Solo Female Traveler in Pakistan : Safety, Etiquette ,Tips
Would you travel to Pakistan as a solo female traveler? Despite what Google images may tell you, Pakistan has a breathtaking wealth of nature to be admired as well as a culturally rich history and of course a mouth-watering cuisine. However, the best reason to visit Pakistan is the lovely people. The Pakistanis are warm, kind, emotional, and colorful people who couldn’t have welcomed me with more open arms.
Plus, I would argue this is the perfect time to go as Pakistan, while it isn’t spoiled with an influx of tourism. Here is everything I wish I knew before traveling to Pakistan as a solo female traveler and the top reasons you should visit Pakistan soon.
General Safety Advice for Pakistan Travel
Unfortunately, many people overlook Pakistan as a travel destination (especially as a solo female) due to poor media coverage, often portraying the Pakistani people as terrorists. Of course, we can’t say there is no chance you could get caught up in an incident. But similarly, we couldn’t know there is no chance you could get hit by a car or fall victim to the same negative encounters in another country. Naturally, you need to take basic safety precautions to limit your risk, but this is advice I would recommend you take for any time you go abroad or walk around a city you are unfamiliar with.
From experience, I felt safe walking around the cities and even in packed market squares with a camera, phone, and my cross-body bag of cash and valuables on my person. My guide even said pickpocketing and theft are pretty rare in Pakistan. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be careless and let someone take advantage of your trusting nature, but on the whole, you should feel comfortable walking around with your belongings in public. Leaving you more headspace to soak up the rich culture and beautiful surroundings.
As mentioned, Pakistanis are welcoming and open-hearted people. They honestly see foreign travelers as guests in their country and are willing to accommodate you in every way possible. In some countries, I have felt like a walking open wallet being constantly harassed to make a purchase and often felt overcharged because I stand out as a non-local. In Pakistan, they see travelers as more than a source of income to capitalize upon. When I spoke to locals, I felt a sense of calm as they genuinely want to get to know where I was from and what brought me to their country and what I have enjoyed about my visit.
Traveling to Pakistan as a Female..
As a female traveler, I can speak from first-hand experience that it felt safe to travel. Customarily you should follow the dress code of the locals. This will not only make you feel more comfortable as you walk around the city, but it will demonstrate that you respect the locals and their culture and are willing to accommodate their basic rules. As a muslin country, it is customary to cover your shoulders and knees at the very least and, if possible, to your elbows and ankles. Try and wear loose-fitting clothing when you are in public. You may even wish to purchase a few clothing items from local markets. You may even find these clothes more suitable for the heat and help you blend in better to avoid looking like a tourist. Plus, covering up more skin will leave you less susceptible to the sun or mosquitos.
Hotel Safety in Pakistan
Don’t be surprised if you see something that resembles airport security when you enter your hotel for check-in. Although it may seem unnecessary to scan your body and put your bag through an X-ray scanner every time you enter the building, it’s just a precaution.
A local told me the increase in security (especially in the deluxe hotels) is because of the cricket. The hotels are simply taking extra security measures to ensure teams from abroad feel safe in their hotel. They take security very seriously (particularly for foreigners) outside the hotels too. There will be checkpoints in the city, and by road, so you may experience paper checks on the way to your next destination. This is to be expected, and there is nothing to worry about should you come across this.
Tourist Etiquette : Taking photos of locals and with the locals in Pakistan
If you have ever wondered whether the rumors are true and if you’ll have strangers asking to take your photos in the street just because you are a light-eyed foreigner. You may be in for a shock as they are 100% true.
It’s not an exaggeration when I tell you that families will ask for photos and selfies with you. They are usually very polite about it and approach you for permission. However, just be aware that once you agree to a photo with someone, other passersby will see this as an opportunity to ask as well. This is especially common in the less touristy areas. Sometimes I wonder if I would still be stood in the castle square in Lahore if I hadn’t insisted on leaving. So you may not want to agree to it when you are in a rush to get anywhere fast. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being bombarded for photos, just politely excuse yourself. The people aren’t trying to keep you there against your will. They are genuinely just curious to meet you.
Although many locals do partake in smoking, it is strictly prohibited in public areas. So word of caution, do not lite one up in a public place. In your own space is fine; just respect the limits and restrictions of smoking in their country.
Are you ready to pack your bags for the most unforgettable trip?
If you are ready to make life-long friends, experience new flavors and cuisines, learn about the rich culture and enjoy the warmer climate, you will love your visit to Pakistan. Unfortunately, the media gives Pakistan poor press, but I couldn’t have felt more welcomed, and above all, I felt safe. Plus, the inaccurate ‘bad press’ might just make it the perfect time to go. You will get to meet people and experience the culture without being swamped by foreigners and watered down by the tourism industry. If I could press the ‘book flight’ button for you, you best bet I would.
If you found this blog post about Pakistan travel safety and the wealth of reasons to visit Pakistan helpful or just have any further questions about my experience or need any specific advice, please don’t hesitate to contact me.