Diamer is connected to Islamabad and the north by the legendary Karakoram Highway, and functions as the gateway to the northern regions of Pakistan. Many tourists pass through the Diamer District en route to other places in the north. However, the district has plenty to offer, and unexplored parts of Pakistan still await for adventurous spirits!
For now, most people will visit Diamer to go to the famous Fairy Meadows, or to trek to the Nanga Parbat basecamp. More places to explore will surely expose themselves as tourism to the north picks up, and more developments are made. Below you can find everything you need to know about Diamer in our Diamer District Travel Guide.
Best time to visit Diamer District
The best time to visit the Diamer District is in spring or summer, when temperatures are pleasant and the mountains and valleys lush. The fastest way to Chilas from Islamabad, over Babusar Top, usually doesn’t open until the end of May.
Best things to do in Diamer District
The Diamer District is mostly known for the magical Fairy Meadows. In high season, hundreds of people make the arduous journey to the meadows to enjoy magnificent views of Nanga Parbat. Outside of high season, however, the meadows and other places in Diamer District are peaceful and quiet. Below are a few of the best things to do in Diamer District.
The district capital of Chilas is nondescript by any standards. Associated with extremism in the past, most people only use Chilas as a stopover on their way to Raikot Bridge, Fairy Meadows, and further north.
Chilas boasts a nice location on the banks of the Indus River, and has several quality hotels with restaurants overlooking the river. History buffs can explore the surrounding areas looking for ancient Buddhist petroglyphs, some of which date back as far as 5,000 B.C.
The starting point for the journey to the Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat basecamp. Raikot Bridge itself holds nothing of interest, but it can be used as a stopover to break up a journey north.
Fairy Meadows, locally know as Joot, is located at 3,300 meters above sea level. It boasts unrivaled views of Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world. German hikers gave the meadows its popularly known name.
Fairy Meadows in one of the main tourist destinations in the north, and gets increasingly busy in high season. The approach to the meadows start at Raikot Bridge, where a Jeep track leads to the trail head. Only local drivers can navigate this track. Unfortunately for tourist, this does mean that Jeep drivers can charge a premium. The going rate for a Jeep is 6,500 Rupees. The fee is nonnegotiable.
From the trail head to the meadows is roughly five hours of walking. Tourists can hire porters, donkeys and horses for a fee. There is a rate board at Raikot Bridge. Locals might try to overcharge you anyway. We advice against giving in, as it teaches locals that tourist are just there to be ripped off.
The meadows boasts several tourist lodges, and tourist can set up tents for a fee. For more information on accommodation, go to our Diamer accommodation page.
The meadows, which have been declared a National Park, face pollution problems. Locals are not equipped or educated enough to deal with the onslaught of plastic bottles and wrappers, and tourist use the meadows as their personal trash can. Needless to say, we strongly condone this behavior, and urge all tourist to behave responsibility and don’t throw your trash out in nature.
Nanga Parbat, sometimes referred to as the Killer Mountain, is the ninth highest mountain in the world. It’s also considered one of the most difficult mountains to climb, hence its nickname. Nanga Parbat basecamp can be reached from Fairy Meadows in approximately two days. If you plan to climb Nanga Parbat, we highly recommend you to contact a reputable tour operator or local mountaineers to help you with the necessary preparations.
Best places to stay in Diamer District
Being the gateway to the north, Diamer district has some very solid accommodation options. Below you can find the best places to stay in Diamer District.
- Budget – Chilas has several budget options on the main drag. They vary in quality and price, so it’s best to shop around once there.
- Luxury: Chilas Shangrila Hotel – Probably the best hotel in Chilas, this place overlooks the Indus river, has spacious rooms and and on-site restaurant. There is also 24-hour security.
- Luxury: Hotel Chilas Continental – Another decent option in case Shangrila is full. Just down the road, also overlooking the Indus.
- Luxury: Raikot Shrangrila Hotel – From the same owners as the Shrangila in Chilas, this place offers average value for money, and we suggest you to stay in Chilas instead of this place. Car parking is available and the Jeeps to Fairy Meadows leave from here.
- Camping: Most lodges in the Fairy Meadows allow you to pitch a tent for a small fee, or sometimes even for free in off-season.
- Mid-range: Raikot Serai – This place probably has the best location, with stunning views of Nanga Parbat and close to reflection lake.
- Mid-range: Fairy Meadows Cottages – A bit removed from the main part of the meadows, this is a good place for large groups and families to stay. Food is average.
- Luxury: Fairy Meadows Broad View – Probably the nicest hotel in Fairy Meadows, although that’s certainly reflected in the price.
Best places to eat in Diamer District
Most hotels and guest houses have an attached restaurant. Besides these, there is very little in the way of dining options.
How to get do Diamer District
The Karakoram Highway runs straight through Diamer, making most places easily accessible in spring and summer. Make sure to check that Babusar Top is open before you head out to Chilas, otherwise the journey will take much longer than planned.