70 Useful tips for traveling to Pakistan in 2019

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travel Pakistan

 This post is being regularly updated thanks the continuous input I get from some awesome travelers. All the information you see here is based on the latest updates. If you have any further information, kindly let me know because, in Pakistan, rules do change quickly!

If you ever decide to travel to Pakistan, I promise you that you will have the adventure of your lifetime.

From hitchhiking on tractors and psychedelic trucks to driving over extremely narrow mountain roads built on a cliff 1,500 meters high, soldiers who voluntarily give you their AK-47 for taking a photo, the most striking landscape and the fact that you can camp in the middle of a paradise completely by yourself. 

Traveling to Pakistan is, definitely, the ultimate experience and adventure.

However, this isn’t particularly an easy place to travel in. Going on a trip to Pakistan requires a little bit of preparation, as well as quite a lot of things to know beforehand.

Normally, I would include this kind of information in a generic travel guide, together with a travel itinerary. However, there is so much to say about Pakistan that I decided to write a separate article about it.

By the way, if you want to keep track of all my travels and photos, remember to follow @againstthecompass on Instagram

This guide contains all the practical information. For places to visit, don’t forget to check my 1-month Pakistan itinerary


Traveling to Pakistan


70 Things to know before traveling to Pakistan

Here you will find:

Visa rules
Travel Insurance for Pakistan
Tour operator in Pakistan

Cultural behavior and facts
Books for traveling in Pakistan
Security & safety
Bureaucracy and permits
Prices and money
Internet and calling
Trekking in Pakistan
Food, alcohol & chai
Other general information you should know

Hey, have you ever wondered how I make a full living from blogging? Learn here how I started monetizing my blog and get over 200,000 monthly page views in less than 3 years


Visa for visiting Pakistan

NEW information May 2019

1 – Before April/May 2019, you couldn’t get a visa on the road – As a rule of thumb, a Pakistani visa could only be applied for from your home country or country of residence. 

2 – But finally, they have introduced an e-visa system – Up to 176 nationalities can now apply for a Pakistani visa online. You can apply through this portal. Many travelers have already been successful 🙂

3 – It can be used to enter through any port of entry – Both airport and land borders.

4 – Visa length – The application allows you to apply for a visa valid for up to 11 months. You can also apply for a multi-entry visa valid for more than 1 year. 

5 – Price – I believe it depends on nationality and the length of your trip but I hold a Spanish passport and the single entry 2-month visa costs 35USD. Then, I tried to apply for the multi-entry visa and it cost 52USD. 

6 – Apparently, a Letter of Invitation is not required anymore – Alternatively, the system allows you to upload a hotel booking confirmation (instead of the LOI). They just require a booking for the first few days and then you can cancel it immediately. 

7 – However, it is not as awesome as it seems – The system presents quite a few bugs, like some functions do not work (only sometimes) and, when you submit your application, the information will be sent to the embassy/consulate of your country of residence and the problem is that the embassies themselves are not fully aware of this process and they just apply their own rules. 

This means that, whereas some embassies do not require the LOI, some embassies do (like the USA), while others (like the one in Beirut), will tell you to apply the traditional way.

I recommend you try to apply yourself to see how it works, contact your embassy and, for the latest reports/questions, you are welcome to comment below. 

8 – Timing – Again, this will depend on the embassy. One traveler claimed that he got it in one day while others say it takes several days. It is recommended to apply in advance. 

9 – How to get your Letter of Invitation – I recommend you try to apply with a hotel booking but if it doesn’t work, you will have to get a Letter of Invitation.

An LOI can only be provided by a valid tour operator but, unfortunately, most of them force you to book a tour. 

Luckily, I found the guys from Find my Adventure, a pretty cool local tour company who can issue an LOI and all you have to do is booking either a Lahore City tour or a hotel, that’s it. 

They charge you 100USD for the LOI and the Lahore City tour starts at 10USD. Yes, it is very cheap, that’s why I recommend them. 

Moreover, you can get an exclusive 10% discount by using the promo code ATC-PAK. Just email them through their contact page, mentioning my blog and the promo code.  

By the way, this 10% discount can be used on any of their customized tours.

10 – Applying via embassy – Some embassies (like the one Beirut) may tell you to apply via the traditional way, which sucks a lot, especially because you can only apply at the embassy from your country of residence and they always require an LOI. 

Embassy rules vary enormously, depending on the country you apply from. For example, I hold a Spanish passport and am a Catalan resident, so I  could apply at the Consulate in Barcelona, which only cost me 27€. In Madrid, they charge double at least and, as far as I understand, UK passport holders pay up to 100USD. Moreover, it took me 40 days to get my visa, while other embassies issue it in less than a week. 

11 – Visa extensions – Well, the e-visa portal has an extension section/option but so far, I don’t know from anyone who has attempted it. 

In any case, visa extensions can be easily done in major cities. There are passport offices in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Chitral, Gilgit, and Skardu but apparently, the easiest place is in Lahore. 

12 – Visa extension rules – Seriously, every person traveling to Pakistan will have a completely different experience when they try to extend their visa. The reason is that rules are not written and it will all depend on the person who is behind the counter on that specific day. Welcome to Pakistan. However, most travelers claim that Lahore is the easiest place to do it.

Nevertheless, some people claim that they had to wait for 2 weeks to get the extension while others just a few days. Moreover, some people got an extension only for the duration of their current visa, while others got 5 months.

What seems to be a constant is that you can only extend it a few days prior to your expiring date, but not before. For more information, read this post from my friend Alex: Extending your visa in Lahore

13 – Overstaying and leaving overland- Again, everybody will have different experiences here. The official information says that, if you overstay for less than 15 days, you will have to pay a small fee. However, I overstayed for 5 days and, at the customs, when I said that I didn’t have any money, they let me go with a smile. Please note that I left through the Pakistan-China border, at Khunjerab Pass

Visa for Pakistan
My visa for Pakistan, with both the entry & exit stamp – Traveling to Pakistan


Travel insurance for traveling in Pakistan

14 – Your regular travel insurance such as World Nomads (finally) covers Pakistan – And there are two reasons why I think World Nomads is the ideal insurance for traveling in Pakistan:

  • It covers trekking up to 6,000 meters (note that, in Gilgit-Baltistan, it is very easy to reach 4,000-meter base camps. 
  • They provide with unlimited medical expenses (and Pakistan can be wild)


15 – If you want to know more options, read how to find the right travel insurance for Pakistan

Pakistan tourism
Rakaposhi base Camp – Pakistan tourism


Tour operator for visiting Pakistan

16 – When you visit Pakistan, some people prefer to go on a tour – Pakistan is a pretty wild country, so I perfectly understand why some travelers would prefer to travel with an experienced tour guide, especially when you go trekking. 

I definitely recommend the guys from Find my Adventure, a solid company with many years of experience which can arrange absolutely anything you want, from driving the Karakoram Highway to trekking the K2 Base Camp and any customized tour or trek you may come up with. 

Moreover, you can get an exclusive 10% discount (on any tour) by using my promo code ATC-PAK.

Just email them via their contact page, mentioning my blog and the code and tell them which kind of tour you want. 


Cultural behavior and facts when traveling in Pakistan

17 – Urdu, which is like Hindi, is the official language – However, each region has its own (or several) local languages, so different from each other. English is widely spoken among educated people.

18 – Pakistan is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse countries – From the South Asian looking people of Punjab and Sindh; to the people of the Pashtun areas, closer to Iran or Afghanistan; the pagan culture of Kalash; the Shias from Gilgit and Nagar; the Ismailis of lower Hunza and the Wakhis (and also Ismailis) of upper Hunza. Traveling in Pakistan is like traveling in several, different tiny countries. It’s fascinating.

19 – Remember, you are the guest – People tend to say that, in Iran, Sudan and Iraqi Kurdistan, you find the most hospitable people in the world. Well, clearly, they haven’t visited Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these countries are very hospitable, Pakistanis bring it to the next level. In this country, you are the guest, which means that the locals strive for you to have the best possible time in their country or region.

19 – The hospitality can even be overwhelming – During your trip in Pakistan, you’ll be invited for lunch, dinner and even to stay at people’s houses so many times that, on many occasions, you will have to refuse.

After your refusal, they will insist once again, over and over. They will also insist on carrying your bag and offering you food one hundred times even if you say that you are full. These are their cultural rules and you are the guest.

20 – So overwhelming but just don’t get angry – One day, some random men who I had never seen before came to my hotel at 7:30 am in the morning, knocking at the door of my room, waking me up from a very good sleep.

Apparently, they heard that there was a foreigner in the village, so they just wanted to hang out with me. I got a little bit angry, continued sleeping but then I kind of felt bad, as all they wanted was to show me around the village.

21 – Paying for meals – For some reason, Pakistanis always want to pay for your meals to the extent that it gets awkward. I personally didn’t like it, especially when I could see that the local people didn’t have much money. If possible, try to back them up.

22 – Wearing a Shalwar Kameez – The traditional Pakistani dress, which 80% or 90% of Pakistanis wear, is called shalwar kameez. Should you wear it? It’s not compulsory but, if you do, the locals will really appreciate it, especially in the Pashtun areas.

23 – Islam – Pakistan is the most conservative country I’ve ever been to. You should be careful and always respect their rules. If you do, they will also respect you and you will have the best time in their country.

visit Pakistan
Multan shrine – Visit Pakistan


Useful books for traveling to Pakistan

24 – Best travel guidePakistan Traveller – This is the most up-to-date and ultimate guidebook about Pakistan. 256 pages full of maps and endless travel tips. The author, Tim, is an Australian man who has visited Pakistan 10 times since 2006. The guide is available in different formats, including Full-color paperback, Budget Paperback, and ebook. A must-have!




25 – To know about the culture – Pakistan – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture – Culture Smart! is a well-known collection of books that make deep introductions to the culture and customs of many countries. In this book, they give a great analysis of the complexity of the culture and sub-cultures in Pakistan, so you will have a great understanding of the cultural etiquette beforehand!



26 – For more political background – Pakistan, a hard country – This award-winning book will give you a deep understanding of the situation in Pakistan nowadays.



27- Overcome language barriersUrdu-English phrasebook – Most educated people speak good English but, if you plan to go to remote villages or the mountains, you will need knowledge of Urdu to communicate with the locals.



28 – A classic – Pakistan Lonely Planet Guide – It is really outdated but, if you like to collect Lonely Planet guides, perhaps you would like to buy it. In any case, history, maps, and other traveling information never gets outdated!

trip to Pakistan
Karimabad Fort, Hunza – Trip to Pakistan


Security and safety when you travel in Pakistan

29 – Pakistan is not dangerous but you should be cautious. You might have read from other blogs that Pakistan is one of the safest countries in the world. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. Whereas I think that Pakistan is not a dangerous country, in some areas, it’s better to be cautious, especially in the region bordering Afghanistan.

30 – Police are there to help you. Throughout your Pakistan travels, you’ll be continuously interrogated by dozens of different policemen and people from the army. Who are you? Why are you here? Where are you going? Unlike in other countries, in Pakistan, the police and military are pretty cool and, for your own security, they are commanded to ask you these questions.

31 – You will have to register at more than 100 security check posts. I am not kidding. During my 56-day trip in Pakistan, I had to register more than 100 times at different army and police check posts. Sometimes, to get from one destination to another, I had to register more than 10 times! At each check post, you have to get off the car or bus and write down all your personal information in a notebook. This will slow down your journey considerably.

32 – Bring one thousand passport & visa photocopies. It’s good to bring loads of photocopies because, at some check posts, if you have a passport copy, you don’t have to get out of the car. Otherwise, you are going to waste your time.

33 – Occasionally, you get a personal guard, for free – Again, not kidding. For security purposes, in some areas, you will get a personal armed guard. Sometimes, you might have to pay for his meals but, according to the police, you are not forced to. It’s up to you. For more information, read my post: Is Pakistan safe?

34 – Having a personal armed guard seems kind of cool but, to be honest, it’s not that much – The first time you get an armed guard you get kind of excited. WOW! I have a guard who carries an AK-47 for just myself! However, after half an hour, you might start hating him because he will put you under a lot of restrictions.

35 – Women traveling solo is more common and safer than you think – Women tell wonderful things about their experiences during their journeys through Pakistan. I’m not the most qualified person to talk about this topic but my friend Alex has written this wonderful post: Is it safe for a woman to travel in Pakistan?In addition, the Broke Backpacker has also written this magnificent women’s interview.

36 – Pakistani intelligence is the best secret service in the world – One of the reasons why Pakistan is not a dangerous country is thanks to the Pakistani intelligence, which is considered the best intelligence corps in the world, even better than the CIA.

Be aware that they are watching your steps and they will always know where you are. I remember that, while hiking around a remote area in the Astore Valley, a man wearing a salwar kameez (the traditional Pakistani clothes), came to me and said, You are the Spanish, right?” Yes, he was from the Pakistani intelligence.

For further information on safety, including which areas are the safest, read my post: Is Pakistan safe?

My trip to Pakistan
I know, I am quite a badass… 😀 – My trip to Pakistan


Bureaucracy and permits for your trip in Pakistan

37 – Don’t trust any source of bureaucracy information, not even Against the Compass – In Pakistan, rules are not written and things are constantly changing. Places which no longer require a permit, might require it overnight, by the next day it was changing it back again.

A military guy told me once that, when this happens, it’s because they are suspicious of some Taliban or terrorism activity. This information doesn’t flow throughout the country, so you will see that everyone (including national police, local police, the Army, the locals, travelers and blogs) will always have a different opinion. Don’t trust anyone. Check it yourself, once you’re on the ground.

38 – In Pakistan everything is possible – If there is something valuable I learnt during my trip in Pakistan, it is that, as in any corrupt country, everything is possible and it all depends on your contacts. If you know the right people, you can do absolutely everything you want, including visiting forbidden areas without a permit.

39 – What is an NOC? – A No Objection Certificate, which is basically, a permit required for certain restricted areas.

40 – How to get an NOC – The best way to get an NOC is through a local with contacts. If you don’t know any local, contact your embassy, but it can take up to 4 or 5 working days to proceed. Furthermore, Ishan, from SWAT Valley Backpackers can get it for you.

41 – When do you need an NOC – As I said before, don’t trust any source of bureaucracy information. During my trip in Pakistan, a friend of me was required to get an NOC to use the road between Timargara and Chitral. One day later, I tried to use that road but the NOC was not required anymore. However, officially, you would need an NOC to visit Balochistan, the Khyber Pass and Tribal Areas and Kashmir.

Travel in Pakistan
Hiking around Kalam, Swat Valley – Travel in Pakistan


Prices and money

42 – It’s pretty cheap – You can easily travel in Pakistan for less than $20 a day, sleeping in private rooms and eating 3 meals outside.

43 – Everything is negotiable – Everything can be bargained for, especially the hotel rooms. Expect to pay different amounts from other guests.

44 – Always come with a reference – During your trip in Pakistan, contacts are very important and that’s why in either hotels or trekking tour companies, if you come referenced by a local, you will get a better price.

45 – A cash economy – Pakistan barely believes in credit cards. Bring cash.

46 – Pakistani Rupees are the official currency – At the time of writing, 1USD = 100PKR, which makes it pretty easy to convert.

Pakistani rupees
Pakistani rupees! – Pakistan travel blog


Internet and calling

47 – Internet – Except in Gilgit-Baltistan, the internet works reasonably well throughout the country

48 – The Chinese are about to introduce optical fiber – Apparently, by the end of 2017, the Chinese will have introduced optical fiber to Gilgit-Baltistan so, hopefully, the internet will work properly in this area as well.

49 – Get ZONG – Don’t think further. ZONG is the best mobile operator, especially in the northern areas. Except in the Kalash Valley and some remote areas in Upper Hunza, ZONG has the fastest internet.

50 – Tell a local to sign up for you – The downside of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, you need to go the central office and pay quite a lot of money to sign up for it ($20 or $30). Tell a local to sign up for you, so you’ll just pay $7 for a SIM Card plus 1 month’s worth of data and calls.

Pakistan travel tourism
My office for a day – Pakistan travel tourism


Transportation for traveling around Pakistan

51 – You’ll get used to the mountain roads – Most mountain roads are very scary as they are extremely narrow and built on insanely high cliffs. Don’t panic. You’ll just get used to them!

52 – You will learn to be patient – In absolutely almost every long bus journey I took, we had a breakdown. Sometimes, we were stopped for two hours! And one day, we stopped because the bus ran out of gas! Can you believe it?

53 – Public buses & minivans go everywhere – Like in most developing countries where most people can’t afford to buy a car, buses and minivans travel to even the remotest areas in the country. In Sindh and Punjab provinces, Daewoo is the most luxury bus. For traveling to Gilgit from Islamabad, you should definitely take NATCO VIP Bus ($17). Don’t worry, is not that VIP.

54 – Train – In Sindh and Punjab provinces to Peshawar, you can move around by train. There are different train companies but you should always take the private ones, as they are more punctual. Use AC standard, as it is the one used by the Pakistani middle class. It’s not expensive, not smelly and comfortable enough.

55 – Psychedelic trucks are a way of life – Everybody falls in love with the trucks in Pakistan, as they are so particularly decorated that they are a blessing to your lens.

56 – Hitchhiking is too easy – It’s so easy, that sometimes, it’s faster and easier than taking public transport, especially on the Karakoram Highway (from Gilgit to Khunjerab Pass). Everybody will want to pick you up! As a general rule, on the KKH, I didn’t hitchhike on motorbikes (there are so many accidents) and cars with women inside.

57 – Plane is pretty convenient – Traveling by bus from Islamabad to the northern areas, including Chitral, Gilgit and Skardu takes ages (from 15 to 20 hours). There are flights connecting Islamabad with all these cities. Tickets cost up to $100, approximately. Book your flights here. Please note that, for flying to and from Gilgit, you must book several days (even weeks) in advance. Also bear in mind that many flights get canceled due to the weather condition.

Read: 80 Tips for traveling to Iran

Travel to Pakistan
Crazy (and beautiful) roads – How to visit Pakistan


Trekking in Pakistan

58 – The most accessible mountains – Nowhere else in the entire world, will you be able to trek to the base camp of an 8,000 meters high peak summit in only two days. Even if you are a beginner trekker, you can do short treks and be able to enjoy the most awesome mountains!

I have written two reports of 2 of some of the treks I did:
Trekking to Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat
Trekking to Rakaposhi base camp


Food, drinks, and alcohol

59 – Food is extremely oily – Pakistanis love oil too much. They put tons of it in absolutely every meal, including in the steamed rice, which they will always fry afterwards. When you are in a restaurant, always ask for half fried.

60 – It’s almost dry – In the Sindh province and Islamabad, you can find liquor stores. In the rest of the country, alcohol is only available on the black market, but most locals (who drink) can get it for you easily.

61 – Expect to have ten cups of chai a day – Chai, which is tea with milk, is a way of life in Pakistan and a sign of hospitality.

62 – Tap water, watch out! – Don’t dare drink tap water. In the northern part of the country, the locals will tell you that the tap water is good, as it comes from the mountains and glaciers. This may be true, but I still got sick when I drank from a mountain fountain. Always use a water purifier.

63 – You’ll get sick – I don’t know anyone who didn’t get sick in his stomach during his trip in Pakistan. Try to avoid salad, food stalls with flies (they are hard to find) and don’t drink tap water.

Mutton Karahi Pakistan
This meal, in particular, was one of my favorite ones in Pakistan – Pakistan travel information


Accommodation during your visit in Pakistan

64 – Prices can be negotiated to the extreme – Whenever they tell you the price, ask if they have a cheaper room. Seriously, on many occasions, I managed to get half of the initial price.

65 – If you are on a budget, always ask if they have a dorm – Surprisingly, many hotels have dorms and they don’t tell you until the end of the negotiation. The good thing is that, since there are not many backpackers, you are most likely to get the dorm just for yourself!

66 – In most of Pakistan, you are covered – In Pakistan, there is a lot of domestic tourism, so most touristic areas are filled with hotels for absolutely every budget, from hostel to mid-range and luxury rooms.

67 – But it may be harder to find decent accommodation in the rest of the country – In cities like Peshawar, Karachi, Multan, and basically anywhere outside of Swat Valley, Chitral, Northern areas, Islamabad and Lahore, finding decent (budget) accommodation may be challenging.

68 – Couchsurfing is quiter popular! – There are loads of profiles, especially in the big cities.

If you want to know all my hotel recommendation per city, read my Pakistan Itinerary

Husseini bridge, Hunza


More information you need to know for traveling to Pakistan

69 – When to travel to Pakistan – Most travelers come to Pakistan because of the mountains. However, these are only accessible from mid-April to mid-October. For the rest of the year, they become isolated, due to the heavy snow. On the other hand, if you want to visit the Sindh and Punjab provinces, you must come in winter, from November until February, when the weather is cooler.

70 – Border crossing in Pakistan – You can enter or exit from China (here’s my report), India (read this post from the Broke Backpacker) and Iran (read this post from Lost with Purpose).

71 – Sign up to the Backpacking Pakistan Facebook Group– If you want to get up-to-date traveling information from travelers who have been there recently, this group is quite useful, plus is also a great place to meet other travelers who are traveling in Pakistan at the same time as you.

72 – Sign up to The Karakoram Club Facebook Group – With over 80,000 members (mostly Pakistanis) this is an awesome forum to meet locals, who will provide you with local tips, as well as a chance to meet up with them. Thanks to this group, I’ve made a couple of very good local friends! One note: ignore the people from this group who wants to sell you rubbish.

73 – Remember that in Pakistan you need friends – Pakistan is not an easy place to travel around. From booking buses to getting permits, friends are crucial for a country where rules are not written. The Karakoram Club is a great place to make local friends. In big cities, especially in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, Couchsurfing is also a big deal. Both sites helped me immensely.

China – Pakistan border crossing


More resources

Here you can read all my guides and articles about Pakistan

Are you traveling to Iran? Here you can also see all my articles and guides to Iran

And if you are traveling to Central Asia, don’t forget to check all my guides to the Stans

That’s everything you need to know! If you think I forgot something, please let me know! Ah, Ah, and remember that, in Pakistan, you shouldn’t plan too much! Welcome to the country of unexpected events. From endless bus breakdowns to time-consuming check posts, new local friends and paradises where you want to spend ages, during your Pakistan travels, you will realize that nothing will go according to your plan.


Need to know before you travel to Pakistan



plus get all updates and exclusive tips!


  1. Thank you so much for blogging about Pakistan! It’s the country that I most want to visit (to the dismay of my sheltered family). This kind of information will make things so much easier when I graduate and finally get my loans paid down enough to do extensive travel.

    I only recently found your blog, and I have to say that I really love both your content and what you’re doing out there. It’s truly inspirational.

    1. Hello, thanks for your comment!
      I am glad that you want to travel to Pakistan. Tourism is increasing day by day (that’s what the local say) and i am sure you will have an awesome time there. Hope you get your loan paid down and you can go there soon! cheers mate

    2. You are most welcome to visit Pakistan.. Hope you find your trip the best ever and awesome.. Feel free to contact me if you need any help..

      1. Hey, I am an Indian , planning to travel Pakistan, especially rural and mountainous regions and looking for a Pakistani friend who has similar plans. Travel could be a month longer or more.

    3. Hello and thanks for a great summary, Joan!

      May I please know the basis of this statement? “Some embassies (like the one Beirut) may tell you to apply via the traditional way, which sucks a lot, especially because you can only apply at the embassy from your country of residence and they always require an LOI. ”

      I’m based in Beirut and about to submit my e-visa application, but need to know if it’ll be a waste of my time and money. Thanks!

      1. Hi there, I was told by a Lebanese person that the staff of the embassy in Beirut had no idea about the e-visa process yet, but that was a few months ago, so maybe things have changed. I suggest you contact them first

  2. Congratulations and thank you for all the valuable information, Joan! In my opinion the way you write goes beyond than just being a guidebook, you really inspire us all!! I’ve been to several exotic destinations (for a Brazilian at least) such as Lebanon, Iran, India, Palestine, Jordan and now I’ve put Pakistan on my list as well. By the way, your tips about Lebanon helped me quite a lot, it made the trip easier and really enjoyable.

    1. Hi Jefferson, glad that you found my posts about Lebanon useful! It really encourages me to keep writing! Yeah, if you liked Lebanon (and didn’t feel any danger there) you really should put Pakistan to the bucket list! Anyways, hope to meet you on the road one day 😀 Cheers mate!

  3. Interesting use of the word “best” to describe the secret service – if backing the Taliban, supporting terrorist groups and sheltering Bin Laden makes them the best, I’d hate see what the worst were like

    1. Hey man! hahaha, Let’s change ”best” by ”effective” if that makes things better 🙂 If it was not for the PK Intelligence, PK would have become a failed state, like Afghanistan. If, occasionally, they back up the Talibans, is always for their self-interest (for negotiations for example) not for supporting a terrorist group. All the country is pretty proud of this corp and I met a few agents who were always looking after me! But I am not an expert, so can’t say much more about it 😀 !

      1. I wouldn’t doubt that they treated you well in Pakistan but you really need to do some homework on the subject: Pakistan, through the intelligence agency is one of, if not the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world; it’s actions in Afghanistan have been one of the leading causes of making it a failed state and also the source of the blow back, causing terrorism in Pakistan, so they have done the complete opposite of making the country safer. I am still looking forward to visiting in the near future, so thanks for all the useful information

          1. Good point. I’d add that its US and UK support for Pakistan that has allowed them to get away with supporting terrorists, the CIA and the Pakistani intelligence have certainly colluded in plenty of dodgy stuff

        1. Only Indians call Pakistan the failed state, I have never met a single American or Western calling it a failed state. ISi is pain in the ass for Indians only and not many Americans even buy Osama drama so keep ranting like other cyber indian trolls that PK is a failed state, ISI sponsor terrorism and Osama story…I am sure people are quite smart spotting you guys out with same rants and fake western names.

          1. Ok Graham, I can see you are not Indian but having totally Indian narrative in your comment made me to believe there is another indian with a fake ID. Nevertheless, Afhhanistan is not a failed state because of PK rather because of USA and NATO. PK interest in sponsoring so called Afghan Taliban whom you guys once called Mujahideen and now “Taliban the terrorists” is for its their interest. The only mistake ISI had done that brought today terrorist attacks in PK is that it bowed to USA and attacked tribal areas with USA drones and kill their kids and women. For this Pakistanis are paying the price. And yes Pakistanis know well that PK has a shit reputation but let me correct you here that we know well that it is due to both internal issues ie corrupt leaders and politicians and also we know well where and why other powers are playing to sponsor the terrorism. Anyway, people there are always hospitable even before sept 11 or even in golden era of PK in 60s they were as hospitable as today you witnessed. They are not nice to you as PK has bad reputation in the world due to MSM etc

  4. Hi Joan,

    A hearty LOL on soldiers giving you AK-47s for selfie shots hahaha. Sounds like somewhere that is not the USA, or any Western nation. Amazing. In some ways this is nuts but in other ways I admire the detachment, the trust and yes, some may say outright recklessness. Just another country with a different culture, laws, way of doing things. I’d love to see it someday.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂


    1. haha, yeah, you said it very well. This country is nuts, mad, wild and surreal. That’s what all backpackers are continuously saying when you are in Pakistan!

  5. Pakistan can be rock concert loud. Highly amplified mosque speakers blare out the call to prayers five times a day from every which way-the first one being at crack of dawn. This can disturb your sleep pattern. Then there are cars and trucks one-upping each other with incessant honking. Some commercial vehicles have bone jarring air horns. Celebratory gun fire can erupt at any hour for as simple a reason as a kid passing his exams. Imagine that AK47 going off at 2:00 AM!

  6. Wow – awesome tips and it’s obvious you spent a lot of time on this! Pakistan sounds like an amazing place!

  7. I thing which I want to add is you traveled in the month of Ramdan (an Islamic month). In this month local tourist do not travel that is way you got cheap hotels. Otherwise expect 3 time more expensive hotels than you mentioned above.

  8. Incredible tips and really gives a good perspective into what it might be like to visit Pakistan! Pakistan never actually used to be on my list but after seeing pictures and reading about it it’s definitely appealing more and more! Thanks for sharing your tips! They will definitely come in useful if/when I make it there!

    1. Pakistan is such a misunderstood country but then, people look at the pictures and gets truly amazed! Thanks for your comment. Hope you make it one day

  9. That’s really impressive overview about the country. Pakistan is my homeland. I born in Lahore. Pakistan is improving for the tourist industry. Furthermore i would like to add the TDCP. Please tourist use this department to get more information about the country.

  10. It must be exciting to visit Pakistan, but that said, if you live there I don’t think you will think it’s so safe and exciting, especially if your a Minority, and not Muslim, your chances of being killed increase a thousand fold, even the local Muslims are not spared, your chances of being killed are at an extreme level, people live in fear. Pakistan is notorious for Terrorist activity. But that said life goes on. Did you know about the Majority Punjabi’s are suppressing the Baluchistan’s, do you know what the Pakistan Army and Government are doing to the Baluchistan’s, find out seriously before you say Pakistan is a very safe nation? True everyone will give you their spin, but the Pakistan Military is notorious for carrying out all the terrorist funding and operations, they are the ones who set up the Taliban in Afghanistan to destabilize the nation, safe and peaceful, are they? Pakistani Military is known to fund terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) that carry out a proxy war with India, and the famous Mumbai Terror attacks.
    Not less than 45 terrorist groups operate freely in Pakistan with the blessing of the Military and Police, this is how safe Pakistan is.
    As a tourist, you see the superficial skin and not the real vermin that lays beneath.
    Link to Terrorist outfits that operate in Pakistan, see below, travel there I can’t stop you but be warned, you don’t want to be a victim of these Terrorist outfits who as I said earlier operate freely with the backing of the Police and Military.


    1. At least use correct spelling of a Muslima name if you indian use fake IDs. How easy it is to spot you guys. And again same rants PK army is sponsoring terrorists….blah blah blah. Why don’t you tell the author to simply not visit PK as you hate that land so much. Also advice her to hate PK and only love India…If it makes you happy then go for that please, and best of luck convincing her.

        1. Pakistan is hard yet one of the most misunderstood country too! Pakistan has much to offer from astounding mountains to the shores of Gawadar , its a country u can easily fell in love with .
          Btw thanks for writing a wonderful blog! Hope u visit here soon

  11. I also visited Pakistan in 2017 and stayed there for 3 months. It’s a wonderful place in the world to visit. In my opinion everything is OK with piece, security, culture, respect and hospitality etc. The biggest misunderstanding about PK is that some anti-PK wants spread the roomers about terrorism through media etc. I thoroughly studied most of the aspects about PK and then practically realized by staying there. Dear @joantow thanks for explaining the reality about PK your blog confirms mine observations about Pk to be true.

    1. Ah ok, so you were also there recently! Thanks for your kind words man! It seems that thanks to all travelers and backpackers who are going there, people are, slowly, realizing that this country has such a big potential. I hope that more and more people will come in 2018!

  12. luv it <3 great details and yet so simple .. i m planing to go in 2018 with 2 kids ..little confuse to go or not …i love traveling its like m soul food .feeling so motivated after reading ur blog .

  13. I want to say thank you to you for writing on this topic. Pakistan is such a great and peaceful place for tourist. Bad things happened anywhere.

  14. I was in Pakistan this past year (December/January). It was lovely. The most friendly, hospitable, and beautiful country I’ve ever been too. I will say I wish I knew where the liquor stores were in Islamabad…everyone I knew said the only way to get liquor was the embassy clubs and bootleggers. We ended up meeting a bootlegger which was not too much of a hassle. Islamabad might be the greenest city in the world. It was stunning. I also gained 8 lbs the first week I was there from eating and luckily never got sick from water or food the entire month I was there. Every other one of our friends got sick though at some point.

    1. Hi Matt, I also heard that there are liquor stores in Islamabad. In fact, my Couchsurfing host (local Pakistani) had plenty of beers in his fridge and said he bought them in a beer shop in the city! I don’t know, that is what he said and I actually never saw it! Yes, Islamabad is the greenest city ever, slightly different from the way Homeland TV show portraits it, right? Lucky you, that you didn’t get sick. I got sick on 4 occasions, within a 2-month period. However, since then, after 1 year, I have never ever got sick anymore of my stomach. I think I went through a very hard training and now I am immune! Cheers mate!

  15. Hi I went to Pakistan in April for 5 weeks it is a beautiful country I love the atmosphere there foods lovely it was an amazing experience. I will love to go again soon inshallah I didn’t want to come back

  16. Hey, just want to let you know that for #7 it is confirmed, at least for Lahore. I had overstayed for 6 days and they let me extend it when I came to the immigration counter, for free.

  17. I’m going as a lady traveler in December. Luckily for me I have some friends there and I am going with a guy friend of mine. 🙂

  18. Hi, thank you for this very useful post!!!! I appied to travel next month (I will have a local with me over there). I wanted to ask a simple question. IF I state on my visa application that I will stay at a specific hotel (I attached my reservation) and then I cancel and decide to book or stay somewhere else, could they deny me entry at custom or create problems during my stay?

    thank you so much for your help
    P.s. I’m Italian

  19. Great points.
    Karachi is not a tourist destination hence tourism never was developed properly here. That’s is why hotels which are budget friendly are hard to find.
    However if you do travel there you must try crabbing on Karachi seaport with ‘Salem seafood crabbing’ he has the best boats and only $9 to $10 per person in a group of 10.
    And definitely check out Kolachi restaurant at do darya or go scuba diving at islands like churna etc. You can even go buggy wheeler riding or camel riding on sea view beach best time is at sunset coz rides have amazing fun lights on them. Or book a hut on beaches like French beach or sand spit beach. Go shopping in zainab market for jackets and jeans which are usually factory rejects from brands like Zara or HnM lol or Gulf for cloth like silks, jamawar and fake ethnic jewellery. And then a shopping trip to dolmen mall for trinkets and souveniers. Quaids mazar, mohatta palace,lyari, frere hall and Danzo zoo are some touristy places for checking historical/recreational places. Also when in Karachi do not forget to try the cupcakes from Delizia Bakery, fishNchips from OPTP and some Tea with Parathas from Chaiwala.

  20. Hi Joan, thanks for sharing and showing the good and beautiful side of Pakistan, instead of what the media would have us believe. 70 tips – indeed very comprehensive!

    If we may add some points regarding safety, the country is indeed safe in some parts and unsafe in others (borders with Afghanistan, China, Iran; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province; as well as certain parts of Balochistan, Islamabad and Karachi), so fellow travellers please do be careful.

    Also, a new scam that surfaced in 2018 was that of spray painted fruits in Afzalpur, do be wary! Also, take care of your passport and valuables, and avoid “faith healers”. Other than that, enjoy your time Pakistan! 🙂

  21. what a great and depth post for travelers i love to visit Pakistan and believe me it’s one of the most safest place in the world with too many beautiful sights.
    i will visit again and go to Kashmir this time <3

    1. Hi Joan. you have experienced in traveling pakistan and you also give answers to those who have misunderstanding about Pakistan. thanks for your love.

  22. Ok, so in a few years I will be planning a trip to Pakistan most likely on my own. I will be going to meet a local, but I am not sure I understand the process of getting a visa for Pakistan. Any tips? Obviously I’m not in any rush, so anything will be useful and anything might change. And is there anything else that might be vital to me? It will be my first trip to Pakistan and my first time leaving my home country on my own.

  23. Muhammad Hammad Ali

    Come to visit Pakistan but be sure to have a proper guide as Pakistan is a big country with wonderful and amazing places to visit. Not to forget but many cultures and different races live within Pakistan. All the provinces in Pakistan have some kind of special places to visit like for example in Sindh you will find old traditional places and civilizations ruins, In Punjab side you will get to see rivers flowing and greenery, In northern side (KPK and Gilgit Baltistan) you’d find some great peeks like k2, Nanga parbat and other amazing places but make sure to have a proper guide of hire some company to do so. National level tourism is on peak now adays as now Pakistan is ranked among the top for adventure loving.

  24. Hi there,
    Can you provide information on immunizations necessary for Lahore in March. I’m not intrested in taking malaria pills that make you sick your entire trip…..

  25. Firrah Sheikh

    Guys – let’s be grown ups. no more negativity!
    Being born in Lahore and brought up in London I love going back and seeing the changes in Pakistan. Also to clarify i have been to India (mostly Delhi and touristy surrounding cities) and loved it too. The last few years social media and the internet it has really moved Pakistan and surrounding countries on, mostly for the better. In Pakistan I notice for instance that many more younger people speak English – I think it has become a necessity if you want to conduct your life on social media! There is also a better understanding and people over the borders are making friends with each other using these mediums and realising that the politicians are the puppeteers. Being in a privileged position of living in a third country (although London is home) I am so lucky to have friends from around the world and it is obvious that it is not the people who have problems with each other but the governments and those who buy the weapons and keep the armed forces in a strong position where so much of the GDP is used. Just enjoy the country and hopefully all your encounters will be positive ones. you can be in danger anywhere – just keep your wits about you and if you have any doubts then stay out of that situation. I am off to Pakistan on my now annual visitation in a few days and really looking forward to it.

  26. pakistni visa is now available on arrival. kindly please update. its available on arrival for 175 countries effective from february 2019.

    1. Pakistani visa is not available on arrival. They said that visa was available on arrival for those who booked a full tour, but apparently, not many people succeeded with that because they never published the list of authorised tour operators.
      What they did is introducing an e-visa system but you still need a Letter of Invitation. Basically, the only difference versus before is that now you don’t need to apply in your home country but you can do it online, but requirements are pretty much the same. However, I don’t know anyone who has tried it yet and since in Pakistan they always talk about new visa policies which tend to be BS, I prefer update to update it until the info is verified

      1. The evisa begins next month, in June. Till then no one really knows how it will work. But news reports so far say no LOI will be required

  27. Jahangir Ahmed

    its such an amazing article about traveling in Pakistan. and its true Pakistan is a really beautiful country for visiting there are many natural places and many amusement parks.

  28. I was actually reading instruction regarding my visit to China INSHALLAH which made me wonder what foreigners think of My country and I must say for an article listing “70 things” You did a great job making it sound interesting and easily understandable ! I am overwhelmed by everyone views on their visit to Pakistan. So, happy to hear You had a good time. Seriously the hospitality of Pakistan is on a different level for everyone who is “The Guest”. Even though Faisalabad is not re-known tourist destination in Pakistan but if I spotted a “Goora/foreigner” trying to pay for themselves Ill bring them home and ask mom to make all the dishes ! since I am good at only making Chai. 🙂 . But still You did a Noble Deed sharing Your honest thoughts against all those rumors.

  29. Numan Salman

    Pakistan is the safe country. It has amazing things to visit. Also has thousands of eye caching seen.
    Thanks for sharing information with detail and also with books reference and pictures.

  30. As you enumerate months (mid-April to mid-October) to travel in Pakistan. Here I want to meddle for those who have aversion for summer season as allergic issues perturb them. More common symptoms are rashes, hives and itching on skin. Choose right clothes while travelling in hot and sunny weather. I suggest to purchase from local market rather than pack so much costumes because local market knows better the weather and design fabric accordingly.

  31. Truly the northern areas of Pakistan are extremely wonderful and breathtaking.. a must visit for anyone who would like to see heaven on earth

  32. Thanks a lot for such an insightful article about traveling to Pakistan. I would request you to update the section regarding the NOC requirement. The new government of Imran Khan has done away with the requirement of NOC for traveling to restricted areas, except for only a handful of places. Another thing i would like to mention is that the online visa platform, still in its infancy, is being improved with each day by incorporating feedback/suggestions from Pakistan embassies around the world as well as the local agencies.

  33. Hey! I’m planning to enter Pakistan in May 2020, entering from india and exiting to China. It looks like most of my time there will be during Ramadan. I was considering the idea of fasting with the locals. My only concern would be strenuous hiking without water. You were there during Ramadan, yeah? Any advice?

    1. Hi Sean. Just curious but, why do you want to fast with the locals? I mean, you can do it if you want, but don’t think that the locals will expect you to do it. Also, Muslim people are allowed to stop fasting when they travel, for the simple reason that fasting & traveling is a real struggle.
      Yes, I was there during Ramadan but only during the first week which I spent in Hunza area, and in that area, since they are Ismailis, they are pretty relaxed and most restaurants were open.

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