What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Khunjerab pass? Of course, it’s a border crossing between Pakistan and China.
However, what makes it an iconic international border is its elevation of 4,693 meters, making it one of the world’s highest border crossings. As a result, Khunjerab’s top serves as the primary gateway for overland tourists and travelers from Europe to the sub-continent.
Your tour to Gilgit Baltistan is incomplete if you don’t witness the magnificence of Khunjerab Pass amidst the mountains. Lucky for you, the following guide will help you plan an optimal itinerary for the Khunjerab pass and nearby attractions.
Khunjerab Pass Hunza, Attractions and Location
Located in the Karakoram mountains, Khunjerab pass is the inner side of the northern border of Gilgit-Baltistan Hunza, Pakistan, and the Nagar district in the southwest of the Xinjiang region, China.
Traveling alongside the majestic Karakoram mountain range is itself an indescribable experience. In addition to visiting the internal crossing, you can experience the natural beauty and snow-covered mountains and visit the nearby local attraction.
Khunjerab pass has something to offer Anyone, from natural beauty to handicrafts and delicious food. The good news is that this guide covers all the details for you.
History of Khunjerab Pass
Being an adventurer and a tourist allows you to enjoy nature and attractions and learn the history of different locations.
The road construction began in 1966, and the project was completed in 1986 within 20 years. On Northern Pakistan Highway N-55, the Khunjerab Pass connects Baltistan with Hunza valley.
The primary purpose of the Khunjerab pass construction is to replace the unpaved Kilik and Mintaka pass. It was decided earlier in 1966 to build the Khunjerab pass for the Karakoram highway.
Let’s briefly understand the geography and location of the pass on the Pakistan-administered side:
- Twenty-six miles from the National Park station.
- The checkpoint is located in Dih, 75 km from the customs.
- The immigration post is located in Sost, the frontier town situated at a distance of 270 km from Gilgit.
- The distance between Sost and Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, is 870 km.
Conversely, on the China-administered side, the distance is 80 miles from Tashkurgan and 420 km from Kashgar.
What is the meaning of Khunjerab?
It’s interesting to learn about the origin of the word Khunjerab. It’s essentially a combination of two words:
- Khun translates to home,
- Jerab means water falling or a creek that comes from spring water
When both words combine, Khunjerab means home of water creeks.
Khunjerab pass allows tourists to experience different cultures, cuisines, and ethnicities. The locals are a mix of hospitable Pashtuns, Tajiks, and Uzbeks; however, Tajiks are the largest group here.
The Khunjerab pass is the Hongqi Lapu Pass on the Chinese side. The pass offers a convenient router and a gateway for business people, tourists, and traders to travel between China and Pakistan.
Khunjerab Pass Weather
Being one of the world’s highest internal crossings, Khunjerab Pass is one of the coldest. The temperature can go down to -10C degrees during winter; however, the highest temperature goes up to 12C degrees, which is challenging and still enjoyable.
When is the Best Time to Visit Pak China Border?
The pass is 4,693 meters high; hence, it’s accessible via vehicle for only a few months when it’s open. The ideal time to visit Khunjerab pass is from April and May to September when the temperature is pleasant and bearable. However, if you want to enjoy winter snowfall, you can visit if the road is open.
Highest International Border in the World
The world’s highest paved International Pak-China border certainly attracts thousands of local and international visitors. However, it’s one of the most beautiful and scenic places in the north of Pakistan.
You’ll expect to see Chinese tourists greet you with a smile on the other side of the Pakistan-China Border and wave hands.
The Khunjerab National Park is a cherry on top as it amplifies the overall beauty of the place. More than half of this Pakistan’s third-largest park is located above the Khunjerab pass and adjacent to the Chinese Taxkorgan National Reserve.
While traveling to the world’s highest international border, you must prepare well before embarking on the adventurous journey. It would be best if you had the following gear to make your trip comfortable and enjoyable.
- Warm Clothes For Freezing Cold Weather – It doesn’t matter if you visit the Khunerab pass in summer; the highest temperature goes only up to 12C degrees. Also, the nights are freezing, and the chilly winds easily penetrate the light clothes. Therefore, you should pack sweaters, jackets, windbreakers, mufflers, woolen dresses, thermals, and shawls to protect yourself against the cold.
- Winter Gloves – Leather or woolen gloves must protect the hands from frostbite.
- Winter Shoes – You should have sturdy leather shoes with thick soles and sufficient padding to warm your feet. Also, the thick soles offer you enough grip while hiking on the treacherous mountains. Don’t forget to wear knee-high woolen feet since you must walk a long way from the parking lot to the Khunjerab pass.
- Plenty of Water – People commonly don’t drink water during winter. That’s why having a water bottle while traveling and hiking is essential. In addition, keeping yourself hydrated helps you minimize altitude sickness.
- Sugary Items – The oxygen levels drop as you travel to such an elevation leading to fatigue and lethargy. For this purpose, you should keep a chocolate bar when your energy levels decrease. This way, you’ll have the instant energy boost desired for a pleasant journey.
Many adventurers opt for bikes to travel to Khunjerab pass. However, there is something you need to keep in mind. For instance, the bike should be in good condition for a smooth journey. Also, you should re-fuel the tank after regular intervals to avoid inconvenience.
What are the Main Attractions at Khunjerab Pass?
If you are visiting the world’s highest International crossing, you certainly want to spend some time marveling at the natural beauty. Also, it’s an adventure of its own to stay at an elevation of more than 4,500 meters.
If you want a peaceful getaway from the town, you can stay at the Minglig guest house at the entrance of Khunjerab National park. It’s a comfortable and clean hotel offering dormitories and rooms for tourists and travelers. The guest house is located at a distance of 47 km from Khunjerab pass.
One of the most significant advantages of staying in the Minglig guest house is the nearby activities, such as skiing and hiking. Also, the local tour guides help the visitors arrange a visit to the park and enjoy horse riding. Lastly, you shouldn’t miss the experience of the unique Tibetan therapy at a local spa.
Located at the heart of Hunza, the Khunjerab hotel is a four-star hotel. The hotel offers luxurious accommodations with a clean kitchen and bathroom. Also, the guests can use the free Wifi to upload the trip’s photos.
Iconic Gate of Pak-China Border
Khunjerab top is strategically located on the northern border of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, and the southwestern border of Xinjiang region, China.
The Khunjerab National park offers a natural habitat and shelter to endangered species such as Marco polo sheep found only in Pakistan. That’s why hunting is strictly prohibited in the Khunjerab pass. However, many international and wildlife photographers spend a lot of time exploring the park to take photographs of blue sheep, brown bears, and red foxes.
On your lucky day, you can also see snow leopards and Himalayan ibex while traveling on Karakoram Highway. Khunjerab Pass is a natural habitat for many endangered animals, such as:
- Marco Polo sheep
- Brown bear
- Blue sheep
- Indian wolf
- Tibetan wild ass
The Blackish Golden Mountains
One of the highest peaks of the Khunjerab range is the magnificent Rakaposhi peak. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to witness the golden shine of the snow-covered peaks during summer.
If you are an adventurer, you can hike for four to five hours from Attabad lake to reach Rakaposhi peak. It’s a long hike but worth it to experience the panoramic views of the mountains.
Snow Covered Peaks
You’ll witness the spectacular Karakoram range adjacent to the Khunjerab pass while visiting the Pakistan-China Border. The good news is that the mountain peaks stay covered with snow throughout the year.
World’s Highest ATM
Interestingly, the world’s highest ATM is on the way where the CEPEC starts in Pakistan and has set a Guinness record.
The ATM is one of the most exciting attractions, which almost all the tourists visit to get cash. The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) is the only bank making Pakistan proud by facilitating customers by installing an ATM at 16007 feet above sea level.
Whether you run out of cash or want to experience a transaction at such an elevation, visit the ATM. Also, it would be best to have a memorable photograph outside this distinctive ATM amidst snowcapped mountains.
Another interesting fact about this world’s highest ATM is that it’s operational 24/7 and uses wind turbines and solar power. The nearest NBP branch in Sost city monitors the ATM so it doesn’t run out of cash.
The entire Karakoram highway offers breathtaking natural views throughout the journey. You can have small breaks during the journey to enjoy the panoramic views and take photographs to make the trip more memorable.
Also, you can stay at the Horizon Resort Attabad Lake, which offers luxury, comfort, and scenic views of the border of Khunjerab and Hunza.
The location of the Horizon resort Attabad lake distinguishes it from the rest of the hotels. It’s essentially situated at the base of the Khunjerab mountain range and offers several outdoor activities.
While staying in Skardu, you can visit the world’s oldest forts, Altit and Baltit forts. Discovered in the eighth century, these forts are an ancient heritage and perfectly represent Gilgit-Baltistan culture and history.
Spectacular View in Winter
The pass remains covered in snow throughout the winter. However, you can visit Skardu to Hunza by flight to enjoy snowfall and skiing.
The high elevation of the Khunjerab top offers certain risks, such as
- Altitude sickness
- Extreme weather
- Steep road
Usually, the pass remains closed from November to May, so plan your visit accordingly.
The Highest Point of Karakoram Highway
Khunjerab pass, Pakistan, is a human wonder among nature and snow-covered mountains. It offers several other facilities and attractions to tourists visiting the world’s highest international crossing.
You can take a road trip via the Karakoram highway, which is 67 km, rising from 3300 meters to 4020 meters elevation. Traveling at such an altitude, you’ll witness amazing landscapes, mountains, and glaciers.
How to Reach Khunjerab Pass?
You can either opt for a helicopter ride or drive your car. The drive is certainly longer, while the helicopter ride is comfortable. One common thing between the two options is that you get to experience the spectacular Karakoram mountains.
Since the road is completely paved, you can drive to Khunjerab pass from the following major Pakistan cities:
The interesting question is how tourists from Karachi or Lahore can visit the Khunjerab pass. Many local airlines operate from Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad to Gilgit and Skardu. Alternatively, if you have time, you can also take a road trip via car or bus; however, it will be extremely tiring.
That’s why it’s best to plan your time and finances. Next, you can list the attractions you want to visit around Karakoram highway and Khunjerab pass.
As far as the Khunjerab road condition is concerned, it’s pretty challenging with dangerous turns. From Islamabad to Khunjerab pass, it takes around 10 hours to cover 742 km. You can also have stops on the way, such as Chilas, Hunza, Gilgit, and Skardu. The road between Chilas and Gilgit is well-maintained, with only a few rough patches on the way.
You can drive or take a minivan from Gilgit to reach Sost in four hours. Also, it takes 2.5 hours to travel from Aliabad and one hour from Passu to Sost. While in Sost, you can stay in the Asia Star hotel that offers Wifi and electricity.
Things to do at Khunjerab Pass
From natural scenery to local food, the Khunjerab pass offers a complete tourist package to visitors. You can ride a yak between the lush green pastures surrounded by mountains.
Keep reading to learn about the activities you can do while visiting Khunjerab pass, Pakistan.
You don’t have to spend thousands of bucks visiting Switzerland when you can visit one of the world’s highest International crossings. The Karakoram highway amidst the mountain is a one-of-its-kind road trip offering scenic views throughout the journey.
In addition to visiting the Pakistan-China Border, you can add Rush lake to your bucket list. Located at the base of the Khunjerab mountains, Rush lake is named after the rush growing along the shores. It attracts thousands of travelers yearly courtesy of the world’s highest alpine meadow, 4,694 meters above sea level.
It goes without saying to save hundreds of photographs of this nature’s wonder to make the trip memorable. You can click the photos of the panoramic views of the mountains, create wallpapers, and share them on social media. Also, you can have family and solo photos and share the travel details with your friends.
Is there Any Restaurant at Khunjerab Pass?
You won’t be able to find any hotels, eateries, or tea stalls at the Khunjerab pass itself because of the elevation. Hence, you can have a hearty meal and grab snacks and drinks from Sost, the frontier town 58.9 km away. Also, you can bring homemade food from Sost locals and picnic at the highest International border.
Can Anyone Enter China Through Khunjerab Pass?
You can’t cross the fence or gate to enter the Chinese side. Instead, you should have a valid Chinese visa and passport to cross the Khunjerab top.
Since June 2006, a regular bus service begins the journey from Gilgit and ends in Kashgar. There are boards along the pass that display the distance between different cities in Pakistan. If you want to cross the pass, you must travel via the transport services offered by Northern Areas Transport Corporation (NATCO) and Hunza-Xinjiang Trading Company. The bus ticket costs $35 from China and 3,300 PKR or $28 from Pakistan, which is quite economical.
A tourist who wants to cross the Pakistan-China border can complete the journey from Sost in Pakistan to Tashkurgan in China in six to eight hours.
Sost is the last destination in Pakistan on the Karakoram highway. Here, the Pakistani custom and immigration verify the documents allowing the passengers to continue the journey to China.
Some tourists use cycles to travel to the Khunjerab pass, Pakistan. They can place the bikes on the NATCO or Junza-Xinjiang truck and take a bus ride from Sost to Tashkurgan. However, motorbikers can use the buses as convoys to cross the border on their vehicle.
The pass is on the Chinese side from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM Beijing time. Next, a Khunjerab port, around 100 km from the gate, deals with Chinese immigration in Tashkurgan. Along the highway in China, multiple police checkpoints make the overall journey longer for trucks and cars.
An interesting fact about this international border is left-hand traffic in Pakistan shifts to right-hand traffic in China and vice versa.
How Much is the Distance to Reach Khunjerab Pass from Hunza?
If you are going from Gilgit or Hunza, first, you need to reach Skardu via the Karakoram highway. After that, it takes around four hours to drive to Khunjerab.
You can have a night’s stay at Hunza in the Asian Star hotel and restaurant located at the border of Khunjerab Valley. Interestingly, the central street in Hunza, known as Karakoram street, has several shops, restaurants, and bakeries to facilitate tourists.
Ticket Price to Reach Khunjerab Pass:
You can travel via GT Road N5 from Islamabad to Chitral. First, you’ll reach Peshawar, cross the toll plaza and take the Abbottabad Mor. Next, take a right turn to travel on the Karakoram highway to the Khunjerab pass.
To keep the tourist flux in control, there is a Khunjerab National park fee which you can pay in PKR, USD, or RMB, which is 800, $8, and 50, respectively.
Location of Khunjerab Pass Pakistan:
Khunjerab pass is situated on the northern border of Pakistan in Nagar and Gilgit-Baltistan Hunza district. The overall distance of the Khunjerab pass from Gilgit city is 270 km. The Pak-China border remains open from Monday to Friday, and the timings are from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM in Pakistan.
1. What is the Height of Khunjerab Paas?
The total height of the Khunjerab top is 4,693 meters above sea level, and the full length is 8010 meters.
2. Is there Any Specific Timings to Visit Khunjerab Paas?
The mountain peaks remain covered with snow throughout the year; however, the pass closes during the winter due to extreme snowfall. That’s why it’s best to visit the Khunjerab pass from April to September.
3. Can Anyone visit Khunjerab Pass?
Of course. If you are a nature-lover, adventurer, and outdoor person, you should plan a visit to Khunjerab pass during summer. It’s essential to have good health and stamina to walk at such an elevation.
One of the primary reasons for visiting Khunjerab Pass is to visit the Pakistan-China border. Also, the road trip offers you spectacular views along the Karakoram range.
You must be packing your bag to witness the world’s highest international crossing, the Khunjerab top.
Traveling is fun; however, it’s better to research before visiting the place. The primary purpose of the above guide is to present all the details about the Khunjerab pass, nearby attractions, and the best time to visit.