Official Name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Location: South Asia – Has land borders with India, Afghanistan, Iran and China
Population of Pakistan: ~ 243 million
Capital of Pakistan: Islamabad
Pakistani Money: Pakistani Rupee (PKR)
Pakistani Timezone: UTC +5
Visa Requirements for Pakistan: Many nationalities now qualify for a Pakistani Evisa. Start HERE on the official government website to apply. It’s NOT straightforward if you’re not on tour, so we’ve added recommendations to streamline the process HERE.
Things to Do and See in Pakistan
Our Experiences in Pakistan
In 2023 we spent almost 4 weeks in Pakistan. Toward the end of Ramadan, Islam’s holiest month, we crossed into Pakistan from Amritsar (India) over the famous Wagha Border and spent five days in nearby Lahore to experience Eid celebrations. Having spent most of our time exploring the old, Walled City and getting back out to the border to witness the colorful border closing ceremony, we then moved on to the capital Islamabad for a few days. After finalising our tour details, we then flew north to Gilgit to begin an incredible road trip through the mountainous Gilgit – Baltistan Region. Our journey taking us right up to the Khunjerab Pass at the Chinese border, the highest paved land border in the world.
This was one of our favorite road trips (and countries yet). And we busted a lot of stereotypes along the way.
You can read about our experiences from the links below
Lahore Walking Tour
Guided Tours of Pakistan
Northern Pakistan is ‘relatively’ easy and safe to get around as an independent traveler, and many people, especially in the cities, speak some level of English. It is, after all, an official language. We can’t speak so much about southern Pakistan as we didn’t go any further south than Lahore. But we’ve been told the situation in some parts of the south is more problematic, and you might require security.
However, travel in Pakistan isn’t all ‘beer and Skittles’, as we Aussies say. Some of the mountain roads are in various states of disrepair, public bus trips are slow and uncomfortable, and more remote sites are hard to get to. Flights from Gilgit and Skardu are often delayed or canceled, and landslides can impact daily road travel.
So if you want to do and see more of the country but have limited time, you’ll probably have to take one or more tours of some description. This might mean a multi-day tour with a driver and maybe a guide, or, shorter outings organized by your accommodation of choice.
Booking a tour will also eliminate some of the issues when applying for a visa and usually provides plan B (C, D) if original plans get disrupted. I recommend doing your homework first to understand your options if problems arise.
I’ve added some links from the larger tour platforms below, and I’ve also added the people we hired our car and driver through and a couple of seemingly excellent guides we met along the way.
Shorter Tours (1-2 days)
GPS My City has several self-guided walking tours of Islamabad and Karachi, and we’ll add our Lahore guide soon.
Intrepid Travel has a limited range of tours in Pakistan at the moment, but you can see them HERE.
Tour Radar – Has over 150 different tours in the region. Check them out HERE.
Local Tour Companies
We used Harris from Adventure Planners to hire a 4 x 4 vehicle and driver and customize our route for our 10-day trip of the north. He also helped us to book some accommodation. You can read the full experience HERE.
We met several other tours with an English-speaking guide and a driver while on the trip. After chatting with the members of the tour about their experience, we can also recommend:
1. Saif Ur Rehman – Pakistan Dream Destination Tours – Saif had a vivacious group of Thai ladies with him and followed a similar itinerary to ours. Everyone seemed to be having a fabulous time, and Saif spoke excellent English. They were in a van rather than a 4 x 4, though. I’m not sure on the prices, so if you’re interested just drop them a line.
2. Izhar Ali from Silk Route Adventures – we met Izhar at the airport in Gilgit, and he helped us out with the confusion when the plane was canceled. His guests were elderly Canadians who were back for the second time. I had a quick look at the tours, and they are significantly more expensive than what we paid, but the tours include airfares, all meals, entry fees, and a much higher level of accommodation than what we had. (E.g Serena hotels!!!!)
Tools & Apps to Book Your Trip To Pakistan
Also, try Skyscanner to check prices.
Also, the company we hired the driver from made reservations for several of our rooms.
For booking bus and train tickets, I usually try:
For Pakistan (unlike India), it was easier to book directly through the bus company’s website.
Trip Itinerary Planning
We used our Wise Visa Debit Card connected to our borderless account to make bookings and withdraw cash.
For this trip, we are using Covermore Travel Insurance. We confirmed we are covered in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.
We got our Pakistani EVisa through the Government Website.
HERE are our recommendations for making that process as painless as possible.
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