The spectacular northern areas have always been a popular tourist destination in Pakistan. These beautiful places draw tourists from all across the world to explore the stunning landscape and bask in the hospitality of the locals.
Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir see a large number of visitors throughout the year. However, there are still several valleys and villages in these regions that are yet to gain widespread recognition.
Most of these scenic places do not make it to the travel brochures simply because they are difficult to reach. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add them to the list of beautiful places to explore in Pakistan.
Phander Valley, Gilgit Baltistan
Also known as ‘Little Kashmir,’ the scenic Phander Valley has gained popularity among domestic tourists in the past few years. However, it’s still not a renowned travel destination. Situated in Ghizer district in enchanting Gilgit Baltistan, the valley is home to beautiful Phander Lake known for its enchanting blue water.
The breathtaking scenery, the colourful flowers, old wooden homes and the peaceful atmosphere make Phander one of the perfect tourist attractions in Pakistan.
If you don’t want to lose a finger or two to frostbite, visit this spectacular valley between July and August. Although it’s referred to as tourist season there, you’ll find it much less crowded than Hunza and Gilgit. In addition to that, you’ll also get a chance to witness apricot, cherry and mulberry trees in full bloom. These trees add a burst of colours to the refreshing spring landscape.
If you obtain a fishing permit, you can also ask your hotel owner for a fishing rod. You can also purchase other necessities and spend some time catching trout fish.
Phander Valley is easily accessible from Gilgit. If you take a NATCO bus from Gilgit, it’ll take you approximately six hours to reach your destination. If you’re planning a trip to Gilgit-Baltistan this year, make sure to add Phander to your list because his beautiful place in Pakistan might soon turn into a tourist hotspot.
Minapin Village, Gilgit Baltistan
A lot of people mistake Nagar District for being a part of Hunza. The thing is these two districts actually used to be separate states until the early 1970s.
Due to the growing influx of tourists, both Hunza and Nagar have seen a boom in their economies. Although Gilgit-Baltistan is swarming with tourists all year round, you need to add a couple of extra days to your travel itinerary and pay a visit to Minapin. It is one of the most beautiful villages in the Nagar District.
With its beautiful landscape and extremely hospitable people, Nagar has begun gaining popularity among domestic tourists visiting the region. However, many travellers are still unaware of this hidden gem. It is one of those places where you can simply put your feet up and enjoy a hot cup of tea in a serene and peaceful environment.
Minapin village has its own small dam for electricity generation. Moreover, there are a number of cherry and mulberry farms in the village, along with other fruits and vegetables. The owners not only let you purchase their goods for a reasonable price but also let you devour the berries while giving a tour of their farms.
Minapin is on the left side of the Hunza River. It links directly to Karakoram Highway, which makes it easily accessible. This beautiful place in Pakistan is also a popular stay-over travel destination among adventure seekers who want to trek to Rakaposhi base camp.
If you are planning on taking a road trip to Khunjerab Pass in Gilgit Baltistan, you can easily include a night’s stay in this village in your travel itinerary.
Soon Valley, Punjab
One of the widely-overlooked tourist destinations in Pakistan, Soon Valley is situated in Khushab District. It is directly connected to the Sargodha-Mianwali Highway.
Like other destinations in this list, Soon Valley has also seen a little increase in tourism in recent years. The valley houses Uchhali and Khabeki lakes where you can go boating. The beautiful Kanhatti Garden, a Mughal era garden with a beautiful waterfall, is also located in this valley. Moreover, Jahlar Lake, Sodhi Bagh, Depp Sharif Ponds and Kufri are also popular among travellers.
Since Nowshera is the capital town of the valley, you can book a hotel there. Treat the city as a centre point while exploring the magnificent landscape and historical remnants of forts in Soon Valley.
Moreover, the valley is only a few hours from Islamabad, making it one of the perfect weekend getaways with friends, family or even alone.
Ratti Gali Lake, Azad Jammu and Kashmir
A mesmerizing lake in the spectacular Neelum Valley in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Ratti Gali Lake is a paradise for trekkers and hiking enthusiasts. It is situated above 12,000 ft. from sea level.
The crystal clear and shining blue water of the Ratti Gali Lake is surrounded by snow-covered mountains all year round. In fact, it is only accessible between the months of July and October. The rest of the year, heavy snowfall makes it impossible to hike to the lake.
To reach Ratti Gali Lake, one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Pakistan, you need to drive for approximately 3 hours to reach the town of Dowarian in Neelum Valley. From there, you can take a 2-hour jeep ride to the breathtaking Ratti Gali base camp. Once you get there, you can either rent out a camp in the tent city for the night or trek for another hour to see the lake. If you book accommodation at the base camp, you can also visit Hans-Raj Lake. But bear in mind it would require about 4 more hours of trekking.
This trip is more suitable for adults as it can be quite tiresome for young children. However, if you are planning to take your kids along, you can always get a horse from the base camp to take you to Ratti Gali Lake.
Garam Chashma, Chitral
Garam Chashma is a small scenic village in the beautiful Lotkoh Valley of Chitral. It is named after its main attraction: the boiling hot spring that gushes out of Sulphur deposits. In recent years, the village has seen an increase in tourists from all parts of Pakistan. People mostly visit this beautiful place in Pakistan to bathe in the water as it is believed to cure various skin diseases.
If you are planning on visiting Chitral, make sure to visit Garam Chashma as well. Along with the famous hot Sulphur spring, the village is known for its lush green meadows set against a striking backdrop.
Moreover, due to its growing popularity as a new tourist destination in Pakistan, the government has now constructed a number of public bathrooms for visitors who want to soak in the cooled-down water from the spring.
Almost all hotels and guest houses in the area also have a direct water connection to the Sulphur spring. So, if you are booking accommodation in Chitral, you might as well choose a hotel in the serene village of Garam Chashma and bathe in the water known for its therapeutic and healing properties.
Hingol National Park, Baluchistan
The largest national park in Pakistan, Hingol National Park is home to a wide variety of endangered animals and birds. It is situated a little over 243 kilometres from Karachi.
This park in Baluchistan is a must visit for those who want to get away from city life, even if it’s just for a day. The picturesque mountains and the beautiful Kund Malir beach make Hingol National Park a perfect getaway for adventure seekers. It is also one of the most mesmerizingly beautiful places in Pakistan.
The wildlife sanctuary is also home to a number of species. The list includes the Baluchistan urial, Sindh leopard, Pakistan sand cat, Indian fox, striped hyena, Sindh ibex, Chinkara gazelle, golden jackal, marsh crocodile, olive ridley and green sea turtle, to name a few.
The serene Kund Malir beach, the breathtaking natural rock formation that is more popularly known as Princess of Hope and an ancient Hindu temple called Rani Mandir are also a part of Hingol National Park along with Chandragup mud volcanoes.
If you’re travelling from Karachi to Gawadar, it will take you approximately 4 hours to reach the national park. You can get there via the scenic Makran Coastal Highway, one of the most beautiful roads in Pakistan.
Gulmit Village, Gilgit Baltistan
A small village in Gojal Valley, also known as Upper Hunza, in Gilgit-Baltistan, Gulmit is approximately 8,200 feet above sea level. It is perhaps one of the most stunning yet underrated places in the entire region. From the friendly villagers to the lush fields of wheat and orchids of apricots, a few days in Gulmit village will refresh your mind and soul.
Situated on the bank of the Hunza River, Gulmit village has a rich cultural history. The residents of the area still live in traditional houses and wear embroidered caps only found in Hunza.
Since tourism in Pakistan has seen a recent lift, a number of hotels have also popped up in Gulmit village. If you plan on staying here for a few nights, you can easily make day trips to the enchanting Atabad Lake, spectacular Passu Cones, the chilly Gulkin Glacier and other beautiful villages nearby.
If you plan on staying here for a few nights, you can easily make day trips to the enchanting Atabad Lake, spectacular Passu Cones, the chilly Gulkin Glacier and other beautiful villages nearby.
Shigar Valley, Gilgit Baltistan
Situated around 32 kilometres from Skardu, the magnificent Shigar Valley is yet another underrated tourist destination in Pakistan. However, it is particularly popular among trekkers.
Reaching this picturesque valley can be a little bit tough as it is an isolated region. However, given the fact that Shigar is considered the gateway to the Karakoram Mountains, you’ll find a large number of both domestic and foreign mountain climbers walking around the valley during the summer and autumn months. It takes almost seven days of trekking from Shigar to reach the K2 base camp.
If you are not interested in mountain climbing, Shigar Valley also houses a magnificent cold desert. The enchanting blue Blind Lake, Shigar Fort or Fong Khar, the historic Ambrique mosque and a number of fruit orchids are also situated in the valley.
Along with being one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan, Shigar Valley is also home to some incredibly hospitable people. During your stay here, you can wander through lush gardens and enjoy the local delicacies.
Arang Kel, Azad Jammu and Kashmir
Neelum Valley in Azad Jammu and Kashmir has become a popular tourist destination. Meanwhile, the village of Arang Kel in the upper reaches of the mesmerizing valley remains comparatively isolated. One of the main reasons is the road to Arang Kel gets incredibly tricky during the monsoon and winter months. In fact, this beautiful place in Pakistan is pretty much inaccessible during that period.
Located at an altitude of 8,379 feet, this village can either be accessed by a chairlift installed by the government of Pakistan or you can trek for a little over two hours from Kel village to get here.
Surrounded by tall pine trees, snow-covered mountain peaks and lush green fields filled with beautiful flowers, Arang Kel is rightfully called the Pearl of Neelum Valley. A lot of travellers choose to camp under the clear night sky. However, there are also a few hotels and guest houses in the area that are more suitable for families with children. The picturesque blue Lund Sar Lake is also in this village along with a few scenic waterfalls.
So, which of these beautiful places in Pakistan will you be visiting this year?