Imagine if you could click your fingers and forget everything you’ve heard about Pakistan. Well, this is your chance – just click your mouse and you’ll be on your way to discovering a Pakistan that’s not defined by the media. This is a land of soaring mountains, a land whose terrain is as enrapturing as its history. From the top of K2 to the Arabian Sea, Pakistan has felt the subtle touch of the world’s greatest empires and the brute force of the world’s most complex conflicts. And through it all, the Pakistani people remain humble, hopeful and unconditionally hospitable – come and see it for yourself.
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Pakistan, you may find yourself travelling by:
It takes a sturdy vehicle to tackle the more remote roads in the Pakistani mountains. Explore the region's national parks and high passes in a 4WD and see the places most travellers miss.
Lahore's Ranjeela rickshaws are a fun, colourful way to experience the Old City with a local guide. See the ancient walls and all the city sights from your fabulous chariot.
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in Pakistan you may find yourself staying in a:
Get acquainted with the Pakistani way of life while on a memorable homestay. Be exposed to new languages, cuisine and customs while making friends with your hosts and neighbours.
Pakistan’s climate is difficult to pin down as a single entity. It ranges from tropical and subtropical to semi-arid and desert, and then up north you’ve got the ridiculously beautiful – and ridiculously cold – mountainous areas incorporating the Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindu Kush ranges.
In the north, the mountainous region of Gilgit-Baltistan sees desert-level rainfall, but snow is quite frequent in winter. The trekking season runs from April to October and the area is generally sheltered from the monsoon rains experienced further south, though there may well be some showers, thunderstorms and possibly snowfall at higher altitudes.
The region of Punjab, which incorporates the cities of Islamabad and Lahore, has a sub-tropical climate with very hot summers. July and August see the southwest monsoon bring heavy rains, while September, October and November tend to be drier with a more manageable temperature range of 10–34°C (50–93°F), depending on where you are. Given Islamabad’s higher altitude and location at the foot of the mountains, it tends to be a little wetter than, say, Peshawar or Lahore, but if you wish to avoid the rain, your best bet is to avoid spending too much time in Punjab from July until September.
Pakistan is one of those countries that sets off alarm bells in the minds of friends and family – you're going where? Their reaction is understandable, given the news coverage of Pakistan over the past 20 years, and there's no doubt that some areas just aren't worth the risk. That said, you can rest assured that Intrepid would not take you anywhere unless we were convinced it was safe and trust us, there's more – so much more – to Pakistan than the media would have you believe.
Yes, you'll need a visa to travel to Pakistan. This must be obtained in advance of your arrival and Intrepid recommends applying for an online tourist visa, which is available for selected nationalities including (but not limited to) Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, the UK and the US. The visa usually takes four working weeks and can be applied for by following the instructions on this website.
You will need a Letter of Invitation to assist you in applying for your visa. This will be issued at the time of booking and if you do not receive this, please contact us with your booking number and trip details.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Pakistan's only official visa website is visa.nadra.gov.pk and there are other mirror sites run by visa service companies or scammers that may not be reliable. Please check the Essential Trip Information section of your tour itinerary for more information.
While gratuities aren't compulsory on this trip, they can make a big difference to locals employed in the tourism industry. If you are happy with the services provided, a tip is an appropriate way to say thanks.
Most restaurants in Pakistan will not include a service charge on the bill so a tip can be added to the total amount. There's no strict rule, but 8–10 per cent is generally recommended.
Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping local guides and operators to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, your leader might raise the idea of a group tipping kitty. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running this kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips as you go. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This kitty does not include any tips you wish to give your leader and crew.
If you’re planning to use your mobile phone in Pakistan (with either global roaming activated or by using a local SIM) you’ll find that the internet in major cities like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi is quick and free wi-fi is often available through hotspots. Travellers will be able to find internet cafes in Pakistan's larger cities but internet access might be patchy or non-existent in more remote areas like the Hunza Valley. There have been instances of the government restricting connectivity and social media during periods of protest or religious celebration.
Mobile phone coverage is generally good in the cities of Pakistan, although coverage may not be available in remote areas. If you want to use your mobile phone, ensure global roaming is activated before you arrive (but be aware of the fees this may incur).
Most mid- to high-range hotels in Pakistan will be equipped with Western-style, flushable toilets. You may well encounter squat toilets at restaurants and in public areas, and while these can take some getting used to, they become part of the experience once you’ve nailed your technique.
Pakistan’s unit of currency is the rupee. Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.
Drinking tap water isn’t recommended in Pakistan. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water and fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found; some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available, often boiled to use for tea. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and to peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Credits cards are not widely accepted in Pakistan, which remains a primarily cash-based society. You may be able to use a credit card in hotels and higher-end shops in cities like Islamabad and Lahore, but make sure you have enough cash available when leaving the cities.
Pakistan lays claim to the world’s highest ATM, located at 4687 metres (15,379 feet) at the Khunjerab Pass. You’ll be able to find ATMs in most cities and towns, but be sure to take enough cash when travelling to more remote villages, particularly in the mountains.
The weather in Pakistan falls into four seasons.
June–September sees monsoonal rains, with June being the hottest month of the year and reaching upwards of 45 °C (113 °F). The rains are notoriously unpredictable, with the monsoon sometimes skipping the Pubjab region altogether and sometimes causing widespread damaging floods.
The post-monsoon season of October/November sees both temperatures and rainfall reducing. While the days can warm and hot, the nights begin to cool with temperatures ranging from 10–30°C (50–86°F) and rain falling sporadically.
The winter months of December, January and February see fine weather across most of the country with a large variation in temperatures. The daytime is generally quite pleasant, with temperatures usually topping out at 20°C (68°F), though it can drop down to 3 or 4°C at night (37–39°F). The northern mountains are another story, with precipitation falling as snow and temperatures well below freezing.
The hot, dry season comes in March, April and May with averages in the mid-30s (95°F) in the low-lying areas, though it gets hotter up north until you reach the northern mountains.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Given Pakistan is a Muslim country, their public holidays follow the Islamic calendar, which is based off lunar dates.
For a current list of public holidays Pakistan, including those with moveable dates, go to: timeanddate.com/holidays
We recommend LGBTQIA+ travellers exercise complete discretion when travelling in Pakistan.
Pakistan is not a safe destination for LGBTQIA+ travellers who wish to openly express sexuality outside of a very rigid, heterosexual binary. In fact, we do not recommend any public expressions of sexuality given Pakistan’s conservative values.
Openly LGBTQIA+ people can face stigma, harassment and violence in their everyday lives, with homosexuality technically punishable by life in prison or death. That said, Pakistan does recognise a third gender with transgender citizens afforded broad protections.
If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Pakistan can be a difficult destination to explore for travellers with disabilities. Even in large cities like Lahore and Islamabad, differently abled people – travellers and locals alike – are often overlooked in terms of infrastructure and policy.
While international chain hotels are often built with the needs of accessible travellers in mind, homestays, guesthouses and locally run hotels are generally not fitted with ramps, elevators, shower rails etc.
If you have a battery-operated hearing aid, it’s a good idea to bring extra batteries.
If you do live with a visual, hearing or other impairment, let your booking agent or group leader know early on so they’re aware and suitable arrangements can be made. As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
What you wear in Pakistan will depend on what time of the year you’re travelling and where you are going. The autumn, summer and spring are generally quite hot across the low-lying areas and cool, loose-fitting clothing that is culturally sensitive, like a light shirt and trouser combo, is best. The northern highlands can get very cold, even in the warmer months, so be sure to pack a warm jacket, thermals, sturdy waterproof shoes and a windbreaker. Clothes that can be easily layered are best.
When entering mosques, women must have their heads, arms, legs and shoulders covered, and all people should dress conservatively. Please avoid shorts and if you’re in any doubt, we recommend playing it safe.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
In Pakistan, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support community businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans. Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to being the best travel company for the world.