Pakistan as a country
Pakistan got independence and was founded in 14th Aug 1947 after partitioning with India. People from both countries migrated in search of new homes as Hindus migrated to India and Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan. Pakistan became Islamic republic of Pakistan in 1956 and after 14 years of this another event happened and East Pakistan separated which is known as Bangladesh now. Pakistan have population of Almost 220 Million People and it has 4 Provinces (Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and KPK) & Kashmir State. Pakistan have its border with China in the North, Indian in the East and Iran in the South West and Afghanistan in the West North. People of Pakistan are friendly and their hospitality is famous.
NOTE: Pakistan is currently open for tourists and you just have to do COVID-19 Test 48-72 Hours before taking flight and you will not be quarantined at all. You can travel within Pakistan without any problem
What is there to see in Pakistan
Pakistan is four seasonal country with all kind of landscapes. If you are starting from South Karachi, You can visit Beaches then traveling to central region Deserts and Then north to the Mountains. There are Lush Green Mountains to Rocky and Mud Mountains. You will see forests, rivers and valleys. This country is rich with culture and history. In fact there is everything for everyone so don’t miss it.
Overview of Major Cities & Valleys
Lahore: Culture, Food, Historical Sites, Famous Wagah Border Ceremony
Karachi: Largest city of Pakistan, Historical Sites
Islamabad: Capital of Pakistan Modern City
Taxila: Ancient Budhist Heritage Sites of more than 2000 Year old
Peshawar: Old City with Old Bazar and Delicious Food, Different Culture
Swat & Kalam: Mountain Valley of Hindukuch Mountain Region
Kalash Valley (Bamburet): A Tribe with unique culture and relgion
Hunza & Nagar: Valleys of 7 Mountains which are 7000m plus height, Karakoram Highway, Pak-China Border
Ghizer: Region of Beautiful Lake and River
Skardu: Largest region of North with World second highest mountain K2, Largest Glaciers, Largest Meadows Deosai Plain.
Pakistan Visa Process
You can apply for Pakistan Visa through online visa portal which is https://visa.nadra.gov.pk/ and always remember if you are not in home country and applying from 3rd country, never mention you are applying from there unless you have resident permit or work visa of that country. You should select you can be interviewed in your home country and pretend as you are there, chances of interview to be called are less than 5% and you will get visa without any trouble. If you will mention about 3rd country where you are traveling or currently residing you will be asked to submit Resident Permit or Work visa and failed to do so will lead to rejection of Pakistan Visa.
When you will apply for visa you can be asked for Letter of Invitation to submit which you can get from your close Pakistani Friend or from Licensed Tour Company which is authorized to deal Foreigners so you can get one from here https://adventureplanners.net/letter-of-invitation/ without booking any tour. Also never mention about Traveling to Baluchistan or Kashmir Regions in your visa applications as these are restricted areas so naming them in your itinerary can lead to rejection of visa.
Visa Extension Process in Pakistan
once you have arrived in Pakistan you are eligible to apply for visa extension. There are two ways to apply for extension, one is through Ministry of Interior and second one is through online visa portal. If you are applying through Ministry of Interior you have to visit their office and you will get form from front office and attached, Sponsor Letter, Passport first page and Stamped Page and submit it and apply for letter from them which will states they allow you to get Visa Extension and then you will take that letter and visit Passport and Immigration office G-8 and fill up visa extension form and submit the below documents and they will extend you visa which can take 2 days to 14 days.
Documents required for Visa Extension through Ministry of Interior Pakistan
- Copy of Passport First Page & Entry Stamped Page
- 2 Passport Size Picture
- Duly Filled Visa Extension Form
- Letter from Ministry of Interior
- Sponsored Letter of Visa Extension from Tour Company or Close Pakistani Friend (Same as LOI)
Best way is to apply through online visa portal at least 15-20 days before your visa expiry, you can login and apply for extension same as you have applied for Pakistan visa, this process will take up to 30 days but once you have applied for visa extension you can stay in the country and you can keep the submission receipt with you. if somebody stops you so you can show them this receipt as a proof of visa extension.
Overstay in Pakistan
If your visa is expired and you are in Pakistan and want to leave you can leave within 14 days without paying any extra charges at the airport.
Government Web Link for Overstay Charges: https://www.interior.gov.pk/index.php/directions/90-policies-procedures/181-overstay-charges
Arrival & Immigration
Immigration Officer at the airport are friendly and process will not take much time. You should have print out of your EVisa or ETA for Visa on Arrival. If anybody at airport ask for money never give them and ask them to present receipt for any legal tax if there is any. They cannot stop you as you have visa and legal to enter Pakistan, sometime someone can only ask for bribe so never pay them a single penny.
Currency of Pakistan & Currency Exchange
Currency of Pakistan is Called Rupee and it doesn’t have any symbol it’s written as PKR. Money Changers are easily available in Major cities and you can search on Google about money changers and you will get multiple options and go to the one who have best rating. There are money changers at airport but their exchange rate is not good so only exchange limited amount at the airport. If you are traveling to Northern Area (Gilgit Baltistan, KPK) its best to get your money exchanged at the cities to avoid inconvenience.
ATM & Banks in Pakistan for Foreign Cards
There are some bank which accept all international cards and those are Bank Alfalah, Standard Charted Bank, Allied Bank and HBL.
Credit Cards Acceptance in Pakistan
Credit Card culture is not common in Pakistan and only high end brands or big stores have option of credit cards. it’s always best to carry cash with you to avoid trouble while traveling.
National Language of Pakistan:
Urdu is National language of Pakistan and spoken in all parts and you can learn few words which will help you in traveling.
Hello – Salam o Alaikum
Thank You – Shukria
How are you? – Ap Kaisay Hain?
I am fine – Main Theek Hun
Bye – Allah Hafiz
One – Aik
Two – Dow
Four – Chaar
Five – Paanch
Ten – Das
Hundered – Sow
Other Major Local Languages
There many local languages in Pakistan but major ones are Sindhi, Baluchi, Punjabi, Pashto, Saraiki, Shina and Balti.
Seasons in Pakistan & Best time to Visit
Pakistan have all four Season Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and at the same time you can enjoy Winter and summer because its spread over south and north and if you are in south you can enjoy hot weather and when you will travel to north that would be cold at the same time. Best time to visit Pakistan is between March to November as most to the places remains open and easily accessible.
If you are planning to Visit Pakistan in Ramadan then you may need understand the culture and religion which prohibits people to eat during day time but you can have food in your hotels and try not to eat in front of people as they cannot eat. Eating outside in front of public remains ban during this month. As a non-Muslim and foreigner you can eat outside in public area but ethically it doesn’t look good. You can buy food from bakeries and super store at day time but restaurants remain close and open up again in the evening. You can also find a lot of free food in the evening and people give food for free at many places every day.
Religions in Pakistan
State religion of Pakistan is Islam and other Minorities are Christian, Sikh and Hindus
Culture of Pakistan
As a Muslim majority country people are Moderate Muslims and Culture is different from region to region. If you are in big cities you will see all kind of people from all regions so its mix culture and people wearing Shalwar Qamiz (Local Dress) Pant Shirts and Jeans and you easily mix with them. If you are in interior Sindh there people are not very religious but you will find conservativeness in their culture so when you are in villages it’s better to get permission if you are planning to take pictures. It’s always best to be accompanied by local person. People of these regions are friendly and you will often will be asked to have tea or food with them it’s part of the culture throughout Pakistan. Punjab in comparison to Sindh is similar only difference is language and dress code with different variety of food, people here in this province also very friendly and open they might not speak English but they will try to help you and offer you Chai (Tea) all the time. KPK the north western province is Religious and people are conservative although they are friendly and hospitality of this region is above all, you will be offered to stay at their home for free and you will be fed all the time until you get fat :d . One thing just remember in this region never take photo of a women as they don’t take it lightly and this is like you hit their pride if you take picture of their women so always remember this rule for KPK province. Gilgit Baltistan this province is mixed with different ethnic groups and if you are traveling in Hunza region these people are Agha Khanis and Friendly People. Gilgit Baltistan Province were the first province in the country had majority of tourist in 1980s. They are divided into two regions one is Gilgit and other is Baltistan Skardu side, they all are welcoming nature.
Dressing for Men & Women in Pakistan
Men wear Shalwar Qameez which is traditional dress throughout the country but you can wear Jeans and Shirt which is also common in cities and dress code of offices are also Pant and Shirt so you will not look like an alien If you will be wearing jeans and shirt J You can wear occasionally local dress and earn more respect from People.
Women normally wear Long Shirt and Trouser which are colorful and beautiful. You will see girls wearing sh ort shirts and Jeans as well in the big cities but it’s not common and not considered good in the villages or in rural areas. If you will wear local dress you will get more respect from people.
Trekking in Pakistan
If you are planning to do trekking in Pakistan, you are going to be in love with Pakistan. it is heaven for trekkers with thousands of wild and unexplored trekking routes and mountain, Some of the Major famous Treks are (K2 Trek, Nanga Parbat Basecamp, Rakaposhi Basecamp, Rush Lake, Karomber Lake Trek) If you are going to do trekking above 6000 meters you will need to get trekking permit and you have to engage Tour company as without that you will not be allowed to go on that trek. You would also need to apply for Trekking Visa which is separate from normal tourist visa and details you can get from the government official visa web portal. You can also get some more information about trekking route from the Tripmate Application which can be downloaded from Play store (only available Android Version).
Major International Airports in Pakistan
Pakistan have many airports but major big airports are Jinnah International Airport Karachi, Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore, Islamabad International Airport.
Best Mobile Networks in Pakistan
No particular network is best for whole Pakistan so you can choose one according to your traveling plan, if you are traveling in central and south regions Zong is good if you are traveling to North specifically Gilgit Baltistan Region then SCOM is the only option with 3G/4G Internet.
Internet Availability in Pakistan
Internet is the backbone of any country in this modern time so Pakistan also have 4G Service throughout the country and Landline Internet available in Hotels and Home. You will find good internet in Big Cities and internet in the mountains will be weaker but works. There are some famous tourist points where internet or mobile doesn’t work at all (Fairy Meadows, Deosai Plains, K2 Basecamp.
If you are planning to do trekking internet will not work on all major treks so plan accordingly.
Security Situation in Pakistan
Security situation in Pakistan is overall perfect and you can travel to major part of the country. There are few restricted areas where you cannot travel without obtaining NOC which are Baluchistan & Some parts of Kashmir. These are politically unstable regions so avoid any trouble government has banned entry of foreigners in these regions. Rest of the country is open for you and you can visit all province and areas away from 5-10km Borders. You will likely to be given Armed Escorts free of cost in interior Sindh and South Punjab Regions so I will recommend if you interested in history then only visit these area else you will be fedup with these armed escorts and movement controlled by the police. Once you are in Central Punjab and North you will have your freedom and you can travel anywhere without any Escort.
Where a foreigner can Buy Sim Card
As a foreigner you can buy Sim card from their official service Centers of Mobile Network Company, as Shops or selling points cannot sell sim card to a foreigner on their passports so don’t get scammed by anyone selling sim card on the road or at airport as currently No Network have any setup at airports to sell sim cards for foreigners in Pakistan.
Transport in Pakistan & Best Bus Companies
All cities are connected with Buses, Vans or Through Railway Network. If you are landing at Karachi you can use Bus or Train both for traveling to central cities like Lahore or Islamabad. You can experience Green Line Train which was started few years ago and it offers good service and comfortable journey. If you are landing at Lahore best option is Bus to reach Islamabad in quickest way.
There are few bus companies which are reliable and recommended here is the list according to cities. Fare of the buses are Approximate not exact as these companies change fare often
Faisal Movers (25 USD) Executive & Business Class
Daewoo (30 USD PKR) Economy, Executive & Business Class
Bilal Travels (25 USD) Economy & Executive Class
Faisal Movers (10 USD) Executive & Business Class
Daewoo (12 USD) Economy, Executive & Business Class
Bilal Travels (10 USD) Economy & Executive Class
QConnect (20 USD) Business Class
Faisal Movers (17 USD) Executive Class
Online Transport Booking Applications in Pakistan
Daewoo and Qconnect have their own booking application and there is another one Called Bookme you can download application or book through website Bookme.pk for Train Tickets you can use Pakistan Railways Application or website https://pakrail.gov.pk/ they ask for CNIC to enter while booking so you can use this ID as a general to book your tickets (61101 17431048 9).
Online Taxi Applications in Pakistan
Uber and Careem these are 2 major taxi apps working in Pakistan. Careem is better because in Careem you don’t get much cancellation by drivers instead of Uber where driver cancels your ride all the time if they don’t like the destination where you want to go. These both companies offer different ride types from Economical to Luxury One, you can also take bike ride most economical option and enjoy the budget traveling within city. These application works only in the big cities and not available in the northern part.
Vegetarian Food & Restaurants in Pakistan
Normally in Road side restaurant you will find both Veg and Non Veg Options. Pakistani people love Vegetables so you will get option of Daal and Vegetable in most of the restaurants. When you want to order food ask them to make it non spicy as normally they add more spices and fry them before serving you.
Drinking/Alcohol Consumption in Pakistan
Pakistan is a muslim country and by Law its forbidden for Muslims to consume Alcoholic drinks but as a Non-Muslim you can but alcoholic drinks from the big designated hotels (Serena, Marriot, Flashman, Pearl Continental) and drink in hotels or inside not in public spaces.
Online Food Applications in Pakistan
Food Panda is one and only Major food application where you can order all kind of food.
Hotels & Hostel in Pakistan
Pakistan is developed country and in Major Cities you can find all kind of Hotels from Budget range to 5 Star.
Tourist Hostels are not common in Pakistan and there are couple of proper hostels one is in Lahore named Lahore Backpackers and other one is Backpackers Hostel Islamabad.
In Gilgit Baltistan there are many budget hotels Madina Hotel 2 Gilgit, Old Hunza Inn, Indus View Hotel & Hostel Skardu and Rehman Backpackers Gulkin are few of them which accommodate Backpackers.
Car Rentals in Pakistan
You can rent a car in Pakistan with driver only as Cars are pretty expensive and mostly without insurance so owner of rental companies don’t want to put their vehicle at risk and only give cars with driver and for this you have to pay not only rent but driver food and accommodation as well. You can rent car from Adventure Planners Pakistan.
Common Scams in Pakistan
There are no major scams with tourists in Pakistan as tourism industry is still new here and people are friendly nature. But always be cautious with regular taxis and they might overcharge you so before taking taxi ask for the fare for the destination.
Motorbike Rentals in Pakistan
Motorbike rentals are not common in Pakistan and only 2 Companies in Pakistan offers Motorbikes and one is in Islamabad Pakistan Bikers and other is in Gilgit city Karakorum Bikers.
You can Rent Motorbike and you will be given Helmet Complimentary. These companies offer light weight motorbikes mainly Suzuki GS 150 and Suzuki GS 150 SE. Pakistan Bikers offer Zongshen RX1 as well which comes with Side and Top Boxes and its 200cc.
Overland Traveling To and From Pakistan
You can enter Pakistan from Three Borders,
Pak-China Border, which is in the extreme North of Pakistan
Wagah Border with India which is close to Lahore City.
Taftan & Ramdhan Border with Iran which connects Baluchistan Province with Iran and if you enter through iran you have to cross Baluchistan and then you will enter in free open zone of the country.
Torkham Border with Afghanistan some of the tourist have crossed to Afghanistan recently without any trouble so it is also an option for adventure seekers but you have to obtain Afghanistan visa in your home country prior to your arrival in Pakistan.
Easiest border is Wagah Border with India, despite the fact of not having good diplomatic relations with India it is the easiest and relaxed border for tourists to come in and go out.
Drone Policies of Pakistan
If you are planning to bring drone to Pakistan you can bring it without any problem as currently Pakistan don’t have any policy for drones but while flying in cities be careful not to fly around military or government buildings. In some areas you need to get NOC before flying so it’s always best to ask some friend or ask hotel owners about flying rules in specific regions (Hunza, Gilgit, Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi)
Tips for Solo Female Traveler in Pakistan
Many Foreigner solo travelers have been to Pakistan and they have loved the country. Women get more respect from families and often invited into homes by families to have food with them. People will ask you for selfies quite often so it’s common. You might have to deal with people staring at you but it’s normal because they don’t see much white foreigner women so you are like an alien for them :D. Wear moderate clothes and its best if you can wear local clothes as you will earn more respect and help from locals. If you are visiting KPK Province it is advised to travel with caution and take help from local friends to find hotels and regarding transport. Because no men will sit next to you in the bus or van if you are a women and sometime transporters try to avoid giving seats to women only If they see their next seat will be wasted if no other women is booking. Overall its all safe for Women to travel.
Restricted Areas For Foreigner
As per new government policy foreigners are allowed to travel all major parts of Pakistan without any restriction and NOC excluding Baluchistan and Kashmir. In Baluchistan if foreigners is entering from Iran he will be escorted till Quetta and then he will obtain NOC from home department and travel further to open areas. If you are planning to visit Baluchistan for that you have to obtain NOC from Ministry of Interior Islamabad which takes 4-6 weeks. Kashmir is partially open for foreigner with some areas which are outbound and foreigners cannot visit. Previously know as FATA which are close to Afghanistan border are also not open but you can visit if you know someone local there.
Tourists can travel in border areas which are far from
- Pak-China border (10 miles)
- Pak-Afghan border (10 miles)
- AJK, along Line of Control (5 miles)
- GB, along LoC (5 miles)
- Siachen, along Line of Actual Contact (10 miles)
Emergency Contact Numbers of Authorities
Who can visit Pakistan during Covid19 Period?
Pakistan have developed a website and make different categories according to the countries. You can visit the following link and check if you can visit Pakistan at the moment or not Government updated Covid-19 Travel Policies for travelers
Countries are divided into 3 categories and those who are in category C cannot travel to Pakistan at the moment. If you are in category C and you are living in some other country which is not in that category you can visit Pakistan.