. 

The 9/11 assaults, nevertheless, together with an enormous bunch of unlucky occasions, normally involving Taliban exercise and a great deal of violence, put an finish to the rising tourism trade.

Thankfully, matters have modified. 

Within the final couple of years, the safety scenario in Pakistan has dramatically improved and the Northern Areas of Pakistan are, as soon as once more, crammed with intrepid backpackers who wish to go to a number of the most jaw-dropping mountain surroundings you’ll ever see, and expertise the hospitality Pakistan is known for. 

Nonetheless, regardless of this large tourism enhance, Pakistan nonetheless stays uncooked, genuine, and real, and it’ll keep like that for a really very long time, particularly as a result of it isn’t a straightforward nation to journey to: vacationer infrastructure is in an embryonic stage, it’s troublesome to maneuver round and also you received’t meet many foreigners, in order that’s why I personally imagine that solely skilled vacationers ought to go to Pakistan. 

Nevertheless, touring in Pakistan is likely one of the most rewarding touring experiences one can ever have.

how to travel to pakistan
random locals, someplace in Astore Valley

Cultural conduct and information when touring in Pakistan

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, like in India.

Pakistan is likely one of the most ethnically and culturally various nations – From the South Asian wanting 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 nations. It’s fascinating.

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 this planet. Nicely, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these nations are very hospitable, Pakistanis convey it to the following degree. On this nation, you’re the visitor, which signifies that the locals try so that you can have the very best time of their nation or area.

The hospitality may even be overwhelming – Throughout your journey to 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’ll insist as soon as once more, time and again. They may also insist on carrying your bag and providing you meals 100 instances even when you say that you’re full. These are their cultural guidelines and you’re the visitor.

So overwhelming however simply don’t get offended – Sooner or later, some random males who I had by no means seen earlier than got here to my 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 only needed to hang around with me. I acquired somewhat bit offended, continued sleeping however then I sort of felt dangerous, as all they needed was to indicate me across the village.

Paying for meals – For some cause, Pakistanis at all times wish to pay in your meals to the extent that it will get awkward. I personally didn’t prefer it, particularly once I might see that the native individuals didn’t have a lot cash. If attainable, attempt to again them up.

Carrying a Shalwar Kameez – The normal Pakistani gown, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis put on, is known as shalwar kameez. Must you put on it? It’s not obligatory however, when you do, the locals will actually respect it, particularly within the Pashtun areas.

Islam – Pakistan is essentially the most conservative nation I’ve ever been to. You ought to be cautious and at all times respect their guidelines. In case you do, they may also respect you and you should have the perfect time of their nation.

visit Pakistan
Multan shrine, one of the vital stunning locations to go to in Pakistan

Helpful books for touring to Pakistan

That is only a collection of the perfect Three books however, if you wish to know all of the choices, keep in mind to verify this listing containing the perfect books on Pakistan, categorized into historical past, politics, novels and travelogues.

Pakistan 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 ideas. The creator, Tim, is an Australian man who has visited Pakistan 10 instances since 2006. A must have for anybody who visits Pakistan. 


To know concerning the tradition

Pakistan – Tradition Good!: The Important Information to Customs & Tradition – Tradition Good! is a well known assortment of books that present deep introductions to the tradition and customs of many nations. On this e book, they offer an excellent evaluation of the complexity of the tradition and sub-cultures in Pakistan, so you should have an excellent understanding of the cultural etiquette beforehand!


For extra political background

Pakistan, a tough nation – This award-winning e book provides you with a deep understanding of the scenario in Pakistan these days.


Safety and security if you journey in Pakistan

Pakistan just isn’t harmful however try to be cautious. You might need learn from different blogs that Pakistan is likely one of the most secure nations on this planet. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. Whereas I feel that Pakistan just isn’t a harmful nation, in some areas, it’s higher to be cautious, particularly within the area bordering Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, the scenario is simply getting higher and higher – Significantly, security in Pakistan has improved exponentially.

Police are there that will help you. All through your Pakistan travels, you’ll be repeatedly interrogated by dozens of various policemen and other people from the military. Who’re you? Why are you right here? The place are you going? In contrast to in different nations, in Pakistan, the police and navy are fairly cool and, in your personal safety, they’re commanded to ask you these questions.

You’ll have to register at greater than 100 safety verify posts. I’m not kidding. Throughout my 56-day journey to Pakistan, I needed to register greater than 100 instances at totally different military and police verify posts. Generally, to get from one vacation spot to a different, I needed to register greater than 10 instances! At every verify publish, you must get off the automotive or bus and write down all of your private data in a pocket book. This may decelerate your journey significantly.

Carry one thousand passport & visa photocopies. It’s good to convey a great deal of photocopies as a result of, at some verify posts, you probably have a passport copy, you don’t must get out of the automotive. In any other case, you will waste your time.

Sometimes, you get a private guard, free of charge – Once more, not kidding. For safety functions, in some areas, you’ll get a private armed guard. Generally, you might need to pay for his meals however, in keeping with the police, you aren’t compelled to. It’s as much as you. For extra data, learn my publish: Is Pakistan secure?

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. Nevertheless, after half an hour, you would possibly begin hating him as a result of he’ll put you below numerous restrictions.

Girls touring solo is extra widespread and safer than you assume – Girls inform fantastic matters about their experiences throughout their journeys by way of Pakistan. I’m not essentially the most certified individual to speak about this subject however watch this video:

Pakistani intelligence is likely one of the greatest secret providers on this planet – One of many explanation why Pakistan just isn’t 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’ll at all times know the place you’re. I do not forget that, whereas mountaineering 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 Pakistani intelligence.

For additional data on security, together with which areas are the most secure, learn my publish: Is Pakistan secure?

My trip to Pakistan
I do know, I’m fairly a badass… 😀 – My journey to Pakistan

Forms and permits in your journey in Pakistan

Don’t belief any supply of paperwork data, not even In opposition to the Compass – In Pakistan, guidelines aren’t written and matters are consistently altering. Locations that now not require a allow, would possibly require it in a single day, by the following day it was altering it again once more.

A navy man informed me as soon as that, when this occurs, it’s as a result of they’re suspicious of some Taliban or terrorist exercise.

This data doesn’t stream all through the nation, so you will notice that everybody (together with nationwide police, native police, the Military, the locals, vacationers, and blogs) will at all times have a unique opinion. Don’t belief anybody. Examine it your self, when you’re on the bottom.

In Pakistan every little thing is feasible – If there’s something priceless I learnt throughout my journey to Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, every little thing is feasible and all of it depends upon your contacts. If the suitable individuals, you are able to do completely every little thing you need, together with visiting forbidden areas with no allow.

What it’s worthwhile to find out about NOC

  • What’s it? A No Objection Certificates, which is mainly, a allow required for sure restricted areas.
  • How one can get? – One of the best ways to get it’s by way of a neighborhood with contacts. In case you don’t know any native, contact your embassy, however it could possibly take as much as Four or 5 working days to proceed. 
  • When do you want it? – As I mentioned earlier than, don’t belief any supply of paperwork data. Throughout my journey to Pakistan, a buddy of mine was required to get an NOC to make use of the highway between Timargara and Chitral. Sooner or later later, I attempted to make use of that highway however the NOC was not required anymore. Nevertheless, formally, you would want an NOC to go to Balochistan, the Khyber Move, Tribal Areas and Kashmir (some areas of Kashmir).
trip to Pakistan
Climbing round Kalam, Swat Valley, one of the vital stunning locations I from my Pakistani journey

Cash in Pakistan

In Pakistan, they use the Pakistani Rupee (PKR) and, roughly, 1USD = 160PKR

Money & ATMs – Pakistan is a money economic system, so higher convey money, particularly within the Northern Areas, the place. In fact, you will discover ATMs in all huge cities however not all of them will settle for overseas playing cards.

How a lot does it value to journey to Pakistan

However earlier than, a number of matters it’s worthwhile to know:

  • In Pakistan, every little thing is negotiable: All the pieces could be bargained for, particularly the lodge rooms. Anticipate to pay totally different quantities from different company.
  • At all times include a reference: Whenever you journey in Pakistan, contacts are crucial and that’s why in both accommodations or trekking tour firms when you come referenced by a neighborhood, you’ll get a greater worth.

In any case, this can be a fairly low cost nation and I feel you possibly can simply journey to Pakistan for lower than 20 a day, sleeping in non-public rooms and consuming Three meals outdoors. These are the (approximate) costs of the commonest matters:

  • Native meal – 150PKR
  • Native meal in a mid-range restaurant – 250-500PKR
  • Meal in a flowery restaurant of Lahore – from 1500PKR
  • Personal room in a funds lodge – As much as 1500PKR
  • Personal room in a mid-range lodge – Round 3,000PKR
  • Lengthy bus rides (Islamabad to Gilgit) – Round 2,500PKR for a VIP ticket (you wish to get a VIP, belief me)
Pakistani rupees
Pakistani rupees! – Pakistan journey weblog

Web and calling

Besides in Gilgit-Baltistan, the web works moderately nicely all through the nation.

Within the Northern Areas, the connectivity is terrible or non-existent relying on the place you go. 

I acquired a SIM Card from a Chinese language firm referred to as ZONG which is meant to be the perfect for just about anyplace within the nation. Within the Northern Areas, nevertheless, it barely labored and, apparently, it’s worthwhile to get an organization named SCOM, which you will discover in Gilgit, 

Professional-tip: Inform a neighborhood to get a SIM Card for you – The draw back of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, it’s worthwhile to go to the central workplace and pay fairly some huge cash to enroll in it (20 or 30USD). Inform a neighborhood to enroll in you, so that you’ll simply pay the native worth and get it in a short time.

Pakistan travel guide
My workplace for a day

Transportation for touring round Pakistan

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!

You’ll be taught to be affected person – In completely nearly each lengthy bus journey I took, we had a breakdown. Generally, we had 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 imagine it?

Psychedelic vans are a lifestyle – Everyone falls in love with the vans in Pakistan, as they’re so notably embellished that they’re a blessing to your lens.

Methods of shifting round if you journey in Pakistan

Public buses & minivans go all over the place – Like in most growing nations 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 need to undoubtedly take NATCO VIP Bus ( round 17USD). Don’t fear, just isn’t that VIP.

Practice – In Sindh, Punjab, and Peshawar, you possibly can transfer round by prepare. There are totally different prepare firms however you need to at all times take the non-public 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. For extra data, verify this prepare information to Pakistan

Hitchhiking is just 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 Move). Everyone 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 girls inside.

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. E book your flights right here. Please be aware that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you will need to e book a number of days (even weeks) prematurely. Additionally, keep in mind that many flights get canceled because of the climate situation.

trip in Pakistan
Loopy (and delightful) roads – How to go to Pakistan

Meals, drinks, and alcohol

Meals is extraordinarily oily – Pakistanis love oil an excessive amount of. They put tons of it in completely each meal, together with within the steamed rice, which they’ll at all times fry afterwards. If you end up in a restaurant, at all times ask for half fried.

It’s nearly dry – Within the Sindh province and Islamabad, you will discover liquor shops. In the remainder of the nation, alcohol is simply obtainable on the black market, however most locals (who drink) can get it for you simply.

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.

Faucet water, be careful! – Don’t dare drink faucet water. Within the northern a part of the nation, the locals will inform you that the faucet water is nice, because it comes from the mountains and glaciers. This can be true, however I nonetheless acquired sick once I drank from a mountain fountain. At all times use a water air purifier.

You’ll get sick – I don’t know anybody who didn’t get sick in his abdomen when touring in Pakistan. Attempt to keep away from salad, meals stalls with flies (they’re exhausting to search out) and don’t drink faucet water.

Pakistani food
This meal, specifically, was one in every of my favourite ones in Pakistan – Pakistan journey data

Lodging if you end up touring to Pakistan

There are all kinds of accommodations throughout the nation, from funds rooms to a couple hostels and luxurious accommodations.

Reserving websites akin to Hostelworld and are rising in reputation however, relying on the vacation spot you journey to, it’s possible you’ll not discover numerous choices or, no less than, no funds accommodations.

If you wish to keep in a funds lodge or native guesthouse, you might have to learn blogs or ask anybody on-line. In my Pakistan Itinerary, I give some choices.

Anyway, there are a number of matters it’s worthwhile to find out about lodging in Pakistan:

Costs could be negotiated to the intense – At any time when 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.

If you’re on a funds, at all times ask if they’ve a dorm – Surprisingly, many accommodations have dorms they usually don’t inform you till the tip of the negotiation. The great matter is that, since there aren’t many backpackers, you’re probably to get the dorm only for your self!

In most of Pakistan, you’re coated – In Pakistan, there may be numerous home tourism, so most touristic areas are crammed with accommodations for completely each funds, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.

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 outdoors of Swat Valley, Chitral, Northern areas, Islamabad and Lahore, discovering first rate (funds) lodging could also be difficult.

Couchsurfing is kind of fashionable! – There are a great deal of profiles, particularly in huge cities.

travel guide Pakistan northern areas
Husseini bridge, Hunza, a prime place to go to when touring to Pakistan

Extra data for touring to Pakistan

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 it’s also an excellent place to fulfill different vacationers who’re touring in Pakistan concurrently you.

Signal as much as The Karakoram Membership Fb Group – That is an superior discussion board to fulfill locals, who will offer you native ideas, in addition to an opportunity to fulfill up with them. Due to this group, I’ve made a few superb native pals! One be aware: ignore the individuals from this group who desires to promote you garbage.

Keep in mind that in Pakistan you want pals – Pakistan just isn’t a straightforward place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, pals are essential for a rustic the place guidelines aren’t written. The Karakoram Membership is a superb place to make native pals. In huge 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

Examine right here the greatest books and novels on Pakistan!

Are you touring to Iran? Right here you can too 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 every little thing it’s worthwhile to know! In case 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 sudden occasions.

From countless bus breakdowns to time-consuming verify posts, new native pals and paradises the place you wish to spend ages, throughout your Pakistan travels, you’ll notice that nothing will go in keeping with your plan.

travel to Pakistan

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