Solo female travel in Pakistan changed my life. But that doesn’t mean every minute has been roses and butterflies.
From encountering a stalker on a bus to stares that you can’t really do anything but ignore to enhanced security protocols (aka harassment) as I’m a woman away from her country by herself—solo female travel in Pakistan is not your Eat, Pray, Love moment. Though I guess from my personal experience it can be?
All jokes aside, traveling in Pakistan isn’t easy. But it’s 1000% worth it. The endless hospitality, landscapes that make you feel like you’re watching a movie, and the rich history all come together to inshrine Pakistan as one of the most riveting lands you can wander as a traveler.
As more Pakistani and foreign women begin to take a chance on this truly fantastic country, I’m hoping to spill the tea on what solo female travel in Pakistan is really like. Are you looking for the greatest adventure of your life? Let’s get into it!
Why Travel to Pakistan?
After spending over 9 months in the country (and counting) traveling with both foreign males, foreign females, and locals, I can assure you there is no country in the world like Pakistan.
But the experiences and connections I’ve made here and the things I’ve seen have been possible only because I made the decision to travel to Pakistan solo.
And being a woman means yet another thing: perks. Think the comfy front seat in an over-packed van, the ability to meet and interact with local ladies no matter where you are, and a whole host of other surprises. Traveling alone as a woman in Pakistan gives you the power to bridge the gender divide.
Women can partake in all the activities the guys can without (much) judgment, yet you can also access spaces that male travelers would never be able to. And yes, it is safe for females to travel alone in Pakistan, albeit uncommon.
Infinite natural beauty, the largest number of glaciers outside the polar regions, and the most hospitable people on the planet are but three reasons you should travel to Pakistan.
It’s a country filled with history and delicious cuisine and is truly unlike anywhere else. Yes, there will be difficult moments or days but trust me when I say the highs in Pakistan ALWAYS outdo the lows.
Due to media misconceptions, Pakistan also receives few foreign tourists (though numbers are increasing each year) so it’s very easy to get off the beaten path!
What’s Up with Women in Pakistan?
As much as I love Pakistan, it’s definitely a difficult place to be a woman in many areas. Society is deeply patriarchal, and in conservative areas, it’s very common to not see any women out and about on the streets.
Outside of the posh areas of Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore, guys and girls hanging out as friends is not really a thing. But despite all this, Pakistan is far from the worst place to be a woman. Today, women are in more and more positions of authority, and there are many educational opportunities for Pakistani girls.
While there absolutely are areas where you won’t find a single woman out and about in broad daylight, can also find underground rave parties with plenty of girls wearing outfits you’d expect to find anywhere else in the world. Though such vast differences are often drawn on socioeconomic lines, it’s still important for solo female travelers to Pakistan to know they exist.
But the most important thing to remember is that we don’t travel to change cultures or countries. As guests, we should simply be looking to learn and experience a culture different from our own.
Yes, most of Pakistan is conservative and patriarchal, yet it’s also home to the most hospitable people you will ever encounter.
Is Pakistan Safe?
Despite what you may have heard from Western media, Pakistan IS safe to travel in and has been for years.
The security issues that plagued the country a decade ago have been eradicated, and today you’ll hear about more violent crimes and shootings in America than in Pakistan.
To put things in perspective, America has hundreds of mass shootings every single year (infinitely more than Pakistan) yet millions of tourists still travel there every year.
Moreover, the few places in Pakistan that actually are unstable (interior Balochistan and the former FATA region of KPK) will not be accessible to foreign tourists, solo females, or otherwise.
In fact, Pakistan is EXTREMELY overprotective of foreigners. I’ve been in a situation where despite having all the required documents, I still couldn’t go to a dream destination, Broghil Valley, because it was simply too close to Afghanistan for high-level authorities (AKA the army) to feel comfortable.
You may also be offered security in certain places. Unless you’re seriously trying to get into a restricted/special area where you don’t have a choice, I firmly believe that armed security is not needed and only attracts unnecessary attention.
In short: Pakistan IS safe for travel. Major tourist spots have no security issues, and there are no specific concerns for foreigners. I’ve never been to any other country where I was looked out for and offered help from both locals and authorities as in Pakistan.
Due to all this, I believe Pakistan to be even safer than many places throughout the world that are more frequently traveled.
But is it Safe for Women to Travel in Pakistan?
In short: yes, I do believe so. In fact, I literally had never traveled solo ANYWHERE (including in my home country) before traveling to Pakistan.
While I don’t necessarily recommend Pakistan as a first-time solo female travel destination, traveling here isn’t as difficult as you might think, especially if you’re genuinely interested in getting to know the people and culture.
In fact, I’ve felt more comfortable on the roads in Pakistan alone than I did in some parts of India WITH a male friend. While the media tries to paint this as the opposite, traveling in Pakistan as a woman is safe for several reasons.
First of all, people are INCREDIBLY helpful. Anytime you might feel lost or unsure of where to go, someone will direct you. As a woman on her own out in public, people will be likely to help you if something goes wrong, even if it’s something as simple as you dropped a water bottle accidentally. (True story!)
Places in Pakistan that might be unsafe (i.e. interior Balochistan, areas near the former FATA region that borders Afghanistan etc.) will not be able to be accessed by foreign travelers.
While the media refuses to give it credit, Pakistan has made incredible progress in the past years, and all areas tourists regularly visit are in fact safe. There are no specific safety concerns solo females should have that are different from traveling anywhere else in Asia.
While traveling in Pakistan as a solo female might be more intense due to it still being a rarity, following solo female travel safety basics will get you very far.
Can anyone travel to Pakistan solo?
Pakistan is my favorite country in the world, and I do believe there are places here that virtually anyone could visit and enjoy.
Pakistan is NOT where I would recommend for your first solo trip. While I mentioned I did in fact do this, know that I had spent 4 months in Pakistan before with a foreign male, and on top of that 7 additional months in India and Southeast Asia.
If you’ve traveled (and I mean REALLY traveled, not just partied) in Asia, and you’re genuinely interested in true adventure travel and aren’t afraid of a bit of culture shock, then Pakistan is a reasonable next step.
But if you’ve never left your country and the idea of squat toilets, separate seating for women, and days of hanging out with ONLY men scares you, then solo female travel in Pakistan may not be for you.
The Best Places in Pakistan For Female Travel
However, there do happen to be some destinations in Pakistan that are ideal for virtually all solo female travelers. If you’re new to the region, or just looking for an easy introduction to Pakistan, here’s where you should head:
1. Hunza Valley
Hunza Valley – perhaps Pakistan’s most famous hamlet – is undoubtedly the best place in Pakistan for solo female travelers. It’s where I first headed at the beginning of my solo adventure, and it’s where you should too.
Well aside from being absolutely stunning, the collection of villages that make up Hunza Valley are the most liberal in Pakistan. Most people living in Hunza are Ismailis, which is a very “relaxed” form of Islam.
As a result, alcohol is commonly enjoyed and locally produced, and Hunzakuch have the highest literacy rate in Pakistan. Education is valued here, and you will find some women-owned businesses.
Even so, keep in mind that society is still not exactly equal. But having seen foreign tourists for decades, Hunza is the place I’ve felt 100% safe walking around alone in. Men are generally respectful. You won’t find staring or harassment here. Being one of the most educated places in Pakistan, Hunza is full of open minds and open hearts.
2. Phander Valley
Phander Valley is a hidden gem of Pakistan if I’ve ever seen one. Known for its bright blue lake and matching rivers, Phander is synonymous with peace. And it’s extremely easy to travel through as a solo female! Locals of Phander, which is located in the Ghizer District of Gilgit Baltistan, are kind and friendly and it has a great budget guesthouse, the Lake Inn.
Think similar vibes to Hunza, with FAR less tourism. Anyone could have a good time in Phander, and it’s easy to reach by public transport from Gilgit.
Near to Phander is another valley called Yasin. Yasin isn’t that used to tourism yet (I.e. the authorities aren’t) but it’s easily one of the most hospitable valleys in Pakistan. I spent three nights there and not one was spent in a hotel!
3. Islamabad / Lahore / Karachi
While far from the peaceful valleys in the mountains, big cities always tend to be modern and relatively liberal and Pakistan’s major metros are no exception.
Islamabad in particular is the most modern city in the country and extremely easy to navigate as a solo female traveler. It was where I spent my first solo week in Pakistan, and I easily made friends with city locals. There’s quite a bit to do here as well.
All three cities have westernized areas that would be good choices to ease into solo travel in big cities. Even underground raves occur in Pakistan’s cities, and foreigners can buy alcohol legally from international hotels.
Couchsurfing is a scene that is alive and well in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi and I do recommend you use it. BUT, make sure there are other reviews from SOLO FEMALE TRAVELERS.
Creepy men often present wonderfully to solo guys and couples, so if you only see those reviews on a host’s profile, beware.
4. Bonus: Upper Chitral
Okay, so while it would be quite difficult from a security perspective to travel here as a solo female completely alone, that has nothing to do with the quality of the people or place. As such, it’s one of the few places I think a local guide/friend could be a good idea as it could be difficult to travel here ATM otherwise. (This doesn’t apply to Pakistanis.)
Upper Chitral is undoubtedly my favorite place in Pakistan, and I’ve now visited twice. However, because of this region being (in between many, many essentially impassable mountains) near to Afghanistan, it was mostly closed to foreign independent travelers for years.
In 2019, rules became significantly more relaxed and I was able to visit. As of September 2021, there are significantly more check posts and check-ins on foreigners, but the region is truly the safest and most peaceful in all of Pakistan.
The Yarkhun Valley in particular is, like Hunza, predominant Ismaili, and thus people are open-minded, very friendly, and hospitable. Folks in Mastuj at the Tourist Garden Guesthouse (Whatsapp number: +92-342-6117133) can help you arrange public transport or come with you. Don’t worry about texting these guys though, the entire family is extremely welcoming, respectful and has been hosting foreign tourists for decades.
If you’re interested in meeting local women and girls, this is a fantastic place to do so. I met tons of ladies here and you’ll see them out and about all throughout Yarkhun.
Further reading: Best Places to Visit in Pakistan
The Most Difficult Places in Pakistan for Female Travelers
Some places in Pakistan are not easy for anyone to visit – this is due to government restrictions, heat, ultra-conservative culture, or lack of public transportation.
Note: This does NOT apply to Karachi.
While Sindh isn’t the most conservative place in Pakistan nor is it particularly dangerous, it’s VERY unfamiliar with foreign tourism, especially when it comes to solo females.
Even if you’re with a Pakistani male citizen in Sindh, harassment by authorities is all but guaranteed. Foreign tourists have reported constant run-ins with security officials, forced armed guards, and not being allowed to stay with locals. Does this mean you shouldn’t travel to Sindh? Nope! But perhaps make it your last stop rather than first.
This is extremely unfortunate as Sindh is perhaps the province that is richest in history and has fascinating religious shrines, but the level of surveillance makes many foreign tourists want to leave ASAP.
While your experience might be different, the best way to enjoy Sindh is by staying with top-rated, local Couchsurfing hosts. For example, Sukkur is a town with plenty to see but heavy, heavy harassment from police for no explicable reason.
While many foreigners end up saying “Sukkur sucks” this friend of mine ended up having a fabulous and harassment-free time as he was staying with a well-connected Couchsurfer who managed to keep police/authorities at bay.
In Pakistan, local connections are truly invaluable, as a solo female traveler or otherwise.
2. Parts of KPK
KPK is personally one of my favorite places in Pakistan. From the history, unreal hospitality, delicious meat, and beautiful landscapes, all of KPK is worth traveling to.
KPK is the most conservative province in Pakistan. You will rarely see women anywhere on the street, and those that are out often wear chador or burqa.
Men tend to have the least access to women here, and thus meeting a solo female traveler will be a surprise.
However, I absolutely am not saying don’t go to KPK. Just that you should know what to expect. Vibes might be intense in some places, but in my experience, always welcoming. Though in KPK, major tourist places like Naran and Kaghan don’t really apply to this. The Upper Chitral region is another exception to this as it’s quite liberal.
What is Solo Female travel in Pakistan really like?
In my opinion, traveling as a woman in Pakistan has FAR more positives than negatives, especially if you’re planning to stick to the scenic Northern Areas.
But regardless, it’s always a good thing to know what you’re getting into beforehand. Here’s the good stuff to expect when traveling as a woman in Pakistan:
You’ll get the best seats on public transport
As it’s not culturally acceptable for unrelated men and women to sit next to each other, women will generally be seated in the front of a bus or shared car. Sometimes you’ll luck out and get an entire front seat to yourself, but even if you’re on a bus or in a van, you can rest assured you won’t have to sit next to a potentially creepy guy.
You’ll be viewed as more trustworthy
Families are most likely to trust a solo female traveler than a couple or a single man. This means you can expect more invitations and access to all types of spaces men could never enter.
You can go inside any home
As it’s customary in many areas for women to refrain from meeting men they’re not related to, male travelers are often only allowed in guest rooms and cannot meet female family members.
As a woman, you’ll be able to go in any room in any home, and meet all family members, both male and female.
One of my best experiences with this particular perk was when I was able to dance and meet with a bunch of girls while the male friend I was traveling with had to stay elsewhere. I have also been able to meet grandmothers, mothers, and wives of male hosts and friends that guys couldn’t!
Everyone will look out for you
One of the reasons I believe Pakistan is safe for female travelers is this: Due to how conservative the country is, indecent behavior towards women in public is very taboo, even more so than in India.
If some form of harassment were to happen to you in public, you can definitely expect people to help. While it can be traced back to the “Gora Complex” colonial hangover from the British Raj, almost all Pakistanis are generally protective and respectful to foreigners, at least in public that is.
You’ll get epic seats at festivals and sporting events
From volleyball games to Thursday night Dhamal in Lahore, I’ve definitely gotten some prime seats simply because I was a girl traveling alone. At the dhamal in particular, a sea of men made sure I had a front-row seat and that no one disturbed me. To this day, that night remains one of my favorite travel memories.
Here is the not so good stuff:
Various forms of male harassment
While the harassment in Pakistan is far from the worst in the world, it’s still something you’ll likely experience at some point.
From catcalling on the street, to random men photographing or videoing you as they walk by, to casual “accidental touches,” all of the above and more is possible, though it’s infinitely more likely in Punjabi and Sindhi cities than in Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.
If no one is physically touching me, I usually just ignore or tell them to “F Off.” Bhenchod and chutiya are also useful Urdu swears to know for such times 😉
Even so, I felt more comfortable traveling in Pakistan alone than I did in Northern Indian cities with a man. For the most part, men in Pakistan are decent and respectful.
Expect LOTS of staring
If you can’t handle being stared at, you probably won’t enjoy most of Pakistan. Men love to stare, alot. Honestly, most stares I’ve experienced haven’t felt creepy but more along the lines of shock and/or surprise. As I mentioned previously, many men and boys have NEVER seen a foreign woman, never mind one on her own.
Personally, I just ignore the stares and go on my way. Though it’s always a bit of fun to stare back, especially from a motorbike!
You will spend days if not weeks with ONLY men
At this point, I can count the number of females I’ve met in nearly six months of solo travel in Pakistan on two hands. Unless you manage to find a circle in one of Pakistan’s major cities, meeting girlfriends you have a lot in common with might be a bit challenging, though not impossible.
You’ll undoubtedly meet another solo female traveler at some point if you stay long enough, but you can’t guarantee you’ll be able to link up with someone.
But still, expect to spend a LOT of time with men. Luckily, it’s definitely possible to meet age-appropriate local guys that you can relate to. And once that happens, you might end up forgetting that you’re the only girl in the room.
You’ll constantly be asked about marriage and children
Get ready for it, because you WILL be asked. Where’s your husband? Do you have children? Why not? Admittedly, these questions are MUCH more common in conservative areas. I’ve never been asked this in Hunza, for instance.
While not required, some solo female travelers in Pakistan choose to wear a fake wedding ring. Whether you choose to do this or not is up to you, but it could be beneficial.
While this is changing within younger generations, traditionally there is no dating or boyfriends/girlfriends in Pakistan. There is simply “single” or “married.” As such, telling guys you have a boyfriend may end up meaning the same thing as being single to them.
Be prepared for overprotection
As solo female travel in Pakistan is still uncommon, it makes security officials much more uncomfortable. Foreigners are already given infinite more scrutiny and restrictions than citizens, and this is amplified with solo female travelers.
If you stick to very on-the-beaten-path Pakistan destinations, you likely won’t experience this. But getting off-trail to places like Ishkoman, Upper Chitral and various places in Sindh and South Punjab will undoubtedly lead to encounters with police/police associates.
What to Wear in Pakistan
It’s important to keep in mind that Pakistan IS a conservative Muslim country. Outside of elite circles, girls will almost always wear the shalwar khameez, which just so happens to be one of the comfiest outfits in the world.
Made up of tunic pants and a loose shirt that reaches the knees or longer, you can have one made in any color or style for around $10. This is absolutely what I recommend you wear in Pakistan, to both show respect and avoid unwanted attention.
It’s totally okay to wear leggings instead of shalwar (pants in Urdu), but keeping your butt covered and avoiding tight tops are a must.
In Hunza and major cities, it’s okay to wear jeans and even a short sleeve shirt. And while people are used to this in Karimabad for example, heading out to the Walled City of Lahore in jeans is NOT something I’d personally do (plus it is hot AF in Lahore for jeans).
What Can Females Can Wear Trekking?
While trekking in uninhabited areas, such norms don’t really apply. However, if you’re going to be going through villages or encountering locals in a known conservative area, having something to tie around your waist is a good idea.
Another thing to know is that a dupatta (a scarf/shawl) often comes with a shalwar kameez and is an essential item to keep with you!
Covering your hair will be a requirement to enter mosques or shrines, and on top of that a dupatta can also double up as wind or sun protection.
Aside from inside religious spaces, it’s not a law for women to cover their heads in Pakistan, foreign or local. Even so, I felt more comfortable doing this in some highly conservative areas such as Swat Valley and Dir.
What NOT to Wear in Pakistan
This should go without saying, but just to remind y’all here are some things you should NEVER wear as a female traveler in Pakistan, unless perhaps you’re at a private party or in your hotel room.
- Sundresses (even with a coat)
- Tank tops
- Leggings alone without a long shirt
- Western swimwear
As for the last point, if you go swimming a shalwar khameez is best, or at the very least loose pants and a big t-shirt will do.
Social Etiquette Essentials for Traveling in Pakistan
While there are not rules or laws governing most social behaviors, adhering to the following norms will make for a much more chill adjustment to travel in Pakistan. As a solo foreign female traveler, even if you’re covered from head to toe you will attract attention.
Most is not negative or malicious, many people (especially children) have never seen a foreigner before as foreign tourism in Pakistan all but died out in the years following 9/11.
Going against these standards won’t get you thrown in jail, but it might make things MUCH more uncomfortable.
Wear appropriate clothing, always
As already mentioned, dressing modestly is a MUST out in public, with few exceptions. Even in places where girls will wear jeans and short sleeves things like shorts and sundresses are absolutely not worn. It is even rare to see men wearing shorts outside of sporting events and posh parks.
Don’t shake hands with men first
Men and women don’t shake hands, except (like most exceptions) in certain liberal areas. If a man puts his hand out in greeting, you can do the same, but to be on the safe side, put your right hand over your heart when greeting men.
Don’t be too friendly to men you don’t know
The reality is that most men have very little exposure to women, and once married will only interact with their wives and associated female family members.
To talk candidly with a solo female might be a brand new experience, and even routine friendliness could be mistaken as flirting.
This is especially true in places that don’t see much foreign tourism. This doesn’t mean you should be rude. Be nice, but don’t ask too many questions or express strong opinions.
But do know that being rude to someone who is annoying you, harassing you, or otherwise making you uncomfortable in any way is ok.
Cover your head in religious places
This is perhaps the most important rule on this list and is a law. If you’re entering a shrine, tomb, mosque or any other religious place or event, use a dupatta!
Some famous mosques offer disposable head coverings for non-Muslims – but is best to always have a shawl or head covering of some kind in your bag.
Know your limits with alcohol and hashish
As a foreign woman, you won’t be held to the same standards as local women are. Unfair as it may be, this is the reality, and it also applies to *illicit* substances. You might be surprised to discover that alcohol, hashish (another form of the marijuana plant) and any other drug you can imagine is readily available in Pakistan.
It’s legal for foreigners to buy and consume alcohol, and while hashish isn’t technically legal, it might as well be as it’s even widely smoked by many police officers. If you plan to either get your drink or smoke on, DO NOT get too drunk/high in the presence of men you don’t know.
Don’t Show too Much Emotion in Public
Women do NOT show emotion publically. Even men are mostly cordial in public. Losing your cool as is ever so common in the West is rare in Pakistan, and will attract tons of attention. Staying quiet, reserved, and lowkey is always the way to go, unless you’re in physical danger.
Another exception to this rule is when dealing with overprotective security. Do NOT be afraid to be a bold, assertive woman with them. It’s the only way that they’ll (hopefully) one day understand that foreign travelers do not want or need armed security. I’m not saying to be disrespectful and list off your knowledge of Urdu swears, but being loud, confident, and self-assured is absolutely the way to go when dealing with them.
Don’t say anything negative about religion/ Islam
The exception to this is if you know for sure you’re with open-minded individuals that you are positive will not be offended and will agree with you – or at least be open to hearing your point of view.
You will know who these people are when you meet them, and such people will almost undoubtedly be from Lahore/Islamabad/Karachi or Hunza. Aside from that, it’s also best not to say you’re an atheist either. Show respect and interest in Islamic history in culture. It’s beautiful, fascinating, and likely different from what you grew up with.
We travel to learn and experience, not to judge! If you are unable to leave feminist beliefs and thoughts at the door when coming to Pakistan, you might have a difficult time. As much as we might disagree with how things are in foreign lands, it’s absolutely not our place as outsiders to try to change or complain about them.
My Top Tips for Female Pakistan Travelers
7 Essential safety tips for female travel in Pakistan:
1. NEVER GIVE YOUR PHONE NUMBER OUT
…to MEN YOU DON’T KNOW.
This is in caps for a reason because it’s a point I just can’t stress enough.
Storytime: My first week in Pakistan, I took an overnight bus from Islamabad to Hunza. My bag couldn’t fit under my assigned seat that was next to a young girl, so I asked to be moved to the bag. Major mistake number one.
As I can speak some Urdu, I ended up in a conversation with a 50+-year-old guy on the back of the bus. I had just arrived in Pakistan and was eager to practice my conversation skills. I only spoke to this man for maybe an hour or two, and to be completely honest, NOTHING in the conversation was creepy. So that led to MAJOR MISTAKE #2, giving him my WhatsApp number.
What ensued was a week of full-on digital stalking. This man even paid a phone store for a photo of my passport and kept saying he was a government employee. Needless to say, I was freaked TF out. Luckily, it became clear that all was a lie and the harassment soon stopped once I blocked him.
This isn’t to scare you into not coming to Pakistan, but simply to share the reality of what can happen when you give strangers your phone number. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t EVER give a man in Pakistan your number. Just make sure you actually know the person you’re giving it to.
2. Bring a LOT of Tampons!
Tampons of any and all kinds are very difficult to find in Pakistan and are essentially unused. If you plan to stay awhile (or even if you don’t) bring way more tampons than you think you’ll need.
Other types of specialty female products may be difficult to find as well, pads are available virtually everywhere but they are not the kind most females coming from abroad are used to.
3. Don’t walk alone at night
This tip isn’t Pakistan-specific–I’d follow it anywhere in the world. Nighttime is unfortunately not a good time to wander down dark alleys and unknown pockets of crazy cities. If you’re keen to go to a specific restaurant or event after dark, try to go with someone else and know how you’ll leave.
4. Address men using “bhai” or “uncle”
As bhai means brother, use it to address men that are close to you in age to set a boundary. Uncle or “chacha” can be used when speaking to guys notably older than you.
5. Get a local SIM card ASAP
You NEED to be able to navigate and contact people to travel in Pakistan safely. Plus, SIM cards are super cheap. In major cities, Jazz or Zong works best while in Gilgit Baltistan SCOM is the only provider that works. Telenor is your best bet throughout KPK.
6. Use Uber and Careem in cities
Uber and Careem are both cheap, reliable, and readily available when it comes to safely traveling around Pakistan’s major cities. To maximize safety, sit behind the driver and do NOT give out your actual phone number.
Motorbike options exist, but these are rarely used by women. If you have a lot of experience traveling you can give it a try as they’re cheap, but remember this involves sitting mere inches away from a random man.
7. Learn a bit of Urdu
While English is truly spoken everywhere in Pakistan, so is Urdu. Knowing some basic phrases and words will make you feel safer while traveling in the country and also earn you some respect.
Where and How to Meet Women in Pakistan
While meeting women in Pakistan is a bit difficult, the good news is that it’s easiest for solo female travelers.
Even so, I will admit it might take some trial and error to really meet some female friends. Here are some places and ways to meet women in Pakistan:
Accept invites into family homes–Invites into family homes are plentiful all throughout Pakistan, and some of my fondest memories have come from accepting such invitations. As a solo female traveler, staying in the home of a family is one of the best ways to really get to know women. It is safe for female travelers to Pakistan to do this, as long as you’re positive it’s a family home and not just the home of a single man or multiple men.
Couchsurfing–Though most hosts are men, these men usually have families including wives/children. As a woman, you’ll get to meet the female family members even in the most conservative of areas, something male travelers will never be able to do.
Female Pakistan Travelers Facebook Group–A great place to connect with and talk to Pakistani and foreign female travelers. I ended up meeting a girl from this group and had a wonderful time at her home. The group doesn’t allow men to join under any circumstances, and it’s truly a safe space to find fellow females to travel and/or chill with.
Hunza Food Pavilion- A small food shop in Karimabad in Gilgit Baltistan run by a local woman who serves traditional Hunzai cuisine.
Gulmit Carpet Center – A women-only weaving center where ladies learn how to make carpets to sell, thus providing them with an income.
Relationships and Marriage with Pakistani Men
Ah, an interesting topic and one that seems to be more and more common these days: foreign-Pakistani relationships. As someone who has notable personal experience in this department, do know that it is 1000% possible to have a loving relationship with a Pakistani man. In fact, it’s even possible to have a relationship that might not even seem that different from any others you’ve had.
However, as I’ve mentioned time and time again throughout this guide, it’s most likely that such prospects are natives of Lahore/Islamabad/Karachi or Hunza.
Basically, don’t go somewhere as conservative as Peshawar looking for love. Hunza? A completely different story–I personally know two solo female travelers who have found love in Pakistan’s most famous valley.
Even so, it’s important to know that dating is generally not really a thing, though it is becoming more widespread amongst Millennials and Gen Z’ers.
Absolutely beware of any Pakistani men that immediately start talking about marriage. While it might be common in Pakistan to have arranged marriages or very short engagements, I would not recommend either of those things with anyone you barely know.
Is Pakistan Safe for Online Dating?
The internet is also not a place for meeting local guys. If you really want to meet men in Pakistan, you need to do so in person. This will up the chances of success tenfold.
It’s also important to keep in mind that while it’s significantly less problematic for a male to be dating/marrying a foreigner than a female, it’s still a very rare thing overall.
Depending on how conservative the guy’s family is, you may run into issues or push back. While you can’t help who you like, be wary of men who are *clearly* just looking for a visa, and keep open flirting resigned to obvious liberal spaces.
Dealing with Security Officials as a Female Traveler
One thing that’s very unique to travel in Pakistan is the fact that you WILL at some point interact with security officials.
Don’t let that scare you though- it’s simply a reality of travel in Pakistan and will likely be a minor blip in your travels. Nevertheless, it’s still important to be aware of different security officials you might encounter. Also, I’ve found 99% of officials I’ve dealt with here to be FAR nicer than police back home.
Pakistan has many security networks and agencies that protect the country, and part of that involves keeping track of foreigners – there are supposedly 25 (!) different security agencies operating in Hunza alone!
Unsurprisingly, these groups are ALWAYS more protective of solo female travelers. I’ve personally had to explain to them that I don’t need security and I’m fine alone, and I know many other ladies who have had to do the same.
As a solo female traveler, the best way to avoid too much attention from authorities is by using local public transport. Unfortunately, female bikers and cyclists have reported forced security, repeated check-ins, along with being forced to move from extremely safe locations that had NO history of violence.
This stems from solo female travel in Pakistan still being an anomaly. Agencies have gotten somewhat used to it in places like Hunza, but even there you may be checked in on.
Pakistani Security Agencies:
Different security agencies you might encounter while traveling Pakistan:
Police: Police are generally nice to foreigners, especially in the Northern Areas and Chitral. I’ve been invited or given tea by many officers just by passing through checkpoints, which is where you’ll often encounter them.
MI (AKA Military Intelligence): Basically exactly as the name says, intelligence for the military. They keep tabs on foreigners as Pakistan has had issues with spies in the past. I’ve encountered them mostly in border regions, and most of the time they will get any info they need from the hotel you’re staying at.
ISI: Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency. Most of these guys are in plain clothes and you may not even know you’ve encountered one of them. A prerequisite of being an ISI agent is English proficiency, so be very suspicious of any person claiming to be a member who can barely speak or type in English.
Chitral Scouts: If you plan to travel in Chitral, you’ll encounter the Chitral Scouts, which is a local army just for protecting the Chitral region. They man checkpoints throughout the region where you’ll have to present your passport. I definitely recommend photocopies!
It’s interesting to note that most of the time, questions will be asked to the owner of the hotel you’re staying at or to a male friend.
Wrap Up: Is Pakistan Safe?
As you might have gathered by now – I am a big proponent for solo females traveling in Pakistan. This country has so many unique experiences on offer. It is one of the true un-touched adventure destinations left – and there is always something interesting to be found around every corner.
Like any country, Pakistan has its unique safety concerns and annoyances – but after getting through the bulk of this Pakistan safety guide – you are now properly armed with the information you need to have an epic (safe) trip here.
If you have had experiences traveling as a solo woman in Pakistan you want to share or if you found this guide helpful, let me know in the comments below. Safe travels guys.