For millennia the 4700m-high Khunjerab Pass, 400km south of Kashgar, has been the nexus between the Chinese world and the Indian subcontinent. Today, the entire 1300km route from Kashgar over the mountains to Rawalpindi in northern Pakistan is known as the Karakoram Highway (中巴公路, zhōngbā gōnglù) and, while not without its perils, it’s hard to think of a more exciting route out of China.
The journey takes a minimum of four days, though the pass is open only from the beginning of May until the end of October, and can close without notice in bad weather. Travellers have to spend a night on the Chinese side, either in Tashkurgan or camping out by the wintry but beautiful Lake Karakul. You’ll also need to have already arranged Pakistan visas in your home country unless you live in China, in which case you can apply through the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing.