Swat (pronounced [ˈsʋaːt̪], Pashto: سوات) is a valley and an administrative district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, located close to the Afghan-Pakistan border. It is the upper valley of the Swat River, which rises in the Hindu Kush range. The capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town in the Swat valley is Mingora. It was a princely state (see Swat (princely state)) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa until it was dissolved in 1969. The valley is almost entirely populated by ethnic Afghans/Pashtuns . The language spoken in the valley is Pashto/Pakhto. With high mountains, green meadows, and clear lakes, it is a place of great natural beauty and is popular with tourists as "the Switzerland of the region"
People travelling from down country on their own vehicles can take the Motorway (M-1) and reach Mardan interchange from Islamabad in about one and a half hours after covering a distance of 131 km. From Mardan onwards they can travel via Takh-e-Bai, Dargai, Malakand Pass, Batkhella, Chakdara and finally reach Mingora/Saidu Sharif after covering a distance of 112 km in an additional two and a half hours. The total distance from Islamabad to Mingora/Saidu Sharif is 247Km and it takes around 5 hours with one stop for lunch and refreshments. This route is open for all kinds of traffic throughout the year.
Using the above mentioned route from Mardan onwards, the distance from from Peshawar to Mingora/Saidu Sharif is 151 km. Total driving time from Peshawar is around 4 hours.
For those preferring public transport, travelling in an air conditioned bus service is an option. There are several bus companies with regular direct service to Mingora from Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Mardan. The Daewoo Bus Service operates the most comfortable and reliable air conditioned bus service to Mingora from Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar and also provides connecting bus services to the passengers of other major cities such as Karachi, Hyderabad, Bahawalpur, Multan, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Abbottabad, Mianwali etc. (For more information about Daewoo Bus Service schedule and fares, please visit their website http://www.sammi.com.pk or call their UAN at 111-007-008). If you are planning to visit Swat valley you may like to check out the “Logistics” section.
Swat Valley, especially lower Swat, is a year-round tourist destination. However the main tourist season for Swat begins in spring and lasts till autumn (April to October). April to May is the best time to visit Swat, when the fresh green grass carpet covers the slopes. June to August is the period when most domestic tourists from the hot plains of Punjab and Sindh escape the scorching summer heat and find refuge in the cool areas of Upper Swat. October-November is the fall season when yellow and golden are the most dominating colors on the backdrop of a clear blue sky. December-March are the winter months; the road beyond Bahrain is snowbound during this time.
Safety and Security Conditions in Swat - Swat, known as the Switzerland of Asia due to its natural beauty, has opened its arms for according a warm welcome to tourists as security and peace have been restored and militants have been pushed out of the region by the security forces. With the efforts of the provincial government and facilitation of Pakistan Army, tourists have already started arriving in the area.
The area has become more peaceful and secure than some other parts of the country, and included among the safest areas in view of the statistics of law and order. Minor incidents occur in some towns, which can not be used as negation of the real situation. Pakistan Army has established checkpoints at all entry points and generally the situation in the Valley is now peaceful for tourism
Visitors are advised to carry their Passports/National Identity Cards (NIC) with them to avoid inconvenience at the routine security checkpoints established by Pakistan Army and Police department en route. Likewise, foreign tourists should carry their passport and security clearance documents with them.
The water available at most places in Swat is not safe to drink, however bottled mineral water is widely available in the towns and even in villages. If mineral water is not available, it is wise to drink bottled drinks or tea. It is also advisable to bring some water purification tablets with you; these are available at chemist shops in all main cities of the country.