A Road Trip Guide To Karakoram

by adventure
Karakoram highway

Some people used to say the Karakoram is the 8th wonder of the world. The Karakoram is an old or an ancient Silk Road turned international highway that Pakistan and China. It is also known as the friendship highway in China. The Karakoram highway was built by the Governments of Pakistan and China.

This highway was used by traders and curious backpackers like us for many centuries. The route goes through the three highest and magnificent mountain ranges globally: the Himalayas, the Hindukush, and the Karakoram.

With this guide, you can travel on one of the most beautiful roads in the world. Let’s get into the information.

Karakoram highway

Why you should have to travel the Karakoram Highway

The first thing is first. It is one of the most beautiful and most lavish roads globally with the highest (Khunjerab Pass). This place is 4,880 meters above sea level. Both sides of the road are filled with unobstructed views of the stunning, colossal mountains such as Nanga Parbat and Rakaposhi. You will also see the many villages with different cultures and religions. Then, you’ll realize one thing how diverse the people of Pakistan are.

The Karakoram should be at the top of your traveling list if you plan to go on a road trip.

When to Travel to Karakoram Highway

Karakoram Highway

If you are planning to travel in Winter, then that would be disappoint able. Some parts of the highway are often closed off during winter due to snow. Going will be beneficial for you, if you want to explore the highway’s absolute beauty, I would recommend visiting during May and October.

How to get to the Karakoram Highway

This mighty highway starts from Hasan Abdal, which is a few Kilometers away from Islamabad. When you want to get to Islamabad, you’ll have to fly to the Islamabad new international airport.

If you fly from the U.S, you can fly in Etihad, Turkish, or Qatar Airlines. If you are flying from the east, Air China and Thai is also a good option.

I always find prices on Expedia or Skyscanner, compare the best price, and try to find the right flight.

Transportation Along the Karakoram Highway

When the Chinese Govt. helped paved the roads in 2015, Karakoram Highway traveling has been much more efficient and convenient. Before the paved road, you had to the required 4WD jeep to traverse the road, but now you can travel easily on your vehicles all the way.

Public Transportation

Islamabad to Gilgit. I want to recommend taking a bus from Islamabad. There are a lot of police checkpoints that need a foreigner to register. If you want to eliminate unnecessary headaches, then take a bus, and the Driver will manage everything without any tensions. This is the best way to choose foreigners because some parts of Karakoram Highway are close to foreigners in a day. So put the things behind and travel on local transport.

Now the next thing is when you’ll reach Gilgit. You will have to take a van from the road on your potential and ask them to drop you at your destination. You can find many of these types of vans; there is no strict schedule for that vans. You’ll have to ask the driver if he is going to the places you are going to. Suppose you get yes, then right and well. If he is not going there, you have to look for another.

Sometimes this can be time–consuming, and if you don’t want to waste your time, then hitchhiking is the most reliable way to travel.


This is one of the best ways to travel the highway. The road is quite busy, and you’ll find plenty of friendly locals who can easily take you along with them without any cost. I did not stand one hour to get to somewhere by hitchhiking.


Via taxi, you can travel on Karakoram Highway. This is very expensive, but you have to take a taxi to some places, as I took. From Sost to Khunjerab Pass, I rented a jeep for 8,000 PKR, almost 50 USD. The taxi took me through Khunjerab National Park and to the pass and back. That was expensive, but we spotted some blue sheep and ibex. My taxi driver was a very kind person, and he stopped the jeep for me when I asked to take some photos.

If you don’t want to spend money, then hitchhiking is best. Hitchhiking is compelling as well as cost nothing.

Private Driver

If you don’t have spare time or don’t feel good about hitchhiking or taking public transportation, you can hire a private driver. Private Driver, drive you through the Karakoram highway to the end and back. But this decision will be expensive for you. I didn’t do this kind of thing because I am an independent traveler. I am just giving you another option.

Internet facility along the Karakoram Highway

In the mountain areas, the internet facility is not good. Most of the time, in most of the places, you did not get reliable internet. Just in Islamabad, you can get 4G. So, prepare your clients, family, and friends mentally, that you will be offline most of the time.

You will have an unreliable EDGE connection from Gilgit onward. I got a reliable connection only a few times during my travel. At Madina Hotel I got a good internet connection.

When I reached fairy meadows, there, I did not find any facility of internet. Even I lost the sim signals as well.

In café de Hunza, I found a reliable internet. So, if you want to take with your friends and family, stay a little time there, buy a cup of coffee there and ask for their WIFI.

Daily Budget

Lahore Food Budget

This place is not very expensive in almost many other countries. But not very cheap, you have to pay 30 – 50 USD per day per person including food and other accommodations.

Ensure this thing, and I am writing that number of budgets according to my traveling style or according to my experience. If you are comfortable with this kind of budget, you have to sleep in dorms, eat few times only, and be comfortable using the cheapest transportation method, which often involves walking.

On the other side, you live a lavish lifestyle, and then you can afford expansive accommodations, which would be 100 to 200 USD per day per person.

What to pack for Pakistan?

As I am a light traveler and I like light packing for a trip, this is an art in itself. Here are few tips for packing for the Lahore trip, Pakistan:

  • Hiking Shoes: I love to explore cities or go on a small hike, so I prefer to take comfortable shoes with you on this trip. I wore mostly shoes of Timberland shoes, in most situations.
  • Breathable shirts & outer shell jacket: You have to take multiple breathable shirts with you when the sun is out it is quite hot. If you go to the north, you need some hoodies to cover yourself.
  • Microfibre Towel: This is the perfect towel you have in your Backpack as it’s light, easy to dry, and can be easy to compress to save place.
  • Fleece jacket:  You have to take a fleece jacket with you when it’s cold there. I prefer layers which you should have a fleece jacket I recommend Bata jackets.
  • Camera: The camera is one of the most important items when you go out with your Backpack. The camera is one thing that captures your memorable and amazes moments. I recommend the Sony a6600 camera with the Sony 16-55mm F2.8 lens.
  • Power bank: I recommend taking a 20,000+ mAh power bank with you t keep your electronic charge.
  • Water Bottle:  As water is the necessity of life, you need to take a life straw bottle with you, as you are not sure how much water is clean during hiking trails and running around different cities.
  • Universal adapter: The universal adapter is the most important thing while you travel, you always need to plug in your electronics wherever you are in the world.
  • Packing cubes: Packing cubes are helpful in space savior and it also makes your belongings organized.
  • Daypack: Herschel Little America Backpack is one of my favorite go-to daypacks. It’s large enough to carry all your belongings in an organized way. The thing I like about this daypack it comes in many colors and it’s damn stylish!
  • Large Backpack: you will need a large backpack to carry all your belongings while you are traveling. I recommend the Osprey Atmos AG 65L backpack is lightweight and has a lifetime guarantee you will always find perfection in osprey.

Where you should have to stay along the Karakoram Highway

Islamabad – Jasmine Inn – 25 USD Per Night

Gilgit – Madina Hotel – 11 USD Per Night – This hotel is located in Gilgit’s quiet area. You can sit and enjoy your breakfast in the beautiful courtyard of this hotel. The rooms are clean, with a hot shower in winter and air conditioning in Summer

Fairy Meadows – 12 USD Per Night

Minapin – Diran Guesthouse – 18 USD Per Night (Hot Shower)

Karimabad – Old Hunza inn – 13 USD Per Night

Passu – Passu Tourist Lodge – 19 USD Per Night – To be noted, do not book the room online; you will get the price most expensive as listed above. I got 3,000 PKR that I considered still expensive, but they provide free breakfast. They have the best view of Passu Peak.

Sost – Tibet Motel Sost – 13 USD Per Night – The food was very delicious. Do not forget to try the Chicken Manchurian with Rice.



Now that we have all the necessary information we need, it’s time to plan your trip to Pakistan! Here are some resources to help you get your trip going:


What to pack: Help you get started packing; here are 47 essential travel items that I took with me on my trip to Lahore, Pakistan.

Flights: TripAdvisor Flights, Skyscanner, and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

 Accommodation: Hostelworld and Booking.com are the definitive access platforms to find amazing hostels and hotels at an affordable price.

Homestay: Airbnb is the best platform for a more local experience when staying in Lahore, Pakistan. In this way, I can meet a local first-hand and access local information that I would not otherwise have.

 Travel Insurance: World Nomads will provide you with a wealth of insurance options to cover your trip.

 Transportation: Bookme. pk is a great place to look up the bus schedule and buy tickets online in Lahore, Pakistan, that would not otherwise be available online.

 Car rental: Rentalcars.com, a trusted platform to find rental cars in Lahore, Pakistan.

Day Tours and Excursions: Get Your Guide or TripAdvisor are great platforms to search for things to do in Lahore, Pakistan.

In the end …

Have an incredible journey towards the Karakoram Highway. Thank you for reading this blog.


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