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Is Pakistan Safe? What to Know Before Traveling

At least once a week, we get asked by people keen on joining one of our adventures: “Is Pakistan Safe?”. 

The answer to that question usually involves a 10-minute conversation by phone with our adventure consultant staff. 

Pakistan is a beautiful, complex, and nuanced – as it the saftey question surrounding Pakistan. 

Despite what Western media (and governments) might say, Pakistan as a whole is one of the safest countries we have ever been too – and we can proudly say that after running trips here for seven years that YES – Pakistan is a safe country to visit. That said, no country on earth is perfect and there is plenty of stuff you should know before traveling here. 

Below, we will cover the whole range of topics surrounding safe travel in Pakistan. By the end of this article, you should arrive at the answer to the question is Pakistan safe or should this country be on your no-go list…

Pakistan Travel Advisories

You might be thinking “but my government is recommending against travel to Pakistan and you tell me it is safe. Why is that?”.

While it is true that many Western governments have classified certain regions of Pakistan as “do not travel” zones – these places are mostly border areas with Afghanistan and Iran – and are geographically very far from where our trips go and where the vast majority of tourists interested in culture or trekking are traveling to.

And Pakistan is huge! Understanding the geography and what areas are considered risky and what areas are considered totally safe is essential to understanding Pakistan and travel here. 

While we also would not recommend traveling super close to the border with Iran in the very south of Pakistan – the regions of Northern Pakistan- where all the big mountains are – rank among the safest regions of the country –  with incidents involving foreigners at basically zero for the last 10 years. 

Deep in the Karakoram range near K2 Base Camp as an example – the border with China and India is literally separated by 7000 and 8000-meter peaks – so we find it highly unlikely that China will invade Pakistan from the north side of K2. 

Our advice is to think twice before traveling to “sensitive” border areas and use common sense. 

k2 base camp height
The Chinese are not invading over K2!

Is Pakistan Safe for Solo Women Travelers?

Pakistan is a country where men dominate society and once you leave the cities they are just generally less local women around. 

Things are slowly changing in Pakistan with regard to women being more visible in Pakistani society, especially among the educated classes. That said, traveling in Pakistan as a foreign woman is very safe if you take some common sense steps to protect yourself as you would in any country. 

Solo women make up around 50% of our tours typically and in 7 years of running tours in Pakistan we have never had a woman on one of our trips experience a serious incident. 

In general, most Pakistani men are respectful and welcoming to foreign women. Like in any country though, there are always men who will at least attempt to act inappropriately and get away with it. This is more of a global problem though versus a Pakistan-only problem

And it should be noted too that you do not need to join a group tour (although it is more fun, and we hope you do!) to experience Pakistan safely as a solo female traveler. 

The feedback we have received – both from our own clients and from friends who have traveled solo all across Pakistan – female travelers in general feel more safe walking down the street in Islamabad or Lahore at night versus in Paris or New York City. 

Safety on our trips is obviously the top priority of Epic staff – and we do everything we can to ensure a safe and welcoming involvement for all of our clients – men and women.

snow lake trek pakistan
Is Pakistan Safe for solo women? Yes it is.

Is Pakistan Safe for Trekking?

One of the main reasons to visit Pakistan is that it is a world-class trekking destination. Like Nepal, Pakistan is home to some of the tallest mountains on earth. 

The trekking adventure possibilities in Pakistan are truly endless. 

Certain parts of Northern Pakistan (like the K2 area) require special permits to enter as they are controlled by the army. The army is not there because there is an inherent safety risk – but more because the borders of China and India are relatively close – even if they are separated by the huge mountain ranges mentioned earlier. 

While the bureaucracy required to go to some of these more remote areas is annoying – it also adds another layer of security for trekkers as the authorities really control the area and know exactly who is coming in and out at all times. 

snow lake trek pakistan

Inherent Hazards of Trekking in Pakistan

Mountains are inherently dangerous for many reasons. Mountains are wild, unpredictable, and when you go trekking one needs to be mindful of the risks involved.

There are a few simple factors that can help to mitigate risk and ensure you have an awesome time in the mountains without running into trouble. 

  • Always trek with enough water and means to purify wild sources of water in order to avoid getting sick. 
  • Go with a company with a good safety record and the tools required to deal with an emergency event. 
  • Be aware of the risks of high altitude. Never ascend too high too fast and go down in altitude if ever you start to have trouble breathing or a headache that won’t go away. 
  • Train for your hike and arrive in Pakistan with a solid level of fitness. 
  • Be aware of the risks of booking with budget companies. Local operators charge way less than we do, sure. But there are many reasons why. For starters, they do not always have satellite communication devices or the means to call for help should a situation arise. Staff of such companies are also underpaid and under trained – often with no first-aid or risk management training. So like most things in life, you get what you pay for. If a local company’s prices sound too good to be true, well then they are probably are.

    It is our hope that fostering more opportunities for local guides working with Epic will result in a culture of better training, knowledge of best safety practices, and risk management solutions for local people with limited opportunities for exposure to such training. 

k2 base camp trek
Our crew approaching Broad Peak Base Camp around 5000 meters

How are the Roads in Pakistan? Are They Safe?

Pakistan has many modern roads including a highway system linking major cities. 

It also had many roads that are basically dirt jeep tracks. Such roads are constantly plagued by landslides and the tough environmental conditions found in the mountains. 

Generally speaking, the roads in Pakistan are safe (but traffic can sometimes be nuts) – but it should be expected that delays can often happen in the mountains if there has been a landslide or road blockage. 

It is important to monitor weather conditions and never be on exposed mountain roads during heavy rain when landslides are most likely to occur. 

best places to visit in Hunza

Is Pakistan Safe for Non-Muslims?

Another misconception the west has about Pakistan is that it is a strict Islamic Theocracy. 

While it is true that Islam – the dominant religion in Pakistan – has a major influence on the culture and society within the country – Islamic laws are not enforced as they are in Iran, etc. 

Women are not required (by law) to wear head coverings or hijab, women can drive, and it is not illegal to “date” as it is in other theocratic-authoritarian regimes. 

Most Pakistani folks are extremely tolerant of other religions and it should never present an issue for foreign travelers exploring the country as non-muslims. 

As in any country, it is important to observe local customs of modesty as well as being respectful when visiting historical/religious sites. 

hunza valley tour

Is Pakistan Safe for Carrying Lots of Cash Around?

Pakistan is a cash-based economy. 99% of the time, you need to pay for things on the ground in cash. This means – you guessed it – you need to always be carrying cash around with you. 

Despite the fact that per capita Pakistan is a very low-income country by Western standards, we have always found the people very honest. Pick-pocket crime is pretty unheard of as it is a huge cultural taboo to steal in Islamic culture. 

Use common sense. Don’t flash wads of cash when you got to pay for something. When you go out to eat, there is no need to carry more than $50 in local currency with you. 

In hotels, store your valuables in your luggage or elsewhere out of view. 

But if you happen to be moving around with a large amount of cash on you, there is truly no need to worry about getting robbed – the chances of this happening to you are very, very low indeed. 

Having basic street smarts in large cities and on public transportation will go a long way in keeping your cash safe. 

 

is Pakistan safe?

What About Political Turmoil in Pakistan?

Pakistani politics can get heated, really heated. 

Allegations of corruption, gross mismanagement, general incompetence, and generational political rivalries all come together to make the political situation in Pakistan an ever-evolving spectacle to behold for outsiders.

In the spring of 2023, there were large-scale protests caused by the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan on corruption charges. 

These events were destabilizing for the cities they occurred in and have resulted in a generally divided Pakistan split between supporters of Mr. Khan and those who think he is a corrupt dude who should be charged.  

Should political unrest occur before or during your tip in Pakistan, follow these tips for staying safe:

  • Avoid large crowds or parts of a large city where there might be government or police buildings. 
  • Avoid talking to strangers about politics. Keep the conversation light. 
  • Follow the international news and stay informed. 
  • Avoid going to any protests yourself. 
  • Go trekking! Because in the mountains there are no political protests. 
  • Do not panic. Often protests are isolated events that do not last more than a few days at most and are concentrated in very specific parts of a city. 
  • Come to Pakistan with an open mind and use your intelligence to keep you out of potentially unsafe environments (like crowds and large protests). 
Is Pakistan safe?

Is the Drinking Water Safe in Pakistan?

No, it is not. Anywhere you go in Pakistan with the exception of some remote mountain villages (and even then it is a risk), the water is not safe to drink. A quick way to enter a state of suffering is to drink tap water in Pakistan. 

So how do you drink water on a daily basis without needing to buy bottled water all the time?

Our entire staff and most of our clients use a Grayl Geopress

This handy bottle allows you to purify water from any source, including the hotel sink in Lahore and the mountain stream near K2 Base Camp. 

Pack a Grayl, buy less plastic bottled water, and keep yourself safe all in one go. 

Probiotics for Travel and Hiking Nutrition

Get the Right Travel Insurance for Pakistan

In case of personal injury, severe illness, lost luggage, or many of other misfortunes that can occur while traveling, it is important to have the right travel insurance. 

If you are planning on doing any high-altitude trekking, you need to check the policy closely to ensure that high altitude is not hidden in the fine print under exclusions. 

We recommend Global Rescue for both travel insurance and high-altitude trekking insurance

helicopter rescue pakistan
The army helicopter coming in to evac our client in 2022

Wrap Up: Is Pakistan Safe?

Pakistan is our favorite destination for a reason. Its mountains are epic, the people super friendly, the food is tasty, and the travel raw and uncorrupted by mass tourism.  

So, is Pakistan safe? We sure think so – and based on our years of experience exploring all over the country, our past clients can tell you the same thing. 

If you are thinking about joining us for a trip in Pakistan but have concerns about safety, hopefully, this article has given you some peace of mind while also providing you with some helpful tips on how to stay safe in this adventure paradise. 

If you still having any questions or you are asking yourself “is Pakistan safe?” book in a call with one of our adventure specialists so we can go over this topic with you in greater detail.

is Pakistan safe?

More from the blog

Welcome to our Journal!

snow lake trek pakistan

Here at Epic Backpacker Tours, adventure is constantly on our minds. 

Our blog – or Journal as we like to call it – contains epic trip stories, photo diaries, and news about new tours. 

Thanks for checking it out! 

What's new in the journal?

The trip we're most stoked about

MONGOLIA
Horse Trekking in Mongolia Expedition

Next trip: September 3rd - 17th, 2024

Adventure Guide

Hailing from the Toronto region of Eastern Canada, with a background as a former standout athlete (hockey of course) and a  love of mountain adventure, Clark is a welcomed addition to the Epic team.

In addition to being a keen photographer and adventurer, Clark brings his brilliant sense of humor, leadership skills, and positive attitude to everything he puts his mind to. 

When he is not leading trips, he is working on taking over the hard apple cider game in Canada as a skilled craft brewer. 

Adventure Guide

Noeimi grew up in the mountains of German-Speaking Switzerland where she naturally developed a deep love and respect for mountain environments.

She is a talented photographer, aspiring climber, and speaks at least 5 languages fluently including Arabic (and probably a few more that we don’t know about), which she taught herself in a matter of months by watching YouTube videos. 

Noemi has spent the last several years traveling, hiking, and photographing her way around many different countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and Europe, and we could not be more stoked to welcome her to the Epic team! 

Adventure Guide

As our man on the ground in Mongolia, there is not much this legend can’t do. As a native the Bayan-Ölgii province of the Western Mongolia Altai, Syerik has been working as a guide and tourism entrepreneur…

for the past several years and is one of the rising stars in Mongolia adventure travel industry. 

He is currently building a beautiful Ger (Yurt) camp near his hometown where he will host Epic Mongolia team members on our trip as well as other travelers from around the world! 

He is the perfect guide for your trip to Mongolia. Serik did an amazing job giving us a well rounded experience in the Altai NP region and down in the Gobi…
The food was fantastic and Serik gave us many opportunities to learn about the Kazakh culture in that region including traditional meals. (I can’t recommend enjoying the milk tea enough!)

– Coastal

Head of canine operations

Choriza started off life as a care-free vagabond on the streets of Madeira Island without any place to call home. From the moment we met her, we knew this dog was just different, and it was pretty much love at first sight. 

She gave up the dog street life in favor of joining her new dad Chris to become a full-time member of the Epic family towards the end of 2022.

These days she can be found listening in on the fringes of important Epic business meetings while half-asleep on the couch. She is a keen hiker, lover of mud, rare steak, and might just be the sweetest little dog we have ever seen. 

Adventure Guide

An experienced trek leader and
IFMGA aspirant ski guide, avid alpine climber, devoted adventure photographer.

Organized and guided trekking expeditions, climbs and ski tours in Tajikistan’s Pamirs, Patagonia, Peru, Morocco, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Georgian and Russian Caucasus and Kamchatka.

A full member and meets the organiser of the British Alpine Club. Visited over 40 countries, lived in the UK for four years. Certified first-aider.

We joined Andrew on a fantastic trip to the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan, pure nature and magnificent scenery! Andrey was super prepared and led us safely up and down numerous passes and through some rough and icy cold rivers. Thank you for a very memorable trip, your planning and prep was excellent!

– Monika Steinlechner

epic backpacker tours team

Adventure Guide

Our man in Nepal, Sandip is what we like to call a “Swiss Army Knife”. There is not much Sandip can’t do when it comes to helping Epic to run our expeditions smoothly in Nepal.

His tireless work ethic, passion for all things trekking in the Himalayas, and smart decision-making mean that Sandip is a truly invaluable member of our team.

Sandip is passionate about showing visitors to his country an amazing time, and he goes above and beyond to make sure that happens. 

His company Himalayan Masters is Epic’s trusted partner in Nepal and one of the country’s top new tour agencies.

We really enjoyed the entire journey, and I would like to say that Sandip is truly professional. He guided us and he is a hardworking person, providing us with the best service and taking care of each one of us. Plus, he is super funny! The kind of professionnal you always want to find on your path for your explorations! 

– Alexandra Ruth

Fairy Meadows

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Our Favorite Experiences

#1 Sunrise from Reflection Lake

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#2 Hiking to Nanga Parbat Base Camp

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#3 Playing cricket with the locals

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Trips Where We Visit Fairy Meadows

Our flagship Pakistani adventure tour.  Road trip with some  hiking and cultural immersion.

A trekking-style tour that features some very remote locations, inlcuding a K2 viewpoint.

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare. 

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, and sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions. 

After trekking to K2 Base Camp and exploring all over Northern Pakistan, he fell in love with the country and the local people. His experiences resulted in his desire to share these feelings with the world.

João is one of the most experienced guides at Epic and his skillset and positive mindset in the mountains is second to none

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic Backpacker Tours team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro will be leading his 11th tour in Iran with EBT this coming spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Backpacker Tours, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Coastal

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Backpacker Tours and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 gondogoro la trek

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Backpacker Tours, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin


Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

Since he started exploring the world, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 70 countries along the way. 

Over the last 10 years, Chris has logged more than 7000 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

A few years back, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and the people of Pakistan led Chris to co-found Epic Backpacker Tours at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 20 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

He lives in Madeira Island when not leading expeditions in far-flung lands. 

Chris also works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan.  

Read this interview our staff did with Chris to learn more about him!

 

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Pakistan is a magical country! Had 3 of the best weeks of my life thanks to Epic Backpacking Tours with owner, and one of our awesome guides, Chris. From detailed itinerary, preparation with an equipment list, and visa assistance. To amazing food, great porters, helpful guides, and great accommodations. Epic really hit home run after home run. […]

Their desire for adventure and amazing trip is just as high as yours. Bring a good pound of coffee for the trip. French press coffee every morning and no average tin coffee, plus you’ll be in your guides good books.

– Clark Tyler

epic backpacker tours

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