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On my upcoming trip I'll be starting in Asia and would love to travel overland to Europe, especially via Iran.

Usually I'm not scared or intimidated by "dangerous" destinations. China is a breeze and I'm not at all fazed by Iran, having met lots of lovely Iranians and a few travellers who had great times there.

But last time I intended to visit Pakistan from China I was told the Hunza Valley area had no terrorists and was perfectly safe. But a few weeks before my trip there were ten tourists murdered by terrorists dressed as police at a mountain in Gilgit province, quite close to where I hoped to go.

Violence directed specifically at foreigners, westerners, or tourists is one thing that does put me off a destination.

But this doesn't necessarily put me off a whole country if I can be reasonably assured that I only have to avoid certain areas.

So is there a particularly "safe" route from China to Iran via Pakistan (and not via Afghanistan)?

  • 1
    Yes via India is fine. I'm not worried about India at all and I'm open to any route through Pakistan to Iran without flying. – hippietrail Nov 7 '14 at 11:24
  • China->Kazahkstan->Uzbekistan->Turkmenistan->Iran is another alternative – JonathanReez Nov 7 '14 at 12:27
  • I've heard Kazakhstan is a chore to travel in. I believe our own Mark Mayo was arrested there and I've heard similar stories from other friends. – hippietrail Nov 7 '14 at 12:38
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    @hippietrail wasn't arrested, just held and searched. Was Kyrgyzstan though :) See question on this – Mark Mayo Nov 9 '14 at 6:14
  • @MarkMayo: Thanks for the reply - I was actually thinking Kyrgyzstan would be easy and Kazakhstan would be tough - but haven't been to either yet ... – hippietrail Nov 9 '14 at 7:58
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You can take the N10 (Makran Coastal Highway) all the way across the southern coast of Pakistan and it will put you in the south of Iran, completely by-passing Afghanistan.

To get to it though, you'll have to travel from China through India and cross into Pakistan. If you fancy a journey through Pakistan itself, you can cross at the Wagah point in Lahore (the provincial capital of Punjab, Pakistan). You can get to it from Amritsar in Indian Punjab.

From Lahore, you can take the highway (or fly) down to Karachi (the largest city in Pakistan), and then just take the road to the port of Gawadar.

The journey will take you through a national park and a wildlife sanctuary. You will cross the border at the city of Taftan, which will drop you in Mirjaveh in Iran.


Update:

I recently returned from Pakistan and the passages are still there, but due to the recent events in the North a police escort must be requested for foreigners crossing land borders into Iran and Afghanistan.

  • But how safe is it? (No flying, this is specifically an overland adventure ... if I go for it) (-: – hippietrail Nov 9 '14 at 8:21
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    From Lahore to Karachi its a safe trip. Its long, but nothing to worry about. There is a national highway and the road is busy with buses, transport trucks, etc. From Gawadar onward though, its a bit rough. The route is a busy cargo route, so it should be "safeish"; definitely not a hotspot for abductions like the northern route. However, it is a hotbed of smuggling. If you don't know the language, I would not attempt it without someone or a guide. Not many will speak English west of Gawadar. Of course once you enter Iran, all bets are off in terms of safety of westerners. – Burhan Khalid Nov 9 '14 at 9:44
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    Funny, all my Iranian friends and all the travellers I've met who've been to Iran, including hitchhiking around the country, make it sound very pleasant and hospitable to travel in and I'm not at all worried about it. Maybe not for Israelis and oddly none of my Arab friends want to go there, but I don't get the impression western travellers are targeted there right now. – hippietrail Nov 9 '14 at 12:09
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    It depends heavily on where you are in Iran. – Burhan Khalid Nov 9 '14 at 15:48
  • You've prompted me to post a new question. – hippietrail Nov 9 '14 at 23:41
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Safe and Pakistan don't go together unfortunately. A foreigner in that land looks more like a pay cheque of a life time rather than a tourist. Kidnapping for ransom is big business in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

To get a good idea of any country's state of tourism and safety it is a must to check dedicated communities/forums for that country and a quick search only brings up one that fits the definition of dedicated. Looking at the only Pakistani travel forum and a quick glance at some posts only reveals that tourism is non existent and security situation is the only thing to blame. I would strongly advise against going through Pakistan.

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    Do you have any references for these claims? – Burhan Khalid Dec 31 '14 at 5:17
  • The "only" Pakistani travel forum? So what's this? lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/asia-indian-subcontinent/… – hippietrail Dec 31 '14 at 5:58
  • Dedicated forum as in the whole website for Pakistan, for instance indiamike.com is an indian travel forum. Lonelyplanet.com has got all the countries not just Pakistan. – PSC775 Dec 31 '14 at 9:54
  • @BurhanKhalid I wont take you too far : pakistantravelforum.com/threads/jeep-rally-in-pakistan.18 Thats the administrator of that "Pakistani travel forum" saying a lot more then what I said and the post suggests he/she is from Pakistan. I doubt someone would dis their own country for nothing. There are many other such posts showing frustration about the security situation. – PSC775 Dec 31 '14 at 10:11
  • When a government needs to suspend mobile phone and data service to an entire region for security reasons I don't think there could be a better reference : pakistantravelforum.com/threads/… . – PSC775 Jul 11 '15 at 4:34

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