Pakistan is a country with mesmerizing landscapes, beautiful rivers, vast deserts, peaceful lakes, exciting waterfalls, icy glaciers and breathtaking sceneries. Pakistan’s beauty is matchless. If you plan on exploring hidden tourist spots in Pakistan then you must visit the northern areas. You will be amazed to see the majestic mountains in Gilgit, the Golden peak at Hunza, clouds playing hide and seek at Sri Paye, the beautiful Lake Saif-ul-Mulook at Kaghan valley and the heaven-like Fairy Meadows at the base of Nanga Parbat. Some of the beautiful places to visit in Pakistan are Rawalakot, Swat Valley, Nathiagali, Neelum Valley and many more. This abundant natural beauty makes Pakistan a top tourist destination in the world.
Forbes Magazine ranked Pakistan among the top 10 coolest places to go in 2019. The ranking was based not only on the basis of the breathtaking beauty of the country, but also due to the number of foreign tourists and international bloggers visiting every year. These bloggers, in their posts on social media, have not only mentioned the picturesque landscapes and natural beauty but also the hospitable nature of the people who gave them unconditional love and support. These intrepid explorers have helped present a whole new side of Pakistan to the world. It was much needed considering the negative press coverage that has plagued the country over the past decade.
Tourists often wonder ‘Why should I travel to Pakistan?’ ‘Is it safe to travel to Pakistan?’ ‘Which are the most beautiful places to go in Pakistan?’ In this blog we will attempt to answer all of these questions. We will discuss the latest policies the government has adopted to boost tourist activities in Pakistan and also the current wave of foreign bloggers who have visited the country and are head over heels for it.
What are some of the coolest places to visit in Pakistan?
Here is a list of the top 10 most beautiful places to visit in Pakistan.
- Neelum Valley
- Kalash or Kafiristan
- Shandur Pas
Chitral is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Pakistan. There are plenty of options to explore. You can visit Tirich Mir – one of the highest mountain peaks in Hindu Kush mountain range. There are a number of hotels and resorts which offer amazing views of the cliff. People who visit Chitral don’t miss going to Garam Chashma. Although, all chashmas bear cold water, Garam Chashma is a hot spring in Chitral with miraculous healing properties. Barmoghlasht is a famous resort in Chitral. Tourists enjoy paragliding in summers and skiing in winters here. Koghazi and Goleen, nearly 14 km away from Chitral Valley, is often referred to as a paradise on earth. With trees bearing fruits, flowers, green meadows and unbelievable landscapes makes it one of the best tourist places in Pakistan.
Neelum Valley is perfect for trekking. Ratti Gali lake in Dowarian is a beautiful lake. Neelum Valley runs parallel to Kaghan Valley and goes up to Kel. Kundal Shahi is 155 kms away from Muzaffarabad and Kutton is 16 kms from Kundal Shahi. Both are bewitching, exotic places where Jagran Nallah joins Neelum river and has been upgraded for trout fishing. Chitta Kattha lake is a picturesque lake located in Shonter Valley and is one of the best places to visit in Pakistan.
Hunza valley is widely known as heaven on earth and rightfully so. It is nestled in the Karakoram and Himalayan ranges, nearly 100 km from Gilgit. In Hunza, you can visit the historic Baltit Fort, which has been on the UNESCO world heritage tentative list. It is around 700 years old. Borith Lake in Hunza holds a spectacular view, especially during winters, when several ducks and birds migrate from the warmer regions of Pakistan. This valley is also known for its trekking expeditions as K-2, the second highest peak of the world, is located here.
The stunning Swat offers many reasons you should travel to Pakistan. It offers picturesque views of Swat river, Malamjabba ski resort, Kalam, Bahrain, Mingora and Saidu Sharif. If you’re a history aficionado, you will be delighted to catch a glimpse of Gandhara art at Swat museum in Saidu Sharif. Marghazar, a little far from Saidu Sharif, is known for its Sufed Mahal, which is a striking white marble palace of the former ruler of Swat.
Kaghan Valley will leave you spell bound! Its pine forests, mountain streams and green meadows make it one of the best places to visit in Pakistan. Balakot and Naran are a few towns that are part of this valley. Kunhar river is a beautiful winding river that flows through Kaghan Valley. No one can miss going to Lake Saif-ul-Mulook, which is an enchanting lake in the heart of Kaghan Valley. Malika Parbat’s pointed peak can also be seen in the lake’s reflection, adding to its beauty. Lalazar is a picturesque green pasture with thick forests of pine and fir where wild flowers grow along the mountain slopes. Lalazar and Jheel Saif-ul-Mulook are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Pakistan.
Gilgit-Baltistan is situated in the northern parts of Pakistan. Its mountain peaks are majestic standing tall. The famous Naltar Valley, Yasin Valley and Rakaposhi are also a part of Gilgit-Baltistan and are every tourist’s vacation bucket list. The region is also home to Fairy Meadows, one of the most enchanting places to visit in Pakistan It is a green meadow situated in the base of Nanga Parbat. It is important to note this scenic spot requires a laborious 4 to 5-hour long hike from the nearest village.
The Kalash Valley is located in Chitral. Towards the north, Kalash provides easy access to Central Asian states of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It comprises three valleys: Rumbur, Bumburet and Birir. There are many temples and places of historical significance in Kalash. It is known for its unique culture and customs. Bahuk, a sacred lake among locals, is a popular tourist spot in Pakistan. The Kalash tribe believes souls of their ancestors come to live at this lake.
Foreign tourists visit Shandur Pass because of the annual polo festival that is held here in July. Shandur is located in between Giglit and Hunza. It remains one of the most visited places of Pakistan and for good reason. Shandur Pass is famous around the world because it houses the world’s highest polo ground, which is around 3738 meters above sea level. The top of Shandur Pass is flat, but visitors often miss out this detail as they are transfixed by the snow-capped mountains and the sky-colored lake. Make sure to keep a camera with you when you visit, in case you don’t want to miss out on Insta-worthy vacation clicks.
Rawalakot is the capital of Poonch district in Azad Kashmir. It is also known as the Pearl Valley, as in summers the almond trees blossom, giving the impression of pearls scattered on the ground. Tolipir is a hilltop area, a 2-hour drive from Rawalakot. Its pristine beauty and amazing landscapes make it an ideal spot for honeymoon tours.
Shogran & Siri Paye
Shogran and Siri Paye, located in Kaghan Valley, are two fairly underrated spots for tourists in Pakistan. Shogran is a hill station with plenty of resorts and hotels for accommodation. Meanwhile, the undulating clouds at Sri Paye, almost 8 km from Shogran, come down quite low giving the place a view like no other. Camping at Shogran and Sri Paye is a must. Therefore, it is recommended to at least spend two days at both places.
These were a list of beautiful places in Pakistan. Now let us discuss what steps Pakistani government is incorporating to make travel to Pakistan easy for foreign tourists.
Steps by the government to boost tourism industry
The government of Pakistan is taking concrete steps to make the country even more tourist-friendly. Recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a set of policies for foreigners, some of which we shall discuss below:
Visa-on-arrival policy and e-visas
The announcement to make visa-on-arrival policy for 50 countries was a breath of fresh air for the Pakistani tourism industry. Furthermore, e-visas have been introduced for citizens of 175 countries. This is happening for the first time that a policy is drafted to allow citizens of so many countries to have visa on arrival. Earlier, only 24 countries were given this privilege.
The process of submitting applications is simple. Applications should be submitted within 48 hours before you make the trip. It should also carry an invitation letter from a sponsor within Pakistan or have a confirmed hotel booking. If there are group tourists then there should be an invitation letter from tour operators in Pakistan. When foreign nationals arrive in Pakistan, they will be given an Electronic Travel Authorization via e-mail.
The government of Pakistan has launched an e-visa portal for Pakistan. The web address of the portal is visa.nadra.gov.pk. It is operational for citizens of Malaysia, China, UAE, Turkey and UK. You need to choose your visa category first, whether it is for tourism, business or educational purposes. When you land on their site you will see a simple 4-step process to get your visa online.
What international foreign bloggers have to say about Pakistan?
Pakistan is a country full of life – its natural beauty, its loving people and the historical architectural gems this place has makes it the top tourist destination in the world. The British Backpacker Society says that Pakistan is “one of the friendliest countries on earth, with the mountain scenery that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.” The British Backpacker Society has announced the ranking of world’s top 20 adventure travel destinations for 2018, which included Turkey, India, Russia, China and Kyrgyzstan. British Backpacker Society has graded Pakistan as the top adventure travel destination for 2018 after touring the country in 2016.
Recently, the British Backpacker Society visited Pakistan Monument in Islamabad on May 4. They saw a beautiful sunset over downtown Islamabad and described Islamabad as “a city of wide-boulevards, tree-lined streets and a picturesque undulating backdrop.“
They have also described Monal Restaurant where they enjoyed their last dinner before leaving the capital city. They described their experience on a social media page, “Had dinner in a restaurant perched on a panoramic crest overlooking the city. With great views, fresh fruit juices and delicious biryanis, it was the perfect way to end a great few days in the Pakistani capital.”
They were also awe-struck while visiting the carved tombs at Chaukhandi. In a post published on May 13 they commented that Pakistan had many surprise elements. “The country offered so much more to travellers than just alpine pastures and high glaciers.” They were highly impressed by the ‘craftsmanship of Sindhi stone-masons in times gone by.’
A German traveler and photographer, Michael Paulo also portrayed Pakistan as one of the best destinations for street photographers. He believes that Pakistan has a diverse culture and an interesting architecture with walled cities, bazaars and abandoned havelis. He has captured the lives of people living in narrow lanes up close.
Cassie De Pecol from U.S.A had spent around 18 months. According to DAWN, “She became the first documented person to step on all 196 countries on the planet.”
Among all the countries she traveled to, this intrepid explorer gave Telegraph Travel a list of top 10 tourist destinations everyone should visit and Pakistan was ranked at number 5 in that list.
Rosie Gabirelle is a solo traveler who visited Pakistan in Feb 2019. Following her visit, she documented her account, stressing on one very important fact: Pakistan is a safe country to travel to. She has been biking across Pakistan alone and says that she received only love and kindness in return. Visiting Pakistan as a woman, she was treated as a family and although she is living with her friends of friends she has been invited by random people for dinner. She says ‘Pakistan is great like that!’
Eva zu Beck, a foreign tourist in Pakistan says about her video she posted on YouTube on 12-13 August.” Ever since I started travelling Pakistan, I’ve been falling in love with the country’s natural beauty, vibrancy and people. On August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day, I want to pay tribute to all the incredible experiences I have had here so far.” In her video, she shares what makes Pakistan amazing and the best country to visit. She says while splashing the cool, clean river waters amidst the backdrop of majestic snow-dipped mountains ‘nothing surpasses the beauty of Pakistan in the whole of Asia.”
Drew Binsky, who has been to around 153 countries of the world, is the latest among foreign travelers in Pakistan. He has documented his travels on the Instagram page. He thinks that along with Iran, Pakistan is also misunderstood country. He has been overwhelmed with the love and support he is getting from Pakistani people and is having the time of his life here.
These are a few international bloggers who have visited Pakistan and shared their amazing life experiences and who truly believe that Pakistan is among the top tourist destinations in the world.
Are you planning your next trip to the northern areas of Pakistan? For more information, stay tuned to the best tourism blog in Pakistan.