Welcome to Pakistan

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_blankVisiting Pakistan? This section of Pakistanpaedia provides essential information for planning your visit to Pakistan - the land of Oldest of Civilizations. Pakistan has a rich cultural heritage. Its Northern Areas are rich in natural beauty and landscape, and some of the awesome verticals and pinnacles like the Trangos and the K-2. The archaeological remains of Buddhism and Hinduism and the Muslim architecture. Trekking, mountaineering, white water rafting, wild boar hunting, mountain and desert jeep, Camel and Yak safaris, trout fishing and bird watching, are a few activities which entice the adventure and nature lovers to Pakistan.

Pakistan can be reached which ever mode of travel one desires to choose: air, land  or sea. Here is HOW

By Air: Pakistan has a well developed network of airports, most of which correspond to the international standards, located in all major cities and satellite cities of Pakistan. Almost all major airlines of the world have Pakistan as their destination. However most of these land at Karachi, but few airlines like PIA, British Airways, Saudia and China Xinjiang Airlines also land at Islamabad. PIA, Indian Airlines, Saudia and Thai Airways fly direct to Lahore.
Pakistan International (PIA) has direct flights from the main Mediterranean and European cities, as well as New York, Toronto and Nairobi. It also runs a Far East Network from Tokyo, Beijing, Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. PIA have also flights to Tashkent and Almaty from Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi while another Pakistani airlines, Aero Asia has a weekly flight between Karachi and Bishkek.

By Land: Pakistan shares its borders with Afghanistan, China, India and Iran. Therefore Pakistan can be accessed by the land route from these countries.

  • Afghanistan: Tourists visiting Pakistan from Afghanistan can either enter from Chaman in Balochistan and reach Quetta or enter from Kabul-Jalalabad route to Torkham and following the famous Khyber Pass reach Peshawar.

  • China: From the Xingjian province of China, one can follow the Silk Route or the Karakoram Highway, the eighth wonder of the world, crossing the highest border between any two countries of the world at Kunjrab Pass (located 4,800 meters) and reach Gilgit, by passing through Hunza - the paradise on earth, and onwards to Islamabad through Manshera and Abbot Abad. PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation and NATCO (Northern Areas Transport Corporation) run buses from Sost to Taxkurgan (Chinese border post). The Khunjerab Pass is open from 1st May to 31st October for groups and to 15 November for individual tourists. Customs, Immigration post remains open daily from 08:30 to 11:00 for outgoing travellers and up to 16:00 (Pakistan Standard Time) for incoming tourists. Travel time from Sost to Taxkurgan is 5 hours (220 kms). The Chinese border post Taxkurgan is open 12:00 noon to 14:00 (Beijing Time) for outgoing tourists and up to 19:00 for incoming travellers daily.

  • India: From India one has many choices of entry and mode of travel; by road or by rail. Two border posts at Wahgha near Lahore and Kokhrapar in Sind are the entry points. Bus service exists between Dehli and Amritsar to Lahore.  Air-conditioned buses leave from Faletti's Hotel, Egerton Road, Lahore every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 06:00hours. One-way fare is equivalent to US$ 19 per person. The fare also includes cost of breakfast, lunch and evening tea. Total travel time is 11 hours. 

  • Iran: Iran has land and rail links with Pakistan. Several buses and coaches daily leave from Taftan (Pakistan-Iran border post) to Quetta (634 km - 16 - 18 hours). Approximate fare is around US$ 08 per person on coach and US$ 07 per person on bus. There is a weekly express train from Zahidan to Quetta (via Taftan - 27 hours). Economy Class fare with berth is approximately around US$ 10 and First Class Sleeper is US$ 13 per person. Another Passenger (slower) train leaves Taftan every Thursday for Quetta.

Sea Link: Karachi, the port city of Pakistan has an international sea port which is mostly used for cargo handling. Presently, no passenger boats or ships for the general public sail to or from Pakistan. However, some private small boats do ply between Pakistan and the Gulf countries. A ferry service with India and the Gulf states is in the planning stage.
In-Land Travel Facilities: All major cities are connected by land and air link.
  • Road Link: From Karachi, the road link up country and along the coast line of Sind and Balochistan has been facilitated by roads of various standards. The 500 kilometres long Makran Coastal Highway has recently been completed linking Karachi with the emerging port city of Gwader. Moving up country, the N-5 and the Indus Highway connect Karachi with Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta. Super Highway - a dual carriage way connects Karachi to Hyderabad. A network of motorways connects Lahore with Peshawar and Islamabad and Faisalabad.
  • Rail Link: Pakistan Railways has the monopoly of providing rail link between all major and minor cities / towns of Pakistan from Karachi to Quetta/Taftan (Iran-Pakistan border) and Karachi to Lahore-Islamabad and Peshawar. Pakistan railways also runs Smajhota Express between Lahore and Amritsar (India). Recently a non-stop train service "Karakoram Express" has been started between Karachi - Lahore and Lahore-Islamabad. The train service provides air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned coaches.For more information, consult website of Pakistan Railways.
  • Air Link: Pakistan International Airlines - the national airliner, serves 38 domestic airports with scheduled connections, including multiple daily flights between major cities of Karachi, Quetta, Multan, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar. Many private airlines, like the Air Blue, Aero Asia and Shaheen Airlines, also serve Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Islamabad. PIA has daily flights linking the northern tourist regions of Gilgit, Skardu and Saidu Sharif with Islamabad and Chitral with Peshawar. There is a weekly Air Safari over the northern mountains, leaving every Saturday from Islamabad. One should be careful when booking on the flights that operate between Islamabad and Chitral, Gilgit and Skardu, since there are unannounced delays and even cancellations due to unpredictable weather.
Travel Concessions    
  • PIA offers discounted air fares to foreign tourist groups visiting Pakistan from Europe, Middle East, Japan and USA. A 30% discount on international flights and 50% on domestic flights is available for students. For more details, please contact any PIA office abroad or in Pakistan.

  • Pakistan Railways allow a 25% concession to foreign tourists (both for groups and individuals). This concession is allowed on production of a recommendation certificate issued by any PTDC Tourist Information Centre and original Passport, to the Divisional Superintendent of Pakistan Railways (at Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Sukkur, Multan, Peshawar and Rawalpindi) or Station Master of other principal stations.

  • Foreign students are allowed 50% concession on Pakistan Railways on production of PTDC certificate, Student card and their Passport.

Import / Export Facilities
  • A tourist may import a motor vehicle without duty under a Carnet-de-passage en dounne for a period of 3 months against an undertaking before the Customs Officer at the entry point that he/she will not transfer the ownership of the vehicle during his/her stay in Pakistan.

  • Import of liquor is not allowed. However, if carrying any, it has to be declared to the Customs Officer who shall detain the liquor against a receipt and return it to the tourist on his/her departure from Pakistan, Non-Muslim foreign tourists can purchase liquor from an authorized vendor in Pakistan (usually a 5 or 4 star hotel) against a permit. This permit can be obtained form the Excise and Taxation Officer of the respective area. Hotels having a liquor vending license can also sell liquor to non-Muslim foreign tourists staying in the hotel. Drinking at public places is strictly prohibited.

  • Foreign tourists can export precious stones or jewellery (except gold jewellery) up to a value of Rs.2,000 without any permission or duty (for tourists belonging to Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iran the limits is reduced to Rs. 1,000).

  • Exports of antiques (specially statues of Gandhara) and drugs is prohibited.

Vaccinations / Other Health related Restrictions

  • Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers arriving form endemic zone.

  • Vaccination against Cholera. Hepatitis, Typhoid and Polio is recommended.

  • Malaria risk exists in Pakistan through out the year in areas below 2,000 m. Chloroquine resistant P. falciparum is also reported.

  • All foreigners coming to stay in Pakistan for over one year require AIDS free certificate.

Boarding and Lodging
  • All cities and towns provide boarding and lodging facilities ranging, that suit every type of budget. Five / Four Star Hotels like the Sheraton and Avari (at Karachi & Lahore), Pearl Continental Hotels chain(at Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Bhurban), Marriott (Karachi & Islamabad), Holiday Inn (Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Islamabad), Serena Hotels (Islamabad, Faisalabad, Quetta, Gilgit, Hunza and Saidu Sharif).
  • Other hotels include Pine Park Hotels (Naran, Khannian & Shogran), Green Hotels (Nathiagali, Abbottabad, Peshawar), Shangrila Resorts & Hotels (Naran, Chilas, Skardu) offer good services and facilities. A government tax/duty up to o 17.5% is added to the rent at most places. However, road side hotels may even cost less than a dollar for a night stay - one may be careful selecting these though for obvious reasons, however.
  • Pakistan Youth Hostels Association (PYHA) - founded in 1951, run a chain of 6 Hostels all over Pakistan. Accommodation in these Youth Hostels is available to the members of International Youth Hostels Federation (IYHF) and its affiliated organizations. For more details and reservation, PYHA Head Office located at Garden Road, G-6/4, Islamabad can be contacted on Tel: 092-51-826899.
Trekking and Mountaineering: The Northern Areas of Pakistan provide wonderful opportunities for the trekkers and the mountaineers. The trekking season generally starts from May till October. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of Pakistan, has defined trekking as walking below 6000 m. It has designated three zones for trekking; open, restricted and closed. Foreigners may trek anywhere in open zone without a permit or services of a licensed mountain guide. For trekking in restricted zone, foreigners must pay a fee of US$ 20 per person per trek to obtain a trekking permit from the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of Pakistan Islamabad. It also requires to hire a licensed mountain guide; buy a personal accident insurance policy for the guide and the porters and to attend mandatory briefing and de-briefing at the Ministry of Tourism, on the beginning and end of the trekking trip. No trekking is allowed in closed zones which are the areas near Pak-Afghan border and near the Line of Control with Indian-held Kashmir.

All peaks/routes for mountaineering have been designated as open zone or restricted zone. Permits for climbing peaks in open zone, are issued by the Ministry of Tourism, within 24 hours of the receipt of application. However, for peaks/routes in restricted zone, permit is issued within 14 days form the date of receipt of the application in Ministry of Tourism, Government of Pakistan (Operation Section) Pakistan Sports Complex, Shahrah-e-Kashmir, Islamabad. Tel:+92-51-9203509 Fax:+92-51-9202347.

What to Buy and Eat: Every tourist confronts two questions when visiting any country, what to eat and what to take back?
  • Pakistan is a country of hot spiced meals, rich in oil and meat. Besides traditional and indigenous cousins, once can find the Turk, Iranian and Chinese foods, found in abundance in all major cities. The favourite indigenous dishes include Seekh-Kabab (minced meat grilled on skewer), Tikka (barbecued mutton, beef or chicken) and Sajji (barbecued leg of lamb - though found mainly in Balochistan). Rice dishes include Pullao (rice cooked with meat or chicken) and Biryani (rice cooked with spicy meat, beef or chicken). When in Lahore, don't forget to visit the three Food Streets that serve traditional dishes and are open throughout the night. For sweet lovers, Firni (minced rice cooked in milk and sugar), kheer (rice cooked in milk and sugar) and a vase variety of mithai (sweets rich in sugar and oil), besides zarda (a sweet rice dish).
  • Pakistan handicrafts are at display at all major hotels and shops in cities. These include metal and brass works, cotton and hand-knitted carpets. Silver and gold jewelry charms the women from abroad. A lot of gems / precious stones can be found when visiting the Northern Areas.
Currency and Exchange Rate
  • Basic unit of currency is Rupee which divided into 100 Paisas. However, over the years the coins of sub divided rupee have been withdrawn due to their deteriorated value and have been replaced with coins of 1,2 and 5 Rupees. The paper currency notes of 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Rupees are in use. .
  • Pakistan observes floating exchange rate system, Presently it is about US$1 = 60 Rupees (approximately).
  • There are no restrictions on import of any foreign currency in any quantity. Un-spent balance of Pakistani rupees can be re-converted at the time of departure from the banks at exit points or from any authorised money changer in any city.
Miscellaneous Information:


220 V, 50 Hz AC +5 GMT

All traffic in Pakistan runs on the left side

Metric system
Tourist Information
  • The state run Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) has its offices in all major hotels and cities. Besides, the provincial Tourism Developments organizations and many a privately owned Tour Operators can be contacted both from within and without Pakistan through their websites.
  • PTDC also operates its own hotels and well furnished motels located through out Pakistan. For bookings in PTDC Motels, contact PTDC Motels Head Office, Block B-4, Markaz F-7, Bhitai Road, Islamabad 44000. UAN:+92-51-111555999/9203223  Fax:+92-51-9218233
  • For more information about Pakistan, please contact the nearest Pakistan Missions

Travel Agencies of Pakistan

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This page was created on 25 April 2006 8 March 2007

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