Pakistan is a very cheap country if you’re coming from the U.S., Europe, or a similar priced country. Below is a breakout of the daily costs you can expect based on my recent trip to Pakistan (I traveled to Islamabad, Lahore, and the Wahga border). This post will also include other costs (e.g. visa fee) that you will, and may, incur on your trip.
Average Daily Costs in Pakistan – $32
- Airbnb/Hostel – $9
- Eating out all day – $15
- Transportation 3x rides (Uber) – $6
- Attractions – $2
Tourist Visa & Tour: $425
Getting a one-entry tourist visa to Pakistan for an American is a bit costly. The most common way is to book a tour through a Pakistani tourist company and have them provide you a letter of invitation to go along with your visa application. Most tour companies won’t send you the letter of invitation if you don’t book at least one tour with them. The full visa cost for an American will run you $352. The tour you choose is up to you but expect a one day, worthwhile tour to be ~$70 (the tour cost for visiting the Wahga Border). Instructions on getting a Pakistani visa can be found here: How To Apply For A Pakistani Visa
The Wahga Border itself is free. The tour costs paid covered the transportation there and back.
Visa and Tour Cost Breakdown
- Visa Fee (For Americans) – $192
- Letter of Invitation (“LOI”) – $80
- Add on Witness to LOI – $19
- International Courier of LOI – $46
- Passport Pictures – $15
- Wahga Border Tour – $72
Airfare varies from where you are coming from and the season you are traveling. We found that from NYC, flying to Islamabad or Lahore costs roughly the same in July. Our ticket: NYC–>ISB & LHE–>NYC cost $1,260 per person. We used our points to bring it down to $724. I did find a ticket in October for $763. With the right search ahead of time you can always find a cheap ticket within your budget.
Airbnb/Hostel (private room): $18 a night ($9 per person)
Tourism isn’t big in Pakistan so there are a limited number of Airbnbs and hostels. Don’t get confused with the multitude of “hostels” from a Google Maps search. That’s what they call their student dorms. I couldn’t find a single, legit hostel in Islamabad and only found one in Lahore. However, there are some solid Airbnbs that are super affordable. You can get a very cheap, 2 beds/private bathroom Airbnb for $18 a night like the one we stayed at in Islamabad below. AC costs $5 a night extra if requested. We didn’t want it since the ceiling fan was more than enough to sleep comfortably.
In Lahore, we also paid $18 a night for a private room at a hostel. The room had 2 beds, included AC, but had a shared bathroom.
Transportation (Uber): ~Rs200 ($1.60) a ride
If you know anything about me, you know that I’m all about public transportation. However, Uber is so cheap in Pakistan that there’s no point in taking public transit when you’re spending $2 or less a ride. You can also take Careem (Uber’s competition in Pakistan) but we stuck with Uber.
Transportation (Commercial Bus): Rs 1,200 ($4.30)
The most popular commercial bus in Pakistan is Daewoo. Our bus ticket from Islambad to Lahore only cost $4.30, for a ~5 hour bus ride! You can use that travel time/price as a proxy to estimate other trips (or you can just go to their website’s fare section here).
The bus includes a little sandwich, coke, and water throughout the trip. It was very comfortable and even had pillows!
Food: $2-$12 a meal
Pakistan has so much delicious food. Keep in mind that price has no correlation with how delicious the meal will be. The most delicious meal I had in Pakistan was at a super local spot in Lahore called Haneef Siri Paye. It was also the cheapest meal I paid!
I enjoyed brain masala with plenty of naan and a sprite for only $2.26!!!
If you decide to go super local, you can find some fresh lemonade in the Walled City of Lahore for only $0.16! Careful if you’re not used to their water!
If you want a more modern spot with free wifi, then you can check out Chaaye Khana or Gloria Jean’s Coffee. $6 is all you need per person! Our bill below came out to Rs1,357 ($11).
Make sure to not hold back on the nice restaurants. You can enjoy a great view/meal and not break your budget by going to The Monal in Islamabad or Cooco’s Den in Lahore. You’ll eat well by only spending $12 per person!
The view from Monal:
The view from Cooco’s Den:
Attractions: Pakistan Monument Rs250 ~$2
Any attraction will be either free or very cheap. The Pakistan Monument in Islamabad only costs $2 to visit!
Clothes: male/female dress shirts ~$8
Clothes are also pretty cheap there. We didn’t search very hard for the shirts we bought. I bought 2 typical (short collar), short-sleeve, dress shirts for $10 each at the mall (brand: Zara). My gf bought a colorful top for $6 on the street (brand: unknown). Ignore our tired eyes below, we had a long night!
Conclusion: It’s very cheap!
I understand that for people living & working in Pakistan it’s not cheap. However, for those working abroad and earning dollars for example, Pakistan is definitely a cheap country to visit compared to the expenses back home. There are definitely some large up-front costs to visiting Pakistan. However, if you want to explore a country but have a tight budget then Pakistan is your best bet! Enjoy and Safe Travels!