Islamabad to Riyadh: Your Overland Guide Image

Islamabad to Riyadh: Your Overland Guide

May 2023

Travelling by road: Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait Saudi Arabia

By Michele Wright

When planning your cross-border road trip from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia there are a lot of variables to consider. The distance is approximately 4210 kms - an estimated 53 hours of driving time - and this is travelling a route from Pakistan, across the borders of 4 countries: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and on to Saudi Arabia.

Pakistanis require visas for all these countries, so applying for legal documentation ahead of time is important. You will also need a Triptik (passport for your car) or Carnet de Passage (CPD). This is a customs documentation which allows for the temporary importation of vehicles into various countries (and is needed for Iran, Iraq and Kuwait).

The route is an extensive, even arduous one, which requires careful organisation. To make things easier we have broken the journey down into stages to help with your preparation. Depending on how quickly you want to get from Islamabad to Riyadh, you can complete these stages at your own speed – perhaps you are lucky enough to have fellow travellers sharing the driving so you can take on greater distances.

Overnight stops should be mapped out, so you don’t miss border times, allowing enough of a buffer in case of delays.

Pakistan to Iran

1 - Islamabad to Zhob (± 7h24 travel time / 556 kms)

Leave Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, travelling along the M-14 through the Punjab province and crossing into the Balochistan province where you find Zhob located on the banks of the Zhob River. This is an important industrial and agricultural area, and the second largest city in the province, with a variety of accommodation facilities.

2 – Zhob to Quetta (± 4h19 travel time / 325 kms)

If you feel like a little detour during this stage of scenic landscape, you could visit the castle of Saifullah Khan at Qilasaifullah en-route to Quetta.

3 - Quetta to Dalbandin (± 5h12 travel time / 342 kms)

Leave Quetta, travelling past the Akhtar Abad Mosque, and remaining within the Balochistan province as you travel along the Regional Cooperation for Development Highway. Go through Luckpass tunnel and on to the stunningly beautiful region of Pakistan known as the Noshki district – or Golden Desert – a landscape of dunes, climbing roads and a natural lake. Continue on to Dalbandin.

4 - Dalbandin to Taftan (± 3h29 travel time / 289 kms)

This route remains hilly desert through to the border. Taftan, in the Chagai District of Balochistan is one of the border crossings into Iran, so make sure you have your documentation ready for the following morning including your Triptik or CPD and passports.

Iran to Iraq

5 – Taftan to Bam (± 4h58 travel time / 425 kms)

Cross the Iranian border and then on to Mirjaveh Customs. Pass the city of Zahedan, with its Grand Makki Mosque dominating the skyline (it’s actually the largest Sunni Mosque in Iran) proceed onwards to Bam in the Kerman province.

6 – Bam to Sirjan (± 4h18 travel time / 364 kms)

Drive through Kerman province today, the largest of the 31 provinces in Iran. You will pass the ancient city of Kerman, known for its Zoroastrian fire temples and mosques and reach the city of Sirjan, located amongst the mountains of Zagros.

7 – Sirjan to Sarvestan (± 3h47 travel time / 298 kms)

Journey through the striking landscape of the Bahramgor Protected Area, a conservation area which boasts wild animals, gazelle, ibex and protects Iran’s biodiversity. With a history dating back some 2600 years, Sarvestan, the capital of Sarvestan County in the Fars province, is close to the heart of the Persian people. The Sarvestan Palace, one of Iran’s ancient monuments is a fascinating structure, on an isolated plain, built by the Sasanian King in 420 – 422 AD.

8 – Sarvestan to Masiri (± 3h40 travel time / 255 kms)

Remaining in Fars province, travel along the Sarvestan Expressway/Route 86, through Seyf Abad and Bakat then passing the beautiful Maharlu Lake. Arrive at Masiri in just under 4 hours.

9 - Masiri to Ahvaz (± 4h56 travel time / 355 kms)

From Masiri carry on to the province of Khuzestan, known as the “birthplace of the nations”. This is where the foundations of the Persian Empires were built, and Ahvaz is the built- up capital of the province.

Make sure you have your papers ready for tomorrow’s double border crossings.

Iraq to Kuwait

10 – Ahvaz to Abdali (± 4h31 travel time / 271 kms)

Cross to Iraq at Al-Qurna, a district of Iraq’s Basra Governorate. Travel past Basrah, south through Iraq, then cross the Kuwait border at Safwan, heading down to Abdali, in the Greater Amman Municipality, for your rest stop.

Tomorrow is another border crossing from Kuwait to Saudi, so be prepared with your paperwork, CPD and passport documentation.

Kuwait to Saudi Arabia

11 – Abdali to Qaryat Al Ulya (± 4h10 travel time / 361 kms)

Travel south passing Kuwait City, along the edge of the Persian Gulf, exiting Kuwait at Nuwaisib Port border post, and entering Saudi Arabia at the Alkhafji Customs border crossing. You then head inland towards Qaryat Al Ulya

12 - Qaryat Al Ulya Saudi Arabia to Riyadh (± 3h55 travel time / 383 kms)

This is the final stretch of the road, the last few hours towards the city of Riyadh and our final destination.

Please note that the driving durations are approximate and can vary based on traffic conditions and the chosen routes. It's essential to research visa requirements, road conditions, and safety guidelines before embarking on an international road trip.

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