Most westerner’s image of Pakistan is of a dusty desert country; full of rough, bearded men and devoid of anything female, but Pakistan is a diverse, complex nation full of tourist attractions. This article lists the top 10 places a western traveler can’t miss in Pakistan.
Deep into the Karakorum wilderness lies the hall of the mountain kings. Described as the most scenic single spot on the planet, this “throne of the mountain gods” has 4 eight thousanders (including K2) in close proximity and an unlimited offering of breathtaking mountain scenery.
The seat of Hunza valley, this little town is the capital for western tourists in Pakistan. Famous for its apricots, legends of longevity, Hunza water (an alcoholic drink!) and the gigantic Rakaposhi, this place is guaranteed to live in your memories for ever.
3. Fairy Meadows/Nanga Parbat Base Camp
Nanga Parbat has the most accessible base camp of all 8000ers and in decent weather can be reached in a single day. The approach itself is an adventure and includes the most exhilarating jeep ride imaginable. The beautiful Fairy Meadows are located close to the base camp with splendid views of the mighty peak, soaring high above everything around.
4. Deosai Plateau
The second highest plateau in the world after Tibet, this tundra like landscape bursts into life in summers with a large variety of blossoming flowers. Offers great trout fishing, camping and rare Himalayan Brown Bear spotting opportunities. The massive Rupal face of Nanga Parbat is also accessible from here.
The cultural capital of Pakistan, this is a city with a non-stop buzz. Once the capital of the Mughal Empire, sites of historical significance are found here in abundance, with Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque two of the grandest. The old city, Sufi night, Food Street and the eloquent flag lowering ceremony on the Indian border are some of the many charms available.
6. Peshawar/Khyber Pass
The city that everyone has wanted to conquer for thousands of years, this is Pakistan’s Wild West. The famous invasion route Khyber Pass is also located nearby but the city itself is an absorbing experience in Pashtun culture, hospitality and history.
7. The Kailash Valleys
The Kailash are an isolated pagan tribe living mainly in three remote valleys in Chitral District. A culture in danger of extinction, their origins have long been the object of anthropological curiosity. Their wonderfully uniqueg customs and lifestyle begs for attention and preservation. Chitral itself is a beautiful complex of valleys, with more linguistic variety than anywhere else in the world.
8. Shandur Pass/Polo Festival
Shandur Pass connects Chitral with Gilgit and is the site of the highest polo ground in the world. Each summer this desolate wilderness holds a huge mountain party called the Shandur polo festival. Teams from Chitral and Gilgit come face to face in a raw, freestyle contest. The pass is mostly uninhabited and crossing its snow covered slopes in winters is an extremely challenging high adventure.
Taxila was one of the most important cities of old India. Through various periods in history, it was under Persian, Greek and Buddhist influence and the preserved archeological sites around the modern day town are testament to the city’s illustrious past.
10. Makran Coast
This sparsely inhabited coast has some of the most beautiful virgin beaches in the world. Although currently organizing a trip might be a huge logistical challenge but the wild pristine beauty makes it all worthwhile. The main coastal town Gwadar, is being developed as a major port, and soon, the area will be secure and developed enough to become a true surfing/scuba diving heaven.