Tourism in Pakistan gets flourished during 1970s, when a large number of foreign tourists attracted to the country. Initially the choice was quite limited and the tourists opted to visit to the Khyber Pass, Swat and Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi in Sindh, and Lahore in Punjab. Quite a few of them were interested in the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization such as Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa and Taxila; while some others were attracted to the Himalayan hill stations. Although Pakistan is blessed with the highest mountain peaks such as K2, Nanga Parbat, Rakaposhi etc. yet least number of tourists were attracted to this region as compared to the other SAARC countries, like India, Maldives, and Nepal.
But soon after 2010, Pakistan emerges as a prominent tourist hub for the adventurers and mountaineers from all over the world. Hunza, Skardu and Chitral/Kalash valleys in Northern Areas of Pakistan become the paradise of the foreign tourists. Not only this, they are even interested to explore the beautiful, mystic and breathe-taking places of Azad Kashmir, especially Neelum valley.
Nowadays hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists come to Pakistan every year. But the tourists ask many questions, before visiting to Pakistan and one such big query is regarding NOC for the foreign visitors; while the second one is about safety. Tourists need 4 things to go through their journey.
1. Valid Passport for 6 Months
3. LOI/NOC (for restricted areas, i.e., Azad Kashmir)
4. Itinerary (provided by the respective Tour Operator)
Pakistan is a safe country to visit, however the visitors should take some precautionary measures before going to the below mentioned areas, to avoid any misadventure. There are a few suggestions for the foreign tourists, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Before traveling to these areas, always inform to the Interior Ministry, for safety. Police will escort the tourists in these areas.
- Some areas of Karachi.
- Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
- Districts of Charsadda, Kohat, Tank, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat, Buner and Lower Dir in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
- The city of Peshawar and Southern Districts of the city, including travelling on the Peshawar-Chitral road via the Lowari Pass.
- Northern and Western Balochistan.
- Travelling on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) between Islamabad and Gilgit.
- The Kalash Valley, the Brumbret Valley.
- Arandu District in the South and West of Chitral in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
- The city of Quetta.
- The city of Nawab Shah in Sindh Province, especially the North of Nawab Shah.
- Interior Sindh.
- No NOC is required for Swat, Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan.
- Keep a few copies of your documents, including CNIC, for presenting at Check-Points.
- Traveling to Azad Kashmir is quite safe, but the tourists require NOC to get there, due to the sensitive nature of the area. However they should remain inside the radius of 16 kilometres from LOC areas. Furthermore Pakistani tourists too, need NOC for Leepa valley, which is obtained from Deputy Commissioner’s office of Hattian Bala, District Jhelum Valley, Azad Kashmir.
- Apply for NOC, 2 months prior your visit to Azad Kashmir.
- As per World Health Organization suggestions, the tourists who have spent more than 4 weeks in Pakistan; will produce a valid vaccination certificate for Polio, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, before leaving the country.
- The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for Tour Operating Companies, on how to cope with all kinds of political, economic and business related security risks. Ask the respective Tour Company to get proper information.
- Take out comprehensive traveling and medical insurance before leaving for your destination.
By taking above mentioned steps, you are all safe and secured to traveling anywhere in Pakistan. Have a safe and enjoyable journey.
Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan