Quetta is the capital of Balochistan. Due to its proximity to the Afghan border, the lingering threat of terrorism, and the lack of blockbuster tourist sights, Quetta doesn’t see many tourists. But if you can look through the air of lawlessness, and get over the arid heat and cold of the desert, Quetta offers some fine natural landscapes and great hospitality.
Best time to visit Quetta
Quetta is dry and arid, and can get scorching hot in summer and relatively cold in winter. The best times to visit Quetta are March and April, and October and November. Otherwise it will either be unbearably hot in summer, or cold in winter.
Best things to do in Quetta
A turquoise lake about six kilometers away from Quetta. There are several ammenities, including a restaurant, available at the lake, and there’s boat hire too. It’s a pleasant enough place for a picknick and for short hikes in the surrounding areas.
The Urak Valley
Near Hanna Lake, the Urak Valley is also known as the land of orchards. Here you can find apple and peach orchards, among other things. The valley is home to about 10,000 people, all them part of the Kakar Tribe.
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park
This National Park, established in 1980, is about 20 km away from Quetta. The park is home to several species of animal, of which the Sulaiman Markhor and the Chiltian Ibex are the most famous. Remember to respect nature when you visit, and don’t leave behind any rubbish.
Archaeological Museum of Balochistan
This small but well kept museum is also known as Quetta Museum. It can be found just east of Mizam Chowk. A great place for anyone interested in the history of the region and of Pakistan in general.
Best places to stay in Quetta
Quetta was once a major tourist transit hub, due to its proximity to the Afghan and Iran borders. Although those days are gone, there are still a few decent hotels in town.
- Luxury: Quetta Serena Hotel – Part of the famous brand of Serena hotels, and close to several markets and eateries, this place does exactly what you can expect of a Serena Hotel.
- Mid-range: Bloom Star Hotel – Although it has seen better days, and nicer staff, Bloom Star still offers a solid mid-range option.
- Budget: Islamabad Hotel – in the city center, on M.A Jinnah Road, this places offers economical rooms for people who just need a place t.o stay.
Best places to eat in Quetta
Quetta offers plenty of street food, and has some decent eateries too.
- Mid-range: Gulshan Karahi – Offers great chicken and Mutton Karahi at reasonable prices.
- Mid-range: Saigon Cafe and Restaurant – A great place for lunch or dinner with friends and family.
- Mid-range: Kebabish Grill Restaurant – Great for fish and grilled meat
How to get to Quetta
Due to the rough landscape, Quetta is a bit disconnected from the rest of Pakistan. The best way to get here by road from the south us through Khairpur, in Sindh. From Khairpur it takes roughly seven hours to reach Quetta along the N-65. If you’re heading to or coming from Ziarat, use the N-25. The drive between Quetta and Ziarat is roughly three hours.
Quetta is also the main starting point for the journey to Iran. From Quetta to the border town of Taftan via the N-40 will take roughly nine hours. Remember that this is a restive area, and that roadside bombs and other attacks are not uncommon. Expect dozens of checkpoints along the way. You need a valid Iranian visa to visit Iran.
There are four trains to and from Quetta. They are the Akbar Express, Bolan Mail, Chaman Mixed and Jaffar Express.
- Akbar Express – The Akbar Express operates between Quetta and Lahore, and takes roughly 24 hours.
- Bolan Mail – The legendary Bolan Mail operates between Quetta and Karachi, and takes roughly 21 hours.
- Chaman Mixed – The Chaman Mixed runs between Quetta and Chaman, and takes roughly 5 hours.
- Jaffar Express – The Jaffar express operates between Quetta and Peshawar, and takes roughly 35 hours.
For more info, check out the Pakistan Railway website.
There are daily flights from several major cities to Quetta, most of them operated by PIA. For up-to-date info check the PIA website. Destinations include Karachi (one a day, 1.5 hours), Lahore, (six per week, 1.5 hours), and Islamabad (one per day, 1.5 hours).
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