Practical travel tips

Money matters

Currency Exchange in Pakistan

When traveling internationally in Pakistan, it’s crucial to consider the currency exchange rate between the Pakistani Rupee (PKR) and your home country’s currency for all your purchases.

Know the Pakistani Rupee:

To start, familiarize yourself with the Pakistani Rupee and any other currencies you might use during your exploration with Vertical Explorers Pakistan.

We recommend understanding the value of one unit in your home country’s currency compared to the Pakistani Rupee. Note that exchange rates can fluctuate, but significant differences are unlikely.

Accessing Local Currency:

 Generally, better exchange rates are available in major cities. However, consider obtaining some Pakistani Rupees from your local bank before your journey for immediate use upon arrival. It’s also advisable to carry debit/bank cards and credit cards, which you can use to withdraw cash from local banks and ATMs as needed. Consult your Tour Director for the best locations to withdraw cash.

Pro tip:

 Inform your bank and credit card provider about your travel plans before your departure to avoid any issues with international transactions being flagged as fraudulent.

Understanding Foreign Transaction Fees Be aware that some cards charge foreign transaction fees for purchases made abroad. Contact your bank and credit card issuer in advance to comprehend their policies regarding foreign transaction fees.


Using Debit and Credit Cards in Pakistan

When it comes to using debit and credit cards in Pakistan, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind for a seamless and convenient experience during your travels with Vertical Explorers Pakistan.

Acceptance and EMV Chip Technology:

 Most international banks and businesses in Pakistan accept debit and credit cards that are equipped with the EMV chip system. This technology provides enhanced security and is widely used across the country. If your card does not have an EMV chip, it’s advisable to contact your bank and request a chip-enabled card before your trip.

Popular Card Networks Visa and Mastercard are among the most widely accepted card networks in Pakistan. You’ll find that the few of merchants, hotels, restaurants, and other establishments honor payments through these networks. However, it’s always a good idea to carry a backup card from a different network in case you encounter any issues with your primary card.

ATM Access and Cash Withdrawals:

 ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) are commonly available throughout Pakistan, especially in urban areas and popular tourist destinations. You can use your debit card to withdraw Pakistani Rupees (PKR) from ATMs as needed. Keep in mind that some ATMs don accept the card. So please seek the alternative ATMs. It may charge a nominal fee for withdrawals, so it’s recommended to check with your bank regarding any applicable charges.

Currency Conversion and Exchange Rates:

 When using your credit or debit card for transactions in Pakistan, you will be given the option to pay in Pakistani Rupees. It avoid additional conversion fees imposed by card issuers. Familiarize yourself with the current exchange rates to have a better understanding of the value of your transactions.

Security and Fraud Prevention:

 To ensure a secure experience, notify your bank and credit card company about your travel plans to Pakistan. This helps prevent your transactions from being flagged as fraudulent. Additionally, keep your cards and PINs safe and avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive transactions.

Foreign Transaction Fees and Policies Before using your cards in Pakistan

Inquire about any foreign transaction fees that may apply to purchases or cash withdrawals. Familiarize yourself with your card issuer’s policies regarding international transactions, ATM usage, and any limitations or restrictions that may be in place during your stay in Pakistan.

By following these guidelines and staying informed about using debit and credit cards in Pakistan, you can enjoy a hassle-free and secure payment experience throughout your exploration with Vertical Explorers Pakistan.

Packing Essentials

The items you should pack will depend on the nature of your  journey, the destinations you’ll be visiting, and the timing of your travels. In general, we advise packing as minimally as possible and ensuring that you can comfortably carry and maneuver your luggage, whether lifting it or navigating short distances or stairs. Our experienced travelers often find that lighter luggage enhances their overall enjoyment of the trip, alleviating concerns about handling heavy bags. We suggest keeping your main luggage weight below 15kg.

Many travelers opt for a compact suitcase with wheels or a backpack for easier mobility. It’s beneficial for your bag to have carry straps or handles for times when wheeling it may not be feasible, such as on uneven terrain or when ascending or descending stairs.

If your itinerary includes overnight train journeys or relies heavily on public transportation, having smaller luggage makes it simpler to store either under or above bunks. Large suitcases may pose difficulties when boarding. Consider using a lockable bag or adding a small padlock for security, especially during public transport travel.

Additionally, you’ll want a day pack or bag to carry essentials like water, a camera, a swimsuit, a waterproof pouch or bag for your phone, hiking shoes, and a jacket for daytime explorations. This ensures you’re well-prepared and comfortable during your adventures.

Luggage Limits

Domestic flights in Pakistan have strict weight limits – 20kg of check-in luggage and 5kg of carry-on hand luggage per person is included with your flight ticket.

As well as your underwear, toothbrush and other items you always need to pack for travel, below are some items that you specifically need for this trip.

Tipping  Guidelines

In the context of Pakistan and specifically tailored for Vertical Explorers Pakistan, it is customary to express appreciation through gratuities to your Tour Director, bus driver(s), and local guides. We recommend adhering to the following guidelines when tipping:

  1. Tour Director: At the conclusion of your tour, it is suggested to tip your Tour Director. The suggested amount ranges between $5 to $7 USD per person per day.
  2. Driver(s): For your bus driver(s), we suggest tipping approximately $3 USD per person per day, given at the last encounter.
  3. Local Guides: If applicable, tipping the equivalent of $2 USD per local guide is recommended, typically given at the end of their sightseeing tour.

Multiple Drivers:

  • Same Driver Throughout: If you have the same driver throughout your trip, it is appropriate to give them a single tip at the end of your tour.
  • Multiple Bus Drivers: In cases where there are multiple bus drivers, particularly on multi-region tours, regular tipping throughout the tour is customary. Your Tour Director will provide information regarding the duration each bus driver will be with your group.

Tipping Currency:

  • Tips should be paid in cash and in the local currency PKR.
  • Additional Information:
  • Porterage services at hotels may be included, but this is subject to availability due to staffing issues. If provided, porterage costs are covered in your tour price, eliminating the need for additional tipping to baggage handlers.
  • It is important to note that tips to Tour Directors, drivers, and local guides,You can provide tips directly without worrying about envelopes.

Getting ready


Phone Services and SIM Cards in Pakistan

If you intend to use your mobile phone for calls, texts, or data during your visit to Pakistan, it’s essential to have an appropriate plan or acquire a local SIM card upon your arrival. Failing to do so may result in significant charges due to roaming fees and data usage when using your phone internationally.

International Phone Plans:

 Begin by checking if your current plan includes international coverage for Pakistan. If not, you can explore purchasing an international plan through your phone carrier. While upgrading your existing plan is the most convenient option for international use, it’s also considered more costly. However, some individuals find the prices reasonable.

Local SIM Cards Opting for a local SIM card is the most cost-effective approach for using your phone during your time in Pakistan.

When purchasing a SIM card, please follow these guidelines: Ensure your smartphone is unlocked to use a SIM card. An unlocked phone is not tied to a specific carrier and can function with any carrier. If unsure about your phone’s status, contact your phone provider before departing. Have your passport ready as identification and biometric verification is mandatory when purchasing a SIM card, irrespective of where you make the purchase. If traveling to multiple locations in Pakistan, confirm if the SIM card will operate in all those areas. Typically, the same SIM card works across most Pakistani regions except SCOM. Verify that your SIM card is functional. Seek assistance from the salesperson to install and check its proper functioning before leaving the airport.

Note down your new local phone number. This number will be how family and friends can reach you while in Pakistan. Retain your old SIM card for future use. You’ll need it to revert to your number later. Store it securely and accessibly for when you switch back to your regular plan.

Using Free Wi-Fi in Pakistan

 Pakistan’s major phone operators such as Jazz, Telenor, Zong, and Ufone provide extensive Wi-Fi coverage in urban areas, including hotels, cafes, and public spaces. To avoid roaming charges and international fees, consider using your smartphone with a Wi-Fi connection during your stay in Pakistan. Most hotels offer free Wi-Fi, although it may be limited to specific areas. You’ll receive the password upon check-in. If you plan to rely solely on Wi-Fi during your tour and want to avoid international fees, keep your phone in airplane mode and enable Wi-Fi. This way, you won’t incur extra charges, and you can still keep in touch with loved ones when returning to your hotel at the end of each day.


Laundry Facilities During Travel

While traveling with Vertical Explorers Pakistan (VE), you can typically access laundry facilities; however, the availability and cost may vary based on the specific tour itinerary and destination within Pakistan. The feasibility of doing laundry might be impacted if your itinerary is tightly packed with activities and frequent hotel changes.

Hotel Laundry Services Most hotels in Pakistan provide laundry services, albeit at a cost, as they usually charge per clothing item. Despite the expense, many travelers find the convenience invaluable. It’s crucial to inquire with the hotel beforehand regarding the turnaround time for laundry to ensure you receive your cleaned items before checking out. Many hotels offer a same-day service.

Women’s Safety

Women should exercise caution when travelling in Pakistan. While the risk of an incident occurring on your trip is very low, below are some things you can do for your safety and peace of mind when travelling:
– Respect local dress codes and customs and dress more conservatively than you do at home.
– Avoid isolated areas, including beaches, unlit city streets and village lanes when alone at any time of day.
– Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night.
– If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports. Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street.
– If you’re being collected at the airport by a driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off.