Back in 2007 I made my first trip to Pakistan... #flashbackfriday
Prior to this trip in 2007 I had not been off of the North American continent, and while Pakistan may not be on many people's list of places to go, it was an unusual opportunity and I took it. I traveled across the world solo, and traveled within Pakistan, not as a tourist, but with locals. That first 2007 trip to Pakistan was a unique experience that expanded my horizons, literally and figuratively. That visit unexpectedly changed the trajectory of my life, and was the first of many visits...which led to living there for a time, as well !
Being a history buff, I was in awe of the deep history of the area, and visited many historical/ archeological sites, over the course of my time there .
One of the first historical sites that I explored was Takht-i-Bahi, a 1-7th century Buddhist monastery in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (called Northwest Frontier Provence, NWFP, when I was there) .
Takht-i-Bahi was an amazing place, and the first of many where I could deeply feel the history beneath my feet and in the walls of the ancient monastery .
From the walled city of Lahore to the winding streets of old Peshawar!
Peshawar has been a stopping point for travelers and traders for centuries. But these days, many travelers are afraid or unsure if they can travel to Peshawar.
The city gained a reputation as a dangerous place thanks to being a hotbed of Taliban activity for years.
Foreign governments warn against travel to Peshawar, Pakistani officials often stop people en route demanding permission papers if people want to pass. Foreigners are often assigned armed escorts once they reach their hotel in Peshawar.
But don't let that deter you. Though the City of Flowers is not yet 100% safe, I firmly believe it is safe enough for both local and foreign tourists to visit.
However, travelers should know that Peshawar is more conservative than other major cities in Pakistan, and should prepare as such.
From a female traveler perspective, I recommend dressing a bit more modestly in Peshawar. I wear a hijab when going around the city, and even then I'm still less covered than the majority of women on the street swaddled in chador sheets or burqas.
You should also expect less women on the street as a whole. Women are hidden away from the eyes of outsiders more in the local Pashtun culture, even moreso than in other parts of Pakistan. They exist, though you may not see them.
As a result, you may receive more intense stares than you're used to if roaming about as a woman. I also avoid staring back (too much) in Peshawar as Pashtuns aren't as shy about being caught mid-stare as other ethnicities in Pakistan!
It might seem overwhelming or intense, but as a visitor, you'll be fine if you respect the local culture.
Peshawar and the KPK province are a totally different kind of experience from parts of Pakistan, one I recommend travelers try at least once.