- Packing for Pakistan
- Getting around Pakistan
- Accommodation in Pakistan
- Activities and attractions in Pakistan
- Safety and security in Pakistan
- Some Additional Tips
As a traveller, backpacking in Pakistan was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It’s a country that offers something for everyone, from stunning mountain scenery to ancient ruins to vibrant cities. And while it can be challenging at times, it’s also incredibly rewarding.
What is backpacking?
Backpacking is a style of travel where you carry your own belongings on your back and stay in budget-friendly accommodation. It’s a great way to travel on a tight budget and to experience a country more authentically.
Why backpack in Pakistan?
Pakistan is a great country for backpacking because it’s relatively affordable, there’s a good network of budget hostels and guesthouses, and the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming. Plus, there’s so much to see and do, from trekking in the Himalayas to visiting ancient ruins to exploring bustling cities.
What to expect when backpacking in Pakistan
Here are a few things to expect when backpacking in Pakistan:
- Beautiful scenery: Pakistan is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the world, from the towering peaks of the Himalayas to the lush valleys of the north to the rugged Thar Desert in the south.
- Friendly people: Pakistanis are incredibly friendly and welcoming people. You’ll likely be invited into people’s homes for chai and conversation, and you’ll always find someone willing to help you out if you need it.
- A rich culture: Pakistan has a rich and diverse culture, influenced by its Islamic heritage, its Mughal past, and its many different ethnic groups. You’ll find everything from ancient ruins to bustling markets to traditional villages.
- Challenges: Backpacking in Pakistan can be challenging at times. The infrastructure can be basic, the transportation can be unreliable, and the food can be unfamiliar. But the rewards far outweigh the challenges.
Tips for planning your backpacking trip to Pakistan
Here are a few tips for planning your backpacking trip to Pakistan:
- Do your research: Pakistan is a large and diverse country, so it’s important to do your research and decide where you want to go and what you want to see.
- Be flexible: Things don’t always go according to plan in Pakistan, so it’s important to be flexible and to have a backup plan.
- Be prepared for anything: Pakistan is a country of extremes, so it’s important to be prepared for anything. Bring a variety of clothing, including sun protection and rain gear.
- Be respectful of the culture: Pakistan is a Muslim country, so it’s important to be respectful of the local customs and traditions. Dress modestly and avoid public displays of affection.
Packing for Pakistan
Pakistan is a large and diverse country, with a variety of climates and regions. When packing for your trip, it’s important to consider where you’re going and what time of year you’re traveling.
What to pack for the different climates and regions of Pakistan:
Northern Pakistan is home to the Himalayas, and the climate can be cold and wet, even in the summer. If you’re planning on trekking or mountaineering, you’ll need to pack appropriate clothing and footwear. Be sure to pack a warm jacket, waterproof gear, and sturdy hiking boots.
Central Pakistan has a more moderate climate, with hot summers and cool winters. If you’re visiting during the summer, be sure to pack light, comfortable clothing, sunscreen, and a hat. If you’re visiting during the winter, you may want to pack a light jacket.
Southern Pakistan is home to the Thar Desert, and the climate can be very hot and dry. If you’re visiting the desert, be sure to pack light, comfortable clothing, sunscreen, a hat, and a scarf to cover your face from the sand.
Essential items to pack
- Passport and visa: Be sure to pack your passport and visa, and keep them in a safe place.
- Money: It’s a good idea to have a mix of cash and credit cards. You can exchange money at banks and currency exchange bureaus.
- Clothing: Pack light, comfortable clothing that is appropriate for the climate and culture.
- Footwear: Pack comfortable shoes that are appropriate for the activities you’ll be doing.
- Sunscreen: The sun can be very strong in Pakistan, so be sure to pack sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Hat: A hat will help to protect you from the sun and the heat.
- Scarf: A scarf can be used to cover your face from the sand and dust, or to cover your hair if you’re visiting a mosque.
- First-aid kit: It’s a good idea to pack a basic first-aid kit, just in case.
- Medications: If you take any medications, be sure to pack them with you.
Tips for packing light
- Roll your clothes instead of folding them. This will save space in your bag.
- Wear your heaviest shoes on the plane. This will save weight in your bag.
- Bring only the essentials. Don’t overpack, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
- Leave some extra space in your bag. This way, you can buy souvenirs and other items during your trip.
Getting Around Pakistan
Getting around Pakistan is relatively easy, with a variety of transportation options available.
Transportation options for backpacking in Pakistan
There are a variety of transportation options available in Pakistan, depending on your budget and your needs.
- Buses: Buses are the most popular and affordable way to get around Pakistan. There is a network of buses that connects all of the major cities and towns. Buses can be crowded and uncomfortable, but they are a great way to save money.
- Trains: Trains are another affordable option for getting around Pakistan. The train network is not as extensive as the bus network, but it does connect some of the major cities. Trains are more comfortable than buses, but they can be slower.
- Shared taxis: Shared taxis are a convenient and affordable way to get around Pakistan. Shared taxis depart when they are full, and they typically follow a set route. Shared taxis can be crowded, but they are a great way to get to smaller towns and villages.
- Private taxis: Private taxis are more expensive than shared taxis, but they are also more convenient and private. You can negotiate the price with the driver before you get in.
- Domestic flights: Domestic flights are a good option for getting around Pakistan if you’re short on time. There are a number of domestic airlines that operate flights between the major cities. Domestic flights can be expensive, but they are the fastest way to get around.
Tips for getting around on a budget
- Use public transportation. Public transportation is the most affordable way to get around Pakistan.
- Take shared taxis. Shared taxis are more affordable than private taxis.
- Negotiate prices. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices with taxi drivers and other vendors.
- Book your tickets in advance. If you’re traveling during peak season, it’s a good idea to book your bus or train tickets in advance.
- Be flexible with your schedule. If you’re flexible with your schedule, you can often find cheaper transportation options. For example, if you’re willing to travel at night, you can often find cheaper bus tickets.
Accommodation in Pakistan
There are a variety of types of accommodation available for backpackers in Pakistan, from budget hostels to guesthouses to luxury hotels. Here are a few of the most popular options:
- Hostels: Hostels are the most affordable type of accommodation in Pakistan. They typically offer dorm beds and shared bathrooms. Some hostels also offer private rooms and en-suite bathrooms.
- Guesthouses: Guesthouses are a good option for backpackers on a budget who want a bit more privacy than a hostel. Guesthouses typically offer private rooms and en-suite bathrooms. Some guesthouses also offer common areas where guests can relax and socialize.
- Budget hotels: Budget hotels are a good option for backpackers who want a bit more comfort and privacy than a hostel or guesthouse. Budget hotels typically offer private rooms with en-suite bathrooms, as well as basic amenities such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and a TV.
- Luxury hotels: Pakistan also has a number of luxury hotels, but these are typically out of the budget of most backpackers. If you’re looking for a truly luxurious experience, you can book a room at a five-star hotel in one of the major cities.
Tips for finding budget-friendly accommodation
Here are a few tips for finding budget-friendly accommodation in Pakistan:
- Book in advance. If you’re traveling during peak season, it’s a good idea to book your accommodation in advance, especially if you’re staying in a popular hostel or guesthouse.
- Look for discounts. Many hostels and guesthouses offer discounts for long-term stays and for bookings made in advance.
- Ask for recommendations. Talk to other backpackers and get their recommendations for budget-friendly accommodation.
- Be flexible with your location. If you’re willing to stay outside of the main tourist areas, you’ll often find cheaper accommodation.
- Negotiate prices. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices with guesthouse owners and taxi drivers.
Activities and Attractions in Pakistan
Pakistan has a wide range of activities and attractions to offer backpackers, from stunning mountain scenery to ancient ruins to vibrant cities. Here are a few of the most popular:
- Trekking in the Himalayas: Pakistan is home to some of the most beautiful trekking trails in the world, from the Karakoram Highway to the Fairy Meadows. Backpackers can choose from a variety of treks, ranging from easy day hikes to challenging multi-day treks.
- Visiting ancient ruins: Pakistan is home to a number of ancient ruins, including the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mohenjo-daro and Taxila. Backpackers can learn about Pakistan’s rich history and culture by visiting these ruins.
- Exploring vibrant cities: Pakistan’s cities are full of life and energy. Backpackers can explore the bustling markets, visit historic mosques and temples, and sample delicious Pakistani cuisine.
- Experiencing Pakistani culture: Pakistan has a rich and diverse culture. Backpackers can experience Pakistani culture by attending traditional festivals, visiting local villages, and interacting with the friendly Pakistani people.
Tips for saving money on activities and attractions
Here are a few tips for saving money on activities and attractions in Pakistan:
- Haggle with vendors. Haggling is common in Pakistan, so don’t be afraid to haggle with vendors for the best price on activities and attractions.
- Buy tickets in advance. Many activities and attractions offer discounts for tickets purchased in advance.
- Look for discounts. Many hotels and guesthouses offer discounts on activities and attractions.
- Take advantage of free activities. There are a number of free activities available in Pakistan, such as visiting temples and mosques, exploring the city markets, and people-watching.
Safety and Security in Pakistan
Pakistan is generally a safe country for backpackers, but it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to take precautions to avoid becoming a victim of crime. Here are a few safety tips for backpacking in Pakistan:
- Be respectful of the local culture. Pakistan is a Muslim country, so it’s important to be respectful of the local customs and traditions. Dress modestly and avoid public displays of affection.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas. Be careful in crowded places, such as markets and bus stations.
- Don’t carry too much cash. Keep most of your cash and valuables in a safe place, such as a hotel safe or a money belt.
- Be careful with your belongings. Don’t leave your belongings unattended, especially in public places.
- Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Err on the side of caution and leave the situation.
Tips for avoiding scams and petty theft
Scams and petty theft are common in Pakistan, but there are a few things you can do to avoid being a victim:
- Be wary of strangers. Don’t accept help from strangers, especially if they offer to help you with your luggage or to take you to a hotel.
- Don’t overpay for goods and services. Haggle with vendors for the best price, and be careful not to overpay for taxi rides or other services.
- Be aware of your surroundings in crowded places. Be careful of pickpockets in markets and bus stations.
- Don’t leave your belongings unattended. Don’t leave your belongings unattended, even for a few minutes.
Tips for staying safe in remote areas
If you’re planning on trekking in remote areas of Pakistan, it’s important to take precautions to stay safe:
- Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
- Register with the local authorities.
- Hire a guide. A guide can help you stay safe and can help you find your way in remote areas.
- Be prepared for emergencies. Pack a first-aid kit and other essential supplies.
- Be aware of the weather conditions. The weather in Pakistan can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be aware of the forecast before you set out on a trek.
Some Additional Tips
Here are some additional tips for making the most of your backpacking trip to Pakistan:
- Learn a few basic Urdu phrases. This will show that you’re making an effort to be respectful of the local culture and will make it easier to communicate with locals.
- Take advantage of the free activities. There are many free things to do in Pakistan, such as visiting temples, mosques, and markets.
- Try the local food. Pakistani cuisine is delicious and diverse, so be sure to try some of the local dishes.
- Interact with the locals. Pakistanis are generally very friendly and welcoming, so don’t be afraid to interact with them. You may even be invited into someone’s home for a cup of chai.
Backpacking in Pakistan is an unforgettable experience, but it’s important to be prepared. The country of extremes, where things don’t always go according to plan, so it’s essential to be flexible and open-minded. Pack for all types of weather and unexpected delays, and be patient with the locals, who are generally very patient and understanding. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the beautiful scenery and friendly people that Pakistan has to offer. With a little planning and preparation, you can have a safe and enjoyable backpacking trip in Pakistan.