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Tour to Pakistan- our 12-day itinerary in Islamabad, Hunza, Skardu

Tour to Pakistan

Our recent trip to northern Pakistan was an absolute delight. I can’t wait to recount our experiences to you! It was an adventure that left an indelible impression on us.

This post summarizes our 12-day journey to northern Pakistan based on our real-life experiences. If you’re a first-time visitor to Pakistan, this itinerary will offer you a comprehensive virtual tour.

For casual holiday seekers like us, who have busy daily lives and can only manage a week or two to travel, this story is perfect to read before you book your tour. It will provide valuable insights to help you make the most of your trip.

We decided to book our Pakistan tour through Go Holiday 360 Sdn. Bhd, our local agent, for several reasons. First, we didn’t want to backpack, so having a tour agent handle our arrangements was best. They have vast experience arranging tours in Pakistan and are proficient in making all the necessary arrangements, including lodging, meals, documentation (including visa), local guides, and the entire itinerary.  We just need to pay a lump sum, and everything was handled for us.

While joining a group tour may limit our flexibility, it also allows us to make the most of every minute to visit as many places as possible within our limited time. 

We are excited to share our twelve-day tour of Northern Pakistan, so let’s get started!

Day 1- Kuala Lumpur to Islamabad

Pearl Continental Hotel, Tour to Pakistan

We arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in the evening on Day One. Our tour leader, KG, who will accompany us to Pakistan, had arrived earlier and was waiting for us. We opted for a direct flight using Pakistan International Airlines, which took us six hours and ten minutes to reach Islamabad. Direct flights saved us much more time than transiting through places such as Bangkok.

Upon our arrival at the airport, our local guide, Ali, arrived to receive us. We then proceeded to the Pearl Continental Hotel, where we were scheduled to spend the night.

Day 2 – Islamabad to Besham

Darma-stupa-9S, Tour to Pakistan

We had breakfast at Pearl Continental Hotel and visited several places near Islamabad before embarking on a long journey on the Karakoram Highway to Besham.

Along the way, we made several stops, the most notable one being Taxila, where we visited several historical places such as Dharmarajika Stupa, Sirkap City, Taxila Museum, and Jaulian.

We have written a post about our trip to Taxila. Please read this post, where we dealt in detail with all the places we visited, plus plenty of photos.

After visiting different places in Taxila, we drove for an hour to Khanpur Dam, our next destination. From there, we continued our journey north on the Hazarah Expressway to Besham, passing through Abbottabad. It was a long journey, taking us about 4 hours. We stayed overnight at the Besham Hilton Hotel before continuing our journey north.

Day 3 – Besham – Gilgit

Korakoram-62s, Tour to Pakistan

We traveled from Besham to Gilgit on the third day. The Karakoram Highway, the world’s eighth wonder, was our route for the day. The highway was breathtaking, and we saw cows and yaks on the way. Our coach drove on a narrow road with a deep ravine on one side and an overhanging cliff on the other. Although it was a bit scary initially, I got used to it and enjoyed the scenery.

At Dassu, we had to wait for the road to reopen due to road work and construction. Since all the vehicles were stopped and waiting, we took a closer look at the elaborately decorated trucks and took some photos. We also stopped at other places, including the Thalpan Das Rock Carving. The journey was long, but the view of the Karakoram Mountains during golden hours was breathtaking.

We have written a separate blog post about the Karakoram Highway, so I will not elaborate here.

We checked into the Besham Hilton to stay overnight and rest after a tiring day.

Day 4 – Gilgit – Karimabad Hunza

Tour to Pakistan

Our itinerary for day 4 was to explore all the destinations in Hunza Valley and nearby areas. We visited several places, including Gilgit Kargah Buddha, Gilgit Bazaar, where different continents meet, the Old Silk Road, and the Rakaposhi Glacier Viewpoint at Ghulmet.

Also, we met with the family of our local guide. Later, we headed towards Karmabad to check out the Baltit Fort and Karimabad Bazaar.

Then, we arrived at the Gilgit Serena Hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Please read our blog post about all the places we visited in Hunza Valley.

Day 5 – Karimabad – Khunjerab Pass

Khunjerab-21s, Tour to Pakistan

The following day, we continued our journey along the Karakoram Highway towards Khunjerab Pass, the highest point of our trip. En route, we visited several places, such as Lady’s Finger Viewpoint, Attabad Lake, Hussaini Bridge, and Passu Glacier.

Khunjerab Pass, situated at the border of Pakistan and China, stands tall at around 4,700 meters above sea level. The air was thin, which made breathing difficult, and we had to take multiple breaks to catch our breath.

The Karakoram Highway offers breathtaking views as it traverses through mountain ranges via narrow and winding roads. It is recommended to take travel sickness pills to avoid discomfort.

If you want to know more about these places, you can check out our blog post on Hunza Valley.

After a long day of traveling, we stayed overnight at the Hilltop Hotel in Karimabad.

Day 6 – Karimabad – Hoper Glacier – Duiker

Duiker-hike-20s, Tour to Pakistan

Today is the 6th day of our tour to Pakistan. We opted to travel by jeep instead of couch to visit the Hunza River and Nagar River confluence. During the visit, we also met with gypsies who lived in tents along the riverbank, searching for gold.

Later, we headed to the Nagar Pass viewpoint to glimpse the Golden Peak. We stopped for lunch at one of the restaurants near the Hoper Glacier viewpoint before visiting the Altit Fort.

After that, we went directly to the Eagle’s Nest Hotel at Duiker to catch the sunset. Located next to Duiker Hill, one of the best viewpoints of the beautiful mountains around Hunza Valley, we climbed the hill before sunset. We were rewarded with an incredible view of the magnificent mountain ranges during the golden hours.

Day 7 – Duiker – Skardu

Kachurah-23s, Tour to Pakistan

Our plan for today is to travel alongside the Indus River to Skardu.

We made a stop at Ghulmat to purchase some dried fruits and souvenirs. Shortly after, we reached a spot where three mountain ranges, the Karakoram, Himalaya, and Hindu Kush, were located. We also drove through the gem mining area.

After lunch at Astak, we headed to our next destination, the Upper Kachura Lake. Once we explored the lake, we arrived at Skardu and checked into the Serena Shigar Hotel at Shigar Fort.

Day 8 – Sightseeing at Skardu

The following day, we started by visiting the museum inside Shigar Fort. Later, we walked to Khilingrong Mosque and Khanqah-e-Mualla.

After having lunch, we went to the Sarfaranga Cold Desert, Manthal Buddha Rock, and Sadpara Lake. We also quickly stopped at the Skardu Bazaar before heading to the Dynasty Hotel. 

We have published a separate article about things to do in Skardu, where you can find more detailed information about all the places we visited on days 7 and 8 of our trip.

Day 9 – Skardu – Chilās


In the morning, we stopped at another cold desert called the Katpana Desert. The journey back to Chilās was long, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the magnificent scenery on the Karakoram Highway.

We arrived at the Shangrila Hotel in Chilās and stayed there overnight. The Shangrila in Chilās and the Serena Hotel at Shigar Fort were the best hotels we stayed at during our visit. We will publish another article soon introducing all the hotels we stayed at during our visit.

Day 10 – Chilās – Abbottabad

Today marks the start of another long journey. Our first stop was at the Shatial Rock Carving, followed by a short break at Sumer Nala. We also passed the Karakoram Highway Monument and Thakot before finally checking in to Hotel One in Abbottabad.

Please refer to the article about our trip on the Karakoram Highway for the details of the places we visited.

Day 11 – Abbottabad – Islamabad

Today is northern Pakistan’s final sightseeing day. We have returned to the city, and our itinerary for the day is centered around places in Islamabad. As we have covered most of the places we visited during the first ten days in previous articles, I will provide more details about what we saw in Islamabad on day 11.

Faisal Mosque

(Inside the mosque. Only men are allowed to enter.)

The Faisal Mosque is a national mosque of Pakistan in Islamabad. It is the fifth-largest mosque globally and the largest in South Asia. 

It was completed in 1986 and named after King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. The Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay designed the mosque with a contemporary style inspired by a desert Bedouin tent, lacking traditional domes and arches. The mosque can hold up to 300,000 worshippers. It was the world’s largest mosque from 1986 to 1993 and is currently the sixth-largest in capacity.


(Daman-e-Koh offers a stunning view of Islamabad and Rawalpindi cities.)

Daman-e-Koh, a hilltop garden north of Islamabad, offers picturesque views of the city from 500 feet above sea level. Its name is derived from two Persian words meaning ‘foothills.’

Pakistan Monument

(The monument resembles a blooming flower petal)

The Pakistan Monument was inaugurated on March 23, 2007, to symbolize the unity of the Pakistani people. The monument resembles a blooming flower petal designed by Arif Masoud to represent the country’s history, civilization, and culture. The inner walls of the petals feature outlines of significant landmarks such as Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque. The Pakistan Monument Museum within the complex contains wax figures and illustrations portraying the events that led to the Pakistan Movement.

Centaurus Shopping Mall

Our Pakistan tour will conclude at the Centaurus Shopping Mall, one of the largest shopping malls in Islamabad. We did some last-minute shopping and explored the shopping experience in Pakistan.

Day 12 Islamabad – Kuala Lumpur

After visiting the Centaurus shopping mall, we proceeded to the International Airport, marking the end of our fantastic tour to Pakistan.