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Travel Warning WARNING: Northwest Pakistan is much more dangerous than other areas of Pakistan. Many governments recommend against travel to many parts of the region, especially the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the City of Peshawar.
Government travel advisories
(Information last updated Sep 2020)
Swat River near Madyan

Northwest Pakistan, now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, borders the Wakhan Corridor to the north.

The region has a varied landscape including rugged mountains, valleys, hills and dense agricultural farms. There are a number of Buddhist archaeological sites from the Gandhara civilisation such as Takht Bhai and Pushkalavati. There are a number of other Buddhist and Hindu archaeological sites including Bala Hisar Fort, Butkara Stupa, Kanishka stupa, Chakdara, Panjkora Valley and Sehri Bahlol.


KPK is Pakistan's 3rd largest province, and has 9 administrative divisions:

  1. Bannu Division
  2. Dera Ismail Khan Division
  3. Hazara Division
  4. Khyber Division
  5. Kohat Division
  6. Malakand Division
  7. Mardan Division
  8. Peshawar Division
  9. Waziristan Division


Map of Northwest Pakistan

Saiful Muluk Lake
  • 1 Peshawar - the capital city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the cultural centre of the region, and the focal point of Pashtun culture. It was the birthplace of the Taliban and is in the midst of an ideological struggle between moderates and extremists.
  • 2 Abbottabad - a military garrison city, is infamous as the place where Osama bin Laden had been hiding for much of the time following the US invasion of Afghanistan until his death during a raid on his compound by U.S. Navy SEALs.
  • 3 Charsadda
  • 4 Dir
  • 5 Hangu
  • 6 Mardan
  • 7 Mingora
  • 8 Naran
  • 9 Shabqadar

Other destinations[edit]

PTDC motel Miandam
  • 1 Khyber Pass — Visit the legendary 1,067-m-high (3,501-ft) break in the sheer rock wall separating Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • 2 Swat Valley – one of the most famous and rewarding visitor destinations with the gushing Swat and Ushu rivers, lovely waterfalls, snow covered peaks for skiing, together with some excellent tasting fruits and hospitable people (check current travel advisories first)
  • Kalasha Valleys – witness the decline of a unique culture in Chitral District
  • 3 Ayubia National Park
  • 4 Kumrat Valley


Mankial Swat valley

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa offers invitation to a spectacular landscape and cultural diversity. Peshawar is the business and administrative hub of province though other cities have their places. Some of the tourist’s hotspots include Khyber pass, old interior city, industrial estate famous for smuggled goods, Islamia College, Peshawar fort, (KisaKhawani) story teller bazaar. Its food street is famous for barbecued mutton as well as karahi meat.

The Khyber Pass leads into Afghanistan. There are very amenable people in this area, especially in the mountains in Shandoor, Kalash regions. The province has an area of 74,521 km² (28,773 sq mi) - comparable in size to New England in the United States.


Pashto is the predominant local language of the region while Hindko is used in some areas of the northeast. Most of the educated people also speak English and Pakistan's national language Urdu.

Pashto is also one of Afghanistan's main languages. The other main Afghan language, Dari, is much less common in this area than further west but some people do speak it.

Get in[edit]

Prior permission from the Pakistani government is required before non-Pakistanis can travel to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa given the poor security situation in the region. Such permission, known as a No Objection Certificate (NOC), must be obtained from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry. Failure to obtain an NOC and attempting to enter Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could result in arrest.

By plane[edit]

Peshawar International Airport (PEW IATA) is in the center of Peshawar. It is served by all Pakistan carriers including national flag carrier PIA. Moreover, many Middle East airlines also serve this airport, such as Emirates, Etihad, Gulf, Kuwait and Qatar airlines.

Peshawar airport has international direct flights from Al Ain, Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Jeddah, Kabul, Muscat, Kuwait and Riyadh. The connections from other Asian, European and American cities are available via Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad airports. The domestic flights to/from Peshawar Airport are Chitral, Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.

Chitral Airport (CJL IATA) from Islamabad and Peshawar.

By bus[edit]

Buses and minibuses run from many parts of the country from here.

Daewoo operates the most luxurious services to Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Abbottabad and Lahore (Rs 600, 6½ hours).

By car[edit]

Peshawar is connected with Islamabad via Motorway M-1 and via national highway N-5.

By train[edit]

You can reach Peshawar by train with Pak Rail from Karachi (36 hours) and Quetta (25 hours), both go via Lahore and Rawalpindi.

Jambil parona Swat 00.JPG

There are no passenger trains from Landi Kotal in the Khyber Pass.

Get around[edit]


Beautiful Swat valley
  • Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi in Mardan
  • Ruins of Sahr-i-Bahlol
  • Bala Hisar Fort in Peshawar
  • Burj Hari Singh - Sikh fort founded by Sikh General Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa (no longer exists)
  • Panch Tirath – An ancient Hindu site now converted into a park
  • The Sikh Temple at Jogan Shah
  • Gor Khuttree – An ancient site of Buddha's alms or begging bowl in Peshawar. Headquarter of Syed Ahmad Shaheed, Governor Avitabile
  • Pakhtu Academy – The site of an ancient Buddhist University
  • Shah Ji Ki Dheri
  • Chowk Yadgar
  • Ghanta Ghar – clock tower in Peshawar
  • Avitabile's Pavilion
  • Victoria Memorial Hall


In the summertime hiking tours to the mountains are offered. Ask at Green Tours in front of the Greens Hotel, Peshawar Cantt, and Pearl Tours of the Pearl Continental Hotels. This can also be done by hiring a car, jeep or pickup from local 'Rent-a-Car' servicing private agencies at a very cheap rate ranging from USD20-60 per day, depending upon the condition of the vehicle (30 June 2006).


  • Chappal Kabab, a beef kebab shaped like the sole of a sandal is most famous dish of Peshawar. Several famous kabab selling shops are around. Information about them can be obtained from the travel agents or local hotels and guides.
  • The restaurants in Namak Mandi serve marvellous tikka and karai. Meat is ordered by the kilogram, and then prepared according to your preference, either as tikka (barbecued) or as karai (an oil-rich stew with tomato and chili).
  • Faluda, a sweet dish mainly found on the Peshawar markets and bazaars especially Qisa-Khwani Bazaar.


  • Peshawar is known for its Kawa (Green Tea) which has a unique flavour, and is usually served sweet.
  • Sharbat-e-Sandal is a sweet, non-carbonated drink unusually found in markets in summer. It has a good taste and a yellowish-green transparent colour - look out for the black seeds. Served ice cold.


  • Pearl Continental Hotel

Stay safe[edit]

Summerness in Kalam Valley.jpg

Northwest Pakistan is an exceptionally dangerous area. The locals have a long history of tribal warfare and banditry, both of which still go on, and they have been fighting off various invaders since Alexander the Great. The main fighting today is the Taliban versus the Pakistani military, but there are other dangers as well: al-Qaeda, various tribal forces, and US drones.

Terror attacks and political assassinations are a common occurrence in the region. Between 2007 and 2012, there were a recorded 186 suicide attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, more than the total number of suicide attacks in all other areas of Pakistan. Before going to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Swat, and Peshawar, check for travel advisories from your government.

The towns bordering tribal areas are not considered particularly safe, and nor are the Afghan-Pakistan border regions, as the Pakistan government has little to no authority in these areas and cannot aid you in an emergency. You should always seek information about off-limits areas before travelling to this region. Prior permission from the Pakistani government is required before non-Pakistanis can travel to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa given the poor security situation in the region. Such permission, known as a No Objection Certificate (NOC), must be obtained from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry. Attempting to enter Khyber Pakhtunkhwa without an NOC could result in arrest.

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Northwest Pakistan is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!