The Best Places in Northern Areas of Pakistan- Complete Guide-2024

Nestled in the high peaks of the Himalayas, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush ranges, Northern Pakistan is a place where the skies stretch endlessly, and the landscapes speak the language of untouched beauty. This region, often dubbed the “Roof of the World,” offers travellers breathtaking vistas, unique cultural experiences, and encounters with pristine natural environments. Here’s a curated list of the top 15 must-visit places in the northern areas of Pakistan that promise to captivate your senses and leave you awe-inspired.

Embracing the Journey

Exploring Pakistan’s northern areas is more than a journey through a physical landscape; it’s an exploration of the soul. The region’s natural beauty is matched by the warmth and generosity of its people, making every traveler feel welcome. As you plan your trip, consider engaging with local communities, learning from their stories, and embracing the slow rhythm of life in these mountains.

Katora lake-northern areas of pakistan

Remember, the key to a truly enriching experience lies in traveling with an open heart, respecting the natural environment, and being mindful of the cultural heritage of the places you visit. Pakistan’s northern areas are a world apart, offering adventures that challenge the body, inspire the mind, and nourish the soul. Whether you’re gazing upon the mirrored surface of a high-altitude lake, trekking through lush valleys, or sharing a meal with locals under the shadow of the towering peaks, you’re sure to carry a piece of this extraordinary region with you forever.

Discover the Enchantment Northern Areas of Pakistan: Top 15 Must-Visit Destinations

Nestled amidst the towering peaks of the Himalayas, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush ranges, Pakistan’s northern areas are a haven for adventurers, nature lovers, and culture enthusiasts alike. This region, with its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and unparalleled hospitality, offers an array of unforgettable experiences. Here’s a guide to some of the best places you must visit in Pakistan’s northern areas, each offering its unique charm and adventure.

1. Hunza Valley: The Heart of the Mountains

Hunza Valley, often referred to as heaven on earth, is located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. This picturesque valley, surrounded by majestic peaks such as Rakaposhi and Ultar Sar, is known for its incredible landscapes, vibrant culture, and hospitable people. Key attractions include the ancient Baltit and Altit forts, the serene Attabad Lake, and the enchanting Passu Cones. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the apricot blossoms in spring or the mesmerizing autumn colors.

green valley- northern areas of pakistan

2. Skardu: The Gateway to the Eight-Thousanders

Skardu, the capital of Baltistan, serves as the launching point for expeditions to some of the world’s highest peaks, including K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth. The region is renowned for its stark beauty, with attractions such as the surreal Shangrila Resort, the serene Sheosar Lake in Deosai National Park – often called the Land of Giants – and the ancient Skardu Fort. The indigo-blue waters of the Upper Kachura Lake and the mystical Satpara Lake are must-visits for nature enthusiasts.

the best places to visit in skardu

3. Fairy Meadows: Where Fantasy Meets Reality

Fairy Meadows, named by German climbers for its breathtaking beauty, is a grassland near one of the base campsites of the Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth-highest mountain. Accessible via a thrilling jeep ride followed by a hike, this place offers stunning views of Nanga Parbat’s North Face. The serene environment, coupled with the wooden cottages, makes for a perfect retreat into nature’s lap.

autumn in skardu

4. Astore Valley: The Undiscovered Paradise

Astore Valley, with its untouched beauty and tranquil ambience, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. The valley, with its rolling pastures, dense forests, and crystal-clear streams, offers a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Rama Meadow and Rama Lake, set against the backdrop of Chongra Peak, are particularly mesmerizing. The area is also a gateway to the Deosai Plains, making it a perfect spot for adventurers and nature lovers.

beauty of lake

5. Khaplu Valley: The Epitome of Serenity

Khaplu Valley, often considered the most beautiful valley in the Ghanche District of Gilgit-Baltistan, is a serene and lush region. Home to the stunning Khaplu Palace, which now serves as a museum and a heritage hotel, the valley offers a glimpse into the area’s royal past. The tranquil ambience of the valley, combined with its rich history and architectural marvels, provides a unique blend of cultural and natural exploration.

northern areas of pakistan

6. Phander Valley: The Tranquil Oasis

Phander Valley, located in the Ghizer District, is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and tranquil lakes. The Phander Lake, with its azure waters and the backdrop of lush green fields and towering mountains, is a sight to behold. This valley is a haven for those seeking peace and solitude, away from the crowded tourist spots. The hospitality of the locals, coupled with the picturesque landscapes, makes Phander Valley a must-visit destination.

beauty of lake

7. Kalash Valleys: A Glimpse into an Ancient Culture

Nestled in the Chitral district, the Kalash Valleys (Bumburet, Rumbur, and Birir) are home to the Kalash people, renowned for their unique cultural heritage and vibrant festivals. This area is not just a geographic marvel but also a cultural treasure trove, offering insights into the ancient traditions of the Kalash people, who are believed to be descendants of Alexander the Great’s army. Their colourful festivals, such as Chilam Joshi in spring, Uchau in autumn, and Choimus in winter, are a spectacle of dance, music, and cultural rituals, providing an unparalleled cultural immersion.

autumn in skardu

8. Naltar Valley: The Skiing Haven

A paradise for skiing enthusiasts, Naltar Valley, located near Gilgit, transforms into a winter wonderland, hosting international ski competitions. In summer, it reveals its lush green landscapes and vibrant wildflowers, along with crystal-clear lakes, such as the famous Naltar Lakes, known for their emerald green and azure blue waters. The valley is also home to the endangered Naltar Wildlife Sanctuary, offering a chance to spot some rare wildlife species in their natural habitat.

green valley

9. Gojal Valley: The Borderlands of Beauty

Gojal Valley, also known as Upper Hunza, stretches up to the borders with China and Afghanistan, offering some of the most dramatic landscapes in the region. The valley is dotted with picturesque villages, such as Passu and Gulmit, set against the backdrop of towering peaks like Tupopdan, also known as “Passu Cones” or “Passu Cathedral.” The Khunjerab Pass, part of the Karakoram Highway and the highest paved international border crossing in the world, lies within this valley, providing stunning views and a unique cross-border experience.

river in pakistan

10. Shounter Pass and Lake: The Road Less Traveled

For those who tread off the beaten path, Shounter Pass and Lake in Azad Kashmir offer an unparalleled adventure. This area remains relatively unexplored due to its accessibility only during the summer months. The trek to Shounter Lake is an exhilarating journey through some of the most untouched and pristine landscapes, offering breathtaking views of surrounding peaks and glaciers. The lake itself, with its tranquil waters reflecting the sky and mountains, is a serene spot perfect for contemplation and nature appreciation.

northern areas of pakistan

11. The Trango Towers: A Climber’s Dream

Rising majestically above the Baltoro Glacier in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, the Trango Towers represent one of the most spectacular rock features in the world. These granite towers, with their vertical walls, are a dream for high-altitude climbers. The Great Trango Tower, standing at 6,286 meters, is the highest of these, offering some of the most challenging and technically demanding climbs. Even for those not venturing onto its sheer walls, the sight of the Trango Towers from the Baltoro Glacier is an awe-inspiring view that encapsulates the rugged beauty of Pakistan’s northern areas.

12. The Hushe Valley: Gateway to the Giants

Hushe Valley, serving as the gateway to some of the highest peaks in the Karakoram Range, including Masherbrum, Laila Peak, and the Gondogoro La Pass, is a paradise for trekkers and mountaineers. The valley offers treks varying in difficulty, from moderate walks to strenuous climbs, each providing breathtaking views and a sense of adventure. The local community in Hushe is incredibly welcoming to visitors, offering homestays and guiding services that make for a genuine cultural exchange.

beauty of lake

13. Thalay La Pass: A Journey Through Time

Connecting the Astore Valley with the Deosai Plains, the Thalay La Pass is a high mountain pass offering an exhilarating journey through some of the most remote and stunning landscapes in the region. Trekking across this pass feels like a journey through time, with panoramic views of untouched wilderness, nomadic shepherd encampments, and the chance to witness wildlife such as the Himalayan brown bear and the snow leopard. The pass is only accessible during the summer months and requires preparation and a local guide.

beauty of mountain pakistan

14. Sheosar Lake: A Mirror to the Sky

Located in the Deosai National Park, Sheosar Lake is a high-altitude lake known for its crystal-clear waters and the stunning reflections of the surrounding snow-capped peaks. The lake is situated at an altitude of 4,142 meters, making it one of the highest in the world. The Deosai Plains, also known as the Land of Giants, spread around the lake, offering vast, open landscapes that are a stark contrast to the rugged terrain of the surrounding mountains. Visiting Sheosar Lake is an experience of sublime beauty, providing a sense of tranquillity and isolation from the outside world.

15. The Chapursan Valley: Where Eagles Soar

Located near the Wakhan Corridor, Chapursan Valley is one of the northernmost parts of Pakistan, offering a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. The valley is home to the Wakhi people, who maintain a traditional way of life, and it offers breathtaking views of high mountain passes, glaciers, and remote villages. The hospitality of the Wakhi people, combined with the valley’s serene landscapes, makes it a captivating destination for those looking to experience the road less travelled.

Exploring the Enigmatic Beauty of Pakistan’s Northern Areas: A Brief Overview

Pakistan’s northern areas are a mosaic of breathtaking landscapes, ancient cultures, and untamed wilderness. This region, cradled by the majestic Himalayas, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush ranges, is a sanctuary for adventurers, nature lovers, and those seeking solace in the beauty of the natural world. Here’s a brief overview of what makes exploring the northern areas of Pakistan an unforgettable adventure:

peace in pakistan

Majestic Peaks and Glorious Valleys

The northern areas are home to some of the world’s highest and most spectacular mountains, including the famous K2, the second-highest peak on Earth. Valleys such as Hunza, Skardu, and Kalash are renowned for their stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and the warmth of their people. These regions offer a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural richness, making them must-visit destinations for anyone exploring Pakistan.

Serene Lakes and High-Altitude Wonders

From the reflective waters of Sheosar Lake in the Deosai Plains to the emerald hues of Attabad Lake in Hunza, the northern areas boast an array of high-altitude lakes known for their tranquillity and mesmerizing beauty. These serene waters, set against the backdrop of towering mountains, provide a peaceful retreat and a photographer’s paradise.

Ancient Forts and Cultural Heritage

The region is dotted with ancient forts and archaeological sites, such as the Baltit Fort in Hunza and the Shigar Fort in Skardu, offering glimpses into the area’s rich history and cultural heritage. These sites are a testament to the architectural ingenuity and historical legacy of the people who have inhabited these lands for centuries.

Adventure and Trekking Trails

For adventure enthusiasts, the northern areas offer some of the most thrilling trekking trails in the world, leading to remote villages, high mountain passes, and base camps of towering peaks. Trails such as the one leading to the Fairy Meadows provide stunning views of Nanga Parbat, while the trek to the base camp of K2 offers an unparalleled adventure for mountaineers.

Local Hospitality and Traditions

Perhaps one of the most enriching aspects of exploring the northern areas is the opportunity to experience the hospitality and traditions of the local people. Whether it’s sharing a meal with a family in Hunza or participating in a cultural festival in the Kalash Valleys, the warmth and generosity of the local communities leave a lasting impression on visitors.

northern areas of pakistan

Travel Tips for the Journey

  • Best Time to Visit: May to October offers the most favourable weather for exploring.
  • Travel Documents: Ensure you have a valid passport, Pakistani visa, and any required permits.
  • Respect Local Customs: Dress modestly and seek permission before photographing people.
  • Prepare for Altitude: Carry essentials for high-altitude travel, including medication for altitude sickness.

Exploring the northern areas of Pakistan is an adventure that offers not just a journey through some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet but also an immersive experience into the heart of ancient cultures and traditions. It’s a journey that challenges the body, enriches the mind, and nourishes the soul.

Planning Your Trip: Practical Advice

  • Accommodation: From luxury hotels in major towns to cosy guesthouses in remote villages, there’s a range of accommodation options. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak seasons.
  • Transportation: While some areas are accessible by road, others require hiking or even jeep rides on rugged terrain. Local guides and tour operators can provide valuable assistance and ensure safety.
  • Health and Safety: Travel insurance that covers high-altitude trekking and medical evacuation is highly recommended. Always carry a basic first-aid kit and be mindful of altitude sickness in higher regions.
  • Sustainable Travel: The beauty of Pakistan’s northern areas is pristine and largely untouched. As responsible travelers, it’s crucial to minimize our environmental impact by following leave-no-trace principles, respecting wildlife, and supporting local economies by purchasing local crafts and products.

The northern areas of Pakistan are a mosaic of breathtaking landscapes, ancient cultures, and unspoiled natural beauty. Each valley, each mountain pass, and each lake tells a story of its own, inviting explorers to witness the harmony of nature and culture. Whether it’s the tranquility of Phander Valley, the cultural richness of the Kalash Valleys, or the adventurous terrains of Naltar and Shounter, Pakistan’s northern areas offer something for every traveler. So pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and set out to explore these hidden gems, each promising an experience of a lifetime.

Travel Tips and Essentials

  • Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Pakistan’s northern areas is between May and October when the weather is most favorable for travel and sightseeing.
  • Travel Documents: International travelers should ensure they have a valid passport and a Pakistani visa. Additionally, some areas may require special permits.
  • Local Customs and Etiquette: Respect local customs and traditions. Dress modestly and ask for permission before taking photographs of local people.
  • Language: Urdu is the national language, but English is widely understood in tourist areas. Learning a few basic phrases in Urdu can enhance your travel experience.
travel guidelines

Pakistan’s northern areas are a testament to nature’s artistry, offering landscapes that range from serene lakes and lush meadows to rugged mountains and ancient fortresses. Each destination in this region tells its tale of natural beauty, adventure, and cultural heritage. Whether you’re an intrepid adventurer or a seeker of tranquillity, the northern areas of Pakistan await with open arms and unparalleled experiences.