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TIPS FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS IN PAKISTAN

by Pomy

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Research and Plan

It is important to plan ahead and know where you want to travel when visiting Pakistan since it is a vast country. If you are interested in exploring the mountain regions of Pakistan, keep in mind that you may be limited to visiting only three or four cities within two weeks. Due to landslides and monsoon rains, travel can sometimes be unpredictable. Therefore, it is advisable to have a plan B to make the most of your time.

How to Dress

When dressing, respect the local culture and dress modestly, particularly in more conservative areas. In Pakistan, head coverings are not necessary, except when visiting religious places such as mosques or other places of worship. You can wear Western-style clothes like jeans and tanks in cities like Islamabad, but in remote villages and small towns, it is advisable to wear loose-fitting long shirts over your jeans or trousers. While it is not mandatory to wear a shalwar kameez (local traditional dress), however, it can be comfortable to wear a cotton shalwar kameez due to the hot and humid weather in most parts of the country like Lahore, Multan (Punjab). Moreover, it looks pretty and feels comfortable.

Safety at Public and Rush Places

 When visiting public places, it is best to avoid overly crowded areas or ensure that you have someone accompanying you. In congested environments, there is a risk of experiencing inappropriate touching from passing men who may believe they can escape consequences due to the anonymity provided by the crowd. However, it is essential to note that people in Pakistan also care for women in such situations. If you need help, do not hesitate to ask for it, as you will find individuals readily coming to your aid. Pakistanis are known for their willingness to help others and may assist you in crossing the road, navigating through traffic, offering you a seat on a bus if they are sitting while you are standing, or guiding you in person if you are lost. Make sure to have emergency phone numbers written down so that you can seek help even if your phone battery dies.

Personal Safety

 When traveling alone, it’s important to maintain your safety. Always be aware of your surroundings, and avoid isolated or poorly lit areas, particularly at night. Carry a fully charged mobile phone and emergency contacts with you. Inform someone trustworthy about your itinerary and check in with them regularly. Consider joining organized tours or travel groups designed specifically for solo female travelers. These social media groups provide a supportive environment and offer opportunities to connect with other like-minded individuals. If you’re planning to travel to Pakistan, you can join a Facebook group for solo travel, where you can find a travel buddy. You can often find individuals traveling to the same destination as you, including local females who offer free or cheap accommodation and can also serve as local guides.

Lodging/Accommodation

When looking for lodging or accommodation, choose reputable and secure options. Depending on your budget, you can find hostels, Airbnbs, and good hotels. Big hotels are generally a safe option and can also provide you with taxi and guide services. Prioritize accommodations that have reasonable security measures in place.

Transportation

When traveling around Pakistan, it’s recommended to avail reliable transportation options such as registered taxis, ride-sharing services, or prearranged transfers. Uber and Careem are popular transportation choices in Pakistan as they have tracking apps. In addition to regular taxis, you can also find Bykea motorbikes and rickshaws. If using public transportation, use crowded and well-lit vehicles, especially during off-peak hours.

Respectful Interactions

It’s essential to be respectful of local customs and cultural expectations when interacting with locals. As a female, exercise caution when interacting with strangers and maintain personal boundaries. Pakistani men may misinterpret your smile and politeness as suggestive, so it’s important to politely decline offers that make you uncomfortable. Always trust your instincts and avoid sharing personal information with unfamiliar individuals.

Seek Local Advice

Joining solo women’s travel Facebook groups is also a great idea. These groups often create a supportive community where female travelers share their stories, offer tips, and provide recommendations based on their firsthand experiences. Through such groups, you could connect with like-minded individuals, gain valuable knowledge, and feel more confident about your trip.

Communication/Local Language

Learn some basic phrases in the local language to facilitate communication. Carry a phrasebook or use language translation apps to overcome language barriers.

Emergency Contacts

Always keep a list of important emergency contacts, including local authorities, the embassy/consulate, and the contact information of your accommodation. Save these numbers in your phone and keep a hard copy as well.

Personal Hygiene and Feminine Products

It’s important to note that tampons may not be readily available in Pakistan. If you are a tampon user, it is advisable to pack an ample supply, as sanitary pads are more commonly found.

Cultural Sensitivity

If you are a non-Pakistani woman interested in engaging with Pakistani traditions or pursuing a relationship, you must be sensitive to and respectful of local customs. Understanding and respecting these cultural nuances can help foster better understanding and relationships within Pakistani society.

Deep-Rooted Religion

Pakistan is a country where religion holds deep significance in daily life. It is essential to be sensitive and avoid criticizing or making judgments about local customs and practices.

Maintain a Firm Demeanor

If you do not wish to attract unnecessary attention, be pleasant yet assertive. Pakistani men may misinterpret a smile as a sign of interest, so maintaining a serious and stern demeanor when interacting with men is advisable. Remember, while solo travel can be empowering and rewarding, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety. Always trust your instincts and take precautions to ensure a memorable and secure journey.

Enrollment in STEP for U.S. Citizens Traveling Abroad

Enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a prudent choice for U.S. citizens and nationals abroad, offering essential benefits. By registering your journey with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you gain access to timely safety updates, empowering you to make informed decisions about your travel plans. Moreover, STEP facilitates swift communication with the U.S. Embassy during emergencies, be it natural disasters, civil unrest, or personal crises, ensuring prompt assistance. This enrollment also aids your family and friends in reaching you expeditiously in case of an emergency. Additionally, by securely storing your personal information, STEP enhances consular services, allowing for a more effective response to unforeseen circumstances. 

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