Crossing the Wagah border between India and Pakistan

A quick guide on crossing the Wagah border between India and Pakistan between Amritsar and Lahore. Includes everything you need to know about this well known—but little-used—border crossing.

 

Note: This article focuses on foreign travelers. Though the process seemed to be the same for a group of Indian women crossing at the same time as us, other Indians or Pakistanis might have a different—and more thorough—experience. If you’re Indian or Pakistani, you can only use this border if your visa specifies you’re crossing by foot. 

A guide to crossing overland at the Wagah border between Amritsar and Lahore

Famous for its daily flag-lowering ceremony, the Wagah border sees little actual traffic. However, if you’re armed with a visa (and nothing else), it’s the most convenient way of traveling between India and Pakistan.

We have crossed this border multiple times, going from Lahore to Amritsar and from Amritsar to Lahore. Below you can find our experience with crossing the Wagah border

Crossing overland at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan - Public bus to Atari - Lost With Purpose travel blog

The easiest way to get to the Wagah border from Amritsar

There are public buses running from Amritsar close to the Wagah border. A rickshaw to the Amritsar bus stand should cost 70 – 100 INR from the Golden Temple area. Vicky, Jugaadus Hostel’s rickshaw driver, charges 100 INR as well. It takes around 10 minutes from either of these places. 

Alternatively, there are a million and one hawkers advertising rides to the Wagah border for 100 INR per person around the Golden Temple. Be careful, though, as you may not be able to fit all your bags in the shared ride, and you need to make sure they’ll leave early enough for you to cross. You can also hire a taxi to bring you for around 800 INR.

Once at the bus stand, there are half-hourly buses from Amritsar bus stand to Atari, the nearest town to the Wagah border. These buses leave from dock 23, and a hawker will direct you to the right bus. A ticket is 35 INR per person, and the journey takes roughly one hour. 

We suggest you leave Amritsar by 14:00 at the latest, as they sometimes stop letting people cross after 15:30. The bus also stops at Amritsar Railway Station. It stops just outside the exit, near the stairs for the footbridge. The hawker will make it clear he’s going to Wagah Border.

Crossing overland at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan - The bus stand to Attari and the Wagah border - Lost With Purpose travel blog

The bus will drop you off roughly 3 kilometers from the Wagah border. There will be plenty of cycle rickshaws on hand to pedal you to the actual Wagah Border crossing. They charge 20 – 30 INR per person.

If you’re heading from Lahore to Amritsar, you can go from the Wagah border to Amritsar using the same bus. However, you might have to pay a bit more for the cycle rickshaw to bring you to the bus stop. Expect 40-50 INR instead.

 

Crossing overland at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan - Cycle rickshaw to the border - Lost With Purpose travel blog

A cycle rickshaw from Attari to the Wagah border

The easiest way to get to the Wagah border from Lahore

Getting to the Wagah border to cross from Lahore to Amritsar is a bit less straightforward. There are busses, but it’s not clear to us from where they go, and how often they go. If anyone reading this has some information, please let us know.

The easiest way to get from Lahore to the Wagah border is by either Uber or Careem. However, some drivers might not want to take you. In our experience, it’s best to take a Careem to the Wagah border from Lahore. A Careem to the Wagah border should cost around 500 RS.

 

Crossing overland at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan

The below section is written as if coming from Amritsar to Lahore. If you’re crossing the border from Pakistan to India, the process is more or less the same, just in reverse. 

Crossing the Wagah border on the Indian side

Once you enter the border crossing compound, your passport will be checked and your details noted down. After this, you’ll be directed to the visitor center. Here you will be patted down (lazily) before heading to the immigration booth. At the immigration booth, your passport will be checked and stamped, and you’ll have to fill in an immigration card with basic questions.

After this your bags will be scanned, immigration cards checked, and you’ll be put on a two-minute (and delightfully air-conditioned) bus to the border. The whole process took roughly 20 minutes, but it can take longer if there are more people. There were only four others when we crossed. Note that you’re technically not allowed to take Indian rupees out of India, but they hardly ever ask about this. 

Crossing overland at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan - Bus at the Indian border - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Sweeeeet AC

When you get out of the bus you’ll hand your immigration card to an officer, and then you can proceed to the actual border crossing. Here your passport will be checked two more times, once on the Indian side and once on the Pakistani side.

Crossing the Wagah border on the Pakistan side

Note: If crossing from Lahore to Amritsar,  you’ll have to go through several security checkpoints on the Pakistan side before reaching the border area.

After walking through the border gate to the Pakistan side, you’ll be directed to the immigration office where you have to fill in an arrival card. They will want to know the exact address and phone number of the place or person you’ll be staying with, but as long as you write down something that makes sense, they won’t actually check or bother you much about it.

They’ll also ask you where else in Pakistan you’ll be visiting. Only give generic answers such as Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi, and say you’ll either fly out or cross back over the Wagah border. Avoid mention of crossing overland into Iran or China if this is your plan.

The whole process took about 10 minutes in total. Our bags weren’t searched, and we could proceed to walk into Pakistan.

Getting from the Pakistan side of the Wagah border to Lahore

Once you leave the immigration office, there’s a little sitting area with shade and some porters. Here you can change some money, and wait for a toy train (yes, really) to bring you to the parking lot. From the parking lot, you can take a taxi or rickshaw to Lahore. We were quoted 800 PKR (about $8) for a rickshaw ride, which means you can probably haggle the price down by a couple hundred.

It’s also possible to hitchhike back to Lahore or take a bus. If you want to do this, you’ll have to walk to the “town” about a kilometer beyond the border compound. However, it’s easiest to just take a rickshaw or taxi. If you stay to watch the Wagah border ceremony (more on that below) you can definitely hitch a ride back to Lahore from the Wagah border. 

 

Report of crossing overland from Amritsar to Lahore at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan - The gate to the Wagah border area - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Entrance to the Wagah border area from the Pakistan side

Watching the Wagah border ceremony

Instead of hopping on a taxi or rickshaw, we recommend you stay for a bit and watch the utterly bizarre border ceremony. The ceremony starts around 18:00 (earlier in winter), but people start pouring in around 16:00.

Crossing from Amritsar to Lahore at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan

The ceremony is free to watch, but you can’t take your luggage. You can ask the kiosk at the parking lot if they will look after your bags, or ask at the immigration office if you can store them there. Alternatively, a cooler option is to cross the border earlier in the day, drop your bags in Lahore somewhere, and return to the border in the evening.

The added benefit of watching the ceremony is that it will be easy to hitch a ride or take a bus to Lahore afterward, saving you a chunk of money.

Where to stay in Amritsar and Lahore

Amritsar

  • Ultra budget – Golden Temple – Free dorms at the Golden Temple for foreigners. Basic, but perfect for budget travelers.
  • Budget – Jugaadus Hostel – A super laid back hostel with very friendly and helpful staff. One of the first hostels in India. Good value.
  • Mid-rangeGolden Tulip Amritsar – An orderly hotel with pool close to Amritsar railway station. Price includes breakfast.
  • LuxuryRanjitvilas – A beautiful building a bit outside of Amritsar, surrounded by quiet fields. A great way to experience Punjabi hospitality at its finest.

Lahore

  • Budget – Lahore Backpackers – The most popular backpacker hangout of Lahore (beware: Lahore Backpackers is not a tour operator, don’t get an LOI or a tour from Lahore Backpackers!).
  • Mid-range – Tourist Inn Hotel – Friendly staff and excellent food options in this mid-range hotel.
  • Luxury – Luxus Grand Hotel – One of the best value luxury hotels in Lahore, the hotel has a gym, pool, and friendly staff.

 

So there you have it, a complete guide on crossing overland at the Wagah border between Amritsar in India and Lahore in Pakistan. It’s easy and relaxed, and much less thorough than you would expect at such a sensitive border.

 

Planning your trip to Pakistan? Check out this massive guide with everything to do in Lahore!

Sebastiaan

Just another Dutchie. Extrovert with introverted tendencies. Some say I'm lazy, I say I'm masterfully inactive.

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26 thoughts on “Crossing the Wagah border between India and Pakistan

    Akhand Bharat says:

    I think you are giving a false picture of Pakistan. Just last month Trump said that Pakistan is aiding the terror organizations that the US and NATO are fighting in Afghanistan. You are defending the very country whose government rolled out the red carpet for the world’s most wanted man. The US spent billions of taxpayer’s money to find the man who was living in a million dollar mansion just a couple of miles from Pakistan’s presidential palace. 2017 alone has seen DOZENS of terror attacks in Pakistan and the country has been known to harbour every major terror organizations in the world. It doesn’t matter how many women wear skinny jeans in Pakistan or how many people have gold plated iPhones the truth is Pakistan is responsible for the death of millions of non Muslims around the world. Please don’t get swayed by their fake hospitality because somewhere in their heart they are just looking to radicalize westerners and turn them into Muslims. Please beware of these people.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-23/pakistan-us-relationship-at-risk-philip-williams/8833534

    Alex says:

    We are not defending the actions of the government, military, nor terrorist organizations in Pakistan. Indeed, we try to stay out of such political discussions, aside from condemning acts of terror from any party.

    We are, however, defending the people of Pakistan. Surprising as it may seem, people are distinct from their governments. The decisions of some to harbor terrorists in Pakistan does not make all Pakistanis terrorists, just as President Trump’s idiotic methods of leading the US do not by default make me, an American, a useless idiot. Though one can argue that people are partially responsible for the acts of their governments in democratic societies, in practice, you cannot hold the masses accountable for the bad acts of a few. Besides, Pakistan is not a true democracy.

    It is a shame you interpret Pakistani hospitality as a means of radicalization. I suggest you withhold your judgement until you have a chance to engage with Pakistani civilians in person, rather than basing your world views on the limited scope of the Indian and international media.

    Taimoor says:

    Not surprised that an Indian comments negativity about Pakistan on a forum which is remotely not related to what you said.

    CC says:

    Love your blog! I appreciate hearing practical information about getting around and where to stay for those on a budget.

    Sebastiaan says:

    Thanks a lot. Glad to hear it’s useful!

    Shairah says:

    Hi, do u know what is the opening and closing time for Wagah Border if we are to enter from India side? what time is the earliest that we can cross the border?

    Sebastiaan says:

    The border is open from 10:00 till 16:00. After 16:00 it’s not possible to cross anymore, as they’re preparing for the ceremony. It’s advisable to reach the border at 15:00 the latest. The earliest you can cross is 10:00.

    Britannia Cars says:

    Great blog.I also experienced it in personal on Indian side of the border!!!

    Sebastiaan says:

    Thanks a lot. The Indian side seemed much bigger, so hope it was fun 🙂

    Natalia says:

    Sebastiaan and Alex, thank you for the guide!
    Sebastiaan, do you have a Social Network account where we can follow you?

    Frederick says:

    Hi Seb

    Great blog. Thanks for the very useful insights. Do not be distracted by political bias of some commenters. They do not deserve your comment.

    Rahul Kale says:

    Thanks for your useful insight and don’t worry or be distracted by idiots with right wing political ideology. I am originally from India who had the fortune of first experience of Pakistani hospitality when I went there several years ago. I am planning to cross wagah border next month with my family and your blog was extremely useful.

    Ayesha says:

    I’m an Indian and I have my fiancee in Pakistan, Karachi.and I really don’t have an idea of how to go Pakistan to meet my fiancee…it’s been an year I didn’t visit him for once till now…could anyone plz help me out…🙏🙏we r postponing our nikah (marriage dates every year) I request someone experienced to guide me so that I could go Pakistan…

    Syiera M. says:

    Hi, Sebastian

    I’m wondering is it possible now to cross the border since their status is at war? I mean will it be hard? Thank you.

    Sebastiaan says:

    Sorry for the late reply. The Wagah border is open and functioning as normal.

    Zul says:

    Hello Sebastian… I enjoy reading your post. I crossed Attari (India) into Wagah (Pakistan) last August and I didn’t meet any problem doing it. Also, on the return trip nothing happened to me. However, when I wanted to apply for an Indian visa last Feb, the application was stalled. I used a legal third party to do my visa. I was then called to the Indian High Commission for an interview. Apparently, the visa officer wasn’t happy that I visited Pakistan. I had a Pakistani visa in the passport. He asked why I went there, which cities I visited and the kind of places I frequented. After informing him that I was there as a tourist, he gave me a single entry visa to India for just one month. My previous India visa was more than one month and it was also for multiple entry. So, I’ve learned that if you have a Pakistani visa, your Indian visa may well be shortened and that you may be given a single entry one.. Does anyone here experience the same thing ?

    Sebastiaan says:

    It really depends on the embassy and the mood of the person in charge. I got a 5-year multiple entry business visa for India while having several Pakistan visas in my passport. In total, I had 5 Pakistan visas and 5 India visas in my previous passport and never had any trouble at either embassy or upon entering India or Pakistan. Which High Commission did you apply at?

    R.Santin says:

    hey great info but still hard to find a way to cross from europe to south east asia by car.
    a lot of dif information regarding the crossing afghanistan/pakistan/india
    can you enlighten me how to cross all by car as going through china is too expensive

    Aliuddin says:

    Yes, would very much like to know if you can cross in your own car into Pakistan from India.

    Visiit says:

    Now a days this is highly impossible . I think you had a adventurous experience.

    Sebastiaan says:

    Wagah border is still open and operating as normal. People cross it daily.

    Bob Armstrong says:

    Is there any cost (besides the visa) to the border crossing procedures?

    Sim says:

    Hi Sebs,
    Can you please guide about the luggage limit per person (adult and kid both )
    Also what is allowed to take or what items are not permitted to take ???
    Is it possible to go via Attari-wagah border to Pakistan these days? I am not sure about it and unable to confirm it from anywhere??

    Nicolas says:

    Hello Sebastiaan and thanks for the article. I am a Belgian travelling by bicycle and would like to cross after having cycled Rajasthan and Gujarat. Do you know if there are other borders open to foreigners more south?

    Sebastiaan says:

    The Wagah border is the only land border between India and Pakistan open to tourists.

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