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.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Hong Kong

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Hong Kong

Hong Kong floats between old China and the west; its futuristic harbour has become one of Asia's most famous views but you'll also find pockets of traditiona…

28 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

Even 20 years ago China was not a conventional tourist destination. Despite the allure of its beautiful landscapes and history-filled cities, politics, poverty,…

13 Jan 2017 • Simon Frank insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month