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Pakistan has three main seasons: cool (around October to February), hot (around March to June) and wet/monsoon (around July to September). There are, however, big regional variations.

When to go

Climate is the key factor in deciding when and where to travel in Pakistan. There are generally three seasons: cool (around October to February), hot (around March to June) and wet/monsoon (around July to September). There are, however, distinct regional variations, described further in some of the regional chapters. The trekking season starts in late April and finishes by late October, peaking from mid-June to mid-September.

In all seasons, the ‘continental’ climate can mean big day-to-night temperature differences. Roughly speaking, Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and the south of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) are most pleasant to visit from around November to February (it can get chilly at night, particularly in December and January). Note that Balochistan gets bitterly cold at the height of winter and may even see snow in January. Northern NWFP, the Northern Areas and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) are generally at their best from around May to October (although occasionally stormy), but are more or less snowbound in winter, when accessibility can be difficult. The monsoon sweeps in from around July through September, bringing bouts of heavy rain and oppressive, sauna-like humidity. The tail end of the southwest monsoon dumps steady rain across the central and eastern plains and as far north as Swat, Indus Kohistan, the Kaghan Valley and AJK. But the monsoon does not reach much further and, despite random thunderstorms, this is not a bad time to go north.

June, July and August are generally the peak months for domestic tourism, when many locals flock to the resort towns in northern Pakistan to escape the sweltering heat of the plains. Three especially popular areas – the Kaghan Valley, Upper Swat and the Galis – can get exceptionally crowded during this time. For those travelling to or from China, be aware that the Khunjerab Pass is officially closed to travellers from 15 November until 1 May. Heavy snow may even close it sooner and for longer.

You may wish to incorporate a festival or three into your itinerary; keep in mind that during Ramazan (Ramadan), business hours can be affected and most eateries close during daylight hours.

Officials advise against travelling to Pakistan during the country’s major national election campaigns, as travel routes may experience disruptions and political expression can sometimes take a volatile turn.