This article about public transport in Pakistan is not totally based on my personal experience instead it is a collection of information that I have observed during my travels, researched, or gathered from fellow travelers. The information shared about public transport in Pakistan through this article may not be accurate as things change over time. I will try to update this information as much as possible.
Leepa Valley, Azad Kashmir
I myself have never traveled by public transport to Leepa Valley. But on my visit to Leepa Valley, I saw many buses going to Rashian from Muzaffarabad. Rashian is the last village in Rashian Nar while going to Leepa Valley. The road is paved till Rashian. You can go to Rashian either in public transport from Muzaffarabad or in your own car and then hire a local 4×4 jeep to go to Leepa Valley. Keep in mind that the road from Rashian to Leep Valley is totally off-road and very steep so don’t make the mistake of taking your luxury cars beyond Rashian.
Chham Waterfall, Chinari, Chakhoti
Public transport is available from Muzaffarabad to Chanari. From Chinari you can hire a local jeep or taxi to take you to Chham waterfall. The road to Chham waterfall turns left over a bridge on the Neelum River. So if you want to go to the border area (civilians are allowed after entry at the checkpost which comes a few km before the border) then you will have to continue straight on the Srinagar road.
Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir
From Pir Wadhai, the Rawalpindi coaster goes directly to Kel. The departure time from Pir Wadhai, Rawalpindi is 7 pm and the arrival time at Kel is 5 pm. Another option is to go to Muzaffarabad on a coaster from Skyways Qadri Travels at Faizabad in Rawalpindi and then go to Kel on another coaster. From Kel, local 4×4 jeeps go to Taobat after every hour so you can book your seat to go to Taobat. Twice a day local jeeps go to Upper Domail village in Shounter so you can go there as well by public transport.
Hunza Valley, Gilgit Baltistan
Though Natco bus service has been operating between Rawalpindi and Hunza for decades but with time their service has gone poorer and poorer day by day. As of 2019, Natco charges ~Rs. 2,100 for a seat from Rawalpindi to Hunza without AC and snacks.
Luckily Faisal Movers have finally started bus service for Hunza Valley. I have personally traveled in their bus from Rawalpindi to Gilgit and I have good words for their service. They charged Rs. 2,700/seat as of August 2019 in which they offered AC bus, entertainment on an individual basis, snacks, and cold drinks. The staff was friendly. The good thing about Faisal Movers’ bus service is that you can book seats to various locations for varied prices e.g. you can book a seat to Naran for something like Rs. 1,700 or Rs. 2,400 for Babusar Top. I am personally liking this service because I don’t have to pay the full Rs. 3,000+ ticket price of Hunza if I wanted to get off at Naran or Babusar top.
I highly appreciate Faisal Movers for their valued contribution to the public transport in Pakistan. I hope Faisal Movers’ competitors will also start operating their buses on this route because competition will keep all the service providers on their toes to provide better services to the commuters.
An alternative to Natco and Faisal Movers bus service is the shared taxi service which runs between Rawalpindi and Gilgit. A taxi can be shared among 4 persons for which the person sitting on the front seat usually pays Rs. 1,000 more than the 3 persons sitting in the back seats. As of 2019, the rates for a full taxi car varied between Rs. 14,000 and Rs. 16,000. For a small group of 3-4 people this is an excellent choice because you get a car with driver and have the freedom to make stops at your choice on the way. If you want to visit Hunza using the shared taxi service then you can do so by using this service till Gilgit and then going to Hunza either in Hiace or booking a private taxi to take you to Hunza.
If you have any recent personal experience of using public transport then you can share useful information with me through the comments section below.
Basho Valley, Skardu, Gilgit Baltistan
Although travelers mostly go to Basho Valley in a booked vehicle but if you are alone and a budget traveler then luckily public transport option is available. A 4×4 Willys Jeep goes to Sultanabad (aka Basho meadows in Basho Valley) from Skardu at 1 pm on a daily basis. Similarly, the same 4×4 Willys Jeep goes from Basho meadows to Skardu every morning at 6 am. I used this public transport service from Basho Meadows to Skardu in May 2023 and the fare was Rs. 500 for a single seat.
Upper Dir Kohistan
Public transport is available from Pir Wadhai, Rawalpindi to Different areas of Lower Dir and Upper Dir districts including Thal/Kumrat in Upper Dir Kohistan region. I personally have used public Toyota Hiace from Thal, Dir Kohistan to Mardan and then from Mardan to Rawalpindi.
Alternate option is taxi service on sharing basis. Toyota 2D car service operates from Mandi Mod (Pir Wadhai), Rawalpindi to Timargara. It accommodates 4 person and fare is Rs. 2,000 for one person. If you are 2-3 friends or a small family then you can book the whole car which costs you less than booking a private car just for a drop. I usually prefer this option when I am going on a trekking trip with 2-3 friends.
Public transport is available from Pir Wadhai, Rawalpindi to Chitral city or Booni in Upper Chitral. Alternatively one can use the sharing basis taxi service (Toyota 2D car) from Pir Wadhai, Rawalpindi to Timergara and then from Timargara one can use similar service to Darosh in Chitral. I have used this later option when I went to Madaklasht in February 2020.
Public Transport for Swat Valley
Coasters depart from Mandi mor to Kalam every night. Departure times are 10pm, 11pm and 12am midnight. Faisal Movers bus service used to commute between Islamabad/Rawalpindi and Kalam but they have stopped their service to Kalam. Faisal Movers bus service still operates between Islamabad/Rawalpindi and Mingora. Departure times of Faisal Movers buses are usually in daytime with a gap of 2-3 of each bus’s departure time.
From Mingora shared car taxi service is available for Kalam. As of 2023 the fair of shared taxi service is Rs. 700/person and they accommodate 5 people in a Toyota Corolla car. Similarly public van service is available between Mingora and Kalam.
Shared taxi service is also available from Bahrain to Kalam. The shared tax service is of Fielder cars and they accommodate 6 people in a Fielder with Rs. 400/person as of 2023.