Skardu Tour Guide
A Comprehensive and Latest Tour Guide for National & International Tourists visiting Skardu & the Gilgit-Baltistan (aka Northern Areas of Pakistan)
The Skardu Tour Guide is brought to you by Tour Mover Pvt Ltd, a tourism services company with wide network of offices and representation in all major tourist destinations of Pakistan. We also recommend reading of our Skardu Most Beautiful Places to Visit article before you plan your trip to Skardu.
“Land of the Magnificent Mountains”
Skardu is a stunning tourist destination of Pakistan located in the Gilgit-Baltistan which is also referred to as the Northern Areas. Skardu is not only capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan but also a district home to many beautiful valleys. Skardu is situated at an altitude of 2500 meters above sea level having magnificent Karakoram Mountain Range in the backdrop & Indus and Shigar Rivers in the surrounding, giving Skardu a mesmerizing ambience altogether.
Skardu has gained a reputation as one of the most spectacular adventure tourism destination globally. Skardu always remains on the wish list of national & international adventure travel enthusiasts. Those who have been to Skardu still could not get enough of it and wish to visit again.
Skardu uniqueness can rightly be attributed to many factors but most prominently it is its geographic location, historical importance, the Balti culture & the simplistic lifestyle & unbounded hospitality of the Balti People. Balti people are mixture of Tibetan and Caucasian human races. People of Skardu speak Balti which is an ancient form of Tibetan. This Tibetan belonging is very much exhibited in their culture, lifestyle and architecture and perhaps for this reason Baltistan is also known as the Little Tibet.
As an Adventure Tourist Destination
Skardu clicks all the boxes on the checklist as a top adventure tourist destination for climbers, trekkers, nature lovers, and minerals admirers. Skardu lies in the shadow of the four magnificent mountains (K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum, Masherbrum) having height of more than 8000 meters, making it a truly climbers paradise. The sheer beauty of the surrounding areas, the valleys, lakes, waterfalls, meadows, beautiful landscape, and hospitality of people, blooming flowers, freshwater springs, complementing weather and fresh clean air make every moment an enjoyable experience. Skardu has something special for all travelers’ types be it families, students groups, hardcore travelers, mountain climbers, nature lovers or novice travelers.
The temperatures are highest on average in July, at around 24 °C. The lowest average temperatures in the year occur in January, when it is around -5 °C. The least amount of rainfall occurs in November, average is 4 mm. The greatest amount of rainfall occurs in March, with an average of 35 mm.
Best Time to Visit Skardu
Depending on your taste really, if you want to see blossom season, then March-April is the best time to visit when cheery, apricot and peaches are in full bloom. If you are more into adventure and trekking and like hustle and bustle then June to August is the best time to visit Skardu. Or perhaps you might be one of the autumn season lovers who enjoy beautiful fall colors & a quite surroundings, then October – November is the time to be there in Skardu. Mostly domestic tourists prefer to visit Skardu in summer season. Foreigners, however, like more of a quite time and prefer visiting in blossom and autumn seasons.
Visa Requirements for Foreigners
Pakistan is a country open for tourists now. Nationals of many countries can now get visa on arrival while nationals of other countries can submit their visa application online. You can get more details on Visa requirements for various countries nationals on the official website of Ministry of Interior. A quick overview of Pakistan Visa Policy for different countries of the world is available here.
Invitation Letter for Foreigners
Some of International Tourists might need an invitation letter from tour operator in Pakistan. If you needed any such invitation you can contact us and we will arrange an invitation letter for you free of cost. NOC (No Objection Certificate – sometimes a requirement for foreign travelers to travel various parts of Pakistan) requirements for foreigners to travel in Pakistan has been removed for many nationalities. However, you may double check before departure with your host/tour operator in Pakistan if you would need one, your host/tour operator can get one for you easily.
Dress Code & Cultural Sensitivity
Any modest/conservative dress such as trouser with T shirt or Shalwar & Kameez (National dress of Pakistan, easily available in garments shops in all cities and towns, normal price PKR1500-2000) will be just fine; it applies to both male & female. People of Skardu are very down to earth with simple lifestyle, growing their own food and raising their own cattle for meat and milk, very hospitable & welcoming mostly belonging to Shia Muslim. If you pass through any of the villages, you will get a cordial welcome by local people, especially women are given high respect as part of their culture.
Travel to Skardu by Road
If you are planning to travel to Skardu by road in private vehicle, you can follow either of the following routes most convenient to you (assuming you are starting off from Islamabad):
- Islamabad – Abbottabad – Mansehra – Balakot- Shogran- Naran – Babusar – Chilas – Skardu
It is about 700+ Kilometers long route & can take more than 22 hours total journey time to reach Skardu. But it is recommended to stop over for night at Naran (Islamabad to Naran distance is 300+ Kilometers & takes upto 8 hours) & then another overnight stop in Chilas (Naran to Chilas is about 170 kilometers & can take upto 6 hours) and then leave early morning for Skardu (Chilas to Skardu distance is about 270 Kilometers and can take upto 8 hours).
- Islamabad – Muzaffarbad- Naran- Babusar-Chilas- Skardu
It is about 650+ kilometers long route and can take 21+ hours total journey time to reach Skardu. Islamabad to Muzzafarabad is about 150 kilometers and can take upto 4 hours and distance between Muzaffarabad and Naran is about 120 kilometers and is about 3.5 hours travel. From Naran onwards to Skardu is the same as route 1 above.
- Islamabad – Abbottabad – Mansehra – Batagram – Besham- Dasu – Chilas – Skardu
It is about 750 kilometers long route. Islamabad to Chilas is about 500 kilometers and can take upto 15 hours journey time. From Chilas onwards you will have to follow same route as previously mentioned in the route option 1 and option 2 above.
- Coming from China
If you are coming from china to Northern Areas, you will need to travel from Tashkurgan to the Pakistani border post at Sost, takes about 6 hours . You can book buses either with NATCO or Hunza Xinjiang Trading & Tourism from the bus station in Tashkurgan. Chinese customs and immigration will need to be cleared in Tashkurgan before boarding your bus. From Sost you can find buses for the Hunza Valley, Gilgit & Skardu all northern areas.
Travel to Skardu by Air
PIA (Pakistan International Airline) operates daily flights from Islamabad to Skardu, flight operations are subject to clear sky/weather. One way ticket is around USD 100 to USD 125. But the flight for sure will be the most interesting & scenic as you flyover the most beautiful valleys of the northern areas of Pakistan.
Public Transport Service to Skardu
NATCO (Northern Area Transport Corporation) operate bus service from Islamabad to Gilgit-Baltistan. You can get bus schedule, fares, online booking information from here.
Getting Around in Skardu
You have options to get around in Skardu. You can hire local jeep with driver costing PKR 7000 to PKR 8000 for a day to move you around. It is perhaps the best option as the driver will guide you also. You can share jeep ride and the cost with other tourists also if you are lucky to find other travelers having the same travel plan as you. You can choose to travel by public transport which might be time consuming though as they have to make frequent stops for passengers to get on and off the bus.
Hotels in Skardu
There is variety of hotels available in Skardu, some are budget hotels, room rent per night about PKR2000, while others high end luxury hotels room rent starting from PKR5000 to PKR25,000 per night. PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) also operates motels at Skardu, Sadpara Lake and Khaplu are also reasonably good places to stay. Followings are some of the good hotels in Skardu;
- Hotel Dewane Khas & Restaurant, Skardu
- Serene Baltistan Hotel & Restaurant Skardu
- Hotel Mountain Lodge Skardu
- Concordia Motel Skardu
- Hotel Snow Land Place, Skardu
- Shangrila Resort Skardu
- PTDC K2 Motel Skardu
- Shigar Fort Residence
- Baltistan Continental Hotel Skardu
For latest Skardu hotel deals and discounts visit Tour Mover Hotels Deals
Local Food/Delicacies of Skardu
We knew you will be looking for Skardu food & delicacies. Gilgit-Baltistan has fantastic healthy cuisine. Gilgit-Baltistan cuisine has heavy influence of Himalayan local produce like buckwheat, nuts and sun dried fruits & apricot kernel oil, which is very healthy and delicious. Some of the traditional dishes recommended to try are:
- Chapshuro: Chapshoro is bread filled with minced meat, onions, peppers, tomato and fresh coriander leaves.
- Harissa: Harissa main ingredients are wheat, boiled meat, and butter or apricot oil. The mixture is boiled and simmered and stirred regularly until paste like thickness. It is basically served in weddings parties.
- Mantu: It is pasta dish; basically it is mincemeat, herbs, garlic dumplings.
- Marzan: Ground buckwheat dough seasoned in very specific way for special flavor normally eaten with apricot oil
- Gyal: Buckwheat patties/cookies cooked with apricot oil, some people prefer to top it with honey also.
- Prapoo: Homemade Pasta cooked & mixed with apricot oil and ground almond paste, all mixed together well, looking more like thick gravy.
- Gholmandi: This is like paratha stuffed with homemade cheese, coriander and chives
- Trout Fried in Apricot Oil: Trout fish shallow fried in apricot oil very delicious.
- Butter Tea: Butter Tea is Baltistan special drink. It contains salt, butter, milk, and green tea leaves. Some people prefer to add wheat flour and apricot oil to it also. Good in winter season.
- Chutney & Pickles: Walnut, Almond & Apricot Chutney, Apricot pickles & James, very flavorful.
- Drinks: Butter Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea, Apricot Juice
- Fruit: Cherry, Apricot, Apple, Queen Apple, Peaches, Mulberries, Plums, Grapes, Almond, Walnut (subject to season)
Activities to Enjoy in Skardu
Skardu as a tourist destination has something special for everyone, activities ranging from easy goers to hardcore adventure travelers and food lovers.
- Sightseeing: Skardu is stunningly beautiful. You will enjoy the sights and sceneries including mountains, lakes, waterfalls, meadows, spring blossoms and autumn colors, every scene just out of this world. The roses, lilies, pansies, willow, pine and fir trees are found in abundance.
- Wildlife & Hunting: Baltistan boasts of wildlife like Markhors, ibexes, snow leopards and birds, namely Chakors, partridges and ducks. Hunting of many of the animals and birds are protected but limited shooting is allowed. Hunting permits are issued by the local administration.
- Trekking: Skardu is an ideal location for mountaineering, trekking and hiking
- Camping: You can do camping. You can pitch your own tent or get one on rent also.
- Fishing: Satpara Lake and Kachura Lakes as well as Shigar River are best for trout fishing. Fishing permits are issued by the Fisheries Department of Gilgit-Baltistan.
- Cycling: Many tourists come to cycle the Karakoram Highway. It is an amazing experience.
- Meet Locals: Experience this ancient culture first hand. Meeting local people & trying local food is best thing to do in Skardu.
Travel Tips & Precautions
General travel trips, not specific to Skardu, which adventure tourists may find helpful.
- Your Identification Document (NIC for nationals and Passport for International Tourist, you can carry copy and keep the original safely)
- External battery pack for keeping gadgets charged on long bus rides and for power outages
- GPS device for trekkers who wants trek in the remote areas
- Solar charger for keeping your gadgets charged when camping and trekking
- Hiking Boots
- Backpack of 50 to 65 Liters
- Tent for campers and trekkers
- Sleeping bag useful for trekkers & cyclists
- Lightweight cooking stove for campers or cyclists who need to cook meal
- Water Purifier
- Trekking Poles
- Headlamp or Flashlight if camping, and for power outages
- Sunscreen for protecting you from sunburn at high altitudes
- Mosquito Repellent
- Prescription medications
- Toiletries & personal hygiene equipment
- Last but not the least, Skardu adventure will require certain level of physical fitness, not recommended with infants and elderly people.
Skardu Most Beautiful Places to Visit
- Kharpocho Fort
- Shigar Valley
- Shigar Fort
- Khaplu Valley
- Khaplu Palace
- Skardu Sand Dunes Desert
- Buddha Rock
- Skardu City
- Deosai National Park
- Manthokha Waterfall
- Satpara Lake
- Sheosar Lake
- Upper Kachura Lake
- Shangrila Lake
For more details & beautiful pictures please read our article on Skardu Most Beautiful Places to Visit.
Skardu Tour Free Advisory Service
To see Skardu best is to see it with Tour Mover Pvt Ltd. We operate tours and provide hotels booking and car rental & tour guide services for Skardu. Our tour experts will be more than happy to help you with your tour needs. Know more about Tour Mover services by visiting our website or contact us by phone, email or through our contact forum for an advise on Skardu tour plans.
Skardu Tour Itinerary
Skardu Baltistan Stress Buster Tour Package taking you to the serenity of the mother nature out of the bustling city dwelling to rejuvenate. Check out detailed Skardu Tour Plan here.