Helpful ideas for touring to Pakistan in 2020

travel Pakistan

If you happen to 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 slender mountain roads constructed on a cliff 1,500 meters excessive, troopers who voluntarily provide you with their AK-47 for taking a photograph, probably the most putting 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, undoubtedly, the final word expertise and journey.

Nevertheless, this isn’t significantly a simple place to journey in.

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

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

Traveling to Pakistan

On this Pakistan journey information you can see:

Visa guidelines
Journey Insurance coverage for Pakistan
Finest time to go to
Methods to get to Pakistan
Pakistan immediately
Cultural habits and details
Books for touring in Pakistan
Safety & security
Paperwork and permits
Costs and cash
Web and calling
Meals, alcohol & chai
Extra data

Are you aware what a VPN is? A Digital Non-public Community permits you to entry blocked websites if you journey, in addition to it enables you to entry content material solely obtainable in your house nation (like Netflix), plus it prevents hackers from stealing your private information. Study right here why you must at all times use a VPN if you journey

Methods to get a visa for visiting Pakistan

Right here you have got probably the most up to date data

Earlier than Could 2019 – Getting a visa on the street was not doable, however you might solely get it from your own 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.

Methods to apply for a Pakistani e-visa 

You possibly can apply by means of this portal.

Matters it’s good 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 would be able to stand up to 12 months however thus far, there aren’t any stories 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.
  • Worth – I consider it is determined by nationality and the size of your journey, however I maintain a Spanish passport and a single entry 2-month visa price me 35USD. Then, I attempted to use for a multi-entry visa and it price 52USD. 
  • Timing – The applying says the method could take as much as 7 days nevertheless it additionally could rely in your embassy. One traveler claimed that he received it in in the future, whereas others say it takes a number of days. It is strongly recommended to use prematurely. 
  • Letter of Invitation – For many nationalities, an LOI shouldn’t be required anymore. Alternatively, the system permits you to add a resort reserving affirmation (as a substitute of the LOI). They only require a reserving for the primary few days after which you’ll be able to cancel it instantly. Within the hypothetical case you want an LOI, contact a tour operator. 
  • It may be used to enter by means of any port of entry, each airport and land borders.

After submitting your utility, your embassy has the fitting 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 the best way to get a Pakistani e-visa.

Methods to 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 have been continually altering however, lastly, you will get your visa extension by means of the common e-visa portal, so long as you might be already in Pakistan and in possession of an e-visa. 

If you happen to traveled to Pakistan with a daily visa, you’ll be able to solely prolong 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 received 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 rather straightforward to succeed in 4,000-meter base camps. 
  • They supply with limitless medical bills (and Pakistan might be wild)


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

Finest 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 could not have the mountains Pakistan is legendary for however that is probably the most religiously various area in Pakistan. Alternatively, most mountains in northern Pakistan stay completely inaccessible within the wintertime. You possibly can nonetheless get to the Northern Areas by means of the Karakoram Freeway, however you received’t be capable of go to any aspect valley.

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

Spring & Autumn – I personally traveled to Pakistan in April and Could and the mountains have been at their finest, because the climate was beautiful (most days), plus they weren’t busy with home tourism. Nevertheless, in the event you journey to Pakistan in early spring, late autumn, the mountains is probably not that accessible. 

Touring in Pakistan throughout Ramadan – A subject by itself, with its execs & cons. Misplaced with Objective traveled in Pakistan throughout Ramadan and wrote this insightful submit.

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

Methods to go to Pakistan

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

By land – Pakistan shares a border with Iran, Afghanistan, India, and China. You possibly can’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 international locations. Learn this report
  • Iran – It goes by means 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 immediately

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

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

In truth, within the Northern Areas, you could find a number of backpacker hostels which by some means, are the stays of what was a well-liked vacation spot for intrepid backpackers. 

The 9/11 assaults, nonetheless, 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 business.

Luckily, 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, stuffed with intrepid backpackers who need to go to a number of the most jaw-dropping mountain surroundings you’ll ever see, and expertise the hospitality Pakistan is legendary for. 

Nonetheless, regardless of this huge 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 simple nation to journey to: vacationer infrastructure is in an embryonic stage, it’s tough to maneuver round and also you received’t meet many foreigners, in order that’s why I personally consider that solely skilled vacationers ought to go to Pakistan. 

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

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

Cultural habits and details 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 among the most ethnically and culturally various international locations – 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 in addition Ismailis) of higher Hunza. Touring in Pakistan is like touring in a number of, totally different tiny international locations. It’s fascinating.

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 individuals on this planet. Nicely, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these international locations are very hospitable, Pakistanis carry it to the subsequent stage. On this nation, you’re the visitor, which signifies that the locals attempt 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 can even insist on carrying your bag and providing you meals 100 instances even in the event you say that you’re full. These are their cultural guidelines and you’re the visitor.

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 only wished to hang around with me. I received a bit of bit offended, continued sleeping however then I sort of felt dangerous, as all they wished was to point out me across the village.

Paying for meals – For some cause, Pakistanis at all times need 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 doable, attempt to again them up.

Sporting a Shalwar Kameez – The normal Pakistani costume, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis put on, is known as shalwar kameez. Do you have to put on it? It’s not obligatory however, in the event you do, the locals will actually recognize it, particularly within the Pashtun areas.

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 can even respect you and you should have the perfect time of their nation.

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

Helpful books for touring to Pakistan

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

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


For extra political background

Pakistan, a tough nation – This award-winning ebook gives you a deep understanding of the scenario in Pakistan these days.


Safety and security if you journey in Pakistan

Pakistan shouldn’t be harmful however you need to be cautious. You may need learn from different blogs that Pakistan is among the most secure international locations 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.

Nevertheless, the scenario is just 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 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 international locations, in Pakistan, the police and navy are fairly cool and, on your personal safety, they’re commanded to ask you these questions.

You’ll have to register at greater than 100 safety examine 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 examine posts. Generally, to get from one vacation spot to a different, I needed to register greater than 10 instances! At every examine submit, you must get off the automobile 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 carry a great deal of photocopies as a result of, at some examine posts, when you have a passport copy, you don’t should get out of the automobile. In any other case, you will waste your time.

Often, you get a private guard, totally free – Once more, not kidding. For safety functions, in some areas, you’ll get a private armed guard. Generally, you may need to pay for his meals however, in line with the police, you aren’t compelled to. It’s as much as you. For extra data, learn my submit: Is Pakistan protected?

Having a private armed guard appears sort of cool however, to be sincere, 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 underneath a number of restrictions.

Girls touring solo is extra widespread and safer than you suppose – Girls inform great matters about their experiences throughout their journeys by means of Pakistan. I’m not probably the most certified particular person to speak about this matter however watch this video:

Pakistani intelligence is among the finest secret companies on this planet – One of many the 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’ll at all times know the place you might be. 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 stated, 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 submit: Is Pakistan protected?

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

Paperwork and permits on your journey in Pakistan

Don’t belief any supply of forms data, not even In opposition to the Compass – In Pakistan, guidelines will not be written and matters are continually altering. Locations that now not require a allow, would possibly require it in a single day, by the subsequent 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 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 worthwhile I learnt throughout my journey to Pakistan, it’s that, as in any corrupt nation, every little thing is feasible and all of it is determined by your contacts. If you recognize the fitting individuals, you are able to do completely every little thing you need, together with visiting forbidden areas and not using a allow.

What it’s good to find out about NOC

  • What’s it? A No Objection Certificates, which is mainly, a allow required for sure restricted areas.
  • Methods to get? – One of the best ways to get it’s by means of a neighborhood with contacts. If you happen to 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 stated earlier than, don’t belief any supply of forms data. Throughout my journey to Pakistan, a good friend of mine was required to get an NOC to make use of the street between Timargara and Chitral. In the future later, I attempted to make use of that street however the NOC was not required anymore. Nevertheless, formally, you would 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 crucial 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 carry money, particularly within the Northern Areas, the place. In fact, you could find ATMs in all massive cities however not all of them will settle for international playing cards.

How a lot does it price to journey to Pakistan

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

  • In Pakistan, every little thing is negotiable: Every thing might be bargained for, particularly the resort rooms. Count on to pay totally different quantities from different company.
  • All the time include a reference: If you journey in Pakistan, contacts are crucial and that’s why in both resorts or trekking tour firms in the event 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 believe you’ll be able to simply journey to Pakistan for lower than 20 a day, sleeping in personal rooms and consuming Three meals exterior. 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
  • Non-public room in a finances resort – As much as 1500PKR
  • Non-public room in a mid-range resort – Round 3,000PKR
  • Lengthy bus rides (Islamabad to Gilgit) – Round 2,500PKR for a VIP ticket (you need 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 received a SIM Card from a Chinese language firm known as ZONG which is meant to be the perfect for just about anyplace within the nation. Within the Northern Areas, nonetheless, it barely labored and, apparently, it’s good to get an organization named SCOM, which you could find 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 good 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 slender 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 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?

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.

Methods of shifting round if you journey in Pakistan

Public buses & minivans go in every single place – Like in most creating 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 probably the most luxurious bus. For touring to Gilgit from Islamabad, you must undoubtedly take NATCO VIP Bus ( round 17USD). Don’t fear, shouldn’t be that VIP.

Practice – In Sindh, Punjab, and Peshawar, you’ll be able to transfer round by practice. There are totally different practice firms however you must at all times take the personal 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. For extra data, examine this practice information to Pakistan

Hitchhiking is just 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 Move). Everyone will need to decide you up! As a basic rule, on the KKH, I didn’t hitchhike on motorbikes (there are such a lot of accidents) and automobiles 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. Guide your flights right here. Please be aware that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you could ebook a number of days (even weeks) prematurely. Additionally, keep in mind that many flights get canceled as a result of 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. When you’re in a restaurant, at all times ask for half fried.

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

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.

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 received sick after I drank from a mountain fountain. All the time 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 onerous to search out) and don’t drink faucet water.

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

Lodging when you find yourself touring to Pakistan

There are all sorts of resorts throughout the nation, from finances rooms to a couple hostels and luxurious resorts.

Reserving websites similar to Hostelworld and are rising in recognition however, relying on the vacation spot you journey to, you could not discover a number of choices or, at the very least, no finances resorts.

If you wish to keep in a finances resort or native guesthouse, you could 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 good to find out about lodging in Pakistan:

Costs might be negotiated to the intense – At any time when they let you know the worth, ask if they’ve a less expensive room. Significantly, on many events, I managed to get half of the preliminary worth.

In case you are on a finances, at all times 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 great matter is that, since there will not be many backpackers, you might be most definitely to get the dorm only for your self!

In most of Pakistan, you might be coated – In Pakistan, there may be a number of home tourism, so most touristic areas are stuffed with resorts for completely each finances, from hostel to mid-range and luxurious rooms.

However it could be more durable to search 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 (finances) lodging could also be difficult.

Couchsurfing is sort of common! – There are a great deal of profiles, particularly in massive 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 not too long ago, this group is sort of helpful, plus it is usually a terrific place to satisfy different vacationers who’re touring in Pakistan similtaneously you.

Signal as much as The Karakoram Membership Fb Group – 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. Because of this group, I’ve made a few superb native associates! One be aware: ignore the individuals from this group who needs to promote you garbage.

Keep in mind that in Pakistan you want associates – Pakistan shouldn’t be a simple place to journey round. From reserving buses to getting permits, associates are essential for a rustic the place guidelines will not be written. The Karakoram Membership is a superb place to make native associates. In massive cities, particularly in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, Couchsurfing can be an enormous deal. Each websites helped me immensely.

Right here you’ll be able to learn all my guides and articles about Pakistan

Examine right here the finest books and novels on 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 examine all my guides to the Stans

That’s every little thing it’s good to know! If you happen to 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 infinite bus breakdowns to time-consuming examine posts, new native associates and paradises the place you need to spend ages, throughout your Pakistan travels, you’ll understand that nothing will go in line with your plan.

travel to Pakistan

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