Pakistan is rising on the global stage to become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world – and rightly so. It is a land of hospitable people, breathtaking mountains, fascinating history, and delectable cuisines, welcoming all those who plan to tour Pakistan.
Graana.com, Pakistan’s smartest online real estate market, has prepared a detailed travel guide to Pakistan for you to follow if you are planning to visit the Northern areas of Pakistan. So, here is the travel guide for northern areas of Pakistan.
The following itinerary is made with the consideration that tourists are visiting Pakistan for two weeks.
|Arriving in Lahore
|Lahore to Islamabad
|Hunza and its surrounding
|Onwards to Skardu
|Towards Gilgit Valley
|The Fairy Meadows
|Thereon to Kalash
|Back to Islamabad
Before you start looking for plane tickets and hotels, keep in mind that two weeks will not be enough to explore Pakistan in its entirety, let alone half of it.
This plan will allow you to visit a tiny section of the country’s best travel spots, which are primarily located in the northern and northeastern regions.
In 2019, the government implemented a new e-visa system, making the Pakistan tourist-visa application process much easier. The e-visa is available to citizens of 175 different countries. For additional information on how to apply, visit the official e-visa website.
Here’s a rundown of the e-visa application process:
- The cost of a visa is determined by a number of factors, including nationality, the number of entries, and the type of visa.
- Officially, the processing time varies between 7-10 days. But since anything may happen, it is strongly advised to file for your visa at least a few weeks ahead of time.
- Visas can be issued for one month, three months, and even six months. It is dependent on the specifics of your application and the requests you make.
- The term of your visa is the amount of time you can stay in Pakistan after you enter the country. Most people often get 30 days. However, getting a term of 60 days is also a possibility.
- Letter of invitation: In place of the traditional letter of invitation method, the e-visa system is said to facilitate hotel bookings. Some people have had success using hotel reservations, while others prefer to receive a letter of invitation.
- The e-visa allows you to enter the country by water, land, or air. Wagah, Sost, and Taftan are the three most prevalent overland boundaries. For additional information on flying and Overlanding in Pakistan, see the sections below.
Documents Needed for Tourist VISA
Before you can apply for your visa, you must first obtain a Letter of Invitation (LOI) from a Pakistani travel agency. A number of tour companies are now attempting to sell you an LOI.
In addition, you will need the following documents:
- A passport-sized photograph of yourself.
- Photocopy of ID card of the person who issued you the LOI.
- A copy of the tour operator’s license issued by the company that issued the letter of intent.
- If you’re traveling on your own, you’ll need to secure a hotel room for at least one night.
- A letter from your employer may be requested by the visa authorities, but this is not always the case.
- A certified copy of your passport.
Arriving in Lahore
Lahore is the cultural capital of Punjab – the biggest province of Pakistan in terms of population. It is a unique mix of Sufi heritage, modern capitalism, wonderful food, rich history, and some of the most beautiful mosques in the world.
When flying to Pakistan, most people prefer to land in Islamabad, owing to its convenience and proximity to the Northern Areas. However, Lahore is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the country.
The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore is one of the most gorgeous mosques in the world. Its courtyard can accommodate up to 100,000 worshippers, which is more than Barcelona’s Camp Nou Football Stadium.
Another charming mosque in the Old City is Wazir Khan, which dates back to the 17th century and was formerly one of the most prominent places for teaching Islamic calligraphy.
Following your visit to the mosque, don’t miss out on a stroll around the Old City’s alleyways, where you can get lost in spice bazaars, vibrant colors, and an abundance of street food.
At night, travelers recommend ordering a lamb karahi from one of the many rooftop restaurants along the city’s exclusive Food Street.
You can also see the Wagah Indian-Pakistani border flag-lowering ceremony around sunset if you have time. Hundreds of people are in attendance daily, with both sides displaying immense enthusiasm.
Lahore to Islamabad
Islamabad was constructed in 1960 with the purpose of becoming Pakistan’s capital. Islamabad, with its broad and immaculately clean streets and lush greenery, may differ from your perception of the country.
This is where the Pakistani elite resides, along with the country’s most exclusive eateries. Huge houses and costly automobiles are commonplace in the city.
The Faisal Mosque, the country’s largest, must-see sight. If you plan on staying the night, travel to Monal restaurant for supper and to enjoy the sunset, which is located on the highest point of the Margalla Hills, offering spectacular views over the city.
It’s a little difficult to go around town because the distances are ridiculously long. You’ll have to rely on cabs if you don’t have your own vehicle. However, ride-hailing services such as Uber or Careem are also reasonable alternatives. Get to know Famous souvenirs of Pakistan.
The Fairy Meadows
When traveling from Islamabad via the KKH, around Raikot Bridge, you will notice a detour that leads to Fairy Meadows – a gorgeous green meadow that is considered one of Pakistan’s most beautiful locations. Nanga Parbat, a majestic peak at 8,125 meters high that belongs to the Himalayas range, can also be seen from here.
There are 4 or 5 daily buses from Islamabad to Gilgit (departing between 6 and 9 p.m.). The best company out there is NATCO, which is used by the general public. The only bus with air conditioning is the VIP bus, which costs around 2,000PKR.
The average duration of the journey is around 15 hours. However, it can take up to 21 hours considering landslides and breakdowns throughout the way.
It is recommended that those who plan to tour Pakistan purchase their tickets at the bus terminal on the day of departure. Book the first-row seat if possible. You must disembark at Raikot Bridge, which is approximately two hours before Gilgit.
The capital of Gilgit-Baltistan – Gilgit is a captivating city that serves as a great starting point for exploring the surrounding regions. There are many hotels and restaurants here, as well as bazaars and tourist attractions.
Gilgit grew into a legitimate city as a result of its strategic location, which for many years connected China and the Indian subcontinent.
A river runs through the town, with several hanging bridges which are a popular attraction for photographers. Tourists urge that those who plan to tour Pakistan should go to the Kargah Buddha, a 7th-century Buddha figure carved into a cliff.
Gilgit is a wonderful town, but if you only have two weeks, don’t spend too much time here as the real beauty of Gilgit-Baltistan is found in the neighboring valleys. In fact, if you have a car, start driving straight to Minapin.
Minapin and Rakaposhi Camp
Around 75 kilometers from Gilgit, on the Karakoram Highway, there is a detour that leads to Minapin, a little, picturesque village with spectacular mountain views that welcomes those who tour Pakistan. From here, you can organize a walk to the Rakaposhi base camp.
Spend the first night in Minapin before heading to the base camp early the next day. If you are relatively fit, you can get there in one day and return the next day. The scenic beauty that the village has to offer will not disappoint.
The Beautiful Karimabad
Karimabad is the capital of Hunza, Pakistan’s most northern district. Karimabad is bordered by towering mountains that reach over 7,000 meters in height, as well as two UNESCO World Heritage forts.
Given the laid-back environment, it’s possible to spend 4 or 5 days strolling around Karimabad and its small lanes, which, by the way, are made of stone, resembling some old European cities.
You must see the forts of Baltit and Altit, as well as Eagle’s Nest, a 360-degree viewpoint with clear views of Rakaposhi, Diran, and Lady Finger. Karimabad is also a fantastic destination for day excursions if you enjoy hiking.
Back to Islamabad
If you wish to return to the city via public transportation, you should prepare ahead of time because buses leave Gilgit extremely early in the morning and the journey can take up to 21 hours. As a result, you should probably leave Karimabad on the 12th day.
Alternatively, you could fly from Gilgit to Islamabad to save a full day. Furthermore, if you want to save a half-day, book your return flight from Islamabad rather than Lahore.
Moreover, you can get information about travel guides of different spots in Pakistan such as the ultimate Hunza valley travel guide.