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A Quick and Handy Travel Guide to Scenic Skardu Valley

Skardu Valley

Famous for its incredible scenery and fantastic weather, Skardu Valley is no less than a paradise on Earth. When it is the peak season for tourism in Pakistan, you will find a big chunk of tourists in this region, wandering and exploring.

Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan, is one of the largest areas in the Northern region and known as the hub for tourism in Pakistan. A dream destination for nature lovers, mountaineers, and photographers, Skardu Valley, is a place you wouldn’t want to keep off your travel wish list.

If you are thinking about a place to go to on your next trip, Skardu is just the right destination for you! We have made a complete Skardu guide to prepare you for your trip to this enchanting place before you hit the road.

About Skardu Valley

One may wonder, “Where is Skardu in Pakistan?” Even though it may seem challenging to locate this place if you have never been there before, it is not! The valley is located in Gilgit-Baltistan, found at the convergence of River Indus and River Shigar, with a height of 2231 m, width of 10 km, and length of 40 km.

The Karakoram mountains surround the valley making it appear all the more beautiful. Everything about this area, from the scenery, weather, and historical places to the water bodies surrounding this valley, is beyond one’s imagination.

In short, the valley is simply an embodiment of beauty and heaven on Earth for mountaineers.

History, Language, and Culture

Skardu Gilgit-Baltistan, founded in the 1500s, was a hub for all the Buddhist Tibet cultural activities. Afterward, it came under the Maqpon Rule, followed by the Mughal Era, Kashmir War (1947-1948), and lastly became a safe zone after Pakistan’s Independence in 1947.

Since the residents of Skardu are all from different cultural backgrounds, more than one language is spoken there. However, the most common languages spoken are Balti, Shina, Wakhi, and Burushaski, with Balti being the most spoken as a more significant number of Baltis and Tibetans reside in Skardu, Pakistan.

The culture of this region is unique and has similarities with the Tibetan culture with a slight touch of Iranian and Islamic ethos.

Weather and Climate

Skardu weather
Skardu weather

Skardu weather and climate conditions are not as extreme as the other areas in the Northern region. The valley sees a moderate climate with minor rainfalls all year, with a minimum summer temperature of 4°C and the maximum being 24°C.

In winters, the temperature in Skardu drops to a shocking -10°C, followed by a rise towards the positive temperature scale as the season passes. Moreover, months from March to September are marked as the warmest and months from October to February are marked as the coldest in the region.

What is the Best Time to Visit Skardu Valley?

Summer is considered the best time to visit Skardu Valley; the months from June to September are marked as the most favorable for a trip to the valley. In addition, during the summer months, the area is surrounded by miraculous greenery.

Also, gigantic mountains without layers of snow are visible in the area, along with the sparkling water bodies that leave your mouth hanging and your mind blown. Another ideal time to enjoy the beauty of this region is October, when you can experience autumn in full swing, with everything leaving a touch of gold around you.

Clothing Required for Trip to Skardu

You must know what to wear in Skardu and the type of clothes you need to pack before you start your journey to this beautiful destination.

During Cold WeatherDuring Warm Weather
If you are going to Skardu during the cold weather when the temperature is minus degrees, here is what you need:If you are going to Skardu during the warm weather when the temperature is between 4°C and 24°C, here is what you need:
a)      Glovesa)      Light Pants
b)      Thick or heated socksb)      Summer footwear or Joggers
c)      Sweatersc)      T-shirts
d)      Fleecesd)      Socks
e)      Heavy jacketse)      Summer Dresses
f)      Shawls and scarfsf)      Light Jackets
g)      Thermal-wearg)      Fleeces
h)      Snow boots, water-resistant boots, and insulated shoes.h)      Water-resistant boots
i)      Coveralls

Skardu Valley Location and Geography

As discussed earlier, Skardu is rested 2,231 m above sea level, surrounded by the great Karakoram mountain peaks. Let us look at the location and geography of Skardu Valley in detail:


The Skardu Valley is located at the Shigar River and Indus River intersection, which flows through Kailash and Ladakh to Baltistan). The length and width of the valley have been recorded to be 40 km and 10 km.


Skardu Pakistan has 4 out of the world’s 14 peaks having an altitude of 8000 or above. These peaks include K2, the 2nd highest peak with an altitude of 8611 m, K4 with an altitude of 8035 m, K5 with an altitude of 8080 m, and a broad peak with an altitude of 8047 m.

With its massive gray mountains and enchanting landscape, this region is a portal for hikers and travelers towards the mountain ranges.

While you are in Skardu

Skardu Valley is one of the most scenic destinations for tourists and trekkers eagerly waiting for the peak tourism season to visit. However, every summer, the valley becomes crowded with thousands of tourists excited to capture attractive views and enjoy every bit of the freshness & warmth the region has to offer.

We have assembled a list to help make your trip to this fantastic place smooth and memorable. So scroll through the list and have an effortless trip to the dreamland in Pakistan!

Top Tourist Spots

There are so many spots to see in the valley; however, here are some of the best places to visit in Skardu if you haven’t been there before:

Kharpocho Fort

Kharpocho Fort (meaning the King of Forts), also referred to as Skardu Fort, is an ancient Fort perched on top of the mountain. Built by Ali Sher Khan in the 16th Century, the fort gives you a 360-degree view of the entire Skardu district.

The fort’s architecture resembles the Tibetan one, with a wooden mosque dating back to when Islam started spreading. With its incredible construction and history, the fort is a symbol of historical glory experienced by the region.

Kachura Lakes

The Upper Kachura Lake and the Lower Kachura Lake are collectively known as the Kachura Lakes, with the Lower Kachura Lake or Shangrila Lake being more renowned than the other. The Lower Kachura lake is called Shangrila Lake from the resorts in Shangrila, Skardu, within which it is located.

Thus, the Shangrila resort Skardu is the primary location of this Lake. Popular for its trout and bluest water one has ever seen, the Lake is one of the must-visit places in Skardu.

Satpara Lake

Satpara Lake is Skardu’s main Lake and a source of fresh water for the valley’s inhabitants. The Lake has a fairytale-like island in its middle and is mainly for row boating and fishing.

Katpana – Cold Desert Skardu

Katpana – Cold Desert Skardu
Katpana – Cold Desert Skardu

Known as the World’s Highest Cold Desert, the Katpana Desert is 2226 m above sea level. The unique thing about this desert is its white sand color, unlike the standard yellowish desert sand color.

 Skardu Cold Desert Location

The mesmerizing cold desert is one of the most visited spots by tourists and is located amongst Shigar and Skardu Valleys.

Manthokha Waterfall

Manthokha Waterfall, with an elevation of about 180 feet, is the perfect place for camping with friends and family. The waterfall is 40 km away from Skardu, in Kharmang Valley.

Things to see in Skardu

Skardu has several fascinating things you can see during your visit:

Deosai Plains

Dosai Plains are the world’s 2nd highest plains. If you are prepared to face some wilderness, this is the spot for you as this place is a habitat for bears, snow leopards and other wild animals.

Skardu Rock

The Skardu Rock, also known as the Manthal Buddha Rock, is a rock from the 9th Century, making it one of the most famous things to see in Skardu. The rock is 9 miles long and has a height of about 1000 feet.

Narsok Village

A village near the Skardu Rock named Narsok Village is known for the large spring that flows from the base of the rock.

Sand Dunes

Sand Dunes close to the Indus River are another famous attraction for tourists because finding these in a place that is cold most of the time is extremely surprising and fascinating.


K2 – the second highest peak in the world, is not only a pride for our nation but also a significant tourist attraction in Skardu.

Things to do in Skardu

A trip to Skardu is not just about sightseeing and capturing the views through the lens of your eyes. You can do a lot of other fun activities in Skardu as well.

During your visit to Skardu, you can

  • Go for Karakoram Air Safari

Have nothing to do, Karakoram Air Safari is waiting for you!

  • Do biking

Biking in the mountains is a thrilling experience that you should try at least one time in your life.

  • Do mountain climbing/hiking.

Hiking and mountain climbing are the most common activities done by tourists.

  • Take a stroll around the valley and different tourist spots

People go to Northern areas for peace of mind and tranquility, so what best way to attain that than by taking a peaceful stroll?

  • Collect flowers and fruits

Another fun activity is collecting unusual flowers and fruits that are generally not seen elsewhere.

Shopping and Nightlife in Skardu

Skardu is famous for its hand-woven cloth made with woolen, delicately embroidered gowns and wooden spoons. One of the best things to do in Skardu is window shopping in its market; you will find many hand-crafted, vintage stuff, from decorations and clothing items to accessories.

The night view of Skardu is breathtaking, to say the least; however, there isn’t much to do during the night except bonfires and camping.

Restaurants in Skardu

Every place has some famous food spots that give you a taste of that area. Here are some of the best restaurants in Skardu that are worth trying:

Dewanekhas Restaurant Skardu

Address: Kazmi Bazar Skardu Near polo Grond, Skardu 16100 Pakistan

Phone: +92 300 9091494

Cuisines: Chinese, Pakistani, Asian

Food Street Api Xhoq Skardu

Address: Sadpara road sumbul town Skardu, Skardu 46100 Pakistan

Phone: +92 343 8583177

Cuisines: Chinese, Fast Food, Middle Eastern, Balti, Eastern European, Pakistani

City Inn Restaurant

Address: New Bazaar Hussaini Chowk, Skardu Pakistan

Phone: +92 581 5457077

Cuisines: Middle Eastern, Pakistani

Hotel Summit & Restaurant

Address: Radio Pakistan Chowk, Skardu 16100 Pakistan

Phone: +92 581 5453144

Cuisines: Chinese, Fast Food, International, Barbecue, Middle Eastern, Pakistani

Food Street

Address: Sadpara road sumbul town Skardu, Skardu 46100, Pakistan

Phone: +92 343 8583177

Cuisines: Chinese, Fast Food, Middle Eastern, Balti, Eastern European, Pakistani

Skardu Events

Besides the scenery, culture and unique history, the grandiosity of Skardu valley events is another thing that attracts tourists and travelers. The most famous festival in Skardu is the Polo Festival, also known as the Game of Kings.

In addition, the Balti’s traditional game signifies Baltistan’s freedom from the Dogra rule (1948). This festival is held every year during August’s 2nd week.

Skardu Food

The traditional Skardu food includes several cuisines, with Balti cuisine being the most prominent. Most foods consist of a variety of whole grains and oil extracted from apricots.

Travel to Skardu Valley

If you have packed up your stuff and are ready to start your trip, how you will get to Skardu is one thing you need to decide before you begin your journey. There are two methods to get to this beautiful destination, and fortunately, Skardu has an airport, unlike many Northern areas.

Traveling by Air

Choosing air as your mode of transportation to Skardu is a safer option if you reside in Islamabad or Karachi, as the flights from these cities land directly at Skardu airport. However, the flights to Skardu airport are relatively expensive for travelers and difficult for pilots.

Traveling by Road

A cheaper way to reach the paradise on Earth that can get you the real paradise quickly with one little slip-up! Drive to Skardu can easily be considered one of the scariest drives one could experience because of the boundless roads that will make you feel like you are on the brink of death.

You can travel to Skardu valley by using your transport, coaches, and buses based on the city you are coming from.

Traveling to Skardu, Pakistan, from different cities

Traveling to Skardu
Traveling to Skardu

How to travel from Karachi to Skardu

Traveling from Karachi to Skardu by road takes two days, but there is no direct road transportation service available in this case. By air, it takes around 2hr 15mins to reach Skardu airport.

How to travel from Lahore to Skardu

By road, traveling from Lahore to Skardu takes more than 24hrs, and by air, it takes around 1hr 45mins.

How to travel from Islamabad to Skardu

Islamabad is directly connected to Skardu and has multiple modes of transportation accessible. Moreover, after every 30-35 minutes, a bus or coaster travels to Skardu from Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

By road, the travel time to reach Skardu from Islamabad and Rawalpindi (both are connected) is approximately 20-22hrs. However, if you opt for the route that goes through Naran-Kaghan, it will take you around 18hrs.

By air, the travel time to arrive at Skardu airport is 1hr 15mins.

How to travel from Multan to Skardu

Multan has a direct connection to Skardu via both modes of transportation, but it does not have any public transportation service available in the area. Moreover, the travel time from Multan to Skardu is more than 28hrs.

Where to Stay in Skardu Valley?

There are many places for accommodation around the valley ranging from luxurious hotels to cheaper restrooms. Subject to the type of experience you want, you can choose a hotel for accommodation.

Skardu Hotels

Whether you are on a solo trip or traveling with a group, these are some of the best hotels in Skardu:

  1. Shangrila Resort Skardu

The Shangrila Resort, in all its glory, is one of the first hotels in Skardu whose architecture signifies Tibetan culture. Despite seeing it multiple times, one cannot put the magnificence of this place into words.

Location: Lower Kachura Lake, Skardu.

Phone: +92-058 15554942 & +92-058 15554943

  • Hotel One Skardu

Hotel One is by far one of the best accommodation places in Skardu. It is a project managed by Pearl Continental, making it popular and the most sought-after hotel during the tourism season.

Location: Airport Rd, Gamba, Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan 16100

Phone: 0341 2201111

  • Mountain Lodge Holiday Home

Located near the city of Skardu, this hotel is suitable for those who want to relax and enjoy all the beauty nature has to offer.

Location: Satpara Rd, Devision, Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan 16100

Phone: 0300 9091494

  • Himalaya Hotel Skardu

In search of a hotel that gives you a luxurious living experience at a low cost? Himalaya hotel Skardu is just the place for you! Besides, this hotel is located near all the best tourist spots making it one of the most booked hotels in Skardu Valley.

Location: P/O Hussainabad Hussainabad, 16100

Phone: 0314 4440014

  • Hotel Reego

Hotel Reego is an optimal place to visit in Skardu because it is close to fascinating tourist attractions. In addition, it is an economical place for those planning to stay within their budget.

Location: Alamdar Road Kargrong, 16200 Skardu, Pakistan

Phone: 0335 5567775


What is the name of the cold desert situated in Skardu?

There are two cold deserts in Skardu, i.e., the Katpana desert andthe Sarfarangah desert. However, Skardu’s most famous cold desert is the Katpana desert, the world’s highest cold desert. It is surrounded by tall mountains and a katpana lake in the center. The giant dunes constitute a significant part of this desert, covered by a smooth blanket of snow during the winter. 

How far is Skardu from Islamabad?

The driving distance between Islamabad to Skardu is 393.94 miles or 634km, while the aerial distance from the capital city to Skardu is 300km.

Which network works in Skardu?

Almost all mobile networks are available in Skardu and nearby localities, including Zong, Scom, and Telenor. However, only Scom (special communication organization) provides 4G internet service to the users.

Which airline goes to Skardu?

PIA (Pakistan International Airline) and air blue are the only two operational airlines between Islamabad and Skardu. 

Is flying a drone camera in Skardu allowed?

Yes, flying done camera is allowed at all tourist attraction spots. 

How far is Hunza from Skardu?

The driving distance between Hunza and Skardu is 181.44 miles or 292 km.

How far is Skardu from Gilgit?

The driving distance between Skardu and Gilgit is 129.4 miles or 208km.

When does snowfall start in Skardu? 

Snowfall season in Skardu starts in the mid of December and ends in the final days of February. 

Skardu or Hunza, which is better?

When it comes to landscape, hospitality, climate, culture, and road infrastructure, Skardu is a clear winner. Skardu has a more diverse landscape which means there is an unending list of places to explore. Road travel in Hunza is easier and smoother than in Skardu, but it offers fewer places to visit. So if you love waterfalls, lakes, or gigantic mountains, Skardu is the best place to go, especially for trekkers and mountaineers.


From packing up your luggage and traveling to the paradise on Earth that is Skardu Valley to returning with a suitcase of memories, we have listed everything you need to know in this guide. This guide will help make your trip to Skardu a smooth and effortless experience.

So are you ready to hit the road for a thrilling and adventurous trip to Skardu Valley?

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