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Your Yatra Tour to Pakistan: Preparing for Arrival

This article is a compilation of advice I've given travellers over the years. I'll be updating it from time to time based not the advice we get from guests.

  • Cash-is-King in Pakistan. Get your home country currency exchanged for PKR on arrival. I would avoid the currency desk at the hotel. Keep your cards as back up. Prepare to have your passport and visa with you when you go the currency dealer. Travellers from the United States should only carry crisp and new $100 bills. Currency dealers in Pakistan will either refuse to take your old notes/lower denomination bills or offer you a very poor rate for exchange. British and Canadian citizens need not worry about this. Depending on your luggage you can take $20-$30 with you to tip porters at the airport.

Travellers from USA should only carry new and crisp $100 bills (left)to Pakistan

  • Activate international roaming for internet coverage. Getting a local sim is too much hassle and probably not worth it.

  • Print your Visa Grant Notice before leaving for Pakistan. This is not the same as your visa confirmation email. I've seen people have bad experiences with immigration because they didn't bring the e-visa.

Prepare to have a print of your approved e-visa with you before leaving for Pakistan.

  • Essential medicine: Anything for food poisoning (like Immodium), pain reliever (like Tylenol), cough and flu medicine, nasal congestion, lozenges for sore throat, Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) for dehydration, anti allergy. Take a high quality mask if you are traveling between December and January as smog in Lahore is at peak levels at that time of the year.

  • Snacks: If you are a vegetarian or only take Jhatka meat your food options will be very limited in Pakistan: basically daal, palak paneer and mix sabzi everywhere you go. I hate to say this but prepare to be disappointed... multiple times! I would really recommend you take along some granola bars or any other snacks.

  • Apps to Install on Your Phone: Google Maps, Whatsapp, Careem, Uber and Food Panda. Google Maps is the most popular map application in Pakistan. Everyone uses Whatsapp to communicate. Careem is as popular as Uber. Food Panda is a popular food delivery app. If you're done with hotel food you can't go wrong with vegetarian or plain cheese pizza from Dominoes, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Cheezious etc.

  • Toiletry bag: This is important if you're planning to stay overnight at any Gurdwara. Also, most rest rooms outside than at high end restaurants and hotels won't have toilet paper - just a Lota and a hose.

  • What to pack: Dressing norms are similar to East Punjab. Ladies are advised to wear tradition Punjabi suits when traveling outside Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad - including to Nankana Sahib as rural regions tend to be more conservative. Non turbaned gents are advised to bring fabric to cover their heads in Gurdwaras. The cloth that is available on-site is usually not very clean. Make sure you bring at least one pair of comfortable walking shoes. A power bank is also highly recommended.

  • Save a copy of your passport and e-visa on your phone where it can be easily accessed.

That's probably all I can think of for now. I'll be updating this space with recommendations from time to time. Take Care, Jahandad

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