Gulf News has recently revealed its top picks winter destinations in Pakistan for 2022. Undoubtedly Pakistan is one of the major tourist destinations that is a favorite tourist spot by foreigners besides the horrifying pandemic.
Picturesque northern Pakistan has long been a favorite year-round destination for climbers from around the world, but the country is now looking to establish itself as a winter destination.
Winter sports and cultural festivals are held annually in Pakistan’s snow-capped valleys to promote adventure and winter tourism and attract local and international tourists. Pakistan is ready to welcome tourists to its popular winter destinations but has imposed some restrictions this year due to the coronavirus. Visitors should bring physical or digital proof of vaccinations, as new variants of the virus remain a concern.
Since Pakistan has four seasons, this makes it unique among all other countries. Summer in Pakistan has its own color, and the color of cherry blossoms is everywhere in spring. Autumn has its own characteristics, while winter has its majestic scenery. Pakistan is known for its hospitality, cuisine, historical sites, and most importantly its majestic mountains. Pakistan has five peaks over 8,000 meters above sea level, including K2, the second-highest peak in the world.
The government is gradually investing in facilities and infrastructure to make it more attractive for tourists, skiers, hikers, and climbers by organizing sports and cultural celebrations. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has also resumed air travel, with a flight to Skardu hailed as “the most beautiful and exciting flight” with breathtaking views of the world’s highest mountains.
First and foremost is Gilgit Baltistan which is the favorite place to visit in Pakistan in any season. The Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan covers an area of 72,400 square kilometers and is where the three most powerful mountain ranges meet, the Himalayas, Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush. Shaded by towering snow-capped peaks, the scenic valleys of Gilgit, Hunza, and Skardu have been attracting tourists for decades. Hunza Valley offers unique landscapes ranging from peaks to historic buildings to unique culture and heritage, including the 1,000-year-old Altit Fort and the 700-year-old Baltit Fort.
The famous crystal clear Attabad Lake is also located near Hunza. British mountaineer Eric Shipton describes the Hunza Valley as “the ultimate expression of mountain magnificence”, with the famous Mount Rakaposhi being the valley’s star attraction. According to tourists, the area enjoys beautiful views of Pakistan’s highest peak and unforgettable sunrises. Some of Gilgit-Baltistan’s winter sports attractions include Khungrab Ice Marathon, Deosai Ski Crossing, Naltar and Astor Skiing, and Hunza Ice Hockey.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is known for its diverse natural beauty and magnificent valleys, including the Swat, Kagan, and Kumrat valleys. The Swart Valley is also famous in eastern Switzerland for its green pine trees, snow-capped peaks, and sparkling lakes.
The remote Kumrat Valley is known as the “Hidden Gem of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa” for its fantastic valley setting, forested mountains, and waterfalls. Another area worth visiting in KP is the Galiyat district which includes Nathiagali, Donga Gali, Changla Gali, and Ayubia. The Ice Festival with its exciting adventures is a major attraction for tourists from the diaspora.
The 144-kilometer arc-shaped Neelum Valley is located in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The valley features lush green terrain, mountains, sparkling freshwater streams, and lush forests. Known as the “blue gem” as a summer tourist destination, Neelum Valley is now emerging as new winter destinations as the local government encourages tourists to visit the valley through its vibrant festivals and sporting events.
Balochistan is a wonderful geological and topographic wonderland with golden deserts, spectacular mountains, and wonderful coastal areas including Gwadar Beach and Stora Island. Moreover, the Nushki, and Kharan deserts are among the most enchanting in the region because of their wide area. Wadi Ziarat is the most famous tourist destination and home to the second-largest juniper forest in the world. The valley stays cool in summer and is covered in snow in winter. Hana Lake is another great place to visit near the snow-covered city of Quetta in winter. Hingol National Park in Balochistan is known for its unique rock formations and diverse fauna.
For those who don’t like snow-capped valleys, central Pakistan has sandy deserts, vast landscapes, green fields, sparkling beaches, and the Arabian Sea to the south. Sindh is home to the ancient city of Monhen jo Daro, a well-preserved relic of the Indus Valley civilization, numerous ruins, and forts, as well as stunning beaches and the commercial center of Karachi. Winter is the best time to explore Sindh’s interior culture, with summer temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius. The Ranikot, Umerkot, and Kot Diji forts offer breathtaking views of Sindh, reminiscent of ancient times when Pakistan was the cradle of civilization.
Punjab has many heritage and cultural sites, rich agricultural land, and an extensive network of rivers, canals, shrines, forts, and gardens dating back to the Mughal era. It is a melting pot of religion and culture, with Sufi shrines, Sikh Buddhist monasteries, Gurdwaras, and Hindu temples all over the province. The rich culture of the walled city of Lahore, the holy sites of Multan, the magnificent palaces of Bahawalpur, and the Drava Fort in the Jolistan Desert are some of the most attractive tourist destinations.
In the wake of the Murree tragedy, police urged tourists to be fully prepared, stock up on extra fuel, rechargeable batteries, trailers, and snow chains, take extra care when taking selfies, and check the weather before traveling. Meanwhile, tourists are urging authorities to improve food and accommodation standards, rein in local tourism and ensure sustainable tourism through waste disposal fines, proper waste management, and recycling facilities.