I was born in Pakistan but spent most of my life living outside my country.
So whenever I talked about traveling around my own country of Pakistan, either a friend, family member or Pakistan travel guide would warn me about the terrorism and the safety risks for women travelers. I believed that it was too unsafe to visit and put the urge to explore my homeland to the back of my mind.
Years later, when I finally got enough courage to visit the other side of Pakistan for the first time in my life, I was shocked to discover how everything was quite the opposite of what I’d been told. I felt safer than ever and that day, my perspective changed completely. I won’t say there was not a single issue I faced, obviously there were some; walking in the streets at night alone in particular. But isn’t that an issue for solo female travelers in most countries?
Overall, my experience of solo travel in Pakistan has been really positive and I’m glad I had the courage to go exploring my home country. From that day until now, I’ve been to many cities, valleys and villages across Pakistan and believe me, this country is so much more than what the media portrays.
Pakistan is one of the most beautiful countries you’ll ever visit. Yes, there might be some things which you need to consider before coming here but rest assured you’re going to have the best time of your life amidst the breathtaking landscape, vibrant cities, scrumptious cuisine and very hospitable people.
If you are planning on a journey through Pakistan as an independent woman, let me share with you the places to visit, a few packing tips and of course safety advice. After traveling around Pakistan myself, here’s my Pakistan Travel Guide on how to get the most out of your trip as a solo female traveler, so you can experience the real Pakistan too.
Top Things To Do In Pakistan For Female Travelers
Explore Famous Pakistan Cities and Valleys
This goes without saying. But because Pakistan is considered unsafe, often people do not explore its streets and corners the way they should. Therefore, I stress – it is very important that you let your wanderlust guide you through the walls of old Lahore, the carpeted roads of Islamabad, the crowd of Karachi, the culture of Hunza, the markets of Quetta and the wonders of Peshawar.
Naltar Valley, Kumrat Valley, Rama Meadow, Ranikot Fort and Badshahi Mosque are just a few of the thousands of destinations you should definitely see in Pakistan. Among all of the cities I’ve been to in Pakistan, my favorite is Lahore due to it’s vibrant culture and mouth-watering cuisine.
In the north side of Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan tops my list when it comes to the most beautiful natural place to visit in Pakistan. The province has everything to make your tour memorable including; freshwater lakes, lush green valleys, snow-capped mountains, villages and forests.
Try Delicious Local Cuisine
With spices and recipes that are native to the Pakistan, I found that every dish cooked is a culinary delight, not be missed! Visit the local markets and find freshly prepared local cuisine at amazingly cheap prices. Some of the most famous Pakistani dishes include; Biryani, chicken korma, chapli kebab, chicken tikka and kheer. My personal favorite has always been Chicken Tikka due to its juicy and tangy flavors, eat it alone with a sauce or with fresh bread.
Shop Your Heart Out In Pakistan
The Pakistani heritage is very striking and different from that of the Western. There is an abundance of cultures, all of which are indiscriminately celebrated by their people. Each of them influence the lifestyle of the locals, who in turn create artifacts to honor the legacy they are born and raised in.
The souvenirs you can collect in this part of the world are truly unique. The most recent souvenir I bought was from Kashmir, a beaded bracelet hand made by the locals there. Whenever I look at it, it takes me to the beautiful moments I spent there in those stunning valleys among the most hospitable locals.
Pakistan Travel Guide: Accommodation
Choose the area you stay in very carefully
Do your research before booking your hotel room, especially if you’re a woman traveling alone. Read about the neighborhoods and check the hotel’s reviews. From my experience of traveling solo in Pakistan, if you are in Naran, Maisonette Hotels & Resorts is a great place to stay. I stayed here during my trip and found the services excellent and they helped me book my other tours to lakes and valleys in the town.
In the towns such as Hunza or Skardu, staying with locals would be a really great idea to really experience true Pakistan culture and hospitality. I really enjoyed staying with locals in Hunza which I booked through Couchsurfing.
If unsure about a hotel call them
I would recommend calling the hotel in advance and asking them about the precautionary measures they undertake. You can always inquire about surveillance cameras and security guards, etc. Usually, the management is very happy to help.
Don’t be gender specific while booking a hotel room
Do not indicate if the room you are booking is for a single female because this is something that might lead to some potential problems. This is specifically for the hotels in remote areas. However if you are booking hotels with good reviews, there will not be any issue.
Always dress modestly
Each country has its own set of values and those who visit should respect them. Pakistanis prefer to dress modestly, as the prevalent religion in the country requires them to do so. Therefore, you should also ditch your shorts and tank tops and dress in something that is more modest. When in cities or even in the north of Pakistan, you can wear your Western jeans and tops but still make sure you are not exposing too much skin.
Pakistan Travel Guide: What to Pack?
Pack warm clothing
If you plan on visiting the northern areas, have a jumper and jacket with you because it can get really cold up there. Don’t always rely on the weather forecast as it can betray you like it did to me when I was in KPK on one of my trips. I packed according to summer but when I arrived in the Kaghan Valley, it was freezing cold and I ended up spending a lot of money buying warm clothes from the local shops there. So, always keep warm clothes with you. Even if it’s sunny in the morning, it can get really chilly at night.
Pack modest clothing
As mentioned before, it is preferable if you pack modest clothing items. For most parts of the country, you can rock a pair of jeans, as a lot of women in the country do so casually as well. However, when visiting a known conservative area, especially a mosque or a shrine, you need to make sure that you have something suitable. Loose fitted pants and full sleeved shirts are always good.
Umbrella and a raincoat
This depends on when you plan on making your visit. If your landing dates fall around June or July and you plan on spending the next month here, you must be prepared for the heavy monsoons. Umbrellas and raincoats should always be with you in such circumstances.
No matter how hard you try, you are bound to fall ill during the first week of your visit, as your stomach becomes accustomed to the alien bacteria. Under this situation, you should have your medications ready that can help you through these tough times. If you are going to the northern side and do activities such as climbing, trekking etc., make sure to keep medicines with you for fever, pain and stomach issues.
Don’t forget your camera
And obviously, don’t forget to bring your camera to capture all the amazingly wonderful sites Pakistan has to offer!
Pakistan Travel Guide: Safety Advice For Women
As a female solo traveler, you should be careful about a few things that will ensure your safety. If the idea of having to be careful puts you off visiting Pakistan, you should remember that every country in the world, even the one you currently reside in, requires women to be cautious of their environment. Therefore, Pakistan is not an exception.
Do not appear flashy
It is highly recommended that before venturing out, put your flashy accessories out of sight. These include fancy jewelry and expensive gadgets, like mobile phones, iPods, and tablets. Try your best to not stand out from the crowd. But that doesn’t mean you don’t use your gadgets at all. You’ll often find many tourists among you in popular attractions, there you can have fun capturing the places but do avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
Lock doors and windows before leaving your room
It is as simple as it sounds but has extreme importance. It is always an excellent precaution to check the doors and the windows before leaving the room and sleeping. Always secure them properly.
Appear confident even when not feeling it
No one likes to mess with women who appear confident so walk with your head held high and talk while maintaining eye contact!
Avoid late night strolling
This is true for remote areas and locations with poor security ratings, therefore, be aware when you are there. Even with full security, unforeseen situations can happen at anytime. I didn’t experience any such incident luckily but I made sure to take care of all the safety measures before I started traveling Pakistan.
Pakistan is a wonderful country. Even though it is not found at the top of the must-travel lists, please understand that it is, regardless of that, a place you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Traveling around Pakistan is a unique experience, so much so, that the wariness of precaution should take a back seat. Time and again both men and women, have dared to visit as tourists and have fallen deeply in love with my country’s charm, aura and liveliness. I would highly encourage you to make the call and explore the treasures Pakistan has. Just stay a little alert and you will be perfectly fine, thanks for reading my Pakistan travel guide!
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