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If you are planning to travel to the northern part of Pakistan, you may come across the name Skardu. This important city in Gilgit-Baltistan may be less famous than the Hunza Valley in the north or Ferry Meadows in the west. However, it is still one of Pakistan’s top tourist destinations due to its unique natural attractions nearby.
Skardu is the perfect destination in Pakistan if you dream of visiting a cold desert or alpine plateau. If you’re also in the mood to sample some of Balti’s delicacies, it’s time to pack your bags and plan your vacation in Skardu.
Here’s the complete travel guide to Skardu that you should consider before heading to Skardu.
Skardu is located in northern Pakistan’s eastern part of the Gilgit-Baltistan region at an altitude of about 2230 meters. It is one of the most important cities in the area, alongside the majestic Himalayas. This place brings a unique landscape and ecosystem to the region, which can be found in very few other locations worldwide.
Compared to the rest of northern Pakistan, Skardu has a relatively m
ild climate. The hottest months are from June to September, when temperatures can reach 30 degrees Celsius, and the coldest months are from December to February, when temperatures often drop below zero. In the months in between, expect temperatures around 10°C. The highest precipitation occurs from December to May.
The best time to visit Skardu is the summer months, from June to September. It’s the perfect time to enjoy lush green landscapes at a comfortable temperature, avoid heavy rain, and escape the oppressive heat of the rest of Pakistan. October is another great time to visit Skardu to experience the region’s golden fall in autumn. Winter turns the area around Skardu into a beautiful white wonderland, but during this season, the city will be hard to reach.
Are you confused about what to wear in Skardu? Most of the time, you can wear warm clothes as the nights in Skardu are too chilled.
Entering Skardu is both a blessing and a curse. You have more options than most other places in northern Pakistan, as Skardualready has its airport.
Here’s how to get to Skardu:
There are daily direct flights from Islamabad and Karachi to Skardu Airport. Flights are operated by the national airline PIA with small aircraft. Despite the relatively short flight time, flights to Skardu are expensive, ranging from $80 to $200 per round trip. Getting into the mountains (scenic) is very difficult for pilots, but it’s still safer to fly to Skardu than to reach the city by road.
Are you confused about what to wear in Skardu? Most of the time, you can wear warm clothes as the nights in Skardu are too chilled. Driving to Skardu is a lot cheaper than flying. You can hire an experienced driver with a private car to take a bus for that route. There are four ways to reach Skardu by road from Islamabad:
First: Islamabad > Mansehra > Basham > Dasoo > Chilas > Jaglot > Skardu
Second: Islamabad > Mansehra > Basham > Dasoo > Chilas > Deosai > Skardu
Then we have, Islamabad > Mansehra > Balakot > Naran > Babusar Top > Chilas > Jaglot > Skardu
Last: Islamabad > Mansehra > Balakot > Naran > Babusar Top > Chilas > Deosai > Skardu
You can also travel to Skardu from Gilgit. The total length is 256 kilometers.
There are many hotel options in and around Skardu. If you’re looking for an upscale experience, you might consider staying at one of the popular hotels near Skardu. This includes the Serena Higg Hotel within Fort Higg and the Shangri-La Resort around Lower Kachula Lake. However, Shangrila resort Skardu is the most famous resort in Skardu.
If you’re looking for something low-end and still want a central location, you’d prefer to be close to the actual city. Our best recommendation is Cherry Inn Skardu, where you get all amenities and a homely atmosphere.
The best way to visit Skardu is with a private driver or guide. Our tour guides are the most experienced and know every inch of the areas you are visiting. So it is always recommended to stay with a professional tour guide. Are you looking for the Skardu tourist map? Here you can find it ultimately.
Overall, Skardu is a very safe travel destination in Pakistan. However, to ensure a smooth ride, there are a few things to remember. Many Skardu hidden places are still unexplored. Skardu is famous for its mesmerizing places, natural beauty, and fantastic weather. A Skardu trip is one of the best decisions you can make.
The best route for Skardu is by air or Gilgit. As mentioned, the road connecting Skardu and Gilgit is the most dangerous. If you decide to travel by road, make sure to:
Usually, this is not a big problem in cities, but when you are outside Deosai National Park, avoid getting too far from your car if you encounter a brown bear in the Himalayas.
Papua is a traditional Balti dish consisting of buckwheat pasta in a creamy pesto sauce. Balti has probably the most popular food in all of Pakistan. The flavor and spice of Balti are pretty different from the rest of Pakistan you may be familiar with, as it has far more carpi comfort food than spice. Since balti is hard to find in other parts of Pakistan, it should be eaten as much as possible in Skardu.
As elsewhere in Pakistan, food safety is your biggest health concern, so avoid tap water and unfinished food.
Also, it’s a good idea to keep some altitude sickness drops with you in case the altitude affects you.
Papua: Korean TikTok-like soba noodles served with creamy pesto
Mamtu: Steamed Wheat Dumplings Stuffed with Beef, Lamb, or Yak
Balti Lentil Soup: A thick, mild, and vegetable soup similar to German Lentil Soup.
Namkin Chai: Milk tea flavored with a pinch of salt to create a fantastic flavor.
The area around Skardu is full of fantastic tourist destinations. Some of the best places to visit in Skardu are worth seeing.
Here are some suggested attractions near Skardu, arranged in perfect order:
From the city itself, despite its regional importance, Skardu is a relatively small town so it can be easily explored in a few hours.
Visit Skardu Bazar and shop for local handicrafts and textiles at the town’s souvenir market. Don’t forget to haggle!
The Deosai Plateau near Skardu is between 3,000 and 5,000 meters above sea level, making it the second-highest plateau in the world. Deosai National Park was established initially to protect the Himalayan brown bear and other endangered species and is now included in UNESCO’s Temporary World Heritage List. Visit Deosai National Park and admire the vast and empty landscape, along with the Kalapani and Barapani waters and Sheosar Lake, a 1-2 hour drive south from Skardu to Deosai National Park through the mountain pass.
Mantuka Falls is a beautiful waterfall about an hour’s drive southeast of Skardu. Surrounded by a serene green valley, Mantuka Falls emerges from towering and luxurious mountains; it is hard to believe the waterfall is artificial! Bask in the crystal clear waters of waterfalls, snap photos of silky streams and rainbows, and enjoy a relaxing picnic in one of the most beautiful places around Skardu.
The beautiful Shigar Valley is located along the Shigar River, about an hour’s drive northeast of Skardu. Follow the scenic road to the beautiful village of Shigar, where you will see not only local architectural gems such as the Shigar Fort or the old wooden Khilangrong Mosque but also the traditional Balti village life.
Sarfaranga Desert is one of the famous cold deserts around Skardu. It is located in the Shigar Valley along the Shigar River, so it is the perfect result for a visit to Shigar. Stay on the soft sand and bounce around the tall dunes with friends. But beware, some thorns may be hidden under the sand!
Closer to the city is the Katabana desert, another cold Skardu desert. Surrounded by towering mountains and beautiful lakes, the Katapana Desert is incredibly stunning in winter when its sand is covered in soft snow. Also, it is close to Skardu Airport and has easy access to the Katapana Desert all year round.
Kachura, a settlement about an hour northwest of Skardu, is known for its two lakes: Upper Kachula and Lower Kachula. A 15-minute hike can reach the first through a small forest. Popular activities on Lower Kachula Lake include swimming, fishing, and jet skiing.
Lower Kachura Lake is one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan, if not the world, located in the majestic Shangri-La resort. Spend a relaxing afternoon in one of the greenest gardens in paradise on earth, and be sure to enjoy some organic cider in front of the heart-shaped lake. If you’re feeling more gifted, consider staying overnight at the resort.
A short drive south of Skardu, Manthal is home to an ancient Buddhist monument known as Manthal Buddha Rock. The rock is around 1,200 years old and contains a Buddha image. While you won’t have the chance to visit Manthal alone, it’s a great addition to your Skardu itinerary if you have the time.
K2: Skardu is the gateway to the summit of K2, the second-highest peak in the world, and more than 8,000 peaks. While the summit is reserved for the best climbers in the world, you can visit K2 Base Camp alone or on tour.
Fairy Meadows: Fairy Meadows is a beautiful mountain paradise surrounding Nanga Parbat. Your journey to this remote paradise begins near Chiras, which means you’ll pass through the area on your way out of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Hunza Valley: The Hunza Valley is the most popular tourist destination in Pakistan and a must-see when you travel in Pakistan. The beautiful valley is located north of Skardu on the Karakoram Highway.
Islamabad: If you’re flying to Skardu, this could be the start and end of your trip, so it never hurts to spend a day or two exploring the Pakistani capital.
Go through our ultimate travel guide to Skardu, and let us know if you need any queries.
Since 2017, Saba Ghani has been serving as the talented and dedicated chief content writer for Pakistan Tour and Travel & EMHI Solutions. With her exceptional writing skills and in-depth knowledge of the travel industry, she has been instrumental in crafting engaging and informative content that captivates the audience. You can catch her at [email protected] or Twitter