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Travel Tips

When to Go

The best time to visit Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and the lower altitude areas of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (formerly North West Frontier Province) is during the cool season, from October through February. In March, temperatures can already reach 100 degrees F during the day, and only the more expensive hotels have generator- powered backup systems to provide air- conditioning during frequent power cuts. Many tourists come to Pakistan to visit the mountainous Gilgit Baltistan (formerly northern areas), which are best visited during the trekking season, from late April through October.

 

Getting There

Pakistan's three air transport hubs are Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. If you're heading to the north, Islamabad is the best place to touch down. Most flights between Pakistan will have one or two stops along the way, The major Airlines that connect Pakistan with rest of the world are include Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Eithad (Abu Dhabi), Qatar Airways (Doha) and Emirates (Dubai). Pakistan has land borders with India, Iran, Afghanistan and China. You can take your own car or motorcycle into Pakistan (provided it is not registered in India) for up to three months with a carnet de passage -- available for US drivers via AAA. The Khunjerab Pass that connects China to northern Pakistan is open only between May 1 and November 15, although it might open later or close earlier if the road is not passable.

Getting Around

Within cities and towns you can get around by Metro Bus, taxi, mini bus or auto rickshaw. To travel between destinations, you can go by bus, train, mini-bus or hired private vehicle. Each town has its own bus stand or taxi stand, and from there you can find out about onward transport options. Well-off Pakistanis generally prefer to travel by air-conditioned Daewoo bus. On board the Daewoo, you will find a female hostess, be provided with snacks, stop regularly to use toilets and can normally expect to arrive at your destination on schedule. Transport for the Gilgit Baltistan (Northern Areas) leaves from Rawalpindi's Pir Wadahi bus stand. Companies that have air-conditioned buses include NATCO, Silk Tours, K2 Tours and Mashabrum Bus Service also now a day’s private cars carry passengers.

Visa Requirements

Pakistan's tourist visa requirements are notorious for being changed frequently without the full knowledge of all worldwide consulates, embassies and domestic departments. According to the 2010 regulations, tourists need to have a letter of invitation (LOI) from a Pakistani registered tour company within the country in order to apply. Some consulates also require a sponsor letter and detailed travel itinerary. Before starting the visa application process, it is best to call your area consulate or embassy to see what it requires.

Money Matters

The national currency is the Pakistani rupee. You can find ATMs in all major cities, including Gilgit Baltistan (Northern Areas) capital city Gilgit and Skardu, but only certain ATMs accept international cards. Look for Standard Chartered, Citibank or other international bank ATMs; before using a machine, check for the Cirrus, Maestro, Mastercard or Visa logos. Get change for larger notes at banks or money changers, as it can be difficult to get change from regular vendors.