|Currency:||Pakistani Rupee (PKR)|
|Hitchability:||<rating country='pk' />|
|Meet fellow hitchhikers on Trustroots|
|<map lat='31' lng='70' zoom='5' view='0' height='350' country='Pakistan' float='right' />|
Pakistan is a country in Southern Asia.
Police have a terrible reputation in Pakistan. In nicer states like Punjab they try to force you onto a bus but when you strongly say no, they stop a truck for you. If it seems that police in Balochistan are very much against hitchhiking and will force you onto busses, this is because foreigners regularly get abducted there. In 2011 a Swiss tourist couple was abducted, and in 2013 two Czech travellers.
In the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) the police are on high alert and a foreigner hitchhiking is to be treated with extreme caution! In 2009 User:Taylor was illegally detained, beaten, harassed and accused of being CIA spy or being Afghan and having a fake passport. Similar occurences happen every year: here an example from 2011; for two Germans being detained and interrogated in 2014 read this.
As of 2015, not only do Baluchistan and NWFP continue to be areas of high risk, most of the Sindh province is also not stable, and neither is southern Punjab. Taliban have taken over some villages there, so be careful with hitchhiking cross-country.
Nonetheless, in the areas that are safe it's amazing to hitchhike in Pakistan. Pakistani trucks are beautiful (even though they sometimes go as slowly as 10 km/h) and the truck drivers are very hospitable.
The KKH connects Pakistan with China. Great hitchhiking in the Northern Areas province. Waiting times vary and depend on your location. There are a lot of blind curves. Be careful for landslides and rockfall. The last or first major town in Pakistan is Sost. There is a dry port where you can find all the truckdrivers to China or south into Pakistan. Close to the border is a national park where you have to pay a fee of 800 PKR to pass through. The northern part of the KKH is smooth hiking. Police will help you to find rides. Be prepared for snow in winter. Camping spots can be found in villages but rarely along the mountain part of the KKH. There is some couchsurfing in Gilgit. November 2016
From Pakistan to China, July 2017
I hitchhiked from Islamabad North through Abbottabad, Naran, Babusa Top. Till there getting picked up was very easy, however, to explain hitchhiking was not that easy. But people were nice and helpful. From Babusa Top I hitchhiked down and at some point police stoped the car I was in and told me I have to go with them, as I didn't register at the top and I was illegal now and have to go back. As it was already pretty late in the afternoon it would have taken too long to get up again to register me and then to go back, so they decided (or rather the tribes, that stopped the police) decided that I should go to Chilas. In Chilas I was not allowed to stay in my tent, but had to go to a hotel and the police or one policeman would always be next to me and stay in front of my hotel room. Explaining that I do not want this would not help. (Chilas is considered a dangerous area, there were fights between the tribes and different shiites and sunnis happening. soon the Area around Chilas will be flood, they are building the Diamer-Bash-Damm there at the moment.) Later in that evening in Chilas a policeman would come and interview me (similar like in Quetta). And I had to sign some papers, do some selfies. From Chilas police would not allow me to hitchhike and they had actually no idea how to deal with me. (being a woman and alone, they seem to have never seen something like this) they kept on asking me where my brother or my husband would are. There would have been a bus, but they would not allow me to get on the bus, later one of the policemen would escort me in the police car and we would go (similar like through Baluchistan) from one police stop to the next, changing cars. One police stop would not have a car, hence they stopped any car which would go to Gilgit and the police escort and me would go with him. After some time, the police escort got out of the car and I went on alone. Gilgit was cold, and there was only one hotel which would allow a foreigner to stay in. I forgot the name, but it was the one that was on the edge of the city. From Gilgit to Sost I could again hitchhike on my own. In Sost I had to go to the migration office and there they would already stamp my passport, interview me again, go through all my lagguage, etc. etc. It makes sense to be early in Sost! I was there around 10am and the whole procedure took more than one hour. Again, they would net allow me to hitchhike, but I had to take the bus. there seem to be busses leaving when they are full (but honestly, I didn't get the concept), but there are frequent busses. From there the beautiful journey up the karakorum starts. there are several police stops where I had to register on the way and foreigners have to pay for the national park to be allowed to go through. Many, many pakistani tourists also go along that way to see karakorum and make pictures in front of the "gate" to china. Up at the very top of Khunjerab pass the whole year it's super cold and snowy! The bus was waiting in front of the gate for about half an hour, then the chinese guards would open. No pictures are allowed on the chinese side - and they took it seriously! There is a huge center on the chinese side, many armed chinese. After an hour in the bus waiting in front of the border-center one chinese army man came out and asked us in, one by one. They went through all my lagguage again, everything! and checked my usb flash, my phone etc. asking loads of questions again. They kept my pasport and told me I would get it at the next station. No way to get it. But the other passengers at the bus would calm me down and explain me that I would really get it back. A lot of waiting and again, in the hall of the center and later in the bus. then we went to tashkergan. From -5°C to +30°C in a few hours! In Tashkergan again the bus brought us to the migration office. Again waiting, interviews, ... I got back my pasport finaly. Also, there are several "naked scanners", face detection, finger print scanners, etc. get used to it! all over Xinjiang are loads of face detection stops! When I got out of the migration office in Tashkergan it was 8.30pm. There were no "food-stops" inbetween, so bring food and drinks, etc. From Tashkergan it's easy to hitchhike to further to Kashgar. - however, again, the concept of hitchhiking is not known there.
From Iran to Pakistan:
I left Bam, Iran on a Wednesday from Akbar Guest House at 07h00. I chose not to hitchhike for security and timing reasons. Informing myself about the bus to Zaheden, I found out it was maximum 300.000 IRR. So I went to the bus terminal only to find out the next bus was within 2 hours. As I did not want to wait for that, I took a shared taxi to Zahedan for 300.000 IRR. Same price and a lot faster. The ride was about 3 hours and 15 minutes. Once in Zahedan, I asked the driver to drop me of at Meydan & Mirjaveh where I changed taxis. From Zahedan to the Iran-Pakistan border is not even 2 hours and it should cost 140.000 IRR. I had some discussion with the taxi driver since he wanted 400.000 which did not make sence at all (300.000 IRR from Bam to Zahedan for 350 kms compared to 400.000 IRR from Zahedan to the border for 150 kms). I tried to explain him he was overcharging, paid him 140.000 and left him yelling at me. Once at the border you will get stamped out of Iran and walk easily into Pakistan. As soon as you enter, the Levies will notice you and take you toTaftan station. Get your picture taken for their records, fill in the registration leaflet and welcome in Pakistan. Both borderside formalities take less than an hour. When you walk out immigration you can change money. I changed my remaining IRR and 50 USD. The rates are crap. Bargain hard and try to get at least 100 rupees for one dollar. After this, the Levies took me to their office where I slept. I settled at 15h00 Pakistani time (notice there is 90 minutes difference with Iran). A lot of officers from different ranks came to say hi and checked my passport. All of them were very friendly. They invited me for tea and dinner. You will sleep on the ground/carpet so make sure to bring a camping mat and a sleeping bag. They told me they would wake me up at 7h30 which turned out to be 7h00 giving me no time to pack my stuff. Basicly as soon as you hear the mosque, it is time to get up and pack. The toilet is extremely basic and there is no shower. We left their compounds at 7h15 and the Levies offered me simple but welcomed breakfast. At the day when I left Taftan, there was a convoy of 37 busses with pilgrims from Iran and Iraq. This convoy was escorted all the way to Quetta by several Levies, army and regular police. I was not allowed to join them on any of these busses. Instead I was with the Levies in all kinds of vehicles. Sitting in dusty pick ups in the back to comfy seats in brand new air-conditioned rovers. It took me 16 car changes and as many passport controls. All the time, I was surrounded by AK 47's. Sometimes we were ahaed of the convoy, at other times all the way in the back. The escort was very exciting, but tiring. I arrived safe and sound in Quetta at 00h30. On the way you will meet different officers from all ages and all ranks. They are very friendly and curious. Some of them speak good English, others speak no word at all. The whole trip was for free. A couple of Levies asked me for a gift. Make sure to bring some cookies. Once in Quetta, ask the police to drop you off at Bloomstar Hotel. This is were all overlanders hang out. A night there should cost 25 USD, however I could pitch my tent in the garden for 8 USD. The hotel itself is nice, with decent internet, shower and restaurant. Do bargain hard as the owner knows his place is popular and he is not keen on giving discounts. So I left Bam on Wednesday, was escorted a whole day on Thursday, and on Friday morning I went to the police station to get the 'No Objection Certificate' to leave Quetta. Friday is praying day. This means the police station is closed in the afternoon and also in the weekend. So make sure to get up early or you will be stuck in Bloomstar Hotel for the weekend. The NOC took me three hours to get. It comes for free but there is quit some bureaucracy you will have to deal with as in shaking hands with 20 different officers from different ranks. In the end, all it needs is just one signature from the chief commander stating you are free to go. Once you have the NOC, make your plan to leave Quetta. In my case that meant to take the train to Karachi. You will be escorted to the train station and you can buy a ticket as you like. The ticket for Karachi was 905 Rupees. Next day I left. Also on this train you will be escorted by several officers carrying AK 47's. Once in Karachi, the last officer will take you to the police station where you will need to register that you arrived safely and from there the duty of the officers is over and you are free to go.
Some general tips:
- Don't wait for the bus in Bam. Get a shared taxi. Make sure you agree on the price before getting in. Ask the driver to drop you of at Meydan & Mirjaveh in Zahedan to win time and avoid one taxi less. Leave Bam early to arrive on time in Taftan. - Bring plenty of water and food. Taftan to Quetta can take up to 16 hours. Some travellers do it in two days. I was lucky there was a straight convoy. This might change from day to day. - Bring cookies/gifts for the Levies - Bargain hard for changing money at the border. Try to get rid of your Rials in Iran. You will need max 50 USD. You can also change money in Bloomstar Hotel. - Prepare for a dusty road, bring a hat, sunglasses etc. - Have some pictures of your home/family/friends in your country. The Levies will love it and this will enlighten your conversation even without English.
A Video about crossing Pakistan from Iran to India, partially by hitchhiking: vimeo.com/84466726
A video about crossing Baluchistan from Iran, pretty much entirely by hitch-hiking(English subs available): 
A blog about the stories of a hitchhiker with many stories about Pakistan from several visits