Best places to visit during winter in Pakistan
Best places to visit during winter in Pakistan: Pakistan is emerging as an attractive, budget-friendly destination with a rich and unique culture. With winter approaching, Pakistan’s tourism spots are gearing up to offer stunning snow-covered landscapes and a captivating winter wonderland experience.
If you’re considering an international trip or are already in Pakistan and wondering where to go this winter, here’s a list of the best destinations to explore.
Best places to visit during winter in Pakistan:
Malam Jabba, Swat, KPK
Malam Jabba, Pakistan’s oldest and largest ski resort, is nestled in the majestic Hindu Kush range at an elevation of 2,804 meters (9,199 feet). Located approximately 50 kilometers from Saidu Sharif, the capital of Swat, this charming resort has been attracting domestic and international tourists alike.
Activities abound at Malam Jabba, with an 800-meter ski slope and the highest slope in the region, reaching approximately 9,000 feet above sea level.
A chairlift ride offers breathtaking views of the snow-covered valley below. In addition to skiing, the resort features ice-skating rinks, zip-lining, and free-fall experiences.
If you’re into snow trekking, explore the trails in the area, some of which lead to ancient Buddhist stupas and monasteries dating back 2,000 years.
The December temperature varies from a high of 6°C (43°F) to a low of -6°C (20°F). For a milder climate with pleasant afternoons and cool evenings, consider visiting in January.
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Accommodations are plentiful, ranging from luxury options like Pearl Continental and Serena to fully equipped villas for a more private experience.
Kalam, Swat, KPK
Kalam, situated at an altitude of 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) above sea level, is a picturesque valley known for its lush forests, rugged mountains, and captivating lakes. Within a 20-kilometer radius of Kalam, you’ll find attractions like the glaciers of Matiltan, Kundol Lake of Utror, and the medicinal springs of Gabriel.
The three-hour trek from Kalam to Kundal Lake is a popular activity, offering pristine views of the lake and its surroundings. You can also opt for a jeep ride to reach Kundal Lake in half the time.
For more adventure, venture to Mahodand Lake in the Usho Valley, approximately 40 kilometers from Kalam, where you can enjoy fishing, boating, and rafting. Kalam is also blessed with numerous natural waterfalls hidden in its forests.
In December, Kalam experiences an average temperature of 4°C (39°F), dropping to around 1.5°C (35°F) in January, making it a great time to explore the region.
Accommodations are primarily located 45 to 50 kilometers from Kalam, offering warm and comfortable options, while camping under the stars is also possible with proper planning.
Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan’s northernmost territory, is a mountainous wonderland with Gilgit as its capital. This region is home to five of the world’s eight-thousanders and more than fifty peaks exceeding 7,000 meters (23,000 feet). It boasts three of the world’s longest glaciers outside of the Polar Regions.
Accommodation options range from camping under the stars to hotels and lodges in Gilgit, catering to both luxury and budget travelers. In Gilgit, you can explore the Karakoram Highway through cycling tours or embark on challenging treks and climbing adventures. Naltar, a forested region with three picturesque lakes, offers skiing opportunities at the Naltar ski resort.
Chair lifts provide stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The Naltar Wildlife Sanctuary is a short distance away, offering another attraction for nature enthusiasts.
December in Gilgit Baltistan can be harsh, with average highs of -12°C and lows around -24°C, making November or March more comfortable options for milder weather.
Qila Rohtas, Jhelum, Punjab
Qila Rohtas, a 16th-century fort built by Sher Shah Suri, was constructed to suppress the local tribes of the Potohar region who resisted Sher Shah Suri’s rule. UNESCO recognized Rohtas as a World Heritage Site in 1997, citing it as an “exceptional example of the Muslim military architecture of Central and South Asia.”
Besides exploring the fort’s history, a visit to Mangla Dam, just a 50-minute drive from Jhelum, offers various water activities. The winter season provides pleasant weather, with average highs at 21°C (70°F) and cooler nights at around 8°C (48°F).
Popular accommodations in the area include Tulip Hotel, Grand Regency Hotel, and Lotus Inn Guest House, offering a range of amenities and cuisines.
Mohenjo Daro, Larkana, Sindh
Mohenjo Daro, an archaeological site dating back to 2500 BCE, was once part of the Indus Valley Civilization. It stands as one of the largest cities of that ancient civilization.
Sindh experiences warm temperatures, making winter the ideal time to visit. In December, the maximum temperature hovers around 24°C, while January can be slightly cooler, with minimums around -3.4°C (25.9°F).
Accommodations in Mohenjo Daro cater to the influx of foreign visitors, offering a range of options from luxury to budget-friendly stays.
Cholistan Desert, Bahawalpur, Punjab
Due to the severe hot weather in Cholistan, you can consider it a winter destination, Cholistan offers a unique experience for those interested in history and culture. Don’t miss the 9th-century Derawar Fort, Channan Pir shrines, and Dodhla Forest. You can also book a Desert Safari for camel rides and visit the local bazaar for handicrafts. For the history and culture lover, it’s the best place to visit in winter
The Cholistan Desert, located approximately 30 kilometers from Bahawalpur in Southern Punjab, was once a fertile region fed by the Himalayan meltwater. The region is steeped in history, with ancient Indus Valley Civilization settlements dating back to 4000 BCE and numerous forts built along trade routes, including the grandiose Derawar Fort.
In February, the annual Jeep rally adds excitement to the desert experience, making it a must-visit for motorsport enthusiasts. Cholistan experiences cold nights in winter, with temperatures around 0°C (32°F), but offers warm and sunny afternoons.
Accommodations can be found in Bahawalpur, with options ranging from hotels to outdoor camping adventures.
Ziarat: A Winter Wonderland in Balochistan
Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, is a unique city in Pakistan due to its high altitude, standing at almost 1,680 meters (5,510 feet) above sea level. It’s renowned for its lush fruit orchards, earning it the nickname “Fruit Garden of Pakistan.”
Ziarat, a serene destination, is located approximately 133 kilometers from Quetta. What sets Ziarat apart is its claim to fame as the home of the world’s second-oldest Juniper forests, with some trees dating back an astonishing 5,000 to 7,000 years.
One of Ziarat’s most cherished landmarks is the Ziarat Residency, also known as Quaid-e-Azam Residency. This well-preserved building holds great historical significance as it served as the residence for Pakistan’s founding father, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, during his final days. The residency stands as a testament to his character and holds patriotic value for the local community.
A short 6 kilometers from Ziarat lies Prospect Point, offering panoramic views of the Koshki valley below. While there is a road leading uphill, it’s recommended to take a leisurely walk to reach this leveled vantage point. From here, you can witness the majestic Khilafat Peak, towering at 3,487 meters (11,440 feet). Locals insist that the beauty of a snow-covered Ziarat during winter is unparalleled, making it a must-visit during this season.
Ziarat in Winter
Ziarat experiences winter in all its glory, complete with snowfall. In December, temperatures hover around 10°C, creating a chilly yet invigorating atmosphere. January is the coldest month, with an average lowest temperature of -3.4°C (25.9°F). The snow-covered landscape adds an enchanting touch to this already picturesque destination.
Hotels in Ziarat
To ensure a peaceful and serene visit away from the hustle and bustle of city life, consider booking huts, lodges, or motels offered by the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC). These accommodations can be reserved in advance, guaranteeing a tranquil stay amidst nature.
Additionally, the heart of the city boasts a few local hotels equipped with modern amenities, providing convenience and comfort to travelers.
For those seeking a well-structured itinerary for a day of organized activities, PTDC offers various options. Camping enthusiasts can also inquire about camping facilitation to further enhance their outdoor adventure experience in Ziarat.
Galyat: Best places to visit during winter
Galyat, a region in Pakistan, is a popular destination for tourists, especially during the winter months. The Galyat region includes several hill stations and scenic spots, such as Murree, Nathiagali, Abbottabad, and Ayubia.
Here are some reasons to visit Galyat during winter:
Winter in Galyat brings snowfall, transforming the entire region into a winter wonderland. The snow-covered landscapes are incredibly picturesque, making it a perfect destination for snow enthusiasts and photographers.
Skiing and Snowboarding:
If you enjoy winter sports, Galyat offers opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. Some areas have designated slopes for these activities, and you can often rent equipment locally.
The hill stations in Galyat have a cozy and charming atmosphere during the winter months. Many hotels and cottages offer heated rooms, and you can enjoy sitting by a warm fireplace with a cup of tea.
Solitude and Serenity:
Winter is a less crowded time to visit Galyat compared to the summer season. If you prefer a quieter and more peaceful environment, this is an excellent time to explore the region.
Hiking and Trekking:
While some hiking trails may be closed due to heavy snowfall, others are accessible with proper gear. Winter trekking can be a unique and adventurous experience.
The snow-covered landscapes, frozen lakes, and misty forests provide fantastic opportunities for photography. The winter scenery in Galyat can result in stunning pictures.
Enjoy local cuisine, including warm and hearty dishes like Kashmiri chai, pakoras (fried snacks), and traditional Pakistani dishes. The food is especially comforting during the chilly winter days.
Many hotels and resorts in Galyat organize bonfires during the winter evenings. Gathering around a bonfire is a great way to socialize and stay warm.
Safety Measures for Tourists:
However, it’s essential to be prepared for the cold weather when visiting in winter. Pack warm clothing, including layers, gloves, and boots, to stay comfortable in the sub-zero temperatures. Additionally, check road conditions and weather forecasts, as heavy snowfall can affect travel plans. It’s also a good idea to book accommodations in advance, as winter is a popular time to visit Galyat.