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Money and Costs

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Currency: Pakistani Rupee Meals * Budget: Rs100-150 * Mid-range: Rs150-500 * High: Rs500-1000 * Deluxe: Rs1000+ Lodging * Budget: Rs200-500 * Mid-range: Rs500-1000 * High: Rs1000-1500 * Deluxe: Rs1500+ By staying in hostels or dorms and eating like a local you can get by on as little as US$10-15 a day. If, however, you were looking for a moderate touch of luxury you could spend as much as $30-40 a day which could get you accommodation that included a satellite TV, a desk, a balcony and a spotlessly clean bathroom. As in any place you can spend as much as you like to live in the lap of luxury and stay in swanky hotels. It's worth noting that rooms and food are cheaper in the north than in the south. Both travellers' cheques and cash are easy to change throughout the country, but commissions on cheques can be high. Apart from top-end hotels, most places won't accept credit cards as payment although you can often use them for cash advances at western banks. Facilities for validation seem better for Visa then MasterCard. Occasionally a tattered note will be firmly refused as legal tender, and often in the smaller towns the appearance of a 1000 or 500 rupee note will cause consternation and an inability to provide change, so make sure you get some smaller notes when buying your rupees. Baksheesh isn't so much a bribe as a way of life in Pakistan. It can apply to any situation and is capable of opening all sorts of doors, both literal and metaphorical. Anything from a signature on a document to fixing a leaking tap can be acquired through the magic of baksheesh. Most top-end hotels will automatically add a 5-10% service charge to your bill, so any extra tipping is entirely up to you. Taxi drivers routinely expect 10% of the fare, and railway porters charge an officially-set Rs 7. The only time that a gratuity might not be welcome is in the rural areas where it runs counter to Islamic obligation to be hospitable. If baksheesh is a way of life, bargaining is a matter of style, particularly in the many Pakistani bazaars. Unlike the western hesitancy for bargaining, shopkeepers in Pakistani love to bargain as long as it's done with style and panache. Bargaining usually begins with an invitation to step inside for a cup of tea followed by a little bit of small talk, a casually expressed interest by yourself in a particular item, a way-too-high price mentioned by the seller, a way-too-low counter offer by yourself and eventually, after much comic rolling of eyes, a handshake and mutual satisfaction for both parties. Bargaining should always be accompanied by smiles, good humour and an ability not to get fixated on driving the price into the ground. For more information contact me at umar822u@hotmail.com


Edited bypakiguy on 01.03.2006

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