Can Indians Visit Pakistan? Full Pakistan/India VISA Guide

  • Post author By Karl Rock
  • Post date January 31, 2020
  • 78 Comments on Can Indians Visit Pakistan? Full Pakistan/India VISA Guide
  • Sticky post

Can Indians Visit Pakistan? How to Get a Visa for Pakistan?

Because I’ve been to Pakistan three times from India and vlogged the entire trip , a common question I get from Indians is, “How can I visit Pakistan?”

Many Indians are interested in visiting what used to be part of India. And likewise, Pakistanis are inquisitive about going to India – when I was there many asked me what India is like .

Can Indians Get Tourist VISAs for Pakistan?

The short answer is no.

Indians are only eligible for business, pilgrim or visitor visas to Pakistan.

The business visa is for business activities – for example, Royal Enfield manufacture products in Pakistan so they would get a business visa to visit the manufacturing plants.

The pilgrim visa allows Indians to visit 15 sites in Pakistan for religious tourism.

The visitor visa is granted if you have close family members or friends in Pakistan and you can only visit a maximum of 5 cities for 3 months.

While the pilgrim visa sounds easy, it’s not guaranteed, and according to reports , Pakistanis have had their requests rejected when they wanted to visit India as pilgrims. Unfortunately, visa policy is usually tit-for-tat so such denials will likely limit Indians wanting to visit Pakistan for pilgrimage too.

Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan

Why Can’t Indians or Pakistanis Get Tourist VISAs?

It’s to do with India and Pakistan’s relationship. Their relationship has been plagued by hostility and suspicion since partition. Until that changes, it’ll be difficult to travel to each other’s countries.

Both countries are paranoid about each others’ citizens being spies.

Visa agreements are reciprocal. Pakistanis can only get the same visas available to Indians. For full information, see the India-Pakistan Visa Agreement, 2012 .

Your Only Real Option to Visit Pakistan

All Indians and OCI cardholders can visit a small slice of Pakistan with the Kartarpur Corridor. I’ve written a full FAQ on how to visit Kartarpur .

Update: Many people are commenting asking how they can visit their Pakistani friends. You can try for a visitor visa, if that fails then you also have the option of meeting in the UAE.

Misinformation Online About VISAs

An Official Pakistan Government website says, “Tourist Visa: A non-extendable tourist visa valid for 14 days is issued by Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi” This is out of date, and the information is not valid anymore , we called the Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi and verified that.

Let’s hope that one day this agreement gets updated, and Indians and Pakistanis can enjoy each other’s countries! The more we meet each other and realise we are brothers, the better the relationship will become.

Can Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) get a VISA for Pakistan?

NRIs have a much easier time getting a visa for Pakistan!

They can at least apply with their reason for wanting to visit Pakistan. If the immigration officer is satisfied with the purpose of a visit, they’ll be issued an appropriate visa.

If you want to read more about that process, visit your country’s Pakistan High Commission website. Or check out the High Commission for Pakistan (Wellington) website for information on that process in New Zealand.

Who to Contact for More Information?

For travel to Pakistan from India call the High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (New Delhi) +91 11 2611 0601.

For travel to India from Pakistan call the High Commission of India (Islamabad) +92 51 2833292 or +92 51 2833282.

  • Tags India , Pakistan , Tourist VISA , Travel

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By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

78 replies on “Can Indians Visit Pakistan? Full Pakistan/India VISA Guide”

Hi I Amandeep I want Pakistan visa in Indian passport ca n you tell me how I get the Pakistan visa in Indian passport

I want also😢

You can only get this if you have a friend or family member living here in Pakistan.

Friends meen ? Facebook, instagram or other social media friends is enough??

I also have a good frend in Pakistan . I want meet ….

I have friends over ther

How can apply for pakistan visa to meet my relatives in pak

Please tell how can I get visa for Pakistan if I wanted to visit my friend home

Hi Karl, you have inspired me so much. I love watching your videos. I am turning 50 shortly and going to take traveling seriously and with passion for rest of my life and your inspiring videos are one of the reason. Thank you.

Mai india jana hai

Welcome jii

Welcome brother

Hi, i got married in jodhpur,i m pakistan national i haven’t get india’s permanent citizenship yet, if i wana visit my family in Pakistan what to do?

Hey bro I m also a Pakistani and got married with a Indian girl we want to go India together. How can I get visa. Can you help me plz🙏 her want to see me with her. +923434924596 this is my WhatsApp plz help me if you can

Bhai mujhe bhi Pakistan ma krni ma india sa hu kuch ho sakta ha

I also want to marry in Pakistan how can I apply for visa please brother tell

Please help ne to go pakistan i wanna went to pakistan can u help me?

You can visit by legall manners

I m living in kashmir but i m soo curious to see visit in Pakistan very long time but due to bad relationship between india and Pakistan it’s not possible but my question is how can i go to vist Pakistan

If you have family or friends in Pakistan, you can go.

will it work if we are only social media friends?

I doubt it will work.

Sir can i have your number plz

I want to visit pakistan for meeting Hindu fimilay It’s my hearty choice to visit every place of Pakistan where hindu lives

It’s not possible to visit every where. You can choae 5 sites (cities) to visit in your single trip.

How much does it cost for visa from india to pakistan , since pakistan embasy is in delhi hoe much they charge for 4 days vsits visa and if we go by train or bus please calrify the amounts.

I want to visit Karachi Hyderabad coz I got lot of friends in there can I visit Pakistan being an Indian citizen. Plz can u help me with this My friends wedding in March.. 2021 How do I have to travel.. I already been to Pakistan in 2006 but know I want travel with my family and kids. Can I plz can u help me with this..

Hi. I’m talking to a guy online. He was born in India and he has gotten Canadian PR but still has an indian passport. I live in Pakistan and he wants to visit me in on a visitor visa. Would that be possible? 🙁 Please help!! 🙁

Probably not. He needs Canadian passport

Can any indian go for study in pakistan

I don’t think there’s a study visa. Call the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi and ask.

Me Indian m also want to go Pakistan mt wd my best frmd can any one help me 🙏please

I’m an Indian citizen lives in Dubai and want to visit Pakistan I’ve got friends there, what will be the procedures?

Can I go Pakistani 😊

i am from pakistan but now in dubai.and my friend in dubai but she belong to india.so i want to invite my friend in pakistan for marriage with me so how i apply pakisatni vizt visa for my girl friend.then she come and we get marriage

I was refused a visa to Pakistan in 1970. I am Indian origin and never lived in india and dont have Indian citizenship. I finally took an Afgan Airlines flight from Amritsar to Kabul. The pland had problems and had to land at Rawalpindi. We were there for about 8 hours. The Indians were kept at the transit hall with guards but 2 policemen took me on a tour and got me food. I had a very nice time at the airport One of the first question they asked me was if I was Muslim but i was born and grew up in a Muslim country, Malaysia. They called me brother.

Yr please koi to mujhe Pakistan jana koi rasta bata do, dill da mamla hai 😭

Get invitation from your “dil ka mamla” and also get info from Pakistani embessy or cuonsul the papers you need from your Pakistani dil ka mamla to get Visa.I hope it will help you.

Ayesha bahen kya kr skte h kchh bhi nahi. Meri bhi girlfriend Islamabad se thi aur m India se, mne bhot koshish ki lekin itni zyada political tension ki wjah se nahi ja ska, aur is year April me uski shadi uske cousin se ho gyi. I lost her just because of border and politics 😭😭😭😭😭😭

How to apply for katasraj temple I’m a santani want to visit my historical temple

Namaste Shubham. Happy Diwali. Every year a group of pilgrims go there from India. Please search news articles for this and call whoever is organising the tours.

Same here😢😢

Hi I am Tejasvi virdhi I am from India and I am very much fascinated by Pakistani culture ,their language and the beautiful town Murre on the outskirts of Islamabad ….Though I have never visited Pakistan but still I am very much fascinated…I really want to visit Pakistan and the beautiful Pakistani town Murre but I don’t know if I will ever be able to visit it because of the legal tensions between the two countries

I hope you can visit one day 🙏

Hello kral rock, my best friend is an indian girl we worked together in dubai . She still in dubai she wants to visit to Pakistan, can she visit in Pakistan?

It’s unlikely. Call the Pakistan Embassy in Dubai and ask.

Hello karl, iam working in Saudi Arabia , basically from India, my boyfriend is from Pakistan , we worked together here before, so I want to visit Pakistan, would that be possible?? Plzz help

Hi Tarar. If you have an Indian passport then it’s probably not possible. But contact the Pakistan High Commission (New Delhi) and ask them for a definite answer https://pakhcnewdelhi.org.pk/contact-us/ . Good luck.

Hi Karl, I like all the videos and you too, Can you vlog beautiful places in New Zealand, please…Love from Tamil Nadu, somewhere in a village.

Hi, Karl, I like all the video and including you to buddy. Can you do a vlog in New Zealand’s heavenly places and I like to tour European countries such as London, Canada, Switzerland and New Zealand countryside. Love from Tamilnadu, somewhere in a small village. I love you brother

Hi my wife family is in Pakistan i want to take my wife and my mother in law to Pakistan it’s that possible

Hi Muhammad, aapko VISA mil jana chahiye kyouki aapka pariwar Pakistani mein hai. Contact Pakistan High Commission (Delhi) for more help +91 11 2611 0601.

I’m an Indian and I want to visit the Shrine of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar(R.A) but it is not in the list of 15 pilgrimage places of Pakistan. Is there any other way to visit Shrine of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar(R.A) from India?

Not as far as I know sorry

I’m British Indian (ethnically Sindhi–my dad was born in Karachi pre-Partition). I should be good yeah?

Yup. Apply via your local Pakistan High Commission. If they act funny tell them about your link back to Pakistan via family.

Hi Karl,can Indian marry a Pakistani?

Hi Khansan, yes, it’s possible. But I don’t know how. Try find out how Sania Mirza did it, she married a Pakistani. I’m sure it’d be possible to meet and marry in another country like Dubai.

I just love the beauty of Pakistan and Afghanistan and i am a traveller i want to visit Pakistan’s Islamabad one day ..Can anyone tell me how can i go there ?If i dont get visa then any other option tht can help me visit Pakistan?And also i want to visit the historic cities of pakistan where India and pakistan ‘s ancient history is stored?can anyone help me ?

I want to visit pakistan beacouse my love is there and I want to marry her I really love her she also loves me wants marry me, so how can I go there for marry her please tell me any body help me …😢😢😢

I want to go Pakistan one of my biggest dream I have friends over there if possible then rlp my comment

I want to go to Pakistan coz it’s my fantasy to visit Pakistan once in my life. I have friends over and I have my love too . If possible then please help out in finding ways to visit pak

Is there any “Friends to rent to get visa” Website in Pakistan or in India? If the politicians are not going to do their work, than we, the ppl, have to do it.

I wanna love to visit Pakistan.

Love from Indian Punjab

Hey Manpreet. Pakistan will check and they will likely interview that person too. I know a few people whose sponsors have been interviewed. Don’t risk it.

Yes it could be possible if he has Canada visa or passport he can apply for a tourist visa

hi i just want to share my experience. i’m indian born canadian. in the past it was possible to visit both countries – when i was 18 and travelled to india on own for the first time – my ticket to bombay was with PIA and i had a stopover in karachi! anyways both countries are very petty and any restriction one place the other does the same. pakistani origin people (even if born in the US/Canada with foreign passports) are not allowed in india and even i had to show all my canadian passports for the past 50 years to prove i’m not pakistani and get an indian visa (i’m muslim). after watching all of karl’s pakistan videos i’m planning a trip to pakistan this september and have run into issues getting a visa because i’m indian born! i need to find a sponsor in pakistan who will send me a notarized letter of invitation and a copy of their shinaqti card before the embassy will give me a visa (thankfully i have some friends here who will get their relatives to do this) for indian passport holders it’s impossible to get a pakistani visitor visa unless they are sikh pilgrims or academics attending a conference

I would like to visit Pakistan, I live in Germany and have traveled to many Asian countries to my astonishment is it for international air travel still required that you need 2 Covid vaccinations to enter the country does anyone know more?

Can I get a visa to visit my ancestral village in Pakistan left behind during partition? Do I need to be sponsored by a facilitator organisation for this purpose such as an NGO?

Hey, the only way I know is to get proof of your ancestry and go to a Pakistan High Commission and show them and tell them the reasons you want to visit. If you’re in contact with family there it maybe be easier. There’s a family visa type you should look up on their visa website. Best of luck.

Dear Karl, Good informative article. Basically if you are a citizen (and passport holder) of these two contries then chance of visiting each other is almost nil and with current tensions and Pakistan’s financial situation it has become harder. I am Indian born but naturalized citizen of the USA and I had no problem in getting the visa. I went for the darshan of Ma Hinglaj (Nani Bibi) in 2006 and I was treated like a prince by everyone. You can read about this at http://offroadpakistan.com/2011/06/jay-shahs-pilgramage-to-mata-hinglaj/ The PK High commision in ~2009 told me that if there is a group and want to go to just one place of pilgrimage that is not on the original agreement of pilgrimage visa https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protocol_on_Visits_to_Religious_Shrines_1974 then they may consider. But, in general, people (even Pakistanis are concerened about safety in the Northwest Frontier – Balochistan.

Hope and pray that the peace prevails between the two countries soon and both propser. Love Jay Shah

Congrats bro. That must’ve been an incredible experience. Even I haven’t been there because Balochistan requires more permissions these days. Thanks for commenting.

I have pak pilgrimage visa for 15 days from canada .so should i report to police in pak while visit

Call the Embassy that issued you the visa and ask what you have to do.

I am an Australian passport holder with OCI card. I also have the tourist visa for Pakistan as my partner is from Pakistan. I am wondering if I go to India, Will the Indian authorities bother/stop/detain me as I visited Pakistan or intending to visit to Pakistan ? So many of my friends/family said don’t get stamp of Pakistan on your passport as it ruins the travel history or something.

Hey, it’s an old wives’ tale. I’ve got many Pakistan stamps in my passport, no issues.

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Visa for Indian Nationals

Visa policy, visa categories, visa application fee, visa policy for afghanistan, e-visa (online visa), verify visa, apply exit permit, visa for indians, basic requirements.

All Indians wishing to visit Pakistan must obtain a valid visa. The basic requirements for obtaining a visa are as follows:-

  • Valid passport: The passport should be valid for at least one year.
  • Visa application form duly filled in.
  • Visa Application forms for getting visa’s either through the Interior Division or Pakistan Mission abroad.

The fee at present is Rs.15/- inclusive of all charges for issuance, extension or transit visas.

For business visa , a letter from the company/organization in Pakistan sponsoring the applicant stating the purpose of visit is required.

Visa fee is realized through cash on the visa counter or through bank challan.

Note: The Embassies/High Commissions for Pakistan deal with visa matters on all the working days of the week (Monday to Friday). While in Gulf countries, the Pakistani Missions remain open from Saturday to Wednesday. None of the Missions is, however, open on any of the Gazetted holidays of the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Types of Visas

The following types of visas are granted to the resident/Non-resident Indian by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan:-

Visitor Visa

Visitors visa are issued to Indian Nationals to meet relatives, friends or for any other legitimate purpose. This type of visa is also issued to bonafide Indian businessmen for six months with three entries.

Transit Visa

Transit visa valid for up to two entries for stay in the city/port of entry for 72 hours issued to Indian nationals, proceeding to Indian by air or sea through Pakistan.

Tourist Visa

A non-extendable tourist visa valid for 14 days is issued by Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi through approved tour operators/travel agents.

Check Posts

Following are the designated entry/exit check posts for Indian nationals, coming to Pakistan:-

  • By Air Karachi/Lahore/Islamabad
  • By Sea Karachi
  • By Road Wagha

Instructions for Obtaining Pakistani Visa

  • Please fill in the visa Application Form in CAPITAL LETTERS (Four copies). No column to be left blank.
  • Please fill in the Computer Performa in CAPITAL LETTERS (Four Copies).
  • Visa fee of Rs.15/- should be deposited in cash and receipt obtained. Passport will be returned on presentation of receipt. The fee is non-refundable.
  • Two copies of the form will be returned to the applicant with visa. One each should be handed over to Pakistan Immigration Officer on arrival and Police Registration Office.
  • The applicant should be in possession of US $45 or equivalent in Foreign Exchange at the time of entry.
  • The visitors may enter Pakistan by Air, Train, Road. but the point of exit and mode of travel for their return journey will remain the same. However, the persons Entering By Air may exit from different Airport with Prior permission.
  • The visitors must Repot for Police Registration within 24 hours of entry in Pakistan and prior to Departure/Arrival at each subsequent place of visit in Pakistan.
  • Provide copy of N.I.C of the sponsor of Indian National(s).
  • Provide copy of the Passport of the applicant(s).
  • Valid Passport. The Passport should be valid for at least one year.

Download Forms

  • Application by an Indian National(s) for extension of visa/ stay and re-entry visa in Pakistan.
  • Application by an Indian National for Police registration beyond 24 hours Pakistan.
  • Application by an Indian National for permission for change of route.
  • Application for Indian National(s) (Additional Place(s) Endorsement.

Further Assistance

For more information please contact:

Last modified: 4 October 2023 10:39 am.

Copyright © 2024 Directorate General of Immigration & Passports, Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan.

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14 things you need to know before traveling to Pakistan

Bradley Mayhew

Sep 2, 2023 • 9 min read

Shepherds with their flocks in the mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan

Pakistan offers amazing adventures but it pays to read up on the challenges © Dave Primov / Shutterstock

Pakistan is one of the world’s great surprises, with an incredible diversity of scenery – from the world’s biggest mountain glaciers to the sparkling waters of the Indus River – alongside some of the most beautiful forts, mosques and archaeological sites in the Subcontinent. It is the cultural bridge between India and Central Asia and home to some of the most hospitable people you’ll ever meet.

It would, however, be fair to say that Pakistan has a mixed reputation beyond its borders. The country is beset with economic, political and security problems, but much has changed security-wise in recent years. An incredible welcome is guaranteed here, but this is also a destination that requires a bit of research in order to travel with confidence. Start your planning with the following essential travel tips.

1. Choose the right season for the areas you are visiting

Travel in Pakistan is strongly affected by the seasons . The summer months of July and August are the best time to visit the high mountains of the Karakoram and Hindu Kush ranges in the north, but this is also the busiest time for domestic tourism and it’s incredibly hot elsewhere in the country. If you want to explore the center, south and west of the country, consider a visit in spring (April and May) or autumn (October and November), especially if you don’t plan on going trekking. October brings fabulous fall colors to places like the Hunza Valley, whereas winter (November to February) is the best time to explore central and southern Pakistan.

Festivals worth planning your trip around include the Shandur Polo Festival in the second weekend of July, held atop the mountain pass between Hunza and Chitral, and the Chilam Joshi spring festival in the Kalash Valley in mid-May.

2. You’ll probably need a visa and letter of invitation to visit Pakistan

Most foreigners need a visa to enter Pakistan but you can apply online through the immigration department’s slightly glitchy e-visa system . You will also need a letter of invitation from a local hotel, your Pakistani host or a Pakistani travel agent to secure a visa, so give yourself enough time to get this document in place. Even if you don't plan on taking a tour, travel agencies can provide a letter of invitation for a fee. Contact your local Pakistani embassy or high commission for the latest information. 

3. Be prepared for some challenges if you travel during Ramadan

The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan brings a specific set of challenges for travelers. Most Pakistani Muslims avoid eating or drinking between dawn and dusk during this holy month, and most restaurants close during the day, with offices often working reduced hours. You’ll need to be fairly self-sufficient when it comes to food during daylight hours and you should avoid eating in public during the fasting period. This said, evenings are especially lively during Ramadan, as the devout break their daily fast with blowouts in local restaurants.

The dates for Ramadan shift annually according to the Islamic lunar calendar and sightings of the moon, and the festival moves forward by 11 days each year, relative to the Gregorian calendar; in 2024, the festival should start around 10 March.

A view from the Hiran Minar in Pakistan's Punjab Province

4. Get a Pakistani SIM card to use the local taxi apps

Public Wi-Fi is not all that common outside of larger cities in Pakistan, so it’s useful to bring an unlocked smartphone for mobile browsing. Buy a local SIM card from the main customer service center for your chosen operator, in whichever town you happen to be in. Travelers recommend Zong , Telenor or Jazz for central Pakistan, or the government-owned SCOM for the mountainous northern area of Gilgit-Baltistan .

With a local SIM and phone number, you should be able to use local taxi apps such as Uber and its local equivalent Careem , which will save you both time and money, compared to flagging down local taxis in big cities such as Islamabad and Lahore .

5. Bring plenty of photocopies of your passport

There are lots of checkpoints in Pakistan where you'll need to show your identity documents, so bring lots of photocopies of your passport’s information pages and Pakistan visa, and always travel with the original passport on your person. You’ll find yourself handing over these copies regularly on long-distance road trips, including when traveling on the Karakoram Highway . 

6. Enjoy the local hospitality (but don’t abuse it)

Culture and customs can vary widely as you move from region to region in Pakistan but in general, you’ll find most Pakistanis to be extremely friendly and hospitable. Conversations, cups of chai and even dinner invitations flow easily, and you can expect to participate in hundreds of selfies.

Hospitality is so integral to Pakistani culture that many locals feel obliged to offer to pay for a foreigner’s meal or bus tickets, even if money is short. You may have to turn down these invitations multiple times to avoid burdening anyone unnecessarily. If you do share a meal in Pakistan be sure to pass and accept food with your right hand only; the left hand should not be used for eating or shaking hands. 

A woman looks over the Hunza Valley, Pakistan

7. Women travelers might face some challenges in Pakistan

For the most part, Pakistan is a conservative, male-dominated society, and this can pose some challenges for female travelers. Women and men don’t mix much in public, and women generally sit in segregated areas on public buses and trains and, often, in restaurants. Attitudes towards foreign women can be protective and curious but women traveling alone may face some suspicion, and sexual harassment can sometimes be a risk in crowds. Special rules for women also apply at some religious sites.

For solo women travelers traveling through Pakistan, it helps to already have some experience of travel in other Islamic countries. Women traveling with a male companion generally face fewer obstacles. On the plus side, women travelers can gain insights into family dynamics and the lives of Pakistani women, which are completely off-limits to male travelers. And in some situations, foreign women may have unique access to both the male and female worlds.

8. Invest in a shalwar kameez to travel like a local

Pakistan’s national dress is the shalwar kameez , a garnet resembling a long shirt worn over wide, baggy trousers, popular with both men and women. It's worth investing in a set if you are going to be traveling for any length of time in Pakistan. The shalwar kameez is supremely practical and comfortable in this climate – you’ll also blend in nicely with the crowd, and locals will respect you for sharing in their culture. Women should also add a dupatta scarf to cover their hair when visiting mosques and other religious sites.

9. Dial down public displays of affection

Many Pakistanis are socially conservative, and public displays of affection between men and women – including kissing, touching and even holding hands in public – are frowned on. Attitudes towards LGBTIQ+ people can also be quite negative, and same-sex relationships are illegal, so Pakistan is not a good place for openly  LGBTIQ+ people to travel . It is not unusual for Pakistani men to hold hands or drape arms around each other, but this is generally platonic. 

10. Treat bargaining as a lighthearted sport

Haggling is acceptable, commonplace and often necessary in Pakistan, but it is best approached as a lighthearted social exchange rather than a life-or-death struggle, as some travelers treat it when traveling in Asia. The goal is for both purchaser and seller to walk away happy. 

When bargaining, respond to the first price quoted with a lower offer, then work back and forth until you reach a price you can both agree on. If you can afford it, avoid haggling over small sums – local people are often poorly paid and financially insecure, and overpaying by a few rupees won’t make a big dent in your wallet.  

Riders on camels pass a fort in rural Pakistan

11. Be aware of the no-go areas

The security situation can vary widely as you travel around Pakistan. Potentially dicey areas include parts of rural Sindh, some neighborhoods in Karachi , the area of Indus Kohistan close to Abbottabad (where Osama Bin Laden lived in hiding until 2011), parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan , and all of Baluchistan and Azad Kashmir provinces.

In general, you are unlikely to stumble into a danger zone because foreigners require a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to visit such places, and you won’t be given one of these without excellent local contacts. The safest parts of the country are central Punjab Province and the area north of Gilgit, extending as far as the Chinese border along the Karakoram Highway . Check out the latest travel advisory information from your home government before you travel. 

While the risk is small, terrorist attacks and kidnappings do take place in Pakistan, and street crime can be an issue in parts of Karachi. Stay alert, exercise caution, and heed local advice on problem areas. Be aware that Sufi and Shia shrines are sometimes targeted by extremists, so visiting these locations can bring a slightly elevated risk.

12. Don’t panic if you get an armed escort

The Pakistani government is keen to protect the nation’s tourism industry, and officials sometimes insist that tourists take an armed guard to visit certain locations. You don’t have to pay for these guards, but the use of their services is mandatory. 

Some travelers find the guards somewhat constraining but their presence is usually just a precaution. You may be given a police escort in places such as Swat, the Kalash Valley and the scenic Fairy Meadows hiking area (on the northern flanks of Nanga Parbat peak).

13. Get travel insurance (and read the small print)

Good travel insurance is important for travel to Pakistan, but be aware that most policies won’t cover you for areas where your home government advises "against all travel." For example, in 2023, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office was advising against all travel to Swat and Peshawar, amongst other destinations. Check the latest government travel advisories for up-to-date information and plan your itinerary accordingly.  

14. Give some thought to potential problems before you come

Beyond security issues, natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes are unfortunately common at times in Pakistan, while power cuts are a smaller but more frequent occurrence. Monitor the local and international media for news on problem areas, and if you get caught in a natural disaster, follow the guidance of the authorities.

In terms of personal health, intestinal problems are the most common complaints among foreign tourists; the two golden rules are don’t drink the tap water and be wary of pre-cooked food. Eating from busy stalls and restaurants where food is freshly cooked is the way to go. 

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Pakistan Visa for Indians: A Comprehensive Guide

Introduction.

Pakistan Visa for Indians:Travelling to Pakistan has become increasingly popular among Indian tourists due to its rich history, cultural heritage, and breathtaking landscapes. If you are an Indian citizen planning to visit Pakistan , it is essential to understand the visa requirements and procedures. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on obtaining a Pakistan visa for Indians, including the application process, fees, and other important details.

Pakistan Visa for Indians

Pakistan Visa for Indians:

  • Indian citizens usually need a visa to enter Pakistan.
  • Tourist visas are typically granted for a specific period, and the application process involves submitting relevant documents and paying the required fees.
  • The visa application can be submitted to the Pakistan High Commission or Consulate in India.
  • If you plan to visit Pakistan for business purposes, you would need a business visa.
  • The application process and required documents may vary, and it’s advisable to check with the relevant authorities or the Pakistani embassy/consulate.
  • The application form for a Pakistan visa can usually be obtained from the Pakistani embassy, consulate, or their official website.
  • You may need to submit supporting documents such as a valid passport, passport-sized photographs, flight itinerary, hotel reservation, and proof of funds.
  • The visa processing time can vary, so it’s recommended to apply well in advance of your planned travel dates.
  • There is usually a visa fee associated with the application, and the amount may depend on the type and duration of the visa.
  • In some cases, additional security clearances may be required, and the processing time may be longer.
  • Ensure that you enter Pakistan (Pakistan Visa for Indians)through the designated entry points specified in your visa.
  • Be aware of any specific restrictions or conditions attached to your visa.

It’s important to note that political and diplomatic situations can influence visa policies, so it’s advisable to check with the nearest Pakistani embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date information before planning your trip. Additionally, online visa systems may be in place, so it’s recommended to explore the official website of the Pakistani embassy (Pakistan Visa for Indians)or consulate for the latest details on the visa application process.

Table of Contents

Types of Pakistan Visas for Indians

the Lahore fort building in Pakistan

Before applying for a visa, it is crucial to determine the specific type of visa that suits your purpose of visit. The most common types of visas for Indian citizens visiting Pakistan are:

  • Tourist Visa: This visa is issued to individuals who wish to visit Pakistan for tourism, sightseeing, or visiting friends and family.
  • Business Visa: If you are an Indian entrepreneur or a representative of a company planning to engage in business activities in Pakistan, you will need to apply for a business visa.
  • Student Visa: Indian students seeking admission in Pakistani educational institutions should apply for a student visa.
  • Work Visa: If you have secured employment in Pakistan, you will need to obtain a work visa before entering the country.

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Application Process

brown concrete building near the lake Pakistan

Indian citizens can apply for a Pakistan visa through the Pakistan High Commission or Consulate in their respective cities. The application process typically involves the following steps:

  • Complete the Visa Application Form: Obtain the visa application form either online or from the Pakistan High Commission/Consulate. Fill in the required information accurately and legibly.
  • Collect Supporting Documents: Gather all the necessary documents, including a valid passport(Pakistan Visa for Indians) with at least six months of validity, recent passport-sized photographs, a copy of your confirmed travel itinerary, proof of accommodation in Pakistan, and any other documents specific to the type of visa you are applying for.
  • Submit the Application: Visit the Pakistan High Commission/Consulate in person and submit your completed application form along with the supporting documents. Pay the visa fee at the designated counter.
  • Biometric Verification: After submitting your application, you will be required to provide your biometric data , including fingerprints and a photograph.
  • Wait for Processing: The processing time for a Pakistan visa can vary, so it is advisable to apply well in advance of your intended travel date. Keep the receipt provided to track the status of your application.
  • Collect Your Visa: Once your visa is approved, you can collect it from the Pakistan(Pakistan Visa for Indians) High Commission/Consulate. Make sure to check the visa details for accuracy before leaving the premises.

Pakistan Visa Fees for Indians

shah faisal mosque in Pakistan

The visa fees for Indian citizens vary depending on the type of visa and the duration of stay. It is recommended to check the current visa fees with the Pakistan High Commission/Consulate before submitting your application. Generally, the visa fees range from INR 1,000 to INR 5,000.

Important Tips and Information

Here are some essential tips and information to keep in mind while applying for a Pakistan visa:

  • Apply in Advance: It is advisable to apply for a Pakistan(Pakistan Visa for Indians) visa well in advance of your intended travel date to allow ample time for processing.
  • Accurate Information: Make sure to provide accurate and complete information in your visa application form. Any discrepancies or false information can lead to rejection.
  • Travel Insurance: It is recommended to have travel insurance that covers your entire duration of stay in Pakistan.
  • Respect Local Customs and Laws: Familiarize yourself with the local customs, traditions, and laws of Pakistan to ensure a smooth and respectful visit.
  • Security Precautions: Stay updated on the current security situation in Pakistan and follow any travel advisories issued by your government.

the towering minaret of the jamia masjid pakistan

Obtaining a Pakistan visa for Indians is a straightforward process, provided you follow the necessary steps and meet the requirements. By understanding the different types of visas, completing the application accurately, and being aware of the visa fees(Pakistan Visa for Indians)and other important information, you can ensure a hassle-free visit to Pakistan. Remember to plan your trip in advance and make the most of your time exploring the diverse and enchanting beauty of Pakistan.

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Pakistan Visa for Indians

Pakistan Visa for Indian Citizens

Although India and Pakistan are next to each other geographically, all Indian travellers must ensure that they have obtained an appropriate travel authorisation to be permitted to enter the country or they will be turned back at the border. Here, we provide you with all the information that you need to make your advance application so that you won’t be disappointed on arrival. Read on to learn everything you need to know.

how can indian visit pakistan

Get More Useful Travel Info for Your Trip to Pakistan

Find out the latest entry guidance, what documents you'll need to visit, top things to see and do, and more!

  • 1 Do Indians Need a Visa for Pakistan?
  • 2 What Are the Pakistan Visa Fees for Indian Citizens?
  • 3 What Are the Pakistan Visa Requirements for Indian Citizens?
  • 4 How to Get a Pakistan Visit Visa for Indian Nationals
  • 5 How Long is the Pakistan Visa for Indian Nationals Valid?
  • 6 All You Need to Know About How to Get a Visa for Pakistan for Indians
  • 7 More Information About Visiting Pakistan

Do Indians Need a Visa for Pakistan?

Yes, all Indian nationals are required to obtain a Pakistani visa if they are planning to visit the country for any purpose including tourism.

What Are the Pakistan Visa Fees for Indian Citizens?

When you arrange your travel authorisation for your trip, you need to know the amount of Pakistan visa fees for Indian citizens. At present, the cost of a Pakistani tourist travel authorisation is 1.25 USD. This fee needs to be paid in advance of your trip at the time of your application.

What Are the Pakistan Visa Requirements for Indian Citizens?

As an Indian citizen, there are certain requirements that you need to fulfill in order to be issued with your tourist travel authorisation. The documentation you must supply includes:

  • A valid Indian passport with at least 1 year’s validity remaining.
  • A completed application form.
  • 2 passport photos.
  • Evidence of having a minimum of 45 USD or the equivalent in a foreign currency on entry to the country.
  • A copy of your sponsor’s NIC.
  • A copy of your passport.

How to Get a Pakistan Visit Visa for Indian Nationals

Before your trip, you must complete a Pakistan visa application form for Indian citizens for your visit travel authorisation. Certain personal information and details will need to be provided including:

  • Your name (both surname and first names).
  • Your birth date, as well as the city and country of your birth.
  • Address of your accommodation during your stay.
  • Your parents’ names, their countries of origin and their current nationality.
  • If you are married, your spouse’s name, birth country, date of birth and current nationality.

The application form must be completed in capital letters, with 4 copies to be made and with no columns left blank. 2 copies will be returned to you along with your visa, and you must hand one on arrival to the Immigration officer and the other to the Police Registration Office within 24 hours of arrival in the country. The visa fee must be deposited in cash and a receipt must be obtained. When the receipt is presented to the authorities, your passport will be returned.

Bear in mind that your travel authorisation will permit you to enter the country by road, air or train, but you will need to enter and exit the country via the same mode of transport and at the same point. The only exception is if you’re travelling by air, and you will require prior permission to leave from a different airport.

It’s important to note that you must report for Police Registration within the first 24 hours you are in Pakistan. You must repeat this process before you leave or arrive at each place you visit within the country.

How Long is the Pakistan Visa for Indian Nationals Valid?

If you are applying for a tourist Pakistan visa on an Indian passport, your travel authorisation will be valid for 14 days. It will be non-extendable.

All You Need to Know About How to Get a Visa for Pakistan for Indians

We’ve aimed to give you the key information you need to apply for a travel authorisation for your upcoming trip as an Indian traveller. However, if you require further details, read on to learn more.

Can Indians Travel to Pakistan in Transit Without a Visa?

If you’re travelling through a Pakistani airport or port in transit on your way to another destination, you still need to obtain an appropriate travel authorisation to permit you to enter the country by sea or by air as an Indian citizen.

You must, therefore, apply in advance for a transit visa that will remain valid for up to 2 entries into the country. You must remain no longer than 72 hours and remain in the port or city of entry.

Is There a Pakistan E-Visa for Indians?

Unfortunately, at the present time there is no Pakistani eVisa for Indians. There is also no Pakistan Visa on Arrival for Indians. Therefore, you need to obtain your travel authorisation in advance via a paper application form before you set off on your trip.

What Are the Photo Requirements for the Pakistan Visa for Vacation for Indians?

You are required to supply 2 photographs along with your travel authorisation application. These photos must meet certain requirements:

  • Photo size must measure 45mm x 35mm.
  • The background must be plain white.

How to Call Pakistan From India

There are several reasons why you might want to call Pakistan from India. For example, you may need to call your tour operator or your hotel before you set off on your trip. Or at some point during your trip, your friends and family may have to speak with you urgently. Knowing how to place a telephone call is therefore pretty important. You need to follow these steps:

  • First, dial the exit code. This is 00.
  • Next, dial the country code. For Pakistan, this is 92.
  • Next, dial the appropriate area code. There are 100 different Pakistani area codes, so make sure that you’re dialling the right one.
  • Finally, dial the telephone number you need to reach.

More Information About Visiting Pakistan

Although the eVisa is not available for Indian nationals at this time, you may want to have a look at our Pakistani eVisas page.

We’ve tried to give you as much information as possible to make your application for the appropriate travel authorisation as an Indian traveller to permit you to enter Pakistan. However, we know that sometimes more advice and guidance is necessary. Therefore, you can check out this page to learn more about travelling to Pakistan .

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Pakistan Travel Restrictions

Traveller's COVID-19 vaccination status

Travelling from India to Pakistan

Open for vaccinated visitors

COVID-19 testing

Not required

Not required for vaccinated visitors

Restaurants

Recommended in public spaces.

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Can I travel to Pakistan from India?

Most visitors from India, regardless of vaccination status, can enter Pakistan.

Can I travel to Pakistan if I am vaccinated?

Fully vaccinated visitors from India can enter Pakistan without restrictions.

Can I travel to Pakistan without being vaccinated?

Unvaccinated visitors from India can enter Pakistan without restrictions.

Do I need a COVID test to enter Pakistan?

Visitors from India are not required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test or antigen result upon entering Pakistan.

Can I travel to Pakistan without quarantine?

Travellers from India are not required to quarantine.

Do I need to wear a mask in Pakistan?

Mask usage in Pakistan is recommended in public spaces.

Are the restaurants and bars open in Pakistan?

Restaurants in Pakistan are open. Bars in Pakistan are .

Security Alert May 17, 2024

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Travel Advisory June 23, 2023

Pakistan - level 3: reconsider travel.

Reissued with updates to health information.

Reconsider travel to Pakistan due to  terrorism . Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to: 

  • Balochistan province and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, including the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), due to  terrorism  and  kidnapping .
  • The immediate vicinity of the India-Pakistan border and the Line of Control due to  terrorism  and  the potential for armed conflict .

Country Summary: Terrorist groups continue to plot attacks in Pakistan. Terrorism and ongoing violence by extremist elements have led to indiscriminate attacks on civilian, as well as local military and police, targets. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, military installations, airports, universities, tourist locations, schools, hospitals, places of worship, and government facilities. Terrorists have targeted U.S. diplomats and diplomatic facilities in the past.

Terrorist attacks continue across Pakistan, with most occurring in Balochistan and KP, including the former FATA. Large-scale terrorist attacks have resulted in numerous casualties.

Pakistan’s security environment remains fluid sometimes changing with little or no notice. There are greater security resources and infrastructure in the major cities, particularly Islamabad, and security forces in these areas may be more readily able to respond to an emergency compared to other areas of the country. While threats still exist, terrorist attacks occur less frequently in major urban areas than other parts of Pakistan.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Pakistan due to the security environment. Travel by U.S. government personnel within Pakistan is restricted, and additional restrictions on movements by U.S. government personnel outside of U.S. diplomatic facilities may occur at any time, depending on local circumstances and security conditions, which can change suddenly.

The U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar is unable to provide any consular services to U.S. citizens.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Pakistan. 

If you decide to travel to Pakistan:      

  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas . 
  • Remain aware of your surroundings and local events. 
  • Vary travel routes and timing, especially for routine trips. 
  • Be cognizant of your surroundings, particularly around public markets, restaurants, government and military institutions, and other locations. 
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ( STEP ) to receive security alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter . 
  • Review the Country Security Report for Pakistan. 
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergencies. Review the Traveler’s Checklist . 

Balochistan Province – Level 4: Do Not Travel 

Do not travel to Balochistan province. Active terrorist groups, including an active separatist movement, have conducted deadly terrorist attacks against civilians, religious minorities, government offices, and security forces.

Visit our website for  Travel to High-Risk Areas .  

KP Province, including the former FATA – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel to KP province, which includes the former FATA. Active terrorist and insurgent groups routinely conduct attacks against civilians, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government offices, and security forces. These groups historically have not discriminated between government officials and civilians. Assassination and kidnapping attempts are common, including the targeting of polio eradication teams and Government of Pakistan security service (police and military) personnel.

Vicinity of Line of Control – Level 4: Do Not Travel 

Do not travel to the India-Pakistan border, including the Line of Control. Militant groups are known to operate in the area. India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the border. The only official Pakistan-India border crossing point for persons who are not citizens of India or Pakistan is in the province of Punjab between Wagah, Pakistan, and Atari, India. Travelers are advised to confirm the status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel. An Indian visa is required to enter India, and no visa services are available at the border.

Embassy Messages

View Alerts and Messages Archive

Quick Facts

Six months beyond the date of arrival

Two blank pages are required for entry and exit stamps

Polio vaccination within one year before travel may be required to exit Pakistan. See Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements below and our Health Abroad page for more information.

Maximum $5,000 per adult per trip with a maximum of $30,000 per adult per calendar year. Minors are limited to half those amounts.

Embassies and Consulates

U.s. embassy islamabad.

Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5 Islamabad, Pakistan Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000 or +(92)(51) 201-5000 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000 Fax: +(92)(51) 282-2632 Website: https://pk.usembassy.gov/

U.S. Consulate General Karachi Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road Karachi, Pakistan Telephone:  +(92)(21) 3527-5000 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000 Fax:  +(92)(21) 3561-2420 Website:   https://pk.usembassy.gov/karachi/

U.S. Consulate General Lahore 50, Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees, (Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Circle, Lahore, Pakistan Telephone:  +(92)(42) 3603-4000 Fax:  +(92)(42) 3603-4212 Website:  https://pk.usembassy.gov/lahore/

U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar 11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantt.20 Telephone:  +(92)(91) 526-8800 Fax:  +(92)(91) 527-6712 Website:   https://pk.usembassy.gov/peshawar/ **Consular services are not available in Peshawar**

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Pakistan for info rmation on U.S.-Pakistan relations.   

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

The Government of Pakistan requires all travelers age 12 and over to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

All travelers are subject to random COVID-19 testing at all points of entry/exit.  This policy is in effect until further notice and affects all international airports.  U.S. citizen travelers are not exempt from this requirement and may be tested for COVID-19.

Those testing positive for COVID-19 with the rapid test at the point of entry to Pakistan will then have a sample taken for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and be given home isolation instructions.  Travelers should not expect to be returned to their previous destination, nor quarantined at the Port of Entry/Exit.

Requirements for entry and exit:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid Pakistani visa
  • Dual nationals only: National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP)

Obtain your visa at the Pakistani Embassy or a Consulate prior to initiating travel to Pakistan. Visit the  Embassy of Pakistan  website for the most current visa information, and please understand that the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Pakistan cannot assist you with Pakistani visa issues. 

All U.S. government employees and immediate family members must follow appropriate procedures for official and personal travel to Pakistan. All official U.S. government travel requests must be submitted via the normal country clearance process and will be limited to mission-critical travel only. U.S. government employees wishing to conduct unofficial travel to Pakistan must contact the appropriate office in their home agency to determine whether there are any limitations or restrictions.

Dual Nationals: Be aware that different visa requirements may apply if you hold both U.S. and Pakistani citizenship. For more information see the Embassy of Pakistan’s information regarding  National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) and Pakistan Origin Cards (POC).

When you travel to Pakistan, you are subject to the laws of Pakistan. If you travel to Pakistan on NICOP or POC cards, you are considered citizens of Pakistan, which may limit the amount of assistance and communication we can provide should you be arrested. For more information see  Government of Pakistan Directorate General of Immigration and Passports .

You must obtain advance permission from local or federal authorities to travel in:

  • Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)
  • Various districts in Azad Kashmir
  • Province of Balochistan

Operational and personal security policies for official U.S. government personnel change frequently.

Stay in compliance with Pakistani immigration regulations. If you overstay your visa or violate the terms, you may be detained, arrested, fined, and/or imprisoned. For further details see the  Ministry of Interior website  or call +92-51-920-7290.

Keep copies of your U.S. passport data page, Pakistani visa or ID card, and Pakistan immigration entry stamp with you at all times. Consider downloading these documents to your mobile phone in case of emergency.

Vaccinations: With the exception of COVID-19 vaccination, no routine vaccines are required when entering Pakistan from the United States, but proof of polio vaccination within one year may be required to exit Pakistan. See the  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  website for recommended vaccinations and health tips for travel to Pakistan. For further updates, contact the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, telephone: +92-51-910-7307, or email:  [email protected].

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Pakistan.

Find information on  dual nationality,   prevention of international child abduction , and  customs regulations  on our websites.

Safety and Security

Terrorism:  Extremist groups within Pakistan continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit, including government facilities and public locations, such as schools and universities, shopping malls, markets, hotels, clubs and restaurants, , transportation hubs/stations, minority neighborhoods, and outdoor recreation areas. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates  prohibit personnel from visiting houses of worship. Terrorists also target Pakistani officials, government facilities, security forces, religious minorities and facilities including Sufi shrines, and regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military and police installations, and airports. Primary terrorist tactics include suicide operations, gunfire, and bombings (including vehicle-borne explosives and improvised explosive devices), while other actions include but are not limited to assassinations, carjackings, and assaults. The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, and these measures can vary from day to day. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates regularly assess security situations and restrict the movements of official personnel.  

Demonstrations, political rallies, or large religious gatherings intended to be peaceful can become confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. We advise U.S. citizens to avoid areas where large crowds of any kind gather. U.S Embassy and Consulate personnel are routinely instructed to avoid areas of any demonstration. During demonstrations or periods of civil unrest, the Pakistani government has in the past disabled cellular telephone and internet service, making it difficult for individuals to contact each other or the U.S. Embassy or Consulates.

Celebratory gunfire may occur at any time but is most likely to occur during wedding celebrations, which are frequent from October to May, and on holidays such as New Year’s Eve. Although the likelihood of being struck is remote, falling rounds can cause injury or death.

We recommend you limit the frequency of travel and minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other public locations. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates prohibit personnel from using public transportation or taxi services. With few exceptions, official visitors are not authorized to stay overnight in local hotels anywhere in the country; we strongly urge you to avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures. Depending on ongoing security assessments, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates sometimes place areas such as tourist attractions, hotels, markets, shopping malls, and restaurants off-limits to official personnel. 

Threats to civil aviation in Pakistan are not limited to attacks in which militants target airports. The U.S. government is aware of narcotics smuggled onto flights from Pakistan, which may indicate broader security vulnerabilities at Pakistani airports.

We recommend you follow media coverage of local events and maintain good situational awareness and operational security wherever you travel in Pakistan. If you feel that your life is in danger in Pakistan, we advise you to report the threat to local police authorities and consider immediately changing locations or departing Pakistan.

For more information, see our Terrorism page.  

Crime: All travelers are advised to dress conservatively, with arms and legs covered, and to avoid walking alone. We recommend against travel on the streets late at night. Urban crime can be organized or opportunistic and conducted by individuals or groups. It can include fraud, theft, robbery, carjacking, rape, assault, and burglary. Incidents of crime and levels of violence are higher in low-income residential and congested commercial areas but are seen in wealthier areas as well. Pickpocketing, theft, and larceny are common on buses and trains at all hours of the day.

Take precautions to avoid crime, including:

  • locking home and vehicle doors
  • hiring a 24-hour guard
  • varying routes and schedules
  • keeping bags or valuables under your legs away from passing vehicle traffic and ensuring that bag straps are not visible
  • traveling in groups
  • being accompanied by someone with the ability to speak the local language if you travel outside urban areas
  • carrying your mobile phone

If you are assaulted, flee to a safe area and report the situation to local authorities by going directly to a police station or dialing  15 .

Demonstrations  occur frequently.  They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.  

  • Demonstrations can be unpredictable, avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.  
  • Past demonstrations have turned violent.
  • Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.  

During demonstrations or periods of civil unrest/heightened security concern, the Pakistani government has in the past disabled cellular telephone and internet service, making it difficult for individuals to contact each other or the U.S. Embassy or Consulates.

International Financial Scams:  See the  Department of State  and the  FBI   pages for information. 

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. 

Report crimes to the local police at 15 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(92)(51) 201-4000. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

Police responsiveness varies widely, and crimes often go unsolved or unprosecuted.

Dual U.S-Pakistani nationals may not be recognized as U.S. citizens by local authorities.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas .

We can: 

  • Help you find appropriate medical care  
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police 
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent 
  • Provide a list of local attorneys  
  • Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution 
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home 
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport 

Domestic Violence:  U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or the Consulates in Karachi or Lahore for assistance.

Tourism:  The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities.  First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance . 

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. The U.S. government may not act to circumvent local authorities or advocate for particular outcomes on behalf of private individuals. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates cannot offer “safe haven.”

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on  crimes against minors abroad  and the  Department of Justice  website.

It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings or structures, particularly sensitive places like military installations, cantonments, and nuclear sites, but the law on this subject is vague and applied inconsistently.

It is illegal to import alcohol into Pakistan without prior coordination with the government and under only under very specific circumstances. Travelers entering Pakistan with alcohol face potentially severe penalties. Additionally, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail and result in severe penalties.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Pakistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences in local prisons, heavy fines, and sometimes even the death penalty.

Arrest Notification:  If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Pakistani law enforcement authorities will typically not notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulates if a foreign citizen is arrested or detained, unless you request they do so. Pakistan’s regulations governing the travel of foreign diplomats and the procedures for gaining access to arrested individuals have delayed consular access in the past. In some cases, a consular officer may not be able to visit due to security-related travel restrictions.

Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information. 

Faith-Based Travelers:  See the following webpages for details : :

  • Faith-Based Travel Information
  • International Religious Freedom Report – see country reports
  • Human Rights Report – see country reports
  • Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad  

LGBTQI+ Travelers: Same-sex sexual conduct is a criminal offense in Pakistan. While the government rarely prosecutes cases, society generally shuns lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons, and violence and discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons occur frequently.

The penalty for same-sex relations is a fine, imprisonment (sentences ranging from two years to life imprisonment), or both. No laws protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and LGBTQI+ persons rarely reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. 

See our LGBTQI+ Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details. 

Travelers with Disabilities:   The law in Pakistan prohibits discrimination against persons with  physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disabilities, and the law is unevenly  enforced. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States. The most common types of accessibility may include accessible facilities, information, and communication/access to services/ease of movement or access. Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, lodging, communication/information, and general infrastructure. The availability of rental, repair, and replacement parts for equipment and devices is limited, especially outside major population areas. Services for persons with disabilities may also be limited outside the largest cities.

Students:   See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips .   

Women Travelers:  We often receive reports of U.S. citizens subjected to domestic violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and forced marriage in Pakistan. There are also cases of individuals having their own and their children’s passports confiscated by spouses, parents, or other family members and having their freedom of movement severely restricted. Local police are not consistently responsive to reports of such cases. Nonetheless, if you find yourself in a life-threatening situation, you are encouraged to call the police immediately and follow up with a call to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. We can sometimes connect you with a Pakistani non-governmental organization that may be able to provide assistance.

If you are victimized overseas, you may be entitled to receive compensation for counseling and/or other services such as relocation back to the United States. For further information, visit the  U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women .

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime committed in Pakistan

 See our travel tips for Women Travelers . 

The Government of Pakistan requires travelers age 12 and over be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Basic medical care is available in major Pakistani cities but is limited in rural areas. Facilities in cities vary in quality and range of services and may be below U.S. standards; facilities in rural areas are consistently below U.S. standards. Medical facilities require pre-payment for services, and most do not accept credit cards.

Effective emergency response to personal injury and illness is virtually non-existent in most of Pakistan. Ambulances are few, lack medical equipment, and are not necessarily staffed by medical personnel. Visitors and foreign residents should bring sufficient supplies of prescription and commonly used over-the-counter medications. Many U.S.-brand medications are not available, there is a high incidence of fake pharmaceuticals, and the quality of locally produced medications is uneven. 

A CDC Level 1 Travel Health Notice regarding extensively drug-resistant (XDR) typhoid in Pakistan has been in place since 2018. Review the  Travel Health Notice .

A CDC Level 1 Travel Health Notice regarding global increase in the number of cases of measles including in Pakistan. Review the  Travel Health Notice .  

There is a risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other communicable diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV, in Pakistan. Travelers are urged to use the same cautionary and protective health measures they would in their own country.

For emergency services in Pakistan, dial 15.

We do not pay medical bills.   Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance. 

Medical Insurance:   Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See  our webpage  for more information on insurance overseas. Visit the  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas. 

We strongly recommend  supplemental insurance  to cover possible medical evacuation. If you plan to engage in high-risk outdoor activities in Pakistan, it is essential that you engage the services of a travel risk and crisis management provider.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Government of Pakistan to ensure the medication is legal in Pakistan.

Vaccinations:   Be up-to-date on all  vaccinations  recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

  • World Health Organization
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC)  

Air Quality:

Air pollution is a significant environmental problem across Pakistan. Throughout the country, air quality varies considerably by city and fluctuates greatly depending on the season and local weather patterns. We encourage you to consult with your doctor prior to travel and consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you. It is typically at its worst during the winter in Pakistan. Anyone who travels to areas where pollution levels are high is at risk. People at the greatest risk from pollution exposure include:

  • Infants, children, and teens;
  • People over 65 years of age;
  • People with lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema;
  • People with heart disease; and
  • People who work or are active outdoors.

Air quality data for major cities in Pakistan can be found on the U.S. Embassy’s  website .

Water Quality

Throughout Pakistan, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water. 

Sanitation in most restaurants is inadequate. Diarrheal illnesses are common. Travelers to Pakistan are at risk for other infectious diseases as well. More information about these illnesses and how to protect against them can be found on the  CDC webpage for Pakistan

Adventure Travel:  Pakistan’s mountains and glaciers make it a tempting destination for adventure enthusiasts. Despite the best efforts of local authorities, assisting visitors lost or injured in such remote areas can be difficult. In recent years, several U.S. citizens, including expert climbers, have lost their lives while climbing in the Karakoram mountain range, where rescue missions are often difficult or impossible to execute. Costs for emergency rescues start at $15,000, and payment is required prior to commencement of a search operation.

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about  Adventure Travel . 

The following diseases are prevalent:

Tuberculosis

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about  Resources for Travelers  regarding specific issues in Pakistan.   

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: While in Pakistan, you will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below about Pakistan is provided for general reference only, and it might vary in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic Laws: Traffic in Pakistan moves on the left; the opposite of U.S. traffic. Roads are crowded, drivers are often aggressive and poorly trained, and many vehicles, particularly large trucks and buses, are poorly maintained. Local drivers may drive head-on in your lane of traffic if they believe it helps them get to their destination more quickly. Animals, horse carts, bicyclists, and pedestrians can pose roadside hazards in some areas. Roads, including most major highways, also suffer from poor maintenance and often have numerous potholes, sharp drop-offs, and barriers that are not sign-posted. Drivers should exercise extreme caution when traveling at night by road, since many vehicles do not have working headlights or dimmers, and many roads are not illuminated or signed. We recommend driving with experienced local drivers or guides.

Public Transportation: Avoid all trains, taxis, and other forms of public transportation or online ride hailing services. For security reasons, U.S. government personnel are prohibited from using all forms of public transportation. See the  Safety and Security  section above.

See our  Road Safety page  for more information.  Visit the website of  Pakistan’s national tourist office  and  Pakistan’s national highway authority .

Aviation Safety Oversight:   The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards  for oversight of Pakistan’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page . 

For additional travel information

  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • See the  State Department’s travel website  for the  Worldwide Caution  and  Travel Advisories .
  • Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook .
  • See  traveling safely abroad  for useful travel tips.

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Pakistan . For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act ( ICAPRA ) report.

Travel Advisory Levels

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Check passport expiration dates carefully for all travelers! Children’s passports are issued for 5 years, adult passports for 10 years.

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Can an Indian go to Pakistan?

geographic-faq

Yes, Indians can travel to Pakistan. However, they need to obtain a visa before their visit to Pakistan. An eVisa is the fastest and easiest way to obtain a Pakistani visa as the application and supporting documents can be submitted online. If approved, the eVisa confirmation will be received electronically.

Is Pakistan safe for Indian tourists?

If an Indian traveler visits Pakistan, it is important to remain cautious and vigilant, especially in major cities. Counter-terrorism operations are conducted throughout the country, and terrorist attacks can occur anywhere and at any time. Previous attacks have included the use of grenades, firearms, and bombings, including suicide bombs.

Can an Indian come to Pakistan?

Yes, Indians can travel to Pakistan, but they need to obtain a visa. The Pakistani visa for Indians can be obtained at the Pakistan Embassy or Consulate. It is necessary to fulfill the visa requirements and submit the necessary documents to obtain a visa for Pakistan from India.

Is traveling from India to Pakistan allowed?

If an individual is already in India, regardless of the type of Indian visa they hold (e-visa or sticker visa), they can enter Pakistan by land. Pakistan utilizes an e-visa system, and once the e-visa is obtained, it can be used at any airport or land border for entry into Pakistan.

Can a Pakistani marry an Indian?

Yes, a Pakistani can marry and settle in India, but the process is not straightforward. Pakistani nationals are required to obtain a Long Term Visa (LTV) to reside in India for more than six months.

Can Indians visit Pakistan?

Yes, Indians can visit Pakistan, but they need to obtain a visa before their visit. An eVisa is the fastest and easiest way to obtain a Pakistani visa as the application and supporting documents can be submitted online. If approved, the eVisa confirmation will be received electronically.

Is Pakistan safer than India?

In a survey of the world’s most secure countries, Pakistan was ranked ahead of India in terms of safety.

What parts of Pakistan are safe?

The province of Punjab, especially Lahore and Islamabad, is considered to be safer for tourists. However, it is important to remain cautious and vigilant throughout the country, and non-Pakistanis may face difficulties outside of these major cities.

Is Karachi safe for Westerners?

Karachi is not considered safe for Westerners due to violence and the risk of terrorism. It is advised to avoid non-essential travel to Karachi.

Is Lahore safe for Westerners?

There is a high threat of terrorism, kidnapping, and sectarian violence throughout Pakistan, including major cities like Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, and Karachi. Foreigners, particularly Westerners, may be directly targeted.

What is the majority religion in Pakistan?

The majority religion in Pakistan is Islam, with Muslims accounting for the largest population. However, there is also a significant Hindu minority in the country.

Are there Hindus in Pakistan?

Yes, there is a Hindu population in Pakistan, making up a small minority of about 1.96 million, or 1.2% of the total population. The majority of Hindus in Pakistan live in rural areas of Sindh province.

How many Indians travel to Pakistan?

Over the past five years, 16,831 Indian pilgrims have visited Pakistan. The highest number of Indian pilgrims traveling to Pakistan was in 2021 (5,425), followed by 4,273 in 2019.

Are Indians allowed to visit Afghanistan?

Yes, Indian citizens are allowed to visit Afghanistan, but they need to obtain a visa prior to entering the country. Visas can be obtained from the Embassy or Consulate of Afghanistan in India.

How safe is Pakistan for tourists?

Pakistan is ranked at Level 3 (“Reconsider Travel”) due to terrorism. Some areas have an increased risk, and there is a high threat of terrorism throughout the country. It is important to stay informed, exercise caution, and follow the advice of local authorities.

What is the safest city in Pakistan?

The city of Lahore in Punjab province is considered to be one of the safest cities in Pakistan and attracts a large number of tourists. It is advisable to remain cautious and vigilant while traveling in any city in Pakistan.

Is Lahore in Pakistan or India?

Lahore is the capital and largest city of the Pakistani province of Punjab. It is located in Pakistan, not India.

Can Indians travel to Mecca?

Saudi Arabia restricts entry to Mecca to Muslims only. Non-Muslims attempting to enter Mecca can face deportation from the country and possible fines.

Can an Indian drive to Pakistan from the UK?

Traveling by road from the UK to Pakistan is a long and challenging journey, covering a distance of approximately 8,000 kilometers. There are different possible routes, and it involves traveling through several countries, including Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, and the UK.

Are there Hindus in Mecca?

Mecca is a holy city for Muslims, and it is not known to have a Hindu population.

Can an Indian marry a UK citizen?

Yes, an Indian can marry a UK citizen. However, it is important to ensure that the necessary legal requirements and immigration regulations are met. Marriage between an Indian and a UK citizen does not automatically grant Indian citizenship or UK citizenship to either party.

Can an Indian girl marry a UK citizen?

Yes, an Indian girl can marry a UK citizen. However, it is important to meet the necessary legal requirements and immigration regulations in order to marry and settle in the UK.

Please note that the information provided is based on the data available at the time of writing and may be subject to change. It is advisable to consult with relevant authorities and conduct thorough research before planning any travel or marriage arrangements.

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How to Plan Your First Trip to Pakistan

If you’ve dreamed of hiking the legendary hindu kush mountains, driving the record-breaking karakoram highway, or browsing the bazaars of historic lahore, you’ll need to do a little preparation..

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How to Plan Your First Trip to Pakistan

The staggering Karakoram range overlooks the Hunza Valley in Pakistan

Photo by littlewormy/Shutterstock

Six months ago, Pakistan wasn’t just under the radar for most travelers—it was off the radar. But the South Asian country has been in the news a lot this month thanks to a highly publicized visit by Will and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It was the first royal visit to the country in 13 years, a lapse largely due to security and terrorism concerns. For two decades, alarming international headlines and travel advisories have warned globe-trotters against visiting—it currently has a Level 4, or “reconsider travel,” advisory issued by the U.S. State Department—but Pakistan is hardly the only complicated country to earn such warnings. And it still has much to offer—if you know how to do it right.

With interest in Pakistan growing, Wild Frontiers , a travel company that specializes in adventurous, off-the-tourist-track destinations, reported a 55 percent increase in bookings for trips to the country in 2017 compared to the previous year. And this past March, Pakistan opened a new e-visa application process, making it easier for travelers to enter the country. Now, with photos from the royal visit of Pakistan’s psychedelic auto rickshaws, Kalash ceremonies, and cricket games in Lahore splashed across newspapers and magazines, even more travelers have seen what they’ve been missing.

So AFAR sat down with Jonny Bealby, founder and managing director of Wild Frontiers, to get advice for curious travelers on how to plan their first trip. Bealby initially visited the country in 1996—a trip that would inspire him to start Wild Frontiers. “The world was a different place back then,” he says referring to the then-growing unrest, “[but] I fell in love with Pakistan. I found it immediately friendly.” Bealby has been back roughly 25 times since, and despite events such as a bombing in Lahore in 2018, he has helped introduce scores of people to country—and he hopes more will follow.

Why you should go

Bordered by Afghanistan, China, India, and Iran, and backed up against the Hindu Kush mountain range, Pakistan has fascinated travelers for thousands of years. As part of the Indus Valley—one of the cradles of civilization—history here dates to 3300 B.C.E., and for centuries, explorers and traders from all parts of Eurasia crossed the area while traveling the Silk Road. Like much of the region, Pakistan was once a collection of tribes and ancient empires that fell under Muslim and British empires; it is now home to six major ethnic groups—many of which it shares with its neighboring countries—and a number of smaller tribal groups.

Traveling here is like traveling through a series of smaller countries. You can sip chai with Punjabis or green tea with Pashtuns before browsing thrumming bazaars in historic cities. You can climb into the craggy northern headlands in the shadow of K2 (the world’s second highest mountain) to meet remote communities like the indigenous Kalash people, whose customs, pagan religion, and colorfully beaded dress are unique to the area.

Kalash men sacrifice chapattis to the gods during a festival.

Kalash men sacrifice chapattis to the gods during a festival.

Courtesy of Wild Frontiers

But no matter where you go, you’ll be greeted with Pakistan’s almost overwhelming brand of hospitality. It’s very common for strangers to offer to show you around their city or invite you in for tea or even for dinner. Bealby says that on two different trips along the Karakoram highway, he’s gone to pay for his lunch at a roadside café, only to find that an unidentified stranger paid already simply because that person recognized he was a traveler.

“If you treat Pakistan right,” he says,”and it’s very easy to, you will find one of the most surprising and friendly countries in the world.”

Where to go on your first trip

Don’t try to tackle the entire country in one visit. Pakistan may look small compared to India, but it’s actually a large country—and because of the undeveloped mountain roads, it can take a lot of time to get from one place to another.

Luckily, planning your introductory trip doesn’t need to be so daunting. “Some countries just have a very natural routing to them, which is very easy to follow and shows off the highlights in a very ordered way,” says Bealby. In Pakistan, that routing starts in Lahore and runs through the north, mostly along the Karakoram Highway, the highest paved international road in the world:

The second largest city in Pakistan and the traditional capital of Punjab, Lahore is known for its gardens, Mughal architecture, and bustling bazaars.

The capital of Pakistan is a clean, modern, and relatively young city with museums, monuments, and some of the best restaurants and hotels in the country.

In the Gilgit-Baltistan region, Skardu is a wonderland of waterfalls, lakes, and some of Pakistan’s most famous mountains, including K2.

Ancient travelers passed through this area along the Silk Road , and according to Bealby, “Hunza Valley is an experience in itself. The Karimabad village is at the heart of the valley, and from there you can see seven 7,000-meter [23,000-foot] peaks.”

Chitral sits near the Afghan border in a valley below the highest mountain in the Hindu Kush. The area is somewhat isolated, and the inimitable, Old-World culture of the locals—including the Kalash—diverges from that of the rest of the Islamic country.

(Yes, this route does skip cosmopolitan Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, which sits on the southern coast, but you can save that for another trip.)

Three things you absolutely have to do here

For Bealby, no one should leave Pakistan without experiencing the following three things:

“The cultural traveler will visit Lahore for Food Street, the Badshahi Mosque, and Lahore Fort, but you should also see the closing of the gate ceremony at the border. Every night at 4:30 p.m., the border officially closes between Pakistan and India. It’s a very theatrical performance, and while many tourists will view it from the India side, few get to see it from the Pakistan side.

“You must visit the Kalash people. They don’t like people going in half a day, taking photographs, and disappearing though. They’re an incredibly interested (as well as interesting) people, so they like it when you stay a few nights [and take time to connect and share with them]. Plan your trip around a Kalash festival, such as the Uchal harvest festival in August, if you can.

  • “The Shandur Polo Festival is the highest polo festival in the world. Teams from Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan come together once a year to play and there’s a whole festival around it.” The annual festival always takes place July 7 through July 9.

Pakistan’s ethnic diversity means that there are plenty of tasty treats to try, like these saffron honey caramels.

Pakistan’s ethnic diversity means that there are plenty of tasty treats to try, like these saffron honey caramels.

Photo by Joanna Yee/Wild Frontiers

What every first-timer should know:

In contrast to places like Paris or Tulum, where you can show up without much preparation and get along, you’ll need to prepare for your visit to Pakistan. “It’s the kind of country you need to get your head around,” says Bealby. “You need to think about it and read about it.” And that goes beyond the standard guidebook information. “There’s a whole cultural dimension to it that you want to engage in so that you get the most out of it.” (See the “Books and stories to inspire you” section below for where to start.)

It will take a long time to get from one highlight to the next in Pakistan, especially in the north where you’ll be traveling along mountain roads. Islamabad to Skardu, for example, can take 15 to 20 hours depending on the roads. Bealby notes that while there are sometimes flights, they are not always reliable. Most tour operators will plan stops at strategic locations along these routes to break up the drive.

Pakistan is a safe place to travel through, but there are areas you should avoid. According to Bealby, even Wild Frontiers looks with caution at Peshawar and the tribal areas to the west of Peshawar. But elsewhere, he says, “Travelers just need to be sensible. It’s the kind of place that needs to be handled with respect.”

  • The world’s third-largest Muslim country is fundamentally very conservative. “Don’t just cross the border [from India] in shorts and T-shirts,” says Bealby. He recommends dressing in local garb or finding loose-fitting pants and long-sleeved shirts. And women should either wear a veil (head scarf) or at least have one on hand at all times. (Need inspiration, ladies? Kate Middleton’s wardrobe spotlighted local designers during the Duchess’s trip to the country.)

How long should your first trip be?

According to Bealby, two to three weeks is the ideal length of time for a first trip to Pakistan. While he strongly recommends taking the full three weeks to really dig in, he also acknowledges that not all travelers have that much free time and that you can still see the highlights if you only have two weeks to travel.

Plenty of intrepid travelers have successfully made their way through Pakistan alone, but Bealby recommends that most first-time travelers book through a tour operator: “I never want to say ‘don’t do it yourself’ because that’s what I’ve always done . . . [but] if you want a really good two-week vacation and see the best, then you’re better off doing it with a tour group like us because we’ve made the friendships.” For example, guests on a Wild Frontiers trip will stay at guesthouses run by friends of the company and share tea with people Bealby and his team have known for years. They may even visit Bealby’s mountain house, which sits on land given to him by the Kalash people.

Bealby also points out that a tour operator will take care of the logistical difficulties of traveling long distances through the world’s highest mountain range to remote places with minimal tourism infrastructure.

A bridge in the Hunza Valley of Pakistan

A bridge in the Hunza Valley of Pakistan

The best time of year to follow Bealby’s first-timer’s route (outlined above) is May through October.

When to book

If you’re traveling with a group, you’ll be safe booking four to six months out, depending on the company’s availability. If you’re tapping into your backpacking roots and going it alone, you should book accommodation and in-country tours at least a few weeks ahead of time, as long as you’re traveling outside the local holidays like Eid, during which things get very crowded.

Pakistan’s new online visa system is available to citizens of 175 countries , including Americans. Your visa should be processed in 7 to 10 work days, but there have been reports that the new online system is buggy, so you’ll want to apply for your visa at least a month in advance to be safe. (Visitors from some countries can apply for a visa on arrival, but U.S. citizens must apply in advance.)

To apply, you’ll need a photo, a passport, and a letter of invitation from a sponsor or tour operator, or hotel booking details. (This is another reason we recommend booking a tour for your first trip to Pakistan.) A standard tourist visa is valid for three months and costs $60.

Books and stories to inspire you

Take Bealby’s advice and start reading up on Pakistan long before you visit. And maybe stick a few of these in your carry-on too.

Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven This well-researched and honest book dives deep into the complex and misunderstood country’s history and reality, providing the first-time traveler with important context.

Buy now: $15, amazon.com

For a Pagan Song by Jonny Bealby Bealby’s own book is a chronicle of his travels through India, Pakistan, and war-torn Afghanistan and introduces readers to people they will meet in the northwest parts of the country.

Buy now: $18, amazon.com

The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad This series of linked short stories, by Pakistani novelist Jamil Ahmad, follows a young boy’s journey through the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It highlights not just the locations but also the different cultures and traditions he passes through along the way.

Buy now: $14, amazon.com

>>Next: 7 Truly Epic Trips for Deeply Adventurous Travelers

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As an Indian visiting Pakistan for the first time, I discovered I had another home

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I finally received my visa to visit Pakistan. As an Indian-American, it was not an easy process.

That I was born in Hyderabad – Deccan, not Sindh – made India home, but rendered Pakistan almost impenetrable. My first application was scoffed at by the embassy in Cambodia where I initially applied.

But still I persisted, finally succeeding through the help of a college roommate, another Hyderabadi-American, who connected me with an official at a Pakistani Consulate in the US.

I was excited to start my journey as I boarded the train to Amritsar.

It always surprised me that nearly everyone I know has visited either India or Pakistan, never both. That these two nations are born out of the same cloth; out of a shared cultural and linguistic tapestry that stretches back millennia, has been unfortunately obscured by the politics of a few decades.

During Partition, my entire family, as far as I knew, decided to stay in the relative security of Muslim-majority Hyderabad in southern India. Amidst a slightly different situation, I could just as easily have been born in Pakistan. I was, of course, as proud an Indian as any, but that never hampered my curiosity for my fraternal nation.

####We’re all scurrying to work in the United States, or vacation in Europe, when there is so much we can learn from our next-door neighbours.

I couldn’t remember the last time I was so excited to go somewhere new. I had already visited some 40-odd countries, attempting with each to broaden my understanding of the world. But there was something especially evocative about Pakistan.

As a South Asian Muslim, it was the indignation of a birth right interminably delayed due to political complications. After all, Pakistan was created in the spirit of inviting and protecting the rights of Muslims.

Me at the far right as a four-year-old, singing the Indian National Anthem at the Indian Embassy School in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

As a proud speaker of the language, I was also excited at revelling in Urdu in all its glory in Pakistan. The Devanagari script used to render Hindi is, of course, just as beautiful to my eyes. But I yearned to immerse myself in the elegant curves of Nastaliq outside of the select Muslim-majority neighbourhoods where it’s prevalent in India.

Of course, this was not the first instance I seriously considered visiting Pakistan. I flirted with the idea every time I was in India. Yet, I always let myself be dissuaded by a well-meaning family friend or another advising it was ‘too complicated a process, or worse ‘too risky.’

I wasn’t going to be stopped this time.

This time, passport and visa finally in hand, I boarded a train to Amritsar, on the other side of the Wagah border from Lahore.

######My journey elicited stories from others also personally impacted by the Partition. I had an overnight layover in Ambala, where a Pakistani friend told me his grandparents lived before Partition. An Indian friend asked me to find the home his father had left in Lahore. Partition felt like recent history, despite having taken place 70 years ago.

I arrived at Amritsar Junction around 9am, exhausted from the modicum of sleep I could muster amidst the overnight frenzy of a train station. Still, I was eager to head as early as possible to the Wagah border to solve any issues I was worried might arise. I hailed a cab and sat in eager anticipation during the 45-minute drive.

As we pulled into the Attari Integrated Check Post, my passport and visas were verified. The taxi driver’s license was held before we were allowed to enter. I had meticulously prepared backup documents: duplicates of invitation letters, passport copies, photos; anything I could think of, the absence of which might justify rejecting my crossing.

I held my breath at each step, worried that a wrong answer or a misstep would get me denied entry or detained. Although the security was thorough, every single person I spoke with was courteous and professional, on both sides.

I was joined by a few working-class Indians: some Kashmiris, and a few Sikh pilgrims visiting temples in the Pakistani Punjab. Cleared through Indian security and customs, we boarded the bus to head to the famous Baab-e-Azadi.

I’d seen it before, ten years prior in my first trip to India from the States. I had come to Wagah to witness the daily military parade. Like every other visitor in attendance, I had no visa to cross then. The border seemed impassable then.

But on this day, Quaid-e-Azam’s portrait and the qaumi parcham welcomed me. It was an almost spiritual experience as I took my first steps into Pakistan. It was hard to believe. I would be the first in my family to ever visit Pakistan; a nation close to my heart as a South Asian Muslim, a nation separated from me as an Indian-American.

The feeling was indescribable when I first set foot on the Pakistani side of the Wagah border.

I would be joining the unfortunately small ranks of individuals who have recently experienced both India and Pakistan, communities cleaved apart after Partition that had lived peaceably together for centuries. I was about to see through my own eyes how Pakistan compared to its international perception and perhaps more intriguing, with its sibling rival, India.

My friend’s father was the first familiar face to greet me on the Pakistani side. The hour-long drive to Shahdhara, Lahore kicked off an unforgettable week.

Watching the Mughal-era Baadshahi Masjid rise up in the horizon as we drove into the city was a majestic experience, perhaps rivalled only by joining the jamaat inside the following Friday.

I marvelled at the Lahore Metrobus, riding it routinely as I shopped for shawls at Anarkali Bazaar or kurtas from Junaid Jamshed.

I was even fortunate enough to participate in a Punjabi wedding, enjoying the most tender and flavourful mutton across any of my travels.

I couldn't take my eyes off the beautiful Mughal architecture of the Badshahi Masjid.

As memorable as my time in Lahore was, I had just uncovered a much more profound revelation. While there, I received an unexpected phone call from my mother in the States. The excited tone in her voice indicated something was up.

I had, in preparation for my trip, requested her and my dad to ask around on the off chance we might have any distant relatives who had migrated to Pakistan. Most inquiries had led to nowhere. It seemed like all of my living relatives stayed in India, or otherwise opted for the Gulf or North America.

However, on the phone this time, my mother informed me of recently receiving an invitation to a wedding in Chicago from a distant uncle. When she told him about my trip, he suggested a cousin of his, whose number he didn’t have.

My mom perused old phone books of my late nani to find this person’s number, a distant relative of whom she had heard, but never met. With this, my mom made her first call to Pakistan. She was ecstatic to deliver me the news, that I had a relative in Karachi who was excited to meet me.

Donning one of the shawls from an amazing collection available at Anarkali Bazaar.

I couldn’t believe it. I had lived 29 years of my life, believing my entire family (and by extension myself) to be solely Indian. That this journey might question that monolithic ancestry, and reunite me with family separated by Partition, imbued the journey with a much deeper sense of purpose.

Originally having planned just a week for Pakistan, entirely in Lahore, I changed my schedule. I ate as much chargha and murgh chhole as I could before I boarded my flight to Karachi.

When I landed at the Jinnah International Airport, I was the first in my family to meet Moin nana , the maternal cousin of my nani .

Given the distance, it was unsurprising that we only just learned of each other’s existence. More remarkable was how deep the familiarity still ran. I recognised him immediately, the spitting image of my nani ’s younger brother in Toronto.

Meeting my long lost relative across the border, Moin *nana*.

We quickly discussed our shared family. My nani had only met his older siblings in India over half-a-century ago. It was more than enough to forge the consanguine bond that tied us together.

I learned that Moin nana was born in December of 1947 just months after Partition. His parents packed up their life, and along with their kids, left Hyderabad in 1950. Like millions of Muslims immigrants, they were eager to settle in the Dominion of Pakistan and selected Karachi as their new home.

It was evident that Hyderabad remained with many of them. A replica of the char minar , Hyderabad’s most iconic landmark, welcomed me as we drove in to Bahadurabad. I recognised it immediately as an homage to the Deccan origins of the resident’s central Karachi neighbourhood.

Khatti daal and mahi khaliya cut adorned the dining table of my nana ’s house, staples of Hyderabadi cuisine from 1,500 kilometres south.

At the famous Char Minar Chowrangi roundabout in Bahadurabad.

My cousin, despite never having been to Hyderabad, could pull off a dakhini accent that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow near the original char minar . He introduced me to other relatives, as well as the best biryanis, niharis, and lassis Karachi (and perhaps the world) could offer.

I met friends from college and even attended a mushaira . I was beginning to see Pakistan less as a tourist and as more of an insider.

######I cherished my time in Lahore, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of being somewhat of an outsider. But my newfound family ties alongside the cosmopolitan nature of Karachi erased that distinction. Here, ethnic Sindhis rub shoulders with Pashtuns, Punjabis, Baloch and even a few Hyderabadis like me. Karachi teemed with the infectious spirit of a bustling metropolis rapidly evolving, even reinventing itself, and I was hooked.

I know I’ll return someday, and soon. I intend to bring others along – to share the most important lesson I’ve learned.

My voyage to Pakistan was originally born out of intellectual and cultural curiosity. Driven by a desire to understand the broader canvas of South Asia, I thought I was heading to a foreign country. This Indian-American didn’t realise he was actually discovering another home.

Taking a break from exploring the streets of Karachi.

All photos by the author.

Are you an expat living in Pakistan or have you visited the country as a tourist? Share your experience with us at [email protected]

how can indian visit pakistan

Asim M Jaweed is an Analytics Consultant working across Asia and the United States. He recently traveled through India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal in preparation to study International Affairs.

Asim Jaweed

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how can indian visit pakistan

Is it possible for an Indian to visit Pakistan on a tourist visa?

Moreover, you need to plan to apply for visa AT LEAST three months BEFORE you intend to travel.

All Indians wishing to visit Pakistan must obtain a valid visa. The basic requirements for obtaining a visa are as follows:-

how can indian visit pakistan

i Valid passport: The passport should be valid for at least one year.

ii Visa application form duly filled in.

iii Visa Application forms for getting visa’s either through the Interior Division or Pakistan Mission abroad.

The fee at present is Rs.15/- inclusive of all charges for issuance, extension or transit visas.

For business visa, a letter from the company/organization in Pakistan sponsoring the applicant stating the purpose of visit is required.

Visa fee is realised through cash on the visa counter or through bank challan.

how can indian visit pakistan

The Embassies/High Commissions for Pakistan deal with visa matters on all the working days of the week (Monday to Friday). While in Gulf countries, the Pakistani Missions remain open from Saturday to Wednesday. None of the Missions is, however, open on any of the Gazetted holidays of the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The following types of visas are granted to the resident/Non-resident Indian by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan:-

Visitors Visa

Visitors visa are issued to Indian Nationals to meet relatives, friends or for any other legitimate purpose. This type of visa is also issued to bonafide Indian businessmen for six months with three entries.

Transit Visa

Transit visa valid for up to two entries for stay in the city/port of entry for 72 hours issued to Indian nationals, proceeding to Indian by air or sea through Pakistan.

Tourist Visa

A non-extendable tourist visa valid for 14 days is issued by Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi through approved tour operators/travel agents.  I din’t see an Indian passport getting Pakistani tourist visa from the embassy in New Delhi. So you need a sponsoring party to come over here.

how can indian visit pakistan

Check Posts 

Following are the designated entry/exit check posts for Indian nationals, coming to Pakistan:-

  • By Air Karachi/Lahore/Islamabad.
  • By Sea Karachi.
  • By Road Wagha.

how can indian visit pakistan

Instruction for Obtaining Pakistani Visa

i, Please fill in the visa Application Form in CAPITAL LETTERS (Four copies). No column to be left blank.

ii, Please fill in the Computer Performa in CAPITAL LETTERS (Four Copies).

iii, Visa fee of Rs.15/- should be deposited in cash and receipt obtained. Passport will be returned on presentation of receipt. The fee is non-refundable.

iv, Two copies of the form will be returned to the applicant with visa. One each should be handed over to Pakistan Immigration Officer on arrival and Police Registration Office.

how can indian visit pakistan

v,  The applicant should be in possession of US $45 or equivalent in Foreign Exchange at the time of entry.

vi, The visitors may enter Pakistan by Air, Train, Road. but the point of exit and mode of travel for their return journey will remain the same. However, the persons Entering By Air may exit from different Airport with Prior permission.

vii, The visitors must Repot for Police Registration within 24 hours of entry in Pakistan and prior to Departure/Arrival at each subsequent place of visit in Pakistan.

viii, Provide copy of N.I.C of the sponsor of Indian National(s).

ix, Provide copy of the Passport of the applicant(s).

x, Valid Passport. The Passport should be valid for at least one year.

Download Forms

i. Application by an Indian National(s) for extension of visa/ stay and re-entry visa in Pakistan.

ii. Application by an Indian National for Police registration beyond 24 hours Pakistan.

iii. Application by an Indian National for permission for change of route.

iv. Application for Indian National(s) (Additional Place(s) Endorsement.

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Useful tips for traveling to Pakistan in 2024

By Joan Torres 122 Comments Last updated on May 21, 2024

travel Pakistan

Wanna travel to Pakistan with Against the Compass?

pakistan

Join a group of like-minded travelers in our next scheduled tour in Pakistan:

September 17th to 30th, 2024

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.

This Pakistan travel guide contains everything you need to know, including all travel information regarding visas, transportation, cultural etiquette, cultural behavior, costs and more!

Traveling to Pakistan

In this Pakistan travel guide you will find:

Table of Contents

  • Travel Insurance
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get in
  • Pakistan today
  • Cultural behavior and facts
  • Security & safety
  • Solo female travel
  • Bureaucracy and permits
  • Prices and money
  • Transportation
  • Food, alcohol & chai
  • Accommodation
  • More information

our recommended travel insurance for Pakistan

With its Backpacker plan, IATI Insurance is the best insurance for any kind of adventurous destination, like Pakistan.

🪪 How to get a visa for visiting Pakistan

Here you have the most updated information

Before May 2019 – Getting a visa on the road was not possible, but you could only get it from your home country or country of residence. 

After May 2019 – They have finally introduced an e-visa system and up to 176 nationalities can now apply for a Pakistani visa online.

How to apply for a Pakistani e-visa 

You can apply through this portal .

Things you need to know about the e-visa:

Visa length – Officially, you can get a visa for up to 3 months. The application says that you can get up to 12 months but so far, there aren’t any reports from tourists who have been able to get one. 

Multi-entry – You can also apply for a multi-entry visa valid for up to 1 year.

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

Timing – The application says the process may take up to 7 days but it also may depend on your 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. 

Letter of Invitation – For most nationalities, an LOI is required for the visa application. Alternatively, the system also allows you to upload a hotel booking confirmation (instead of the LOI) but usually, they will reject it and tell you to upload an LOI, which you should get through a local tour operator.

Join our Pakistan expedition

By joining our group expedition into the Northern Areas, you’ll instantly get our LOI needed for the visa.

After submitting your application, your embassy has the right to call you for an interview, which means that you would need to be in your home country. However, this only happens in rare cases. 

For more information, Marco from Monkey Rock World has written a comprehensive guide/tutorial about how to get a Pakistani e-visa .

How to make a visa extension

Would you like to spend more time in Pakistan? No problem.

Extending your visa while traveling in Pakistan used to be a confusing process, as everybody has different experiences and rules were constantly changing but, finally, you can get your visa extension through the regular e-visa portal, as long as you are already in Pakistan and in possession of an e-visa. 

If you traveled to Pakistan with a regular visa, you can only extend it at the passport office of any major city, including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Chitral, Gilgit, and Skardu but, apparently, the easiest place is Lahore.

Visa for Pakistan

🗺️ How to sign up for a tour in Pakistan

Traveling with a group and an expert local guide will make things much easier, and more fun!

Against the Compass has the following scheduled Pakistan expedition:

  • September 17th to 30th, 2024. APPLY NOW

14 days exploring the Northern Areas, including driving through the Karakoram Highway, as well as exploring the barely visited valleys of Shimshal and Astore.

🚑 Travel insurance for traveling in Pakistan

DO GET proper travel insurance.

For Pakistan, IATI is the best because:

  • All types of plans, for all budgets
  • One of the few that covers travel in Pakistan
  • It provides coverage for many adventure activities, including high-altitude trekking
  • Readers of this blog can get a 5% exclusive discount

Pakistan tourism

⛅ Best time to visit Pakistan

Pakistan has many different regions, ranging from sea-level, flat deserts to 8,000-meter peaks, so each season will present its own peculiarities.

Winter (mid-November to February)

The best time to visit the south part of the country, especially Sindh province. Those lands may not have the mountains Pakistan is famous for but this is the most religiously diverse region in Pakistan.

On the other hand, most mountains in northern Pakistan remain totally inaccessible in the wintertime. You can still get to the Northern Areas through the Karakoram Highway , but you won’t be able to visit any side valley.

Summer (June to September)

The best season for visiting the Northern Areas, especially if you like trekking in high altitude mountains.

Spring & Autumn

I personally traveled to Pakistan in April and May and the mountains were at their best, as the weather was gorgeous (most days), plus they weren’t busy with domestic tourism. However, if you travel to Pakistan in early spring, late autumn, the mountains may not be that accessible. 

Traveling in Pakistan during Ramadan

A topic by itself, with its pros & cons. Lost with Purpose traveled in Pakistan during Ramadan and wrote this insightful post .

travel in Pakistan

🛫 How to visit Pakistan

How to travel to pakistan by air.

Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad have international airports connecting with many Middle Eastern cities, especially Doha and Dubai . 

How to travel to Pakistan by land

Pakistan shares a border with Iran, Afghanistan , India, and China. You can’t use the Afghan border to cross but the rest are open:

  • China – The highest border crossing in the world. Read my report .
  • India – An easy one, despite the diplomatic relationship between both countries. Read this report
  • Iran – It goes through Baluchistan and it is quite an adventure. Read this report

visit Pakistan

📰 What’s it like to travel in Pakistan today

Before 9/11, Pakistan used to be a tourist country. 

Well, not that touristic, but its breathtaking mountains were a popular stopover for backpackers going along the famous Hippie Trail .

In fact, in the Northern Areas, you can find a few backpacker hostels which somehow, are the remains of what used to be a popular destination for intrepid backpackers. 

The 9/11 attacks, however, along with a big bunch of unfortunate events, usually involving Taliban activity and loads of violence, put an end to the emerging tourism industry.

Fortunately, things have changed. 

In the last couple of years, the security situation in Pakistan has dramatically improved and the Northern Areas of Pakistan are, once again, filled with intrepid backpackers who want to visit some of the most jaw-dropping mountain scenery you will ever see, and experience the hospitality Pakistan is famous for. 

Nevertheless, despite this massive tourism increase, Pakistan still remains raw, authentic, and genuine, and it will stay like that for a very long time, especially because it is not an easy country to travel to: tourist infrastructure is in an embryonic stage, it is difficult to move around and you won’t meet many foreigners, so that’s why I personally believe that only experienced travelers should go to Pakistan. 

However, traveling in Pakistan is one of the most rewarding traveling experiences one can ever have.

how to travel to pakistan

🕌 Cultural behavior and facts when traveling in Pakistan

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, like in India.

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.

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.

The hospitality can even be overwhelming

During your trip to 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

📚 Useful books for traveling to Pakistan

This is just a selection of the most useful travel books but, if you want to know all the options, remember to check this list : The best books on Pakistan (classified into history, politics, novels and travelogues)

The best travel guide to Pakistan: Pakistan 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. A must-have for anyone who visits Pakistan. 

how can indian visit pakistan

To know about the culture: Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Culture Smart! is a well-known collection of books that provide 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!

how can indian visit pakistan

For more political background: Pakistan, a hard country

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

how can indian visit pakistan

⚠️ Security and safety when you travel in Pakistan

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.

Read: Is Afghanistan safe?

However, the situation is only getting better and better

Seriously, safety in Pakistan has improved exponentially.

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.

You will have to register at more than 100 security check posts

I am not kidding. During my 56-day trip to 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.

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.

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?

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. However, after half an hour, you might start hating him because he will put you under a lot of restrictions.

Pakistani intelligence is one of the best secret services 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 Pakistani intelligence.

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

You may also be interested in which countries in the Middle East are safe?

My trip to Pakistan

💃 Solo female travel in Pakistan

Women traveling solo is more common and safer than you think.

Women tell wonderful things about their experiences during their journeys through Pakistan, but they also say that this is a particularly challenging destination, home to a very conservative, patriarchal society who don’t really know how to deal with foreign women.

I’m not the most qualified person to talk about this topic, however, but Spanish traveler Leti Lagarda backpacked in Pakistan solo for 2 months, and has written a compelling guide about it, which will tell you everything you need to know about solo female travel in Pakistan, including:

  • Interaction with men
  • Safety tips
  • Cultural etiquette
  • What to wear
  • And much more

Read the ultimate guide to solo women travel in Pakistan

how can indian visit pakistan

🛂 Bureaucracy and permits for your trip in Pakistan

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 that 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 terrorist 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.

In Pakistan everything is possible

If there is something valuable I learnt during my trip to 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.

What you need to know about NOC

  • What is it? A No Objection Certificate, which is basically, a permit required for certain restricted areas.
  • How to get? – The best way to get it 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. 
  • When do you need it? – As I said before, don’t trust any source of bureaucracy information. During my trip to Pakistan, a friend of mine 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, Tribal Areas and Kashmir (some areas of Kashmir).

trip to Pakistan

💻 Internet and connectivity in Pakistan

Except in Gilgit-Baltistan, the internet works reasonably well throughout the country.

In the Northern Areas, the connectivity is awful or non-existent depending on where you go. 

I got a SIM Card from a Chinese company called ZONG which is supposed to be the best for pretty much anywhere in the country. In the Northern Areas, however, it barely worked and, apparently, you need to get a company named SCOM, which you can find in Gilgit, 

Pro-tip: Tell a local to get a SIM Card for you – The downside of ZONG is that, as a foreigner, you need to go to the central office and pay quite a lot of money to sign up for it (20 or 30USD). Tell a local to sign up for you, so you’ll just pay the local price and get it very quickly.

eSIM for browsing, calling and traveling in Pakistan

Basically, an eSIM is a regular SIM card with a digital format that works like a normal physical SIM card, with the added benefit that you can buy it from home before the beginning of your trip, hence avoiding the hassle of buying it at your destination. 

With Holafly , you can get a SIM Card for a wide range of destinations, including Pakistan . 

Moreover, you can benefit from a 5% discount with the following code:  AGAINSTTHECOMPASS

Get a VPN for traveling in Pakistan

You should always use a VPN when you travel, especially when you connect to public Wi-Fi networks.

Your connection will be much safer. 

Moreover, you will be able to access content which is typically censored in Pakistan. 

I recommend ExpressVPN – Extremely easy to use, fast and cheap. 

If you want to learn more about VPN, check: Why you need a VPN for traveling .

Pakistan travel guide

💰 Money in Pakistan

In Pakistan, they use the Pakistani Rupee (PKR) and approximately:

1USD = 278.60 PKR

Cash & ATMs – Pakistan is a cash economy, so better bring cash, especially in the Northern Areas, where. Of course, you can find ATMs in all big cities but not all of them will accept foreign cards.

How much does it cost to travel to Pakistan

But before, a few things you need to know:

  • In Pakistan, everything is negotiable: Everything can be bargained for, especially the hotel rooms. Expect to pay different amounts from other guests.
  • Always come with a reference: When you travel 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.

In any case, this is a pretty cheap country and I think you can easily travel to Pakistan for less than 20 a day, sleeping in private rooms and eating 3 meals outside. These are the (approximate) prices of the most typical things:

  • Local meal – 150PKR
  • Local meal in a mid-range restaurant – 250-500PKR
  • Meal in a fancy restaurant of Lahore – from 1500PKR
  • Private room in a budget hotel – Up to 1500PKR
  • Private room in a mid-range hotel – Around 3,000PKR
  • Long bus rides (Islamabad to Gilgit) – Around 2,500PKR for a VIP ticket (you want to get a VIP, trust me)

Pakistani rupees

🛺 Transportation for traveling around Pakistan

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!

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?

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.

Ways of moving around when you travel in Pakistan

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 ( around 17USD). Don’t worry, is not that VIP.

Train – In Sindh, Punjab, and 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. For more information, check this train guide to Pakistan . 

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.

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. 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

trip in Pakistan

🍲 Food, drinks, and alcohol

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.

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.

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.

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.

You’ll get sick

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

Pakistani food

🏨 Accommodation when you are traveling to Pakistan

There are all types of hotels across the country, from budget rooms to a few hostels and luxury hotels.

Booking sites such as Hostelworld and Booking.com are increasing in popularity but, depending on the destination you travel to, you may not find a lot of options or, at least, no budget hotels.

If you want to stay in a budget hotel or local guesthouse, you may have to read blogs or ask anyone online. In my Pakistan Itinerary , I give some options.

Anyway, there are a few things you need to know about accommodation in Pakistan:

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.

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!

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.

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.

Couchsurfing is quite popular!

There are loads of profiles, especially in big cities.

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

travel guide Pakistan northern areas

❗ More information for traveling to Pakistan

📢 In my Travel Resources Page you can find the list of all the sites and services I use to book hotels, tours, travel insurance and more.

All guides and articles for traveling in Pakistan destination

  • Travel Guide to Fairy Meadows
  • Karokam Highway Travel Guide
  • Astore Valley Travel Guide
  • Pakistan-China border crossing
  • Travel Guide to Rakaposhi Base Camp
  • Travel Guide to Afghan Village in Pakistan
  • Travel Insurance in Pakistan
  • Pakistan Itinerary
  • Photos of Pakistan
  • Travel Books about Pakistan
  • Solo Female Travel Guide in Pakistan
  • Is Pakistan Safe?

That’s everything you need to know! If you think I forgot something, please let me know! 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.

Travel guides to other countries in Central Asia

  • Tajikistan Travel Guide
  • Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide
  • Travel Guide to Uzbekistan
  • Travel Guide to Kazakhstan
  • Afghanistan Travel Guide

You might also like our Iran travel guide.

travel to Pakistan

122 comments

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.

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

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..

thank you, man! maybe next time! Next year inshallah!

You said INSHAA ALLAH. well nd good but can i ask ?are you muslim or you love to this word?

Hello. I am not Muslim but I have been traveling in Muslim countries for quite a while, so I use it when I write about Muslim countries.

After watching and read some articles of your country now am planning to visit your country but I don’t know anyone there. “In Shaa Allah”

Please give me some idea!

Have you visited Pakistan or still looking to visit our country. If you are looking to visit our country, warmly welcome to Pakistan. You can contact me you need any help. Shahzad from Lahore.

you can be guest without money,because i believe that every thing is possible by sharing, caring, and HUMANITY

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.

Well Dude you are welcome here. Will have great time

Wanna visit your country after ramadhan or maybe celebrate the Ed’l Fitr there. Any suggestions and advice you can give?

I agree. Wonderful and informative blog! Thanks

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!

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

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.

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!

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

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 😀 !

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

Pretty sure the CIA is the biggest sponsor of terrorist groups around the world.

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

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.

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

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 🙂

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!

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!

Super update on Pakistan ! I was there in 84/5 and many things have / have not changed. All power to you ! Eg http://www.amateuremigrant.com/2016/10/21/quetta-train-to-chaman-bob/

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

Thank you! I hope it makes you wanna go 😉

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.

Hi Numan. I traveled in Pakistan for 2 whole months and only 10 days of Ramadan

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!

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

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.

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.

http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/terroristoutfits/group_list.htm

Lool just another stinky cow dunk eater I can imagine ur frustration ☺

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.

Sorry Joan, “her” for you was a mistyping. I know you are a male 😉

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

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.

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!

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 .

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.

Most welcome, cheers!

thank you for blogging about Pakistan. Very informative post

my pleasure, cheers!

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.

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!

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

Thanks for your positive comment! Yes, Pakistan is absolutely amazing 🙂 !

Thank you sir , for this amazing writeup . Love from Pakistan 🙂

My pleasure, cheers!

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.

Amazing info man! I just updated it 🙂

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. 🙂

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

Hi Claire, You will definitely be fine, don’t worry. They don’t check anything of that

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.

thanks for the tips!

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! 🙂

didn’t hear about it, thanks for letting us know!

Dude KPK is not a dangerous province now….and specially Peshawar (capital city of KPK).

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

Difficult to get in Kashmir but if you go, do let us know 🙂

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

HI Bella, No problem to visit Kashmir. you can easily go their.

Kashmir is currently closed to foreigners, so she cannot go there

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.

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.

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….. Thanks!

Hi, there is no malaria in Pakistan

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

cheers Aska!

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.

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.

thanks for the tip

Why did you clip my comment. That sucks

well, do you really think you can come to my page and advertise your product for free?

Hey im just curious why did u not prefer to hitchhike with females in car? Like i would always prefer females in car so its safer. ?

It’s not that I didn’t want to, it is just that cars with women inside won’t stop if you are a man.

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

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.

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?

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.

Really useful tips to consider. After spending 2 whole minutes to reading your blog its amazing thanks for the information I come to know about new places in Pakistan

Is there a place that sells anime merchandise? I would like to buy a hug pillow from Pakistan

Without any doubt, everything mentioned about Pakistan is true. Pakistanis are really a hospitable nation. Pakistan is literally a land of peace now. Do visit Pakistan, we welcome our guests wholeheartedly.

Hello again Joan, You mentioned that you stayed 2 months in Pakistan. Is it possible to get a 2 or 3 months visa for Pakistan? Thank you

2 months for sure, but not sure about 3. In any case, you can make a visa extension very easily upon your arrival in Pakistan

Very informative and complete guide to visit Pakistan. But if you are coming to Pakistan and missed touring Karachi city it will be like you missed a roller coaster.

Wow I almost finished all of your topics. Thanks alot for exclusive informations. I’m going to visit Lahore, Islamabad and Gilgit in April 2020. As a solo female traveler, now I’m so excited to see Pakistan.

Great blog post! Pakistan is one of the best places for tourism. There are multiple foreigners and Youtubers who visited Pakistan in the past and shared positive feedback. I am going to recommend all travelers who want to visit Pakistan must visit in the spring season because you are going to feel the beauty of Pakistan’s forests and nature that provides a mesmerizing feeling and relaxation that makes the soul-refreshing and lively. From the China border to Gawader, you can go to enjoy every step. Each province offers unique food and places with famous sub-cultures and events to enjoy.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful post and keep sharing in the future!

Best Regards,

I have been planning on travelling to Pakistan again next year once this global epidemic comes under control. I went there last October 2019 and was truly amazed by the country’s beauty, its people and the incredible amount of love/hospitality I was shown. Definitely recommend Lahore, Islamabad, Swat and the Northern Areas (Baltistan, Gilgit and Deosai). I sure felt a lot safer than many of the other surrounding countries and I felt the country was a lot more cleaner with better infrastructure than many of its neighbours I had previously visited. Thanks for the article as it offered some helpful pointers but luckily I didn’t have any issues with my stomach and I was there for around 2 weeks. Looking forward to travelling to this hidden gem of a country Pakistan again!

Assalam o Alikum, I welcome you on the behalf of all Pakistanis. It will honor for us to welcome you again. I am from Lahore Pakistan. From which country you are?

“My office for a day”

Omg, tell me please where is this place exactly? I work in IT and want to work from there one day 🙂

hello, that is Fairy Meadows

Thanks, and one more question because I’ve found confusing info on the Internet: how long is the trip from Islamabad to Gilgit by bus? Or, is it more suitable to rent a car in PK as a solo Traveller?

The bus takes 15 to 20 hours Renting a car would be amazing, but it’s more expensive of course

Bus takes 16 to 18 hours and charges 15$ whereas renting a car costs you 40$ to 50$ per day (without fuel). And the fuel it takes for islamabad to gilgit is around 25 gallons costs 60$.

Regarding Kashmir – I’ve seen some youtube videos of a New Zealander (Karl Rocks) who’s blogged from the capital of Azad Kashmir, so the restrictions may have been removed. I’d definetly recommend adding AK (at least the northern parts) to your itentary – as it’s not too far from Islamabad.

Hi i am wajid from pakistan , if any body need any type of help. Any information , regarding distance from one place to another place , by car or by bus by air, where need to go by local , where to by bus and where to by air , or if some one need invitation letter just feel free to contact i will give you all information here is my whatsapp +923114428519 . .

Thanks for sharing the nice piece of content with us. I am also a big fond of traveling & now my aim is to travel dubai for different experiences i.e dirt biking offroadadventurefun.com/dirt-bike-tours/. Actually you can say its my passion to explore all the world & see the beauty of nature with my own eyes. The upcoming May holidays are a great occasion to take a good break from the working routine and allow yourself to plunge into a real adventure, with a lot of positive emotions and vivid impressions. An excellent option for a well-spent weekend will be a fascinating journey to the area rich in natural and historical sights. Once again thanks for sharing the nice piece of stuff with us.

Hello fellow travellers. I have just applied for an e-visa through the Nadra site. After a simple but painstaking series of questions you arrive at the penultimate stage of uploading your photo , passport details and …. a Letter of Invitation. I am a UK citizen . I have purchased an LOI with an extra attested certification from Karakoram Bikers who were very helpful and who’s info I used in the Sponsor’s section of the application. I thought LOI’s were a thing of the past but either the website hasn’t been updated or LOI’s are needed for some nations. I await the outcome of my application. I hope this personal experience helps someone . All the best out there . Allison

Gilgit is a city located in the northern region of Pakistan, and is considered one of the most famous cities in the country for several reasons.

Firstly, Gilgit is located at the crossroads of some of the world’s most spectacular mountain ranges, including the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush. This makes it a popular destination for trekkers, hikers, and mountaineers from all over the world.

It takes a lot to visit and write with this much precision. Thanks for such a captivating blog post with lots of insight.

HI! I have a question about pakistani visa. I didn’t do the LOI. I simply uploaded the screenshot with the hotel reservation for the first few nights in Lahore (+ photo and passport of course). and it was successful. does this mean that I don’t need the LOI and that the visa will be issued to me? I still haven’t made the payment because I want to be sure of the thing. Thanks a lot and I hope I explained myself well.

HI! I read your blog about Pakistan. i have a question about pakistani visa. I didn’t do the LOI. I simply uploaded the screenshot with the hotel reservation for the first few nights in Lahore (+ photo and passport of course). and it was successful. does this mean that I don’t need the LOI and that the visa will be issued to me? I still haven’t made the payment because I want to be sure of the thing. Thanks a lot and I hope I explained myself well.

I applied for my visa in July 2023 and it took 2 months to process, so be warned.

As of July 2023, non vaccinated travellers (COVID) no longer are required to have PCR tests to enter the country. My understanding is that The airlines may not be aware of this change of rule, so bring documentation to prove this.

Hi! I’m very glad to find your blog! Amazing content. I’m in the middle of a big decision. A friend of mine I met in Germany (he’s from Pakistan) is getting married in Karachi in December and he’s inviting me to his wedding. I read in your blogs that Karachi si not the part of the country where you have enjoyed more or where most people go. I also have the option to go later (months after the wedding) and probably explore starting from Lahore, what do you think? Worth to wait? Or Karachi also has a lot to see? Pd. I live in Mexico City, so it’s a very long and expensive trip.

Hi Cesar, why not visiting both in one single? Whie I don’t think it’s worth traveling to Pakistan all the way from CDMX just to visit Karachi, attending a wedding can be an amazing experience, which you could combine with other places like Bahawalpur Multan, and ending your trip in Lahore. Best

Hi there, I would like to go to PK in April this year and from Islamabad via the Karakoram Highway to Gilgit to go on a hike for three or four days. I would like to rent a car myself, me and my wife. We were among other places in India , Nepal, Iran, and would now like to go to PK. What do you think of the idea of ​​driving your own car?

Hi Andy, self-driving is difficult because most companies won’t rent you a car without a driver. Best is to hire a motorbike.

Hi Joan, gratulation for this helpful blog! I have an international flight to Islamabad and want to fly 2 hrs after arrival to Skardu – could be challenging, I know. Do I need a hardcopy boarding pass at Islamabad airport for my domestic flight to Skardu? A mobile boarding pass which I could already arrange at home would safe a lot time.

Hi Vauwe, an electronic boarding pass should be enough

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Will India travel to Pakistan for Champions Trophy? Salman Butt says ICC has to deal with it

Former cricketer salman butt has raised concerns about india's participation in the 2025 champions trophy, which is to be hosted by pakistan. butt emphasized that the international cricket council (icc) must address this issue if india refuses to participate..

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Babar Azam and Rohit Sharma

  • India's Champions Trophy decision will show ICC's authority: Salman Butt
  • India declined to visit Pakistan for the Asia Cup 2023
  • Pakistan is scheduled to host Champions Trophy after an eight-year break

Former Pakistani captain Salman Butt has questioned the International Cricket Council (ICC) regarding India's participation in the 2025 Champions Trophy, which is set to be hosted by Pakistan. Butt emphasized that if India refuses to participate in the event in Pakistan, it will become the ICC’s issue to handle. India last toured Pakistan in 2008 for the Asia Cup. In 2023, India declined to visit Pakistan for the Asia Cup, leading the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) to implement a hybrid model for the tournament. Recently, Jay Shah confirmed that India's senior players would participate in the 2025 Champions Trophy, but he did not clarify whether this included traveling to Pakistan.

"We try sensationalizing everything. There have been a few reports suggesting that Jay Shah has given a positive signal. However, I don't think he's given any signals. I wouldn't have been excited even if there had been a signal from him because it is the ICC's duty to ensure that all teams visit Pakistan," Butt stated on his YouTube channel.

Butt further remarked on the ICC's role, stressing that the council's authority and neutrality will be tested based on how they manage the situation if India decides against traveling to Pakistan. "If they come, then they are welcome; if they don't, the ICC has to deal with it. We will find out if they can just deal with all the other countries or can do the same with India as well. It will show how much authority they have as a regulator and how neutral they can be," Butt added.

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Why India was high on agenda during top Pakistan general's recent Turkey visit

Pakistan army's sahir shamshad mirza met top turkish officials and commanders. and firmly on the agenda was india..

General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Pakistan's chairman, joint chiefs of staff committee, during his visit to Turkey (Picture: X | @Pak_AfgAffairs)

General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Pakistan's chairman, joint chiefs of staff committee, during his visit to Turkey (Picture: X | @Pak_AfgAffairs)

When General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Pakistan's chairman, joint chiefs of staff committee, visited Ankara, Turkey, in June, just the people he met suggested the importance of the visit, and also, the level of bilateral relations between the two countries. Gen. Mirza called on Yasar Guler, the defence minister and had meetings with General Metin Gurak, the chief of general staff (his equivalent) and General Selcuk Baytaktaroglu, the commander, Turkish land forces-- roughly, army chief. And firmly on the agenda was India.

The discussions too included strategic issues, and naturally, defence ties with New Delhi. Sources said they involved the delivery of S-400 air-defence systems by Russia to India and the American response. So far, while the United States isn't too pleased about the delivery of this sophisticated weapon system, it has taken no action. The Turks, though a member of NATO, also have the system. Gen Mirza also hoped that Turkey would not sell its weaponry to India.

The two sides spoke about the KAAN, a twin-engine fighter the Turks have "indigenously" developed, and deliveries are likely within the next five years. The recent US decision to allow Turkey to have Block-70 F-16 fighters came up in the discussions. The Turkish air force has 240+ F-16s, but they are the older C/D versions. Along with the 40 new F-16V planes, the USA will also supply 79 modernisation kits.

There were assurances about Turkish support to Islamabad on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and on issues related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Pakistan is on the backfoot with the FATF as a result of its very transparent support to top terrorist leaders and "action" against them, which appear to be window-dressing. In return, Pakistan assured support on North Cyprus, the Mediterranean island, divided by a Green Line, with the Turks controlling the northern part.

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An illustration of a soldier looking out over a mountain landscape with figures in the distance. All of the art in this article is illustrated.

Why Do India and China Keep Fighting Over This Desolate Terrain?

Long-running battles in the Himalayas may foretell a more dangerous conflict.

Credit... Illustration by Johnny Dombrowski

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By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee is a contributing writer who has been reporting on geopolitics, global security and espionage for more than a decade.

  • Published June 27, 2024 Updated June 29, 2024

The 2,100-mile border separating India and China passes through some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain. In the west, it runs along India’s Ladakh region, at an altitude of 13,000 to 20,000 feet. During the months when the area isn’t covered in snow, the ground resembles a moonscape. The earth is sandy, strewn with rocks and pebbles; not a blade of grass grows anywhere; there are no visible signs of animal life. In winter, temperatures can drop to –40 degrees. The bleak conditions and barren vistas can induce despair in those who set foot on the land. “I’ve been to those places,” a former Indian diplomat who now works for an international Buddhist organization in Delhi told me. “When you visit, you tend to think, Who the hell even wants this area?”

Listen to this article, read by Brian Nishii

But that’s not how nation-states view territory, no matter how desolate it is. That is why India and China have their armies deployed on these heights along an unmarked and, in many places, contested boundary between the two countries. In the absence of any fencing or barbed wire to demarcate territory, soldiers from each nation contend with considerable ambiguity when conducting patrols along what’s known as the Line of Actual Control. Vinod Bhatia, who served as director general of military operations for the Indian Army and is now retired, describes it as a line of perceptions.

“It’s four lines, actually,” he told me when I visited Delhi last year. “One is the Indian perception of the Line of Actual Control. Another is the Chinese perception of the Line of Actual Control. Third is the Indian perception of the Chinese perception of the Line of Actual Control — because we have a perception based on their line of patrolling. And the fourth is, of course, the Chinese perception of the Indian perception of the Line of Actual Control.”

This lack of clarity means that there are several places along the border that are effectively a no-man’s land, where both Indian and Chinese troops carry out patrols. Soldiers from each side routinely leave empty cigarette packets and beer cans behind as marks of territorial claim. At the same time, soldiers on each side are legally bound to exercise restraint during patrols, according to a 1996 agreement between the two countries that prohibits the use of firearms and munitions at the border.

When units from the two sides run into one another, they follow a mutually agreed upon protocol to avoid confrontation. “We pull out a banner that says in English and in Chinese: ‘You are in our territory. Please go back,’” Bhatia told me. “And they hold up a banner of their own that says in Hindi and in English: ‘You are in our territory. You go back.’”

Historically, such face-offs have been resolved peacefully. In recent years, however, confrontations have sometimes spiraled into skirmishes. One night in early December 2022, for instance, hundreds of Chinese troops attempted to breach, in four spots, a stone wall along a border ridgeline in the Yangtze plateau, located on an eastern stretch of the border in India’s easternmost state, Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims is a part of Tibet. According to Indian press reports — the Indian Army has not provided a public account — the Chinese troops were armed with nail-studded clubs, monkey fists (knotted-up portions of rope used as a weapon) and stun guns. The Indian soldiers, using crude weapons of their own, eventually forced the Chinese troops to retreat.

Though there were no fatalities, the engagement was violent, making it the most severe skirmish since a June 2020 clash in the Galwan Valley, which proved fatal for 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese soldiers.

Episodes like those in Galwan and Yangtze reflect an era of increased hostility between the two countries, which have generally maintained a peaceable, if strained, relationship in the decades since they fought a war in 1962. Today, India and China have each stationed an estimated 60,000 soldiers along the Line of Actual Control.

Jayadeva Ranade worked for many years with India’s Research and Analysis Wing, the country’s main foreign intelligence agency; he now serves on India’s National Security Advisory Board. In his view, skirmishes along the border are likely to be regular occurrences for the foreseeable future. “This conflict isn’t going to go away in a hurry,” he told me. And in large part, the matter is about more than just gaining territory; it’s also about a broader geopolitical rivalry. “The bigger issue is they don’t want India to rise,” Ranade says, referring to China. “Because they see themselves as the only power in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The two countries are increasingly jockeying for global influence as well. A strong nationalist leader rules each country: President Xi Jinping in China and, in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who just won a third term in office, despite his party’s electoral setbacks that will make him dependent on allies in Parliament. Xi, in his address to the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2017, declared that China “has stood up, grown rich and is becoming strong” and could offer “Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problems facing mankind.”

More recently, Modi has been emboldened by India’s growth. The country’s population surpassed China’s last year, and its economy, while still much smaller than China’s, is expected to grow faster in the coming years. Like Xi, Modi has spoken of India’s ambition to reclaim its ancient glory and return to its status as Vishwaguru, a Sanskrit phrase that means “teacher to the world.” India now acts with an assertiveness it lacked even a decade ago.

Harsh V. Pant, a professor of international relations at King’s College London, characterizes Modi’s government, compared with previous governments, as “much more robust in articulating India’s national-security priorities and making the case that New Delhi will stand up for those interests.” In 2019, that stance was demonstrated when India conducted airstrikes against what it claimed were terrorist training camps in Balakot, Pakistan. “Balakot was a signal that we are willing to use the instrumentality of the military to achieve certain outcomes and test how far we can go,” Pant told me. Last year, India rebuffed criticism from the European Union over its continuing imports of Russian oil, which was seen as helping Russia in its war against Ukraine.

New Delhi’s assertiveness was again on display in a diplomatic crisis last year, when Canada announced that it suspected Indian intelligence of having been involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil. The Indian government denied the charge and demanded to see evidence of that claim. It also accused Canada of sheltering Sikh terrorists. Canada had to withdraw 41 of its 62 diplomats from India in October, after the Indian government said it would revoke their diplomatic immunity. As further retribution, visas for Canadians were suspended for more than a month.

In May, after Canadian police arrested and charged three Indian citizens based in Edmonton for last year’s murder, India’s foreign minister suggested that the killing was related to gang violence and chided Canadian authorities for having allowed “organized crime from India, specifically from Punjab, to operate in Canada.”

It isn’t uncommon to detect a degree of belligerence in how Indian officials talk about these matters. When I visited Delhi last fall, the mood in the capital over Canada’s allegations was one of defiance. Pankaj Saran, who served as India’s deputy national-security adviser from 2018 to 2021 and now runs NatStrat, which researches security issues, contrasts India’s self-assuredness on the international stage today with its diffident foreign policy of the 1980s. “Back then, we were literally riding the coattails of the Soviet Union,” he told me. But as the world’s fifth-largest economy, India no longer has any reason to be timid. “Today,” he says, “we have a government that believes we’ve been taking the hit for far too long.”

Indian and Chinese soldiers battle with spiked clubs.

The Indo-China war of 1962 was precipitated by a series of border clashes not too different from those of recent years. The earlier ones were about more than territorial disagreements, though. China was smarting from India’s embrace of the Dalai Lama, who had fled Tibet in 1959 and established a government in exile in Dharamshala, India. At this point, the two countries were still young in their modern incarnations; neither had an impressive military. But the People’s Liberation Army of China was stronger, and Indian troops suffered a humiliating defeat, which impelled India to increase military spending. A month after the war began, around the same time that India requested that the United States intervene with air support, China declared a unilateral cease-fire, effectively ending the conflict. India had to accept that Aksai Chin, an area of 15,000 square miles that it claimed as its own, would remain under Chinese control.

An uneasy truce held for the next several decades, except for a confrontation in 1986-87 on the eastern stretch of the border, in a valley bordering the hilly and verdant Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Indian officials say that the status quo began to change in 2013, right after Xi Jinping became China’s president. In April of that year, weeks before the newly anointed Chinese premier Li Keqiang was scheduled to visit Delhi, Chinese troops entered the Depsang Plains in Aksai Chin and set up an encampment just 20 miles south of an Indian military base. Alarmed by the incursion, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police pitched its own tents about 300 yards away. The standoff continued for about three weeks before it was resolved through talks, and both sides removed their encampments.

Less than a year and a half later, days before Xi’s state visit to India in 2014, Chinese troops entered Chumar, in eastern Ladakh. “This time it was deeper into our territory and on a broader swath,” Ranade told me when we met for coffee in Delhi last summer. Modi reportedly raised the matter with Xi during a dinner in Ahmedabad, and weeks later the troops withdrew from the area.

Some Indian officials back then were of the view that Depsang and Chumar were one-off incidents, attributable solely to People’s Liberation Army commanders on the ground locally, but Ranade was certain that Beijing had to be involved. In those days, he prepared a regular report on China for a think tank, based on his analysis of Chinese materials. He learned a few things that were troubling: The P.L.A. was conducting more exercises in Tibet (and using more weapons in them) than ever. “Then they began having paratrooper exercises there, and they had some kind of aircraft coming in there, which was again unusual,” Ranade told me. The increased military preparedness signaled an aggressive posture. “I said: ‘Look, there’s something brewing. I can’t tell you what it is, but it doesn’t look good to me.’”

The next notable confrontation unfolded in Doklam, a plateau roughly 800 miles to Ladakh’s east, close to where the borders of Bhutan, China and India meet. China claims Doklam as its territory, while India and Bhutan maintain that the area is a part of Bhutan. Bhutan has historically relied on India’s help to defend its borders, so when China started to build a road into Doklam in June 2017, Indian troops entered the area to stop that construction, and the two sides formed human walls that faced off against each other.

Srikant Kondapalli, a professor of China studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, recounted to me what he had learned from an Indian brigadier about how Indian forces attempted to gain a psychological advantage in the conflict. “They put together some 40 to 50 especially tall Indian soldiers, all above six-and-a-half feet, and pitched them against the Chinese, who were a lot shorter,” Kondapalli says. He believes the intimidation tactic helped India as the troops went eyeball to eyeball. Scuffles broke out intermittently. The face-off lasted 73 days. India was able to shut down the road project, which would have put the Chinese military within striking range of the Siliguri corridor — a strategically vital sliver of land that connects India’s northeastern states to the rest of the country.

‘If this was not premeditated, how come the Chinese had iron clubs with spikes and barbed wire?’

Then came the clash in the Galwan Valley, during a June night in 2020. The valley is along the Galwan River, just southwest of Aksai Chin. Tensions had been simmering there since April, when Chinese troops pitched tents in the valley. The Indian military saw this as yet another incursion across the Line of Actual Control by the P.L.A. According to Indian officials, China agreed to withdraw from these areas, including from the valley.

The violence in mid-June began when Col. Bikkumalla Santosh Babu, who commanded an Indian Army unit tasked with monitoring the Chinese withdrawal from Galwan, reportedly got into a heated exchange with Chinese soldiers who were supposed to have left by then. Although the Indian Army hasn’t released details, I gathered the broad outlines of the incident from Indian security and intelligence sources, including Jayadeva Ranade, whose own understanding of the incident comes from a careful reading of media reports. He told me that Babu, who was accompanied by two men when he walked over to the Chinese camp, was attacked. “One of the men came back and told the others in his unit,” Ranade said, “and they went over and there was a showdown.”

The Chinese soldiers were apparently armed with metal clubs studded with spikes and wrapped in barbed wire. The fighting, which continued late into the night and involved dozens of men on each side, might have been less bloody if the soldiers had used their firearms. In all, 20 Indian soldiers, including Babu, were killed. State media in China later reported four deaths on the Chinese side, although Indian officials claim the number was significantly higher.

The brutal fighting in Galwan didn’t strike Ranade as entirely unexpected. He saw it not as a fracas that spiraled out of control but rather an attack planned by the Chinese — the kind of thing he had been warning his colleagues about. As he put it to me, “If this was not premeditated, how come the Chinese had iron clubs with spikes and barbed wire?” Ranade said he had come across calls put out by P.L.A. units inviting bids to supply similar weapons as recently as March 2023, which indicated continued hostile intent. “So obviously, they are preparing.”

In 2017, Xi Jinping wrote a letter to two sisters from a yak-herding family in Lhunze County, in southern Tibet, adjacent to Arunachal Pradesh, thanking them for their efforts in safeguarding the border. According to Chinese state media, the two Tibetan women and their father had been the sole inhabitants of their town Yumai for a period of years until the mid-1990s; its population has since risen to more than 200. In his letter, which was widely publicized in China, Xi expressed hope that the family would inspire other herders to put down roots in the area like “galsang flowers” and become guardians of Chinese territory.

Since taking over as president, Xi has repeatedly talked about being uncompromising in protecting the country’s “core interests” — a term that is understood to include China’s territorial and sovereignty claims. Under Xi, the country has converted coral reefs and sand piles dredged up from the seabed in the South China Sea, which it maintains belongs almost entirely to China, into artificial islands that are now heavily militarized with missiles and air strips. Xi has also emphasized China’s commitment to realizing its long-held dream of “reunification” with Taiwan, which split from mainland China in 1949. A similar priority is the consolidation of Chinese control over Tibet by squashing a decades-long Tibetan independence movement. China’s aggressive stance along the border with India, Kondapalli told me, is being driven by the same overarching goal of asserting sovereignty over disputed areas.

A senior Indian intelligence official I met with in Delhi last year explained that China’s hostility along the Line of Actual Control had two strategic objectives: diminishing India’s impact in its own backyard and tying down India’s military in order to weaken India’s broader geopolitical influence. “We are the big brother in our region: Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka — everyone looks to India when they have a problem,” he said. “China wants to dent us by saying, ‘How is India going to be your net security provider when they can’t handle their own risk?’” He attributed Chinese cyberattacks directed at India to the same motive: a desire to reduce India’s standing. China’s hostility, he said, was aimed at diluting India’s participation in strategic alliances that have emerged to counter Chinese threats.

One such example is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, a group made up of India, the United States, Australia and Japan, which share the goal of preventing China from dominating the Indo-Pacific. The Chinese, according to the intelligence official, “don’t want India to be the long arm of the United States in this region or to be an active part of things like the Quad, which brings you back to the border issue. They want to keep us pinned down on the land borders because the future of geopolitics is maritime. They don’t want us to lift our heads.”

China’s economic muscle has helped expand its influence in the region in ways that India hasn’t been able to match, the official told me. As part of its Belt and Road Initiative, which Xi began in 2013, China has invested in infrastructure projects in every one of India’s neighbors. “We call them strategic projects because they are going into them with no consideration of what they’ll get back in business terms,” he said. What China was gaining from these investments was “massive leverage.” Not only was India unable to compete in terms of resources, he added, India was also not allowed to operate as he claimed the Chinese do. “They literally come with bags of cash,” he said. “We have to have parliamentary approval, this approval, that approval.”

At the Tibetan border, this approach has taken a more physical form, as China has built more than 620 new “xiaokang” — or “moderately well-off” — villages all along the Tibetan border. Billions of yuan have been spent on roads, power stations, schools and health care facilities to support these villages. Each settlement consists of about 100 homes equipped with modern amenities like heating and internet connectivity. A mix of Tibetans and Han Chinese — many of whom are ex-military men — have moved into the villages, Kondapalli says, effectively changing the demographics of the area and enhancing Beijing’s ability to crush Tibetan resistance.

“These settlements are de facto intelligence outposts,” Kondapalli says. In contrast to the xiaokang villages, which are right next to the Line of Actual Control, the settlements on India’s side are 20 to 30 miles inside Indian territory. That gives the settlers in these villages an opening to encroach upon land that belongs to India, Kondapalli says.

Indian authorities see the establishment of these border villages as buttressing a strategy of gradual encroachment — or “salami slicing,” as it’s known among security strategists — that China has practiced over the years in the South China Sea and is now attempting to replicate along the Line of Actual Control. The high-ranking Indian intelligence official I spoke with in Delhi explained to me how the Chinese military had been operating on the border. “It’s very simple, but very clear,” he told me over breakfast on the patio of a Delhi hotel. “It starts with their yaks coming into pastures that are common grazing grounds at the border. After a few weeks of the yaks hanging around, the herdsman will come. Then, they start making trails for the herders. And then, because there are herders and yaks there, the P.L.A. will come, saying, ‘These are our nationals — we’re just checking on them.’”

The official went on: “Once the troops start coming in for patrols, then they’ll pitch tents, saying, ‘Our troops need to rest.’ The next thing they’ll do is, ‘The trails are not good enough, let’s start making roads.’ Then they’ll prevent our patrols from coming into that area. Once the roads are properly made, the tents will become cemented structures. So, in about eight to nine steps, they will create new facts on the ground and say, ‘This is ours.’” Effectively, winning a war without firing a shot.

That’s what the P.L.A. appears to have been aiming for, not just in the Galwan Valley but also in several areas along the border in eastern Ladakh that Chinese troops moved into in the spring of 2020. The clash at Galwan was followed by a withdrawal from that site by both sides, but Chinese soldiers continued to occupy other areas, including those on the banks of Pangong Lake, whose westernmost edge lies 50 miles to the south of the Galwan Valley.

India fought back. On the evening of Aug. 29, 2020, troops from a secretive Indian guerrilla force, together with soldiers from the Indian Army, began ascending the slopes of a mountain in eastern Ladakh. The mountains are part of the Kailash Range, a chain of rugged peaks, the tallest of which reach 22,000 feet, beginning near Pangong’s southern bank and extending southeast for some 500 miles. Because of the difficult terrain, the heights along the range were left unoccupied by both India and China after the 1962 war. But now, nearly six decades later, Indian Army commanders hoped to take control of several of these hilltops.

As Lt. Gen. Y.K. Joshi, the top commander in charge of the operation, later disclosed in media interviews, the operation, called Snow Leopard, had been planned as a response to the P.L.A.’s incursions. By the night of Aug. 29, Indian troops were in possession of a strategic peak. The following morning, Indian tanks rolled up a mountainside several miles southeast on the range, enabling the Indian Army to occupy a high mountain pass known as Rezang La, a strategic location overlooking a Chinese garrison stationed at Moldo on the other side of the range. By the time the P.L.A. could bring its equipment and troops up the slopes on their side, Indian troops already had the advantage.

The action was “well planned, well thought out and executed, achieving total surprise,” Joshi said in a video interview with Nitin Gokhale, a veteran Indian military journalist who runs a foreign-affairs website called Stratnews Global. (The Indian Army has not officially released any information about the operation, but I got a summary description of it from Gokhale.) The Indians suffered one casualty: 53-year-old Nyima Tenzing of the guerrilla Special Frontier Force, which was established 60 years ago to conduct covert operations against China. Tenzing, like other troops who make up the S.F.F., was of Tibetan origin and died from a land mine left behind after the 1962 war.

As Joshi explained to Stratnews, India’s goal in taking the Kailash heights was to compel China to withdraw from the areas occupied by the P.L.A. after their incursions earlier that month. The strategy gave India leverage in negotiating with China, and ultimately led to success: In February 2021, the P.L.A. dismantled its structures and pulled its soldiers back from those sites in exchange for Indian troops vacating the hilltops.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Chinese have given up. In fact, the P.L.A.’s military presence in the broader area north of Pangong Lake has increased significantly since 2021. According to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies of satellite images taken on Oct. 4, 2022, the Chinese have built a new P.L.A. divisional headquarters just north of Pangong, just three and a half miles from the Line of Actual Control. Its support buildings are, the C.S.I.S. reports, “flanked by a bevy of trenches and revetments for storing and securing equipment.”

At the end of last August, China’s Ministry of Natural Resources released a new map that rendered Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh as Chinese territory. China has published such maps before. But the timing of the new release — less than two weeks before India was to host the G20 summit in Delhi — suggested that it was a calculated jab intended to undermine India precisely when the country hoped to showcase its rising influence. A government spokesman said such actions by China served only to “complicate the resolution of the boundary question.”

India sees China employing similar tactics to try to pressure India on Arunachal Pradesh, which the Chinese government calls Zangnan. In April, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs announced that it was renaming 30 places in the region — the fourth such move since 2017. In March of last year, China chose not to send its delegate to a G20 event hosted by India in Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, as a reminder that it considers India’s rule there illegitimate. “When there’s a delegation of Indian bureaucrats traveling to China, the Chinese embassy here in Delhi will not issue a stamped visa to the delegate who belongs to Arunachal Pradesh,” says the former diplomat now at the nonprofit Buddhist organization. Instead, embassy officials permit entry by stapling an unstamped piece of paper to the passport. “They say the individual is welcome because his land is a part of China.” The result, the former diplomat told me, is that the Indian government then can’t send that delegate because doing so would register approval of China’s position.

India has its own anxieties about Indians living near the border: It worries that they might shift their allegiance to China.

One reason for China’s interest in Arunachal Pradesh, especially its district of Tawang, is the existence of Buddhist holy sites in the state, including the Tawang monastery. Founded in the late 17th century, it is the world’s second largest Buddhist monastery, after the Drepung monastery in Lhasa, Tibet. The Tawang monastery was the Dalai Lama’s first refuge in India when he fled Tibet in 1959, crossing over into Arunachal Pradesh after an arduous trek through the mountains. Derek Grossman, of the RAND Corporation, explains that China wants Tawang because it believes that control over what is currently the most important center of Tibetan Buddhism outside Tibet will help consolidate its hold over the Tibetan population. “They have some fears that because India continues to give safe refuge to the Dalai Lama, at some point the Dalai Lama could return to Tawang and use it as leverage to galvanize the Tibetan people to try and declare independence from China,” Grossman says.

India’s government has its own anxieties about Indians living close to the border: It worries that they might shift their allegiance to China. Arunachal Pradesh, like much of India’s northeast, is less developed than other parts of the country; many rural communities in remote areas live in relative isolation. Yeshi Phuntsok, a retired government employee who lives in Tawang, told me that even 20 years ago, many people in the village where he grew up were not fully aware that they were Indians. “They didn’t know there was a country called India or that there was a country called China,” he says. Over the years, outreach efforts by Indian authorities have helped change that, he says: “Now, they understand that India is their country.”

This fledgling, still-forming sense of Indian identity in parts of the border population is another reason the xiaokang villages built by China are a source of concern for the Indian government. “Their thinking is that when they publicize the development of their villages, people on our side of the border will look at that and say, ‘Oh, we are so badly off,’” the Indian intelligence official I had breakfast with told me. “And the Tibetans will see that Arunachal is so poor by comparison.”

Better cellular connectivity in China’s border villages is a source of envy across the Line of Actual Control, where citizens in some areas are able to receive signals from Chinese cellphone towers. Phones can automatically switch to the Chinese network near the border, Phuntsok told me. Earlier on the day we spoke, he had visited an area close to the Line of Actual Control. “Right after I got there, I noticed that my phone was showing 3:30 p.m.,” he said. For a little while, Phuntsok puzzled over how the time could have passed so quickly. He then realized the phone was showing Chinese time, which is two hours and 30 minutes ahead of Indian time there.

Ngawang Tashi, a Buddhist monk from Arunachal Pradesh, told me that China’s attempts to woo India’s predominantly Buddhist border population is part of a larger effort to “sinify” Buddhism — that is, dilute its Tibetan identity and make it more Chinese. He said he had heard about the Chinese government offering houses and financial benefits to Indian yak herders to get them to settle in some of the newly built villages.

“Most people here are loyal to India and followers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” he told me. But after the current Dalai Lama is gone, that could change, he added. “They can be swayed when there is money being offered.”

Belatedly, the Indian government has responded to China’s xiaokang villages with a “vibrant villages” program, announced in April last year. Over the next decade, the government says, it plans to invest $600 million in the development of about 3,000 villages that are already settled along the Line of Actual Control, from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. By building roads, dams, schools and hospitals, and by improving telecom services throughout this stretch, authorities hope to give people in border communities a reason to stay where they are and stay loyal to India.

The skirmishes of the past few years have had a silver lining, says Claude Arpi, a longtime scholar of Tibet and Indo-China relations who is currently a distinguished fellow at the Center of Excellence for Himalayan Studies at Shiv Nadar University. It has forced the two sides to come to formal agreements about the border at certain places in Ladakh. “In fact, this is the first time that a map for the L.A.C. exists for this area,” Arpi told me.

Disagreements about the boundary persist elsewhere, however, including Demchok and Depsang. It’s unclear if those will be resolved anytime soon, even though Modi and Xi Jinping agreed at a summit in South Africa last August to expedite “disengagement and de-escalation” on the border, according to an Indian government spokesman. Despite his party’s loss of its majority in the recent election, Modi’s decision-making power on nationalistic issues like border disputes with China is unlikely to diminish in his third term, which in turn means India’s assertiveness along the Line of Actual Control is likely to continue. “Today, after what happened in Galwan, there is no question that China can come more than a few hundred meters inside India’s territory,” Arpi says. “India has responded very strongly for once.”

Read by Brian Nishii

Narration produced by Emma Kehlbeck

Engineered by Zak Mouton

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