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Backpacking in Pakistan; a travel guide through the eyes of a foreigner

Backpacking is one of a kind of adventure, this is a country that will raise many an eyebrow and steal many a heart… the only danger of it is that you wouldn’t want to leave.

Before I went backpacking in Pakistan, I was unsure what to expect. As the media has painted the country in an unfortunate light, a fact most Pakistanis are painfully aware of. And getting advice from people marks it as a Red X. Wherever I went, I was greeted by friendly faces and incredibly helpful people. Combine that with relatively cheap travel costs, plentiful treks and truly stunning mountains and you have one hell of a great backpacking destination.

The security situation in Pakistan is currently under control and, with the exception of the Afghanistan border regions; most of the country is perfectly safe to visit. On some occasions, you will be assigned a free police escort to keep an eye on you but these guys are almost always super friendly and mean well.

Sometimes, when arriving into a new town or area, police will insist that you stay in a certain hotel. Hotels in Pakistan are relatively expensive and to be avoided if possible; I couchsurfed my way around the country, with the help of friends from The Karakoram Club, and had a blast. Please be aware that although The Karakoram Club is full of super helpful people it is a ‘free to join’ Facebook group which means that some tour groups, trying to misguide the backpackers are there in the group.

The places mostly visited instead of main cities are northern areas. Overall the people of Pakistan are rushing over each other to provide you with free food and chae. There are people everywhere to help you and guide you. They value foreigners and try to help them by whatever means. Most of the army officers do speak little English.

In terms of safety, Pakistan is one of the safest countries I have visited. They have a great sense of humor and a lot of them are adventure enthusiasts. The closest friends I have are Pakistanis.

You have to plan out the visa requirement, the transport and accommodation with research. A lot of my fellows did not have an idea about the NOC. This is the no-objection- certificate supposedly mandatory for traveling.

Backpacking Pakistan or any region for that matter often illuminates some of the great socio-economic inequalities of the world. Never take it for granted that you are healthy and financially able to go traveling. Show the world around you some gratitude and help to make a positive impact on it. Most of all have the time of your life and spread love in Pakistan!

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