By Air, Skardu
Get a seat on the right side of the plane if you're flying to Skardu from Islamabad (the only route available). The plane will only fly in good weather so you're almost always likely to get terrific views...
If you sit on the right, you'll be rewarded with the most awesome mountain views... you're actually flying BESIDE them and not above them. See if you can spot Nanga Parbat (world's 9th highest peak).
That has to be my most spectacular flight ever...!
There is a daily regular flight between Islamabad and Skardu run by the Pakistan International Airlines, PIA, details of which are given below (for reference only):
Islamabad to Skardu
Departure Time (approx): 1035
Skardu to Islamabad
Departure Time (approx): 1230
Aircraft Type: Boeing 737
Duration: 1 hour
Economy Fare: PKR 4130 (USD 50)
Economy Plus: PKR 4330
There are various options to book the magical Skardu Flight: PIA website (accepts Credit Cards), PIA Call Center, PIA Ticket Office (located at airports and in the city center), and through Travel Agents. Booking early, 4-6 weeks, is highly recommended, especially when you require more than one ticket with preferred seat allocation in the busy summer season. Keep in mind the reconfirmation requirement peculiar to this route, without which your ticket, or E-ticket for that matter, will be just another piece of paper.
While booking, try to get the right hand side seat of the aircraft for better views, and economy plus will be a bonus in additional PKR 200 per person. The flight is quite unique in the sense that it flies besides mountain ranges and is truly considered as the most dangerous commercial flight of the aviation industry. Contrary to normal flights, the plane flies besides Nanga Parbat – aka the Killer Mountain – among other snow covered peaks hence taking the experience to new and unexplored levels. Landing at Skardu airstrip is very thrilling too as this is the narrowest valley that is operated by any commercial flight. No surprise that PIA’s Flight PK 451 is considered as the most dangerous commercial flight of the aviation industry. Beware; you will be forced to hold your breath as the plane starts descending into the rocks until it lands safely on the narrow airstrip right besides the river bed!
Once booked, tickets need reconfirmation – 24 hours in advance from the departure time – either from PIA Rawalpindi Office (for inbound flights) or from PIA Skardu Office (for outbound flights). Read this for further information.
Due to weather, flights usually get delayed and sometimes even cancelled out. For further information read this.
Having mentioning all the above, I would say that this is once in a lifetime experience and justifies related hassles. However, it requires appropriate planning, lot of patience, and penchant for travelling, and if you are short in these traits then stop dreaming and head towards Murree.
PIA Skardu Office: (+92) 0583153325, 0583150284
Once booked, PIA flights to and from Skardu need reconfirmation – 24 hours in advance from the departure time – from the local PIA office.
For Islamabad – Skardu, ticket reconfirmation is done at the Northern Areas Desk of the PIA office located at Mall Road, Rawalpindi. You don’t need to go there in person but your original ticket needs to be there for the reconfirmation stamp. Also make sure that the staff there has included your name in the reconfirmed passenger list maintained with them for good reasons. Reconfirmation mechanics is simple; they will only stamp your ticket once the flight of the previous day of your departure (i.e. the flight of the day you are there in the PIA office for reconfirmation) has landed successfully in Skardu and there are no lagging passengers of previously cancelled flights. So make sure before endeavoring to PIA office that the concerned flight is on schedule and only then head to the PIA office.
For further details about the flight, especially about booking, read this.
Grab a window seat on the left hand side and enjoy the spectecular view of mountains some of them are 24000 feets feels so close from up there and wish that 1 hour flight could last forever.
Pakistan International Airline is the sole operator flying to Skardu from Islamabad on daily basis on Boeing 737 departing at 9.30 am arriving Skardu at 10.30 and leaving back to Islamabad on 11.20 am
This is one of the most beautiful journey you will ever travel. Its a one hour flight. The plane goes between lofty mountain peaks. Some of the highest mounain peaks like the K-2, Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat are quite visible from the plane.
I never wanted this journey to come to an end. Just didnt want to get off the plane.
Catch the PIA Northern Areas flight from Islamabad to Skardu for amazing views of the surrounding mountains and and amazing landing sequence in Skardu (fly the narrowest valley flown by a jetariliner in the world - white knuckle flying but SO worth it!)
Check out my Skardu Travelogue for pictures!