Western media might try to tell you otherwise, but trust me – Pakistan is an absolutely stunning country. Think of famous mountain peaks, emerald-green and turquoise-blue valleys, and that’s not even the half of it. One thing’s for sure: Pakistan sure isn’t lacking in beautiful places to visit! During the 4 months I spent in the country,
Western media might try to tell you otherwise, but trust me – Pakistan is an absolutely stunning country. Think of famous mountain peaks, emerald-green and turquoise-blue valleys, and that’s not even the half of it.
One thing’s for sure: Pakistan sure isn’t lacking in beautiful places to visit!
During the 4 months I spent in the country, I was constantly blown away by what I was seeing. There’s an endless number of perfect natural (and man-made) sights to see while backpacking Pakistan, so I thought I’d spotlight some of the very best for future travellers.
A lake that doesn’t look real… Even when you’re standing right in front of it. Attabad was born out of tragedy when a massive landslide occurred in 2010. The flow of the Hunza River was blocked, and the now-famous lake was created in its wake. Its bright-blue turquoise water makes it one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan.
Phander Lake, located in Phander Village, is almost too good to be true. The teal-coloured lake sits silently amongst light-green trees befitting a landscape painting.
Despite being insanely beautiful, Phander Lake doesn’t see anywhere as close to the number of tourists as the more popular Attabad Lake does.
During the 4 days I spent in Phander relaxing lakeside, I didn’t encounter any other tourists. If you do visit, I highly recommend you stay at the Lake Inn, which is a short walk away and charges 1,000 rupees per night.
There is also the expensive (5,000 rupees) PTDC that overlooks the lake, but the hospitality and value at Lake Inn reign superior.
Though it has had a rough past, the present and future of Swat Valley are shining very bright. This stunning valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan is something straight out of a fairy tale.
Think bright green fields and forests, picturesque villages, and rivers boasting shades of blue so clear and bright you wouldn’t have thought them real!
The true beauty of Swat can be found around the town of Kalam, which serves as a base to explore the beauty of the valley. Here are 3 places you can’t miss in Swat Valley:
Boyun, also known as Green Top, is a short drive or manageable up-hill walk from Kalam town. When you finally reached the pinnacle, you’ll be rewarded with a panorama of one of the vast and most beautiful villages I’ve ever seen – along with sweeping views of the valley below. Boyun is an easy day trip from Kalam.
Kandol and Spindhor Lakes
These alpine lakes lie 2 hours away from Kalam. These days, Kandol Lake is accessible via jeep track and is a bit more commercialised, whereas Spindhor can only be reached on a 2-hour trek. Whichever you choose to visit, both are absolutely counted among the most beautiful places in Pakistan.
This well-preserved forest is full of deodar trees and is a fabulous place to get lost. The road that leads into the forest continues on to several villages set along the Kalam River.
If you live in Pakistan – or have read anything about the country – it’s almost certain you’ve come across the name Hunza. Don’t let the word ‘valley’ confuse you, though – Hunza is actually a massive district made up of numerous valleys and villages. One part of the ancient Silk Road, here are some of the most beautiful sights in Hunza:
The Passu Cathedral is a natural work of art and one of the most recognisable scenes in Pakistan. Though staying overnight in Passu village is no longer allowed, the cones are visible from a ways away, starting from the village of Gulmit. The most iconic view of the Cathedral is from the Karakoram Highway, about an hour’s drive from Gilgit City.
Want to see one of the most epic sunsets in the Hunza Valley? Head to Eagle’s Nest around golden hour! The name comes from an upscale hotel/restaurant nearby, but you can drive up to the viewpoint without going there.
Though it’s relatively unheard of and forgotten compared to Pakistan’s most famous tourist spots, I think Yarkhun Valley was the most beautiful place I visited in the country. Located in the Upper Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Yarkhun dazzles with its mountain ranges and untouched villages.
Reaching the valley, which stretches for many kilometres past the administrative town of Mastuj, requires a bit of effort if you don’t have your own vehicle. If you do have one though, the ride isn’t too bad – just prepare for mostly dirt roads!
The side valley of Gazin is most definitely worth a detour if you make it all the way to Yarkhun. Here, you can see the mountains of the Thoi Pass, a high-altitude pass that connects Upper Chitral with Yasin Valley in Gilgit Baltistan.
Located way up north very close to Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, Broghil Valley was formerly only accessible via trek or horseback. These days, the once-hidden locale can be reached by a treacherous jeep track – yet it still only receives a handful of visitors during the few months it’s not frozen under heaps of snow.
Currently, whether or not foreigners are allowed to visit Broghil is iffy. (If you’re insistent, make sure you check with the Deputy Commissioner’s Office in Chitral before making the trek up there.) But Pakistanis – please go see this beauty! The valley is home to numerous high-altitude lakes, yaks, and sprawling green pastures, all set against a dramatic mountainous backdrop that soars above 13,000 feet.
Moreover, a day’s trek from Lashkargaz, the last village in Broghil, will lead you to Karambar Lake, one of the highest in the world!
The Kalash Valleys, comprised of Bumboret, Rumbur, and Birir, are home to the Kalash people, a religious and ethnic minority in Pakistan with their own beliefs, culture and language. The valleys they live in are certainly some of the most beautiful places in Pakistan – not just for their natural splendour, but also for the beauty of the Kalash themselves.
The valley of Rumbur is particularly stunning. Here, kilometres of dusty road and mountains rumble alongside the Kalash River. The Kalash people live in wooden homes that cling to the high hills, and the women are particularly famous for their brightly-coloured traditional dress and headwear that differs from anything else one can find in Pakistan.
Being only 2.5 hours from Chitral City, it’s very easy to make it out to one of the valleys these days. If you do decide to head to Rumbur, take a day to trek all the way into the valley. The last settlement of Rumbur, Sheikhandeh, is a former Nuristani village whose inhabitants migrated across the border to Pakistan a few hundred years ago.
Though a bit out of the way compared to some of the other beautiful tourist places in Pakistan featured on this list, Shimshal Valley is well worth the effort required to reach it. The locale is known for being a major adventure destination that’s particularly popular amongst climbers and mountaineers.
But Shimshal isn’t just one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan for adrenaline junkies. The village itself is divine come summer. Incredibly, it almost exclusively relies on solar energy! Easier short treks to nearby yak pastures can also be arranged, as can just simply wandering around and enjoying the epic vistas and fields of mustard-yellow flowers.
Like Broghil, Chapursan Valley also borders Afghanistan’s Wakhan but is situated more to the east. This stunning collection of villages and vistas sees only a handful of tourists and is one of the most remote places you can visit in Hunza.
Chapursan is home to the Wakhi people, an ethnic group who speak Wakhi and belong to the Ismaili sect of Islam. With royal blue skies, massive mountain peaks, sprawling lakes and virtually no commercialisation, Chapursan Valley is as beautiful a place in Pakistan as they come!
To reach it, you’ll first need to head to the town of Sost that sits near the Pakistan-China Border. If you have your own vehicle, you’re all set to head on up from there. If not, shared jeeps leave from Sost each morning around 6am. While in the valley, don’t miss the Baba Ghundi Shrine, a mystical Sufi shrine dedicated to a saint who supposedly held magical powers. Also don’t forget to enjoy the company of the yaks!
Naltar Valley is about 54 kilometres (34 miles) from Gilgit City in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region. The popular tourist attraction is known for its dramatic forests, a collection of crystal-clear lakes, and in the winter, skiing facilities.
Though many tourists just come for the slopes, I think the real magic of Naltar can only be witnessed in the summer months when the lakes unfreeze and the forests can be best enjoyed.
This magical valley is only accessible via Jeep, but public transport does exist from Gilgit. There are a number of hotels and guesthouses to accommodate tourists in the valley’s two villages. To avoid peak tourist season, steer clear of visiting during the month of May and try coming in fall instead. You might be lucky enough to catch some epic foliage towards the end of October.