Northwest Frontier Province
Impenetrable mountains, intractable people and impossibly romantic cities are just some of the reasons why
the Northwestern Frontier Province is perhaps the most memorable of Pakistan's destinations.
Most visits begin in Peshawar, the rough and ready provincial capital. The highlight here is the Old City-
a brawl of vendors selling everything from tribal jewellery to leather pistol holsters. Clopping horse-drawn tongas choke
the streets, which are thick with fearsome-looking Pashtuns (members of a vast tribal society), Afghans and Chitrali. A short
distance outside Peshawar (but a million miles away) is the Smugglers Bazaar. It's definitely not what you'd expect: turbanned
merchants in tents have been replaced by Westernised malls stocking the latest TVs, VCRs and refrigerators. There's even a
shop flogging Marks & Spencer's merchandise. The fabled Khyber Pass, sprinkled with tiny army forts, is nearby.
North of Peshawar is the district of Swat, reckoned to have the loveliest scenery in Pakistan's northern valleys,
and Chitral, a relatively unspoilt area of lush valleys, hot springs and great walks. Vertigo sufferers should steer clear
of Indus Koshitan to the west, a land of colossal peaks and bottomless canyons with more good walks. Those intending to visit
Swat shoud also check the political situation prior to departure.
You can catch domestic flights from Peshawar to any number of Pakistani destinations, as well as direct flights
to Qatar, Tashkent, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Jeddah. Buses and minibuses go to and fro from Lahore and Rawalpindi all day, although
the train is as cheap, and safer than, the buses. Peshawar is 150km (93mi) west of Islamabad.