11 Maret 2010

Tourism: Traveling Safety in Pakistan

Though the mountains of the far north are still safe for tourist, no one a holiday in Pakistan without careful consideration.

Many foreign governments warn their citizens against non-essential travel to the country. These warnings have been in place for the best part of a decade, and until recently most travelers would have viewed them as wildly overcautious. But since military operations against the Taliban in Swat and Waziristan began, suicide bombings have occurred in urban Pakistan with alarming regularity. Though recent violence has rarely targeted tourists, it is wise to proceed with caution.

The traditional route to Gilgit-Baltistan is via an international arrival in Islamabad, from where buses, hired cars and weather-dependent domestic flights head north to Gilgit. Though the Karakoram Highway from Islamabad to Gilgit does pass close to Swat, it does no pass through areas that have witnessed fighting. However, the region is potentially unstable and it would be wise to seek local advice before traveling that way.

The increasingly popular route to Gilgit-Baltistan is to come by road from China over the Khunjerab Pass, and then exit the same way without ever leaving the calm of the mountains. The pass is open to traffic from May until December each year.

While only a trickle of travelers visit these days, the minor tourism boom of the 1990s left a solid infrastructure of hotels and guest houses in Gilgit-Baltistan and an abundance of tour guides and travel.

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sources: Jakarta Globe