Pakistan is hands down one of my favourite countries to go backpacking in the world, unfortunately, this is a country with fairly strict visa rules and without a Letter Of Invitation (LOI) to visit Pakistan it is almost impossible to apply for a visa, read this post carefully!
Although it remains the decision of the individual embassy at which you apply; some are more liberal than others, it is almost certain you will be required to submit a Letter Of Invitation as part of your visa application to visit Pakistan as a tourist, so be prepared.
Independent travelers from certain countries will find it harder to source an LOI on account of recent events within Pakistan regarding a foreign tourist who went well and truly off the beaten track and got in trouble with the police for not being on an organised tour.
A letter of invitation to Pakistan can only officially be issued by a registered tour company within Pakistan.
There are a couple of companies who will issue the Pakistani letter of invitation to solo travellers for a stand-alone fee, but most tour companies will only issue a Pakistan LOI if you book a complete package tour through them.
These few companies issuing letters to solo travelers are in some cases charging a fee as high as one hundred euros per person. That said, there may be hope for you yet. See the section below titled Buying an LOI Without Booking a Tour.
Conditions from LOI issues
- AMERICANS need to book a tour in most cases.
- Please note, LOIs will only be issued for the purposes of tourism in Pakistan. If you are visiting Pakistan to visit a boyfriend, to work on a charity project or to do anything other than tourism then no tour company will be able help you.
- No business or private visa support possible. The Pakistan letter of invitation is provided for tourist visas only.
- LOI for citizens of the Middle East and Bangladeshis is provided only when they purchase a tour or book hotels for the whole period of their travel in Pakistan.
- Be aware that if you venture off the itinerary you specified for your visa application, you may be scrutinised by the police.
- LOI for citizens of Middle East, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Central Asia States, Gulf States, Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Romania, Bulgaria and Bangladesh arew provided only when they purchase a tour in most cases.
- No LOI possible for Afghanistan and Indian citizens. This includes people who used to have an Afghan or Indian passport but have changed citizenship since.
If you need a letter of invitation to Pakistan, you have three remaining options that I know of…
- Book a full tour with Epic Backpacker Tours.
- Book a full or partial tour with Lizzy and Shah at Karakoram Bikers.
- You can contact Adventure Planners and get an LOI for a fee of $75 without booking a tour (depending on your nationality).
Please note: Visa conditions are CONSTANTLY changing in Pakistan. Officially, you can only be issued an LOI by a tour company if you book a tour with them. If you go with Shah and Lizzy from Karakoram Bikers, they may be able to provide you with the LOI in exchange for a partial tour or motorcycle rental but they are no longer able to issue LOIs for purely independent travelers.
You can pay for your LOI using Transferwise.
Buying an LOI Without Booking a Tour
Our friends at Adventure Planners can likely sort you out depending on your nationality. Please contact our good friend Haris Ali Shah for the details regarding purchasing a Letter of Invitation without booking a tour. As mentioned, the cost is $75 USD.
They do offer free LOI’s if someone books an actual tour with them as well. Other Adventure Planners services include motorbike rentals for epic Karakoram Highway journeys! Broke Backpacker readers can get a 10% discount on motorbikes or a tour by mentioning our website.
In addition, they also own and operate two backpacker hostels; one is in Islamabad (Backpackers Hostel Islamabad) and one in Gilgit (Backpackers Hostel Gilgit Ex (Madina Hotel 2).
Adventure Planners’ policy regarding LOI’s is different from many other companies. With the exception of Indians, Afghans, and Bangladeshis, AP can issue LOI’s without booking a tour, even for Americans.
When AP provides solo backpacker individuals with an LOI, the company requests that backpackers provide travel plans/an itinerary. This is so that there is a record of where you will go and what you will do in case the company faces questions from the authorities regarding your location or activities.
When you reach out to Adventure Planner’s don’t forget to mention that the Broke Backpacker sent you as they may be able to offer you a special discount! Good luck indy backpackers!!
Another option is to contact our friends at Karakoram Bikers. It’s possible to get the LOI and a short Lahore (or Gilgit) tour from Karakoram Bikers for only $125 USD. Their Food on Foot tour in the Old City of Lahore is very well-loved and travelers genuinely feel they get more than their monies worth.
Tours to Pakistan
In 2017 we ran our first adventure tours to Pakistan. This was an awesome success and in 2019 we will be running at least four more adventures to this amazing country.
We have launched our new tour company and website which you can check out at epicbackpackertours.com. Please visit the new website or you can email [email protected] to find out more, or simply sign up to the Broke Backpacker mailing list to be kept in the loop.
If you want to go on an adventure tour of Pakistan and Epic Backpacker Tours are either full or our dates do not work for you, I highly recommend checking out Find My Adventure Pakistan – run by my good friend, and one of Pakistan’s youngest entrepreneurs, Komail.
Komail works alongside EBT tours on the ground and we trust and recommend FMA wholeheartedly. TBB readers get 10% off FMA services with the coupon code: TBBT10
Please leave a review of your experience getting your Pakistan letter of invitation in the comments below.
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Writer and entrepreneur. Adventurer and vagabond. Master of the handstand pushup. Conqueror of mountains, survivor of deserts and crusader for cheap escapades. Will has been on the road for thirteen years, travelling to far-flung lands on a budget. Today, he runs a number of online ventures, including The Broke Backpacker – the world’s largest budget travel blog. He is passionate about solving the plastic problem and cleaning up the oceans. Currently, Will is based in Bali where he plans to open his first Tribal Hostel in 2020.