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Taftan may only look like an insignificant dot on a guide book or website, and in a way it deserves no more, but it is an important town in many respects.
It has a longstanding history as well. Once noted as being a 'Road to London' due to the high volume of Asian, Indian, and Afghan traders that used its as a main trading route. Now it's more infamous for border smuggling, kidnapping and all manner of underhanded business.
Still, on an over land route either to or from Iran, you will need to cross over here.
Taftan has little to offer of your standard sights.
It is a small town with several run down, one night only hotels. General stores. And quite a few bus companies.
The one thing Taftan does offer, for the adventurous, is desert trips. Either by your own vehicle, or by renting a taxi you can head out into an largely unexplored desert. Be warned though, this area is not safe and security is not great. Hiring armed guards and checking in with police is essential.
The border between Iran and Pakistan is fairly isolated. While the locals are nice, and people will be pleased to see you, there is still a need to be cautious.
The area is a hotbed for smugglers and bandits. On both sides of the border the authorities have recently stepped up security. But you should still research the area, and your travel well.
The distances from Taftan to other cities is quite far and the terrain rough, so taking adequate rest before undertaking the journey is essential. As is bringing enough supplies such as water and snacks.
Taftan is walkable to the Iranian border, and vica versa. No need for a taxi if you want to walk the 10 minutes, though plenty of taxis will tell you it's very far.
You will need a Carnet de Passage to cross into Pakistan, they do check. And, there are many security checks along the way.
It is about 15 hours to Quetta by road, depending on weather. The first 100 km is rough, after that it becomes close to off roading at certain points. Be sure to have adequate supplies of fuel, water, spares and food as there is little but desert and rough terrain along the way.
Buses leave for most destinations in Pakistan from here. There are several bus companies, some reputable, some not. If you are issued a ticket, it might be advisable to have it translated for you by a local away from the office to avoid any scams. The buses usually leave on time, give or take an hour.
A ticket to Quetta will cost you Rs350 as of 2008.
Taftan is easily walkable by foot as it's a small town. Walking to the border is easy.
There are many eateries dotted around Taftan, none offering western food.
Depending on the time of day, rice, naan, dhal, lentils and mutton are available along with minerals and water. Try to find a well occupied eatery as many people only seem to populate a certain place on particular days.
There are a few very run down looking hotels in Taftan. Used mainly by people who crossed the border too late into the evening. Most offer squat toilets and cold showers outside of your room.
Cybercafes can be found on virtually every street corner and the rates are as low as Rs 15-20 per hour. They usually don't have a very fast operating system so don't be too impatient. They usually use 14 inch monitors with Windows 2000, Windows 98 or Windows XP usually installed. Most of the cafes have a decent speed internet connection.
Internet Access can be obtained easily on notebook computers with the help of GPRS enabled mobile connections, supported by almost all of the five mobile operators. Mobilink provides EDGE based connection in very limited areas of Karachi, but Telenor's coverage of EDGE is wider. The standard price of GPRS/EDGE usage is Rs 10-18 per MB of data transferred but Zong offers Rs 15/h. If you wish to download much more, you may want to use unlimited packages, provided only by Warid, Mobilink and Telenor at this time. World Call and Ufone also offers USB Modem.3G and 4G based connections are also available from all the mobile service providers, rates are nearly same as EDGE.
There are Wi-Fi hotspots all over Pakistan, in hotels, malls, and cafes/restaurants.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country code for Pakistan is +92 if you are calling from outside the country.
Major providers of mobile phone service (GSM) are Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone, Warid and Zong - China Mobile. One very convenient feature is that all Pakistani cellular operators use the GSM platform, so that cellular handsets nationwide are freely interchangeable between providers.
There are various service providers offering a huge variety of plans. Among them are Mobilink, Warid Telecom, Telenor, Ufone & Zong (China Mobile). It's not a bad idea to buy a cell phone and use a prepaid plan to get yourself connected while you are in the country. The mobile phones and the prepaid plans are very cheap; you can usually get a new cheap cell phone just for Rs 2,000 and a prepaid connection for Rs 150-400.
Due to security threats, in order to purchase a SIM card you will need to provide formal identification such as Visas, resident permits, residing address in Pakistan along with a written declaration that you will not use the provided phone number for any illegal activity. Starting March 2015, possesion of unverified SIM will be considered a serious and punishable crime.
Public Call Offices can be found all over the country. You will find a PCO in nearly 50% of the general stores where there is usually someone who operates the phone and fax. Fees will be charged according to the time spent, and you will pay when you have finished your call.
The Pakistan postal service works well. But be aware you are not allowed to send CD's or DVD's out of the country. This includes your photo's on CD. This is due to the high number of software and media trafficking in Pakistan.
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