You’ve seen pictures of vast mountains and breath-taking shrines. Heard stories of endless hospitality. Read articles saying Pakistan is the next best travel destination. You want to visit Pakistan, but you’re still questioning: is Pakistan safe to visit in 2021?
We will cover a whole load of subjects. From the security and safety of solo female tourists in Pakistan to whether you could (or should) take your family on a trip to Pakistan. We’ll even examine whether if it’s safe to drive in Pakistan and everything in between.
So whether you are solely wondering about solo backpacking throughout Pakistan, or if you just want to know whether it’s safe to eat the food in Pakistan, you don’t have to worry. Thanks to reliable sources of information and tips in our guide, we’ve got you covered.
Is Pakistan Safe?
If you want to visit Pakistan, Pakistan is currently safe and secure for travellers of all genders in 2021. There are still security issues in more inaccessible regions of the country, but after years of struggle with terrorism and violence, several places in Pakistan are now secure for locals and tourists alike. As with any travel, you should do your research pre hand before deciding to visit this country.
The reality of the security situation in Pakistan.
The nation rose to stability immensely since the height of Taliban activity around 2009-2012. Pakistan’s army has a strong grip on the country to sustain peace. ISI, the country’s intelligence agency, is highly effective behind the scenes assuring potential threats are dealt with before violence comes to anyone. Streets and main areas might come across as militaristic because of all the checkpoints and army personnel, but they are far more protected than they were before.
The Pakistan you see on the news—guns, explosives, and terrorists aplenty—is far from the reality of Pakistan on the ground. Places that frequent travellers are likely to visit are calm these days. There’s little need to fear acts of terrorism.
Why your trip to Pakistan will be safe:
The probability of an average tourist to get harmed in Pakistan in 2021 is very low. Some of the following reasons justify this:
It’s remarkably challenging to enter unsafe areas. Pakistan’s security organizations require a Non-Objection Certificate (NOC) for most high-risk areas. Aside from the NOC tourists get if crossing the Iran-Pakistan border, it’s practically unattainable to get a NOC for other areas without a powerful local’s help/sponsorship. The Pakistani army has these areas cordoned so that locals or foreigners are not exposed to any danger If you don’t have a NOC, you’ll be turned back at a checkpoint. Therefore, if you visit Pakistan, you’re unlikely to truly enter any dangerous areas.
Protection convoys are standard in dangerous areas tourists can visit. In several places, foreign tourists are allowed and attain armed security guards to escort them around. Fairy Meadows and a few places in Gilgit-Baltistan are the most common destinations where this is the case.
Where are the safest places to visit in Pakistan?
Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB)
Majority of people who visit Pakistan, want to visit Hunza at one time or another. Gilgit Baltistan as a whole is truly calm, and if you’re looking for relaxation during travel, hospitable people, and a very safe track record, Hunza is the place to start.
The most frequently touristed and trusted region in northern Pakistan has been peaceful for many decades, and most travellers have an easy and comfortable experience in Hunza. Many travellers—foreign and domestic—visit each year for trekking, motorbiking, and more.
Ghizer, Gilgit Baltistan (GB)
Ghizer is one of the ten districts of Gilgit Baltistan (GB). It is a glorious land with enormous natural treasures. It is widely known as peace-loving and deeply courteous, with the natural beauty around the globe. Ghizer valley is also famous for beautiful lush green landscape, eye-catching freshwater lakes and high peaks of Hindukush and Himalayas touching the sky.
Islamabad – The federal capital of Pakistan
Serving as the capital of Pakistan after the Sixties, Islamabad was developed according to a mindfully organized plan, separated into sectors along a grid of clean, tree-lined streets. The city is surrounded by the Margalla Hills, the foothills of the Himalayas and the home of unique species of leopard, deer, birds, and even porcupines. Several hiking paths end at Daman-e-Koh, a picnic spot with a splendid view of the entire city, including the massive modernist Faisal Mosque and even the Rawal Dam.
Deemed the most energetic city of Pakistan, you can find everlasting lights, music and arts in Lahore. People are pretty used to seeing foreign tourists in Lahore, primarily in the historical areas, and the city is quite well managed security-wise. The normal dangers associated with visiting big cities exist—think harassment, petty theft, etc.—but as a whole, Lahore is welcoming and a good addition to any trip.
Because so many diverse people live here the food in Karachi has collected its flavours from many sources – yet still has its own taste. Sindhi Biryani, Nihari, BBQ Kebabs, Haleem, Achar and Karahi are some of the best offerings here. The taste buds of Karachi are hot, spicy, salty and involves gravy more than curry. Seafood is popular in Karachi too as its the only major city by the sea, and fried vegetables and lentils are also common. However, it’s not just local cuisine that is great here. Karachi also sports many fine restaurants and cafes serving international favourites.
Karachi is a steadfast city that is always elevating. From the break of dawn until late into the night the activities of this city keep going. Somehow, people of Karachi are always up to something.
What are the actual threats of travelling in Pakistan?
- Harassment. Groping, tracking and stalking, and sometimes more is a common experience for both male and female travellers in Pakistan. Groping is particularly common in large crowds.
- Road accidents/Traffic. Roads in cities are busy. Many truck and bus drivers give drive recklessly and the law is not for them to follow. Watch out, and never step in front of a moving bus.
- Food-related stomach issues. Health standards in Pakistan are poor. Combined with the unnecessary use of oils and spices in the food, it’s normal for visitors to have tummy issues at some point throughout their trip.
- Injury or stampedes in large crowds. People can be unruly in Pakistan, and when people get worked up… they get really worked up. Be careful in large mobs that are getting dangerous—it’s easy for violence to flare up or stampedes to start.
- Altitude/Height Sickness. Many villages in northern Pakistan are at high enough altitudes to cause altitude sickness, and many common passes (Babusar Pass, Khunjerab Pass) are 4,000m+.
Safety advise for travelling in Pakistan
Buy a local SIM card and a local’s phone number. It might sound odd now, but trust us—people will give their phone number to you for support often. Save some! They’re useful for translating in difficult spots, letting people know where you are, and keeping in touch with hosts and other helpful people.
Ask locals and experienced foreigners for information. Facebook groups such as Backpacking Pakistan (mostly foreigners only), See You in Pakistan (local and foreign), and Female Pakistan Travelers (local and foreign women only) have an abundance of information and contacts. Couchsurfing is another great resource for connecting with locals.
Be careful in large gatherings. As mentioned previously, harassment incidents occur frequently in rural areas and open gatherings, so are careful while moving around. Theft is another problem faced by Tourists in Sindh.
Keep good spirits and trust around Pakistani people. Most Pakistanis are very hospitable with foreign guests and will do their utmost to make sure your visit goes smoothly. Constant mistrust is tiring; trust people who seem good.