With tips on the comfort factor
Are you planning a trip from Karachi to Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta or Peshawar? We put together the prices to compare which method is cheapest
The quickest (but not the cheapest) way to travel is by air. Air Sial is currently the cheapest with Rs15,050 for a round trip. Air Blue is a close second at Rs15,738, if you don’t have any bags to check in. The remaining three options are PIA at Rs17,554, Serene Air at Rs18,002 and Air Blue at Rs18,276. Flights take two hours for a one-way trip.
The cheapest option, and the second fastest, is to travel by bus. Faisal Movers charges Rs7,200, while Daewoo Express charges Rs7,260. Buses are usually very easy to get. There’s a bus leaving almost every half an hour. If you’re willing to pay a little extra, try the Faisal Movers Business Class bus for an extra Rs2,000 for the trip. It has 10 seats fewer than the Executive bus, so you get more leg room. One of our staffers shared their secret: try and get the single seats on the left side of the bus. You have more leg room this way.
The trip to Lahore takes 15-16 hours by road, assuming only one 30-minute break for meal and a few quick bathroom breaks.
Traveling by car or motorcycle brings the comfort of being able to leave at your own time, decide where you want to stop and pass through cities and towns that are not on the usual route. Traveling by car costs about Rs28,000 and can be divided among up to four people, which brings the cost to the same as traveling by bus. A motorcycle trip costs around Rs12,000.
The last option is to travel by train. The fastest and the cheapest train is Green Line. It takes just under 17 hours and costs Rs12,500 if you book an AC Sleeper. The premium train choice is Pak Business Express, which costs Rs14,000 for an AC Sleeper. Trains are usually chosen by families and large groups traveling together as they can book entire cabins to ensure privacy.
Air travel takes the same two hours for a one-way trip. Between Karachi and Islamabad, Serene Air is the cheapest with Rs15,738, followed by Air Sial with Rs16,800. A PIA ticket costs Rs17,554, while Air Blue charges Rs18,002, with an extra Rs274 if you have check-in luggage.
Traveling by bus costs slightly more than what it does for Lahore. Faisal Movers charges Rs7,400, while Daewoo Express costs Rs7,600. A car trip will cost under Rs32,000, which can be divided. A motorcycle trip will cost almost Rs13,000. Traveling by road takes about 17-18 hours.
For rail travel, Green Line is once again the winner at Rs13,500 for the round trip and taking 22 hours 35 minutes one way. It takes you directly to Islamabad’s Golra Sharif Railway Station. All other buses and trains take you to Rawalpindi, from where you have to find local transport to Islamabad. Other rail options are Tezgam (26 hours, Rs15,300) and the evergreen Khyber Mail (28 hours, Rs15,100).
Flights between Karachi and Peshawar are far fewer than those to Lahore or Islamabad. These flights also tend to get sold out earlier, so if you plan to fly from Karachi to Peshawar, book as early as you can. There are only two options immediately available – PIA at Rs17,554 and Serene Air at Rs21,002. They take about two and a half hours.
Daewoo Express offers a direct bus service to Peshawar for Rs7,954. Faisal Movers does not offer a direct service, but you can book Karachi to Islamabad and then Islamabad to Peshawar separately. A car trip will cost you Rs35,000, while a motorcycle trip will cost just over Rs13,000. Travel time is 19-20 hours.
For Karachi to Peshawar, Khyber Mail is the only train option. It takes 31 hours 25 minutes and costs Rs16,600.
Flights on this route are even more difficult to find. PIA runs smaller aircraft on this route, taking about an hour and a half and costing Rs16,032. Serene Air charges Rs19,000.
Bus travel options include Al-Saif Travels, which has a booking office at Taj Complex. It costs Rs5,000 for a return ticket. A car trip costs Rs17,000, while a motorcycle trip costs Rs7,000. Travel time is 11 hours.
There is no direct train from Karachi to Quetta.
This route requires a stop in Rawalpindi. For travel from Karachi to Rawalpindi, the earlier section on travel from Karachi to Islamabad provides options, travel times and costs. There are several public transport and private car options to shuttle between the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
The only airline from Islamabad or Rawalpindi to Skardu is PIA, which takes an hour and costs Rs 16,740 for a return ticket. There is only one flight daily, so we recommend booking as early as possible. Flights get canceled frequently because of bad weather in the winter and rainy months.
There are several bus options that depart from Pir Wadhai in Rawalpindi. The most comfortable and reliable of these options is the NATCO bus service, which takes approximately 24 hours and costs Rs 5,480. There are also several companies that offer rental cars that cost around Rs 7,000 for a round trip per person, with three people in the car. If you are three people, you can rent the car for your group, or you can pay the same fare if you are willing to share the car with two other travelers. You can find these companies at Pir Wadhai, Committee Chowk and Raja Bazaar in Rawalpindi. Travel is time is shorter than by bus, around 15 hours. It has the added advantage of being flexible and allowing you to leave whenever convenient.
Road travel to the Northern Areas can get delayed because of landslides during spring and rainy seasons, or because of snow during the winter.
— Please note that this information is based on publicly available data as of February 15, 2021. The article erroneously mentioned that travel time by road from Karachi to Quetta is 22 hours. The correct figure is 11 hours. The error is regretted and has since been corrected.