The capital of the province of Sindh and Pakistan's largest city Karachi (Urdu: كراچى, Sindhi: ڪراچي), on the coast of the Arabian Sea, is the financial, commercial, cultural, philanthropic, educational and political hub, as well as the largest port and original capital of the nation and offers a remarkable variety of sights to see and activities to do – from sandy sunny beaches, to deep-sea fishing and yachting to a mouthwatering restaurants and cosy cafés.
Karachi is different from the rest of Pakistan in the same way that New York is different from the rest of the United States. The pace of life is more hurried – time is money, and money is life – while social attitudes are far more liberal than elsewhere in Pakistan. It is comparable to other Asian cities such as Mumbai. In Pakistan, the city is known as the City of Lights and the City that Never Sleeps for its liveliness, and the City of The Quaid, having been the birth and burial place of Quaid-e-Azam, the founding father of Pakistan.
Karachi, a former British colony is now a global mega-city and the former capital of Pakistan, is sometimes described as a kind of mini-Pakistan. This is wrong, as Karachi is exceptional in many ways and rather different to the rest of Pakistan, just as Amsterdam is not typical of the rest of the Netherlands and London is not a mini-England.
The city credits its growth to the mixed populations of economic and political migrants along with refugees from different national, provincial, linguistic and religious origins, who come to the city to settle permanently. Residents and those born in the city are called "Karachiites". Almost 98% of the population in Karachi understands the Urdu language. Beginning in 1947 at the bloody partition of the British Raj, when hundreds of thousands of Muhajirs from India sought refuge, the population has exploded from about 450,000 to an estimated 23.5 million today. With more than a million new inhabitants pouring in each year, it's not surprising that the stretch marks are showing in one of the largest and most rapidly growing cities in the world. Karachi is the third-largest city in the world by population within city limits, which makes it an important hub in the Muslim world, and is the richest city of Pakistan.
- "You will yet be the glory of the East; would that I could come again, Karachi, to see you in your grandeur" — Charles James Napier
Karachi is the most diverse and cosmopolitan city in Pakistan and may offer a hint of the future direction of modern life in Pakistan. The city is located in the south of Pakistan, on the coast of the Arabian Sea just northwest of the Indus River Delta . Originally a tiny fishing village, Karachi became a trading center in the 1700s. The British, after gaining control of the region in the 19th century, developed the city into an important port. Rapid growth came after Pakistan became independent in 1947, largely, because of the city having been historically the largest urban centre during British rule in regions forming modern Pakistan. Karachi was the national capital from 1947 until 1959. Over the next several decades it became one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Large numbers of non-Muslim religious communities are settled in Karachi compared to other Pakistan cities: Hindus, Christians, Ahmadiyya, Parsis, Sikhs, Bahai, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians. Karachi's inhabitants, locally known as Karachiites, are a cosmopolitan population composed of many ethnolinguistic groups from all parts of Pakistan, as well as migrants from several different countries and regions, making the city's population a diverse melting pot.
Karachi is a huge city and an administrative division of the Sindh Province. The Karachi division is officially divided into five districts, which are further sub-divided into eighteen towns that are administered by the city government, and six military cantonments which are administered by the Pakistan Army.
South Karachi district is the central part of the huge city of Karachi fringing the Indian Ocean. Because the city grew and expanded from this port area, it contains many of the historic buildings and sights of most interest to visitors. In many ways, it is the equivalent of the CBD ("Central Business District") in Australasia, the "city centre" in Europe or "downtown" in North America. It is the economic backbone of Pakistan with the headquarters of many corporations, companies and banks. The Governor House, Chief Minister House, Sindh Assembly, the High Court, the consulates of different countries, other government offices and both of Karachi's main railways stations are also located here. Saddar Town (contains 3 towns namely Saddar Town, Lyari Town, Jameshed Town) is the old city centre and contains much of the oldest parts of Karachi, in particular the neighbourhoods of Kharadar and Mithadar which represent the pre-colonial history of Karachi. It is the heart of Karachi and is dotted with many hotels, shopping areas and British Raj era buildings. While Clifton and Defence (DHA) located by the sea are Pakistan's most exclusive and affluent neighbourhoods, and are popular among tourists visiting the city, where there are some of the trendiest shopping malls, boutiques and restaurants. The Defence has emerged as the largest and most prestigious residential estate of the country whilst Clifton is regarded as a residential place of the rich and famous people of the city since the British era.
East Karachi contains three towns namely; Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town, Korangi Town, Landhi Town, and Shah Faisal Town. This is Karachi's industrial heartland and center of white-collar office location. Home to Karachi's tallest skyscrapers and historical architecture. Location of some good museums, many amusement and wildlife parks and hotels. Karachi airport is also located in this district.
Central Karachi (Liaquatabad Town, North Nazimabad Town, Gulberg Town and New Karachi Town) is primarily a middle-class area.
West Karachi (Baldia Town, Kemari Town, SITE Town, Orangi Town, Manora) is South Asia's largest slum is located here, in Orangi town. SITE is referred to as the country's largest industrial area. The Port of Karachi is also located in this district in the Kemari area. West Karachi is home to many beaches and islands situated outskirt of the city.
Malir (Malir Town, Bin Qasim Town, Gadap Town) is area-wise, largest district of Karachi and mostly consisting of rural areas. Malir has been regarded in history as the countryside of Karachi city due to its open atmosphere and lush green farms, but now these are no more. Many water parks are located in this district.
The early history of Karachi dates back to Ancient period of 327–325 BC, when Alexander the Great used the city to camp and prepare a fleet for Babylonia after completing his campaign in the Indus Valley. Karachi was earlier known as "Krokola" as well "Ramya" by the ancient Greeks. Karachi was later known to the Arabs as "Debal" as the place where Muhammad bin Qasim led his conquering force into South Asia in 712 AD. During the Tarkhan Dynasty (1554 to 1591 AD) and under the rule of the Mughal administrator of Sindh, Mirza Ghazi Beg, the city was well fortified against Portuguese colonial incursions in Sindh. In 1568 the city was attacked by the Portuguese Admiral Fernão Mendes Pinto in an attempt to capture or destroy the Ottoman vessels anchored in the city.
The modern-day history of Karachi begins during the reign of the Kalhora Dynasty (1701–1782), when an old Sindhi Balochi fisher-woman, Mai Kolachi, took up residence in the city to start a family and the city started as a fishing settlement. (A major flyover (overpass) in Karachi has been named after Mai Kolachi and still exists.) The city was known as "Kolachi-jo-Goth" (The Village of Kolachi in Sindhi) at that time in 1729. The name Karachee appears for the first time in a 1742 document of the Dutch East India Company, when a ship, the Ridderkerk, was shipwrecked along the coast nearby. In 1795, Kolachi-jo-Goth passed from the control of the Khan of Kalat, Kalat to the Talpur rulers of Sindh. During Talpur Period (1795 - 1839), the city was an integral part of the Talpur dynasty.
In the late 18th century, Karachi gained in importance; when it started to trade with Persian Gulf and a small fort was constructed for its protection which had two main gateways: one facing the sea, known as Khaara Darwaaza (Brackish Gate) and the other facing the adjoining Lyari river, known as the Meetha Darwaaza (Sweet Gate). The location of these gates corresponds to the present-day city localities of Khaaradar (Khaara Dar) and Meethadar (Meetha Dar) respectively.
The city had caught the attention of the British East India Company, who, after sending a couple of exploratory missions to the area, conquered the Sindh on February 3, 1839. During the early Company Rule, Karachi was known as Khurachee Scinde (i.e. Karachi, Sindh) and the population of the city was 15,000 in 1838. The city becomes part of British India in 1843 after which it was made the capital of Sindh in the late 1840s. The British realised the importance of the city as a military cantonment and rapidly developed its harbour for shipping and started to develop the city. The foundations of a city municipal government were laid down in 1852 and infrastructure development was undertaken. New businesses started opening up and the population of the town began rising rapidly. British colonialists embarked on a number of public works of sanitation and transportation — such as gravel paved streets, proper drains, street sweepers, and a network of trams and horse-drawn trolleys. Karachi quickly turned into a city, making true the famous quote by Napier who is known to have said on his departure in 1847: Would that I could come again to see you in your grandeur!
During the British Raj, the city was connected to the rest of British India by rail. Public building projects, such as Frere Hall, and the Empress Market were undertaken. The developments in the city resulted in large influx of economic migrants: Parsis, Hindus, Christians, Jews, Marathis, Goans, Armenians, Chinese, British, Lebanese and Gujaratis. The population of the city was about 105,000 inhabitants by the end of the 19th century, with a cosmopolitan mix of different nationalities. Before the year 1880 the majority of the population in Karachi consisted of the indigenous Sindhis and Balochis (who spoke Sindhi as their mother tongue). In 1876, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born in the city.
Following the bloody partition of the British Raj and the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the city became the focus for settlement by Muslim migrants from India, and hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees (now known as Muhajirs in Pakistan) from India settled in Karachi and sought refugee in the city which gave the the city northern Indian atmosphere, expanded the city's population and transformed its demographics and economy and Karachi became a bustling metropolis, with beautiful classical and colonial European styled buildings lining the city’s thoroughfares. Karachi was chosen as the capital of Pakistan (from 1947-1958). In 1958, the capital of Pakistan was moved from Karachi Rawalpindi which was later moved to the newly built Islamabad in 1960. A huge crowds of illegal refugees from around the world continued to flock into the city which made the city’s population continued to grow exceeding the capacity of its creaking infrastructure and increased the pressure on the city. During the 1960s, Karachi was seen as an economic role model around the world. Many countries sought to emulate Pakistan's economic planning strategy; one of them, South Korea, copied the city's second "Five-Year Plan", and the world Financial Centre in Seoul is designed and modelled after Karachi. Karachi was very much better in those days as compare to now. The public transport system was quite good as number of urban tramway systems used to operate in the city and local train service "Karachi Circular Railway" was started in 1969 with the aim of providing better transportation facilities to people of Karachi. Karachi-Mumbai Ferry Service was also operation until 1965 and Karachi airport was served by many major airliners and it was one of the busiest airport in the world. Karachi was going to become "Asian New York", was very much like a European countries in those days, people was very westernised and open minded. Burmese, Chinese, Nepalese, Sri Lankans and Indians started to migrate to the city and city received many European and American tourists. The city was one of the most beautiful cities of the east after Beirut and Cairo and was very safe as compare to nowadays.
In 1970s during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Indian Navy launched Operation Trident and its follow-up Operation Python on Karachi harbor that resulted in the first use of anti-ship missiles in the region, as well as the first sinking of naval vessels during hostilities in the region since World War II. During the operation it also targeted Kemari oil storage tanks on the south of the harbour, which were burnt and destroyed, causing heavy losses to the country. In 1972, Karachi witnessed major labour unrest (Karachi labour unrest of 1972) in its industrial areas of S.I.T.E Industrial Area and Korangi-Landhi. Several protesting workers were killed or injured by police during this period. In a number of cases, workers briefly occupied their factories. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the city saw an influx of illegal Afghan refugees from the Soviet war in Afghanistan moved into Karachi. As of January 2010, the number of illegal aliens in Karachi is estimated to be between 1.6 and 2 million people and thats why the city is still called as, a "city of illegal refugees". Thousands of nationals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzistan, Azerbaijan, are illegally living in Karachi. Political tensions and ethnic violence between the Muhajir, followers of the Mohajir Quami Movement and other groups (ethnic Sindhis and Punjabis) erupted across the city and the city was wracked with political violence. As a result, the Pakistani army was deployed to restore peace in the city. The period from 1992 to 1994 is regarded as the bloodiest period in the history of the city, when the Army commenced its Operation Clean-up against the Mohajir Qaumi Movement. The city has been badly hit by militancy since the mid 1980's, first by ethnic militia MQM and then by fundamentalists since 1995 and militancy has damaged the city enormously. Since the last couple of years however, most of these tensions have largely been quieted. Many Karachiities consider the violence and terrorism in their city as part of a conspiracy.
Since late 2000s, Karachi saw many bombings and attacks as part of War on Terror as well political and ethnic tensions, since the the city has a conspicuous history of problems with terrorism, violent demonstrations, kidnappings and other negative effects of Islamic fundamentalism but Karachi continues to be an important financial and industrial centre and handles most of the overseas trade of Pakistan and it accounts for a lion's share of the GDP of the country. Karachi is Pakistan's most important and biggest city and work as the nerve center of the country's economy. Karachi is most rapidly growing cities in the world, and faces challenges that are central to many developing metropolises, including traffic congestion, pollution, poverty and street crime.
|Daily highs (°C)||25.6||26.4||28.8||30.6||32.3||33.3||32.2||30.8||30.7||31.6||30.5||27.3|
|Nightly lows (°C)||14.1||15.9||20.3||23.7||26.1||27.9||27.4||26.2||25.3||23.5||20.0||15.7|
Check Karachi's weather forecast at BBC Weather
Located on the coast of the Indian Ocean, Karachi has a relatively mild climate with low levels of rainfall, approximately 25 mm (10 inches) per annum, and an arid climate with low average precipitation levels (approx. 250 mm (9.8 in) per annum), the bulk of which occurs during the July-August monsoon season. Karachi has two main seasons; Summer and Winter, while spring and autumn are very short. Summer season persists for longest period during the year. The winters are mild, and dry while the summers are warm and humid; the proximity to the sea maintains humidity levels at a near-constant high and cool sea breezes relieve the heat of the summer months. The city enjoys a tropical climate encompassing mild winters and warm summers. Due to the high temperatures during the summer (ranging from 30-44°C from April to October), the winter months (November to March) are generally considered the best times to visit Karachi. July, December and January have pleasing and cloudy weather when most of the social events, ranging from weddings to charity fund raisers, frequently take place. Tourists and expatriates usually visit Karachi in these months. Karachi's weather is considered mild and can be compared to Florida's weather (except for the precipitation). The highest ever recorded temperature in Karachi is 47.8°C while the lowest is 0°C.
Karachi is the most cosmopolitan city in Pakistan. In comparison with the rest of the country, the city is quite liberal. With a regular influx of immigrants from rest of Pakistan, the residents, popularly known as 'Karachiites', have shown remarkable tolerance towards other cultures, making it a true cultural melting pot and the everyday lifestyle of Karachi differs substantially from that of other cities and towns in Pakistan. Karachi's culture is characterized by the blending of Middle Eastern, Central Asian, South Asian and Western influences, as well as the city's status as a major international business centre. As a whole, there is considerable diversity in culture, and this diversity has produced a unique cultural amalgam of its own type. Karachi also hosts the largest middle class stratum of the country.
Karachi is home to some of Pakistan's important cultural institutions. The National Academy of Performing Arts, located in the newly renovated Hindu Gymkhana offers a two-year diploma course in performing arts that includes classical music and contemporary theatre. The All Pakistan Music Conference, linked to the 45-year old similar institution in Lahore, has been holding its Annual Music Festival since its inception in 2004. The Festival is now a well-established feature of the city life of Karachi that is eagerly awaited and attended by more than 3,000 citizens of Karachi as well as people from other cities.
Karachi also boasts one of the biggest underground music scenes in the country, where traditional musical influences blend with modern, Western style to create a unique brand of fusion music. This style of music has been very popular all across Pakistan and is utilised by most of the nation's up-and-coming musical artists. Many of the nation's emerging musicians have based themselves in Karachi because of excellent employment opportunities in the burgeoning entertainment industry of Karachi. Many of the nation's fresh musical acts can be found in cafes, restaurants and concerts across Karachi.
The National Arts Council (Koocha-e-Saqafat) also has musical performances and Mushaira (poetry recitations). Karachi has a few museums including the Mohatta Palace Museum and National Museum of Pakistan that regularly have exhibitions related to performance arts. Karachi is also home to the annual Kara Film Festival, which is one of the biggest film festivals in Pakistan and showcases independent Pakistani and international films and documentaries.
Karachi is Pakistan's melting pot — a confluence of people from various parts of Pakistan as well from India, Burmese, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Urdu and English are both official languages of Pakistan and, therefore, Karachi. Urdu is spoken everywhere in the city and English is the lingua franca (British control began in the 1840's and did not end until 1947). Most locals learn English in school and know at least basic English. English is widely used in the corporate world, in banking and trading. Other languages widely spoken in Karachi include Punjabi, Balochi, Saraiki, Sindhi, and Pashto. The other languages spoken in the city include Dari, Gujarati, Dawoodi Bohra, Memon, Marwari, Brahui, Makrani, Khowar, Burushaski, Arabic, Persian and Bengali. Stunned by Karachi's diverse demographics, the American political scientist and South Asia expert Stephen P. Cohen once stated that if Karachi's ethnic groups "got along well, it would be an amazingly complex city, a lot like New York."
At most places, you will be able to get by with Urdu and English, as most people you will encounter can communicate in broken English at the very least.
Karachi is well connected by air, road, and rail from others parts of Pakistan, and to some international destinations. Even though Karachi has a seaport, and it is a major trading hub for dhows from around the Indian Ocean but still no passenger ship service runs to/from Karachi so travellers wanting to arrive in the city this way will probably need to make their own arrangements with the captain of the vessel.
Jinnah International Airport, (IATA: KHI ICAO: OPKC), is Pakistan's busiest and largest international and domestic airport. Karachi was once a much busier airport. Between the 1960s and 1980s it was an online station of several major airlines of the world however, due to the emergence of Dubai's airport on the world map, increased usage of longer haul aircraft, and the poor political climate of Karachi during the 1990s, several airlines discontinued their service to the airport but still It has connections to many other hubs such as Toronto, London, Dubai, Delhi, Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Istanbul and other major international cities. It is also the hub for Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan's national carrier, which flies to numerous international destinations, including all the major cities in Pakistan.
Facilities in the airport include several restaurants including McDonald's and Butlers, ATMs, free Wi-Fi (in Departures), a hotel, currency exchange counters, first class lounges, mosques, coffee shops and many gift, convenience stores and sweet shops. There is a big duty free shop selling rugs, carpets, sports goods, medical instruments, onyx, gems and many more at cheap prices but it doesn't sell alcohol.
Immigration and customs procedures are often a lengthy process, especially during peak hours, and can take a notoriously long time (more than 45 minutes). In the immigration hall there are supposed to be separate queues for foreign travellers; passengers with children and unaccompanied children; business travellers. However, usually those lines are occupied by everyone indiscriminately - which makes immigration quite slow.
As you arrive at the baggage carousel you will find free trolleys as well as a host of porters vying for your attention to carry your luggage. It is best to settle the tip before you engage one, however. Normally Rs 100 will satisfy most of them. If you're departing, be prepared for long delays through security. If you're going from Domestic to International or International to Domestic you are taken outside the airport building and you will re-enter through International or Domestic Departures.
The airport consists mainly of two terminals; West Concourse for Domestic and East Concourse for International flights. The lower level of the terminal is for arriving passengers, where a dedicated lane of taxis is situated just outside the airport building for arriving passengers whilst the upper level of the terminal is for passengers departing. Paid parking is also available at the airport.
When leaving Karachi for the international flight, you should show up three hours before your flight is scheduled as security is tight. For domestic flights two hours should be enough.
|airblue||Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Rahim Yar Khan|
|Cathay Pacific||Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Hong Kong|
|Etihad Airways||Abu Dhabi|
|Iran Air||Tehran-Imam Khomeini|
|Iraqi Airways||Seasonal: Najaf|
|Pakistan International Airlines||Dammam, Dhaka, Dubai, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, London-Heathrow, Manchester, Medinah, Mumbai, Muscat, New York-JFK, Riyadh, Toronto-Pearson, Zahedan|
|Pakistan International Airlines||Bahawalpur, Dalbandin, Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Faisalabad, Gwadar, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Lahore, Mohenjo-daro, Multan, Nawabshah, Panjgur, Peshawar, Quetta, Rahim Yar Khan, Sialkot, Skardu, Sukkur, Turbat, Zhob|
|Saudia||Dammam, Jeddah, Medina, Riyadh|
|Shaheen Air||Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Muscat, Sharjah|
|Shaheen Air||Faisalabad, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta|
|Thai Airways International||Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Muscat|
Karachi is well served by inter city buses from destinations inside Pakistan. There are plenty of long-distance bus companies both private and public sector, run 24 hours a day in and out of the city to all the major cities of Pakistan. Travel by bus is often the cheapest and most convenient alternative to get into the city. Intercity buses tend to be more modern and well kept than local buses of Karachi.
- Daewoo Sammi, ☎ . This is the most comfortable, luxurious, and popular bus operator in country. They've a security guard and a road hostess to serve the passengers in buses.
- Niazi Express, ☎ .
Karachi has two main train stations: City railway station and Cantonment railway station where trains arrive from all over Pakistan as the city has railway connections with almost all the major Pakistani cities and towns. Cantonment railway station (locally known as Cantt. station) is the principal railway station of Karachi and most of the trains start from here, although all trains starting from City railway station also stop briefly at Cantonment station soon after.
City railway station is the first and the oldest railway station in Pakistan. It is locally known as "City station" or "City railway station" and situated near Habib Bank Plaza on I. I. Chundrigar Road, the business district of the city.
The Cantonment railway station is the main station and has all the facilities expected of a large station: a large car parking lot, ATM machines, many food and drink stalls and book shops. Restaurants (like Student Biryani and Pizza Hut) have branches on platform No.1.
Pakistan Railways provides both the economy and first class sleepers in almost all trains but travelling in First Class travel is good.
- India is directly connected with Karachi by rail, using the Thar Express, which runs weekly between Bhagat Ki Kothi near Jodhpur, India and Karachi.
- Pakistan Business Express If you want to travel in luxury, this business-class train service is the best choice. It travels daily between Lahore and Karachi. It is the faster than other trains in the country and makes only two stops, rather than stopping at every major station as others do, and travel time is 18 hours. This train has LCD tv in each cabin, and provides free hi-tea, dinner, breakfast, snacks and beverages.
- Karakoram Express is also amongst the fastest and most popular trains in Pakistan. It also runs daily between Lahore and Karachi and have both economy and A/C class cabins. The trains makes some 5 stops, and takes some 20 hours.
|Train name||Originating city|
|Allama Iqbal Express||Sialkot|
|Bahauddin Zakaria Express||Multan|
|Khushhal Khan Khattak Express||Peshawar|
|Night Coach Express||Lahore|
|Pak Business Express||Lahore|
The road conditions are generally good. National Highways number N-5, RCD Highway number N-25, Karachi Northern Bypass (M-10 motorway) and Motorway M-9 also known as Super Highway radiate from the city providing links to all parts of the country.
- National Highways number N-5 is the longest highway in Pakistan, it originates from Torkham (Pakistan-Afghanistan border) and via Peshawar, Islamabad, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan, and Hyderabad reaches Karachi.
- RCD Highway number N-25 originates from Chaman (Pakistan-Iran border) and via Quetta, Kalat, Khuzdar and Bela reaches the city and merges onto the KPT Flyover at Karachi Port.
- National Highway N-10 or The Makran Coastal Highway — connect Karachi with Gwadar 6-7 hour journey. It follows the Arabian Sea coast from Karachi to Gwadar.
- Motorway M-9 is a 136km long 6 lane motorway which originates from Hyderabad and finish at the start of Mohammad Ali Jinnah Rd near the junction of M-10.
- Karachi Northern Bypass (M-10 motorway) is a 57 km long 4 lane road begins north of Karachi at the end of Mohammad Ali Jinnah Rd, near the junction of the M9 and continues north for a few kilometers before turning west, where it forms an interchange with the N25.
Once you get the hang of travelling in Karachi, it becomes a very entertaining experience. You meet new people and get to see unexpected things. It's not very hard to find a mode of transportation and if you know what you are doing, it is very easy to get around. Getting around Karachi is not difficult and transportation is not expensive as compared to other mega cities of the world and you only have to follow proper directions to save your valuable time and money. Most of Karachi's inhabitants rely on public transport to and from their workplace and do ride in a taxi and auto-rickshaw at least once in the city. If you are not used to Pakistani roads, an auto-rickshaw ride can be a heart-stopping, death-defying, laws-of-physics-bending. Feel real adventure in a vehicle that feels like it might fall apart at a speed over 30 km/h with a driver who thinks he's Schumacher.
Travelling inside the city at peak times (08:00-10:00 and 17:30-19:00) takes a lot of time, with frequent road blocks and traffic congestion but still there are side roads and crossroads which can be useful to avoid traffic blocks.
The Karachi Circular Railway recently planned to re-start its services with a proposed Mass Rapid Transit System. A fresh development is made to start bus rapid transit system for the city as well.
Walking is not only the most environmentally friendly way to see this city, it is also undoubtedly the best way, as it allows one to experience its rich ambiance and charms first hand, but much of Karachi is quite pedestrian-hostile with rarely marked crosswalks in the city and road signs are not good either. But, if you really want to walk around, always ensure you walk on the footpath, or if one isn't available, as far to the side of the road as possible and on the right facing on-coming traffic. Distances are long but sometimes, walking in the city may actually be the fastest way to get from point A to point B and walking is a favoured way to get around the densely packed downtown and the narrow streets of the city. The road is not that dangerous a place in Karachi, but many pedestrians are often injured by careless drivers - especially when the roads are narrow. Those who are squeamish about pollution or have asthma may need to wear a mask; the air pollution from passing trucks and buses, combined with the searing heat and humidity can be overwhelming at times. And don't expect driver will give you way even if you will have right of passage on pedestrian crossings. Walking alongside and crossing the road can be very dangerous and it is important to stay alert for erratic driving.
Karachi's Saddar area is fairly spread out, but are enjoyable to explore by foot and getting lost in Saddar can make for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. It is is a chaotic tumble of goods, people, and vehicles and can be navigated quickly on foot and are worth taking some time to wander around.
Auto rickshaws are a popular method of travelling in Karachi, they're very common, and are everywhere in the city at any time of day. If you need to travel shorter distances, go by auto-rickshaw (locally known as just rickshaw) They're three-wheeled partially enclosed contraptions (no doors!), run on CNG and can seat three people in the back. You can find them everywhere. Set prices beforehand since most are not equipped with meters and if you're overquoted, don't be afraid to walk away. It's usually easy to find another one soon, usually with a driver who won't rip you off. They don't usually follow traffic guidelines, so some might think it's dangerous, but they're perfectly safe and a cheap way to get around, at-least much cheaper than taxis. Pregnant ladies are most strongly advised not to travel by auto-rickshaws since the combination of rash driving, poor suspensions, and horrible road conditions have quite often led to serious complications. The auto-rickshaw is a slow and uncomfortable vehicle and not recommended for very long distances. The rickshaw drivers are generally helpful and If a rickshaw driver offers to show/drive you to some great places to shop, firmly refuse.
- Call-a-Rik, ☎ , toll-free: 0800 22557. 7am-11pm. These rickshaws are newest addition to Karachi streets, they're installed with GPS tracker devices, comfortable spacious seat, have doors which make them dust and pollution proof and safe, and also have LED and sound system for passenger entertainment. Fare start at Rs 10 per km and charge minimum Rs 100 per trip. These rickshaws provide door-to-door service, and cannot be hailed without pre-booking through either phone or online.
City bus and minibus routes move back and forth around Karachi and are extremely cheap but they’re a confusing bet for the visitors, with numbers, destinations and stops poorly marked, and buses are horribly crowded and noisy. Outsiders might be put off by the cramped conditions in the buses, and might prefer travelling in taxis or rickshaw, but the most common method of travelling in Karachi is by bus as they re very cheaper, both private and government-run and less than Rs 50 should be enough to take you from one end of the city to the other. For lack of space, people often sit on the roof, or hang from bars, and are jam-packed inside the bus. They are often operated by reckless drivers who do not follow the rules of the road, endangering many. Womens have reserved and separate sitting area in front of the buses. Apart from the main bus stations, buses can be hailed from street-level. Buses are seldom marked with destination, instead conductor shout out their destinations. Travellers unfamiliar with Karachi can ask conductor or passengers to let them know where there stop is. Simply politely blurt out the name of your destination to the bus driver or a friendly looking passenger and they will take care of you.
Local buses are run by the Metro Bus Service and the Green Bus Service, which are a little more expensive than other buses but are more comfortable and usually less crowded. They cover a limited area and mostly of them can be catch from near Empress Market in Saddar.
Black and Yellow
Taxis are convenient, comfortable, and safer than auto rickshaws. If you are alone or going to an unknown destination, this is a good option, even though the rates will be double that of rickshaws. Unlike in most countries, most Black and Yellow taxis in Karachi are not usually marked with "taxi" signs on the top, and do not have even meters inside the cab as well, so you should first fix the charge and the location with the driver before getting in. The official rate per kilometre is less than Rs 10 but expect to pay around double. But taxis are cheap and plentiful (Rs 1,000-1,500 should be enough to take you from one end of the city to the other). Most taxis in Karachi are small-medium sized cars (non air-conditioned), run by their own owners, painted black-and-yellow or only black or only yellow. You can hail a cab off the streets. However, please note old modelled taxis are quite rickety and dirty so prefer to get one which looks fine from exterior. The cab drivers are possibly reliable and will take passengers to any destination required. Seat belts are not mandatory for taxi passengers and most standard black and yellow taxis will not even have them installed, though expect them in the branded ones.
If you have extra pieces of luggage, the boot (i.e. trunk) of the taxi will not provide sufficient space - one large suitcase is all that will fit there. Hiring a taxi with a top carrier will be better. Top carriers can accommodate up to three large suitcases. Before starting the journey, ensure that the luggage is securely fastened to the carrier.
Generally, the only way to call for the standard taxi is to hail one on the street. This will not be a problem if you are inside city limits but If you are in the suburbs, it will be difficult to find a taxi as they have been out-competed by the cheaper auto-rickshaws. The maximum number of passengers allowed for a trip officially is four — three in the back seat and one in the front.
If you want a more comfortable and air-conditioned ride, it's best to travel by branded cab services (such as Karachi Cab, Metro Radio Cab, Sky Cab, White Cab and many others) that operate with government-approved tariffs so no need to negotiate prices, as they follow fixed rates. These services operate modern fleets with well trained drivers. There are two type of taxi services, regular and call taxis. Regular taxis are normally available at designated taxi stands, at the airport, and at train station while call taxis can be called anywhere in the city and they're available with 30-60 minutes notice. Mostly cars are white Toyota Corolla, they're clean; air-conditioned; equipped with digital, tamper-proof meters; punctual; honest and GPS-equipped and monitored (which makes them far more secure at any time). Respected firms include:
If you want to travel luxury, Travel agents and hotels can arrange private chauffeur driven car of your choice. They are expensive compared to private taxis; however, they are the most trusted, secure, and comfortable way to travel around the city. But the cars provide through hotels for their guests can be charged slightly higher than elsewhere.
Unless you are into adventure seeking or used to to South Asian roads, self drive in Karachi is not recommended as driving discipline is almost non-existent. Driving is on the right side and the speed limit is 40 km/h in residential areas and usually 80 km/h on arterial roads, but this is only sporadically and capriciously enforced. Driving in Karachi can be a bit difficult and very stressful because of poor driver discipline such as lane discipline is practically nonexistent, excessive honking, high vehicle density, lack of regard for traffic law, combined with razor thin passing margins are common, One ride in a taxi will most likely convince you that driving yourself is not worth the risk, so if you do want to arrive by car, you will probably want to hire a car with a driver. which will be better.
Many local and a few international car rental companies (most notably Avis, Europcar, Hertz, and Sixt) operate in the city. Renters will need to provide a valid credit card, a passport or Pakistan national identity card, a cash deposit and their driving licence. But please note most of the car rental is not so popular among visitors and many car rental companies refuse to provide self-drive cars to visitors unless it chauffeur driven.
Renting a self driven cars is expensive as well on the Pakistani standard and cars are mostly compact car with Toyota Corolla most popular and rental cost for a day with fuel can be less than Rs 10,000. Parking in the city is not a problem at all since you can park them anywhere but still there which are congested and busy areas, you'll not get parking.
There is a lot to see in Karachi, but the typical "tourist" sights are concentrated in downtown district Saddar where the city has a collection of buildings and structures of varied architectural styles.
- Karachi Zoo (کراچی چڑیاگھر), Garden East Area, Jamshad Town. Established in the year 1878 and originally known as 'Mahatma Gandhi Garden', this is one of the oldest zoos in Pakistan. There are around 500 different species of birds, 180 species of mammals and nearly 200 species of reptiles in some 107 cages. Attractions include "White Lions", "Mumtaz Mahal" and the "Elephant House", where two female African bush elephants born in Tanzania, named 'Noor Jahan' and 'Madhu Bala' were brought. A Mughal Garden including Mughal-style fountains, established in 1970, occupies a major part of the zoo with green lawns and seasonal plants. The garden is famous for different varieties of roses and other flowers that are exhibited there. A "Natural History Museum", is also one of the famous attractions of the zoo with stuffed animals, skins, antlers, horns and feathers. The Municipal Aquarium is also located in the zoo. It was constructed in 1953 and has a total of 28 tanks which contain a total of around 300 fishes from about 30 species. There is also a boating lake and a "Reptile House" which is one of the few reptile houses in Pakistan. There are 13 species of snakes and lizards. Newly born hatchlings of turtles, tortoises, terrapin and crocodilians are also exhibited. Rs 10.
- Abdullah Shah Ghazi Mausoleum (مزار عبد الله شاه غازى), Shahrah-e-Firdousi, Clifton. A green-domed shrine dedicated to a 9th century Sufi, "Abdullah Shah Ghazi", is in a sprawling complex perched on a hilltop overlooking Clifton Beach. This 1,400 year old tomb is built on a very high platform with the grave being downstairs, has a tall and square chamber and a green-and-white striped dome, decorated with centuries old Sindhi tile-works and green flags flutter gives a majestic view. There are separate sitting arrangements for men and women inside the shrine. Abdullah Shah Ghazi was born in Medina in 720, claimed direct descent from the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and is thought of by his followers as the patron saint of Karachi and widely revered in Pakistan. The shrine is said to have protected Karachi from natural disasters such as storms, tsunamis, earthquakes and all sea-related phenomenon, despite it having a climate ripe for tropical storms. An Urs (festival) is held at the shrine from 20 to 22 Dhu al-Hijjah (12th month of the Islamic calendar) for three days marking the anniversary of Abdullah. Qawwali also often takes place on Thursday nights at the shrine. The shrine complex has a vast car-park, a rest house for devotees, a mosque and long lines of shops selling rosaries, incense sticks, glass and silver bangles, prayer mats and beads.
- Frere Hall (موہٹہ پیلس), Civil Lines, Abdullah Haroon Rd (opposite the Marriott Hotel). A well preserved building and a beautiful structure built during the days of the British Raj in 1865. The main building built in the Venetian Gothic style with yellowish Karachi limestone and red and grey sandstone located in the middle of two beautiful, large and lush green lawns which extend to the road. The two peaceful gardens named "Bagh-e-Jinnah" (Jinnah Garden) have two old Victorian style fountains. It houses a gallery on first floor, which is full of paintings by Pakistan’s iconic artist Sadequain. The gallery exhibits his masterpieces of paintings and calligraphy. There is also a library. There is a book fair every Sunday where you can get cheap books both new and used.
- Mohatta Palace Museum (فریئر ہال), Hatim Alvi Rd, Clifton. Tu-Su 11:00-18:00. Another fine British Raj building, completed in 1928, but has an architecturally resemblance to palaces in Rajasthan. It was built with pink stone from Jodhpur in combination with the local yellow stone from Karachi, creating a fusion of Rajput and Mughal architectures. The palace was built by an ambitious self-made businessman from Marwar as his luxurious summer home and then became the residence of Jinnah’s sister, Fatima, after he left Karachi for India in 1947. Now, it offers a diverse range of activities for both the casual and informed visitor.
- Quaid-e-Azam's Mausoleum and Museum (Mazar-e-Quaid) (مزار قائد), MA Jinnah Rd, Jamshed Quarters. The final resting place and mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (known as Quaid-e-Azam or "Great Leader"), is a prominent and impressive landmark of Karachi. It was completed in the 1960s and designed by Mumbai based, Indian architect Yahya Merchant. The tomb is fabulously built on a 4 m high platform made of white marble with curved Moorish arches, copper grilles and a four-tiered crystal chandelier gifted by the people of China.
Fifteen successive fountains lead to the platform from one side and, from all sides, terraced avenues lead to the gates. In the interior of the grave complex, there are three graves in a row and one to the north. The northern one, which is decorated with a series of black floral designs at the base, belongs to Fatima Jinnah, Jinnah's sister. Out of the three graves, the northern one belongs to Liaquat Ali Khan, who died as Prime Minister of Pakistan. The extreme southern grave belongs to Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar. In the middle lies buried Nurul Amin, who rose to be the Vice-President of Pakistan. All these graves are made of Italian white marble, and they are of the box type, like the sarcophagus of Jinnah, placed on a triple base. But the sides of these graves are tapering inward while that of Jinnah is diverging outwards. These are all plain graves, except that of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, which has a basal floral ornamentation.
Official and military ceremonies take place here on special occasions, especially on 23 March, 14 August, 11 September and 25 December. Dignitaries and officials from foreign countries also visit this place.
Around the mausoleum is a 53 hectare park "Bagh-e-Quaid-i-Azam" laid in the format of Islamic art, with fountains all around it, fitted with spot-lights which project light on the white mausoleum and making the glowing tomb able to be seen for miles at night. The tomb is guarded at all times and after every 20 minutes there is a ceremonial position shift of the honour guard and, every 4 hours, the guard is changed.
In addition to the tomb, you can also see a small museum housing various artefacts used by Jinnah such as cars, dinning sets, bedroom furniture, swords and guns from is private collection. The location is usually calm and tranquil - which is significant considering that it is in the heart of one of the largest global megalopolises. Open Sa-Tu, Th 10:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00; F 09:00-12:00.
- Masjid e Tooba (Gol Masjid) (مسجد طوبٰی), Phase 1, Defence. This mosque is often claimed to be the largest single-domed mosque in the world. It was built in 1969 of pure white marble with a dome 72 m in diameter which covers the central prayer hall which can accommodate a congregation of 5,000 persons. The dome is balanced on a low surrounding wall with no supporting pillars and has a single minaret standing 70 m high. This mosque is a major tourist attraction in the city due to its modern architecture. Non-Muslim visitors are welcome, although avoid visiting during the prayer times and on Fridays.
- Merewether Clock Tower (locally known as Tower), I.I Chundrigar Rd. This business landmark of the city is 35 m high tower and carries a clock with four faces. It was constructed by Sir Evans James in 1892 in the memory of Sir William L Mereweather who was the Commissioner of the Sindh at that time. The design of the tower is in the Gothic Revival style popular in Victorian England, and it was designed to evoke the architecture of Medieval England. The structure is built in buff colored Gizri stone and shows a heightened sensitivity to detailing and emphasis on carving and decoration. This tower is not the most visited landmark, although it is one of the most crowded points in the city because of its location.
- Habib Bank Plaza, I.I. Chundigar Rd. The head office of Habib Bank Limited and was the tallest building in South Asia for more than a decade until the 156m tall World Trade Centre building were built in Mumbai in 1970. This 101m high rise building with 23 floors was built in 1963, has marvellous architecture and is one of the most recognizable landmarks of the city.
The British built variety of private and public buildings during British Raj from 1858 to 1947 in Karachi, many of which colonial buildings and landmarks still remains today. The city possesses over 600 protected buildings dating largely to the British period. There are plenty of private and public buildings left from the period of the British Raj; many of these colonial buildings still remain today but unfortunately not well preserved - most of them in Saddar Town, where there are some fine examples, along with other modern and old structures, to look at.
But unlike elsewhere in major big cities, guided walking tours or even other types of tours are, unfortunately, not available in Karachi. That doesn't means you can't make it on your own. To get the best experience, take a long stroll around the wide roads of MA Jinnah Road, and I I Chundrigar Road. Other famous monuments to be seen in I I Chundrigar area are the Mereweather Tower, Former Lloyds Bank building, Karachi Stock Exchange and many banks that are also excellent examples of colonial architecture in the city. This area preserves some of the finest private architecture from Karachi's early period. The area is known as main business street of Karachi and home to a large number of banks and office buildings. It is also the largest financial district in the country and often termed the "Wall Street of Pakistan".
However, the majority of colonial buildings are being used as government offices and so are not open for sightseeing.
- Empress Market (ایمپریس مارکیٹ), Preedy St. A famous marketplace dominated by a Gothic-Mughal-style clock-tower of the colonial era, situated in Saddar, which is one of the most congested and busiest areas of Karachi. The market is one of the most important landmarks of the city and traces its origins to the British Raj era, when it was constructed in 1889 and named "Empress Market" to commemorate Queen Victoria, the Empress of India during late 18th century. The building was constructed as a marketplace to cater for the European elites who were either living in or frequently visiting Karachi at that time. Today, it is amongst the most popular, oldest and busiest places for shopping in Karachi and one of the few historical spots of the city. The building was arranged around a courtyard, 130 ft by 100 ft, with four galleries each 46 ft wide and those four galleries provide accommodation for some 280 shops and stall keepers. Commodities sold in the Empress Market range from condiments, footwear, fruit, vegetables and meat to stationery materials, textiles and has numerous pet shops.
- Karachi Municipal Corporation Building (KMC Building), M.A. Jinnah Rd. One of the historical British Raj buildings, has evolved an iconic status as one of the landmark structures of Karachi. This Anglo-Mughal architecture building was built in 1930 with local sandstone from Gizri and Jodhpur red sandstone at the front and is said to be the crown jewel of colonial era architecture in the city. The clock tower was made to honour and commemorate the visit of King George V, the Emperor of India of that time. Today the building houses the offices and various departments of the Karachi Municipal Corporation.
- Quaid-e-Azam House (Flag Staff House) (قائد اعظم ہاؤس), Fatima Jinnah Rd (opposite Avari Tower Hotel). Th-Tu 09:00-16:00, F 09:00-12:00. This beautifully maintained British Raj building with is an important National Monument, once owned by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who lived there from 1944 until his death in 1948. His sister, Fatima Jinnah lived there until 1964. This is yellow stone double strayed building comprising of three rooms at ground and three in first floor is worth a visit, and you can see Jinnah and Fatima’s private apartments, with period teak wood furniture and accessories such as relics used by Jinnah. The structure of building is limestone masonry with wooden trusses supporting the roof which is covered by red ceramic Mangalore tiles. Free.
- Holy Trinity Cathedral, Fatima Jinnah Road (near Zainab Market). Built in 1855 to a design by Captain John Hill of the Bombay Engineers. One of the first major churches of Karachi and currently the seat of the Church of Pakistan, Diocese of Karachi. Its tall tower was also a light house built to facilitate ships arriving into Karachi Harbour.
- Hindu Gymkhana (National Academy of Performing Arts), M R Kayani Rd. is one of the first Mughal revival buildings in the city constructed in 1925. The building is designed by Muslim architect Agha Ahmed Hussain. The plan and massing was based on the tomb of Itamad-ud-Daulah (1628) in Agra. The building is small in size and consists primarily of a hall and some smaller rooms used for administrative purposes. Stone for the 2-foot-thick (0.61m) walls was acquired in Bijapur. The roof line is defined by delicate massing of cupolas and balustrades directly influenced by Akbar's Fatehpur Sikri. The octagonal corner towers framing the projecting central jharoka are capped with chattris. Smaller chattris highlight the corners of the projecting porch that carry the drooping bangladar roof used in Emperor Akbar's period. The projecting chajjas are supported by ornamental brackets. The cupolas of the chattris are reinforced concrete and the walls are dressed in Gizri stone. Some of the carved elements are of Jodhpur stone. Now converted to the National Academy of Performing Arts.
- Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Shahrah-e-Iraq (near the Empress Market). Built in Gothic Revival style and opened in April 1881, it's currently the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi and can accommodate at least 1,500 worshippers at the same time. It's a protected monument because of its outstanding architectural beauty. The cathedral's grounds are adorned with a white marble monument to Christ the King.
- Sindh High Court, Shahrah Kamaal Ataturk. Built in 1929 entirely out of pink-hued Jodhpur sandstone and one of the most imposing buildings in the city. Architecturally, it's a combination of local and Roman styles.
- Wazir Mansion (Quaid-i-Azam Birthplace Museum) (وزیر مینشن), Barkati Street, Haji Sharif Balwani Rd, Kharadar (off M.A. Jinnah Rd). This two storey building was a family home completed in 1865, of the country's founder, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, where he was born and brought up. The house is foremost among Karachi’s historical and oldest buildings and is a protected national monument. It was renovated in 2008, has a reading hall and a library on the ground floor which has a collection of books related to the history of Pakistan and those that were once possessed by Quaid-i-Azam during his law graduation. The museum is located on the first floor and contains two galleries. One gallery incorporates three rooms including the one in which Quaid-i-Azam was born while the second and third rooms contain articles such as furniture which he used as the first Governor General of Pakistan. The second gallery on the second floor contains other relics of Quaid-e-Azam which are displayed in nine showcases. Relics includes his dresses and other personal items used by Jinnah.
There are only a few museums in Karachi, but they are good and are the most famous museums in Pakistan.
- National Museum of Pakistan, Burns Garden, Dr. Ziauddin Ahmed Rd. Displays a two million years old axe discovered on the Potohar Plateau. There is a remarkable gallery describing the early civilisation of Debal and Mansura. The collection of 58,000 old coins goes back as far as the 7th century CE and there are hundreds of well preserved sculptures. Another gallery, the ‘Freedom Movement gallery’, contains a large collection of pictures and articles arising from the time of the Independence movement. Items on display include archaeological artefacts, Islamic art, and other historical documents. Quran gallery is recently renovated, equipped with air conditioning, modern lighting and audio system and has more than 300 copies of the Holy Quran, out of which around 52 rare manuscripts are on display. A gallery is dedicated to the relics obtained from cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa of the famous Indus Valley Civilization, such as Moenjodaro’s best-known relics, the iconic sculpture of the priest-king and a bronze statuette of a dancing girl. Sa-Tu, Th 10:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00; F 09:00-12:00.
- Pakistan Air Force Museum, Shahra-e-Faisal, Karsaz (near Karsaz Flyover). 8am-10pm. An impressive outdoor Air Force museum and park established in 1990 and then expanded significantly. Well organized displays with over 30 aircraft, weapons and radar have been displayed in vast lush green park, the main museum is located inside the building and features all major fighter aircraft that have been used by the Pakistan Air Force during wars with India. On display includes the scale models of some World War I, World War II and modern aircraft and photo galleries of almost all the squadrons of Pakistan Air Force. The museum also houses the Vickers VC.1 Viking used by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and a Folland Gnat of Indian Airforce, which was captured by Pakistani forces from Pasror in 1965 war. Guided tours are free, and uncrowded on weekdays. Rides for children's and a restaurant also available. Only families are allowed on Sundays. Rs 30.
- Pakistan Maritime Museum, Karsaz Road (near PNS Karsaz). 8am-10pm. A well maintained naval museum and park which comprises six galleries and an auditorium. The main museum building is located inside the park. The museum is based on modern concepts of presentation and interactive education. Different artifacts of maritime and naval heritage have been incorporated through attractive dioramas, relief sculpture, murals and miniature paintings, touch screen computers, taxidermy and ancient weapons. A computer based maritime information retrieval system has also been incorporated to facilitate the visitors and students for easy access. Besides, the museum also displays Daphne Class Submarine PNS Hangor (S131), a small yard-class Minesweeper Ship, Breguet Atlantic aircraft and a wooden barge that was gifted to Naval Chief during 60s. Some good outdoor exhibits. Only families are allowed on weekends. Rs 30.
- PIA Planetarium, Main University Rd (next to Karachi Expo Centre). A virtual observatory which regularly puts on shows about the solar system and cosmic phenomenon. The shows in English are much more detailed, and are held every Sunday evening. On other days there are only Urdu shows. A ticketed, guided tour by an officer enables one to view the plane from the inside; its cockpit, pilot seats, and various other areas.
Beaches and islands
Karachi coastal line of more than 60 km stretches from Cape Monze in the west to Bundle Island in the east however most of its area is barren except little tourist attraction or facilities provided and waiting for developments. Karachi has many big and small beaches, including one in the Karachi downtown area "Clifton Beach", which is city's busiest and most popular beach. But they aren't that great and the water off Karachi's coast is extraordinarily dirty and also these beaches are not the kind where women can wear swimsuits particularly two-pieces. The relatively better ones are in the Karachi outskirt most popularly Sandspit Beach, Hawks Bay Beach and French beach. These are located at the outskirts of the city and are less strict about clothing. These beaches are also the breeding ground for endangered turtles and sometimes contain stinging jellyfish, especially during the monsoon (July to September), so it is advisable to avoid walking on beach alone after dark.
- Paradise Point. A sandstone rock promontory in the Arabian sea with a natural bridge located west of Manora Island. Attractions for families and tourists, facilities including beach-side horse and camel rides, amusement park, restaurants, and swimming.
- Manora Island, Manora Cantonment. A small peninsula consisting of an exotic location with natural landscapes such as the beach and the mangrove forest. It can be a good picnic spot because of the long sandy beach along the southern edge of the island. Island has the remains of a 19th-century old Hindu temple "Shive Varon Dev Mandir" and at the southeastern end of Manora island is the tallest lighthouse (28 m high) in Pakistan, which was erected by the British after they captured Karachi's Talpur rulers. The access to lighthouse is unfortunately restricted due to its presence inside the military protected area. The island lies approximately 15–20 min by boat ride from Kiamari boating harbour and is connected to the mainland Karachi by a 12 kilometre long causeway called "Manora Drive". Swimming is not recommended due to strong currents and polluted sea water. There is no good restaurant, except few small food stalls on the beach mostly sells fish.
- Clifton Beach (Sea View), DHA. Pakistan’s busiest beach and the most popular entertainment site in Karachi, located in a quiet and safe suburb of the city. The beach itself is nothing special, only made of mud grey sand, but it’s fun for people spotting and attract many families and tourists throughout the year. This was the world's most popular silver-sand beach and health resort throughout the 20th century, but it was affected by an oil spill in 2003 when the Greek registered oil tanker MV Tasman Spirit ran aground and over 12,000 tons of oil spilled into the Arabian Sea in what is considered by some to be the largest environmental disaster in Pakistan's history, so it is better take a stroll rather than swim in the sea because of polluted sea water and strong currents. You can also enjoy horse or camel riding and hop on a dune buggy to roam around the beach area. Many grilled corn stalls can be found on the beach and many fast food kiosks. As the sun sets, flood lights come on and the beach starts getting crowded with the picnic continuing until midnight. Street lights dotting the kilometre long promenade increase the beauty of the sea and surrounding areas. The beach tends to attract children, teenagers, vendors, lovers, kite flyers, merrymakers, and families. Usually on Saturday and Sunday evenings, the land is filled with day-trippers, food vendors, and people picnicking which make it very crowded especially during public holidays and on weekends. On weekends, you can also spot a fountain on eastern side which is built near the series of islets off the coast of the Karachi harbour and attract many people. Overall, the beach is a nice place to spend time. Also take a long walk along the Clifton beach and you'll found locals as well walking, under clear skies, at sundown for a spectacular view while at night is an experience worth the travel alone, as visitors can gaze towards the heavens while the Arabian sea cascades over their sandalled feet. You can either start walking from McDonalds or from Village restaurant. Small parts are located at both ends where you can relax after the long tiring walk Free.
Karachi has a justified reputation as a concrete jungle, but there are some nice pockets of greenery within the city. Some city parks are very well-maintained mostly in Karachi South district where the most popular Bagh-e-Ibn-e-Qasim Park, Boat Basin Park, Hill Park, Nisar Shaheed Park and Jheel Park are located, which offers birds eye view of the city.
- Bagh-e-Ibn-e-Qasim (Bin Qasim Park) (باغ ابنِ قاسم). A popular and well planned park of the city opened in 2007. It is the largest family park in South Asia, The park named as Bagh Ibne Qasim which means Garden of the son of Qasim is built in memory of the 8th century Muslim conqueror Muhammad Bin Qasim. The park consists of extensive lighting, pathways, a turtle pond, 20 stone canopies and lush green spaces with hundreds of thousands of unique rose saplings planted throughout the park. The Lady Loyd Pier runs down the middle of the park providing spectacular views of the park so try to visit the park in the late evening when the park is lit. Attractions include: Lady Lloyd pier, Jahangri Kothari Parade, a century old amusement park called Funland, an underground Hindu temple, a mosque and a mausoleum. A food court and shops are also inside the park.
There is also a Beach View Park adjacent with huge, fibre glass dinosaurs modelled to scale.
- Hill Park, PECHS (near Tariq Rd). A very popular park offering birds eye view of Karachi. Have many amusement play land spots, a fast food centre, restaurants, and an artificial lake inside the park. One can take a nice view of Karachi skyline from this park.
A city of more than 16 million people is unlikely to be short on things to do! Simply let yourself be overwhelmed by the size and scope of this city, its heartbreaking disparity between rich and poor and its breathtaking sights and sounds. Karachi isn't just a city, it is a world unto itself.
Nightlife in Karachi is livelier than in other Pakistani cities. Although nightclubs can't be found easily (except a few that have recently popped up across the city), there are some fantastic restaurants that offer musical and theatrical performances on a daily basis.
Karachi hosts plenty of cultural events on regular basis, from art exhibitions to concerts, theatre plays and has a fine collection of Anglo-Indian architecture, a legacy of the British Raj, which will keep history buffs engaged. Culture vultures will find a city with many art galleries, displaying a broad spectrum of works from Asia, and some New Age works from aspiring Pakistani artists. It is not wrong to mention that some of the most famous art galleries in Pakistan are found here.
Local newspapers often have listings of forthcoming culture event in the city.
- Port Grand, Near Jinnah Fly Over - M.T. Khan Rd (Near Beach Luxury Hotel), ☎ +92 21 3833-0020, +92 21 3831-1111, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 12:00-01:00. An extensive food street and entertainment complex popular with the elite of Karachi. Pedestrian friendly pier built along the 19th century Native Jetty Bridge, with having different good restaurants of exotic Pakistani and foreign food and other food and beverages kiosks on one side and breathtaking views of Karachi Harbour on the other side. A shopping mall, an art gallery, a tavern area, a mosque, many stalls, a children's play area, and a theatre stage is located in the complex area. A 200 year old Hindu temple named "Shri Laxmi Narayan Mandir" is just outside the complex entrance. Entrance is "strictly for families & couples", which makes the atmosphere very family friendly and safe. Single males forbidden except for Wednesday evenings. Likely to be overcrowded during weekends and public holidays. Musical concerts often take place as well. The entry fee is Rs 300 per person out of which Rs 200 would be redeemable at different food outlets and shops inside the complex. Free valet parking is available for visitors. Don't forget to take an exciting speed boat ride in Chinna Creek for Rs 500 per person which also includes a complimentary pass to enter the Port Grand area. With amazing stunts and incredible spins, the ride will provide an unforgettable experience.
- Cruise Dinner, Phase 8, DHA.. Enjoy dinner on board while taking a boat ride off Karachi coastline in middle of sea. Cruise dining is itself most exciting part and makes this fantastic dining experience especially if you never did cruise dining before. Please note booking needs to made a day in advance. Either go with Savor, Savor provide 2 hour sailing time but if you've money and you want to go private, nearby Carlton Hotel can rent a nice comfortable, with both air-conditioned and open air deck and clean boat for you. They charge Rs. 17,500/hour and Rs. 2,300 per person for dinner. They've 2 menus to choose from, either Chinese or Pakistani. so Hop aboard and enjoy an unforgettable evening.
- Jet Ski, Phase 8, DHA, ☎ . Take a thrilling and exciting ride on Jet ski in Arabia sea. The riding time is from dawn in the morning until afternoon. If you're looking for more water water activities, see West district. Ride usually cost around Rs 3,000 for two persons..
- Nueplex Cinemas, The Place, Khayaban e Shaheen, Phase-8, DHA, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 10:00-02:00. One thing you might interesting in doing is watching a Bollywood, Hollywood or Pakistani release in a recently opened magnificent and country's largest movie theatre at affordable price. This is one of Karachi's most notable cinema which offers a high quality experience in a nice ambience. The cinema is designed by world renowned cinema Architects Mesbur & Smith and comprises five theatres including a luxury one, totalling 1100 seats and features 3 of the largest silver screens in Pakistan.
- Arena, FEC-01, Habib Ibrahim Rehmatullah Rd, Main Karsaz (Near Maritime Museum), ☎ +92 21 9924 5251/54, 9924 5264, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 1pm-11:30pm, F,Sa 1pm-12:30pm, Su 12pm-11:30pm. A modern and family friendly gaming arcade offering 16 lanes computerised bowling alley, virtual bowling for those who don't want to handle the traditional heavier bowling balls, mini golf, pool tables, 29 different arcade games, coin-operated kiddy rides for children, ice skating rink which is first of its kind in Pakistan, virtual reality simulator, paint ball, rock climbing, and a gymnasium. There's a nice buffet restaurant "Rangoli" which serve continental & Mughlai dishes and a cafe styled restaurant "Cafe Mist" and "Mocktail Bar" located inside the Arena. Entrance fee is Rs 500 per person which is redeemable.
- Beach huts. There are hundred of beach huts on the outskirts of the city and built on the shoreline of various beaches. You can rent these daily, weekly or monthly basis. When summer comes to Karachi, more beach huts spring up and every day large numbers of people from Karachi visit beaches to enjoy picnic, swimming, and fishing. The beaches are next to each other with a parallel access road and are less strict about clothing because of the more private access to the beach via these huts. Prices depend on the quality of hut you want, but normally start from Rs 8,000 per day. Prices can be negotiable so don't hesitate to haggle. Even some low cost huts are equipped with furniture such as chairs and a bed together with a stove. Lifeguards and security are usually available on some beach areas. Bring your own food and drink as there is only one good restaurant in this resort area named "Beach Bar B Q". The beach with the most huts is Hawke's Bay beach, which is popular due to its close proximity to the city. It's a sandy beach with crystal blue water and is one of the few beaches in the world where green sea turtles come to lay eggs. There are hundred of huts built on the beach shoreline along Hawke's Bay Drive. Sandspit beach is also a popular tourist spot due to its close proximity to the city, ideal for swimming and sunbathing. Huts built on the beach shoreline are along Manora Drive. French beach is often cited as Karachi’s most beautiful beach. Located half way between Hawke's Bay and Paradise Point, it offers plenty of beach huts for rent. Its rocky beach and clear water are ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving as well as surfing during the monsoon season. Visitors have to bring their own equipment for diving. A minute away from French Beach is Tushan beach and "Turtle beach" which have a mixture of small hills with a perfect sandy beach with a few beach huts.
- Boating. You can hire a boat at Kiamari boating harbour, which will take you to Manora Island (though not really an island) or tour you around the Karachi harbor. Private boats can be hired for around Rs 500-3,000 per hour according to size of boat. If you are also interested in eating fish or crabs, ask the boat owner to arrange some and have a cookout on the boat while you travel. Please avoid taking photographs as it is prohibited when you're touring near the harbor due to its proximity to a Naval base, and other sensitive installations around. Even the boats crew will discourage you to take photos. Aside from the wooden trawlers, ferries are also available. Some captains of boats and ferry offers sea fishing, or even just crabbing but within the harbour. You ca spend a romantic evening crabbing in Karachi's coastline beginning at sunset and ending with a delightful crab and seafood feast under the stars in evening. There are also two ferry boats run by government, which run twice daily and can take you to Manora island free of charges. You can also rent larger boats from Kiamari boat harbour for longer duration to go further away to other islands such as Bundle Island or Buddo Island but you'll have to heavily negotiate to get a better rate, and try to avoid the touts who would be lurking outside in the parking area.
- Diving. The most well-known dive site in Karachi is Churna Island, where you can explore the city's beautiful aquatic life at a totally different level. It can be a thrilling, fun and excitement filled experience for those who've never dived before. The diving season in Karachi is from September to mid-May, so it's better not to dive during the monsoons in Pakistan which usually occur from June until September. The water temperature is a minimum of 16⁰C to a maximum of 29⁰C and you may dive to a depth of more than 30 m (100 ft). Churna Island is actually a small island off the coast of the city and is only accessible by boat. It has abundant of coral reefs and widely varied marine life which makes it very popular for diving. There is a marine park where you can find fishes such as hound fish, marlin, angel fish, parrot fish, puffer fish and barracuda together with dolphins, sea urchins, turtles, jelly fish and sea anemones as well. The following companies offer a complete scuba diving and snorkelling package which usually includes breakfast, lunch, diving instructions, diving gear, life jackets, local boat ride to Island and a pick-up, drop-off service:
- Revolving restaurant, 16th Floor, Caesar's Tower, Main Shahrah-e-Faisal (Opp. Aisha Bawany School), ☎ . Have you ever heard of or experienced dining in a Revolving restaurant? If not, this is time to do. It is the only restaurant of its kind in the country where one can dine on a revolving floor located on the rooftop of the building and enjoy the stunning views of the Karachi skyline and major landmarks such as Mazar-e-Quaid.
- Dolphin Show, Pakistan Maritime Museum, Karsaz. Did you ever see a Dolphin Show? PKR 350.
Water and amusement parks
- Safari Park, Main University Rd, Gulshan-e-Iqbal. This family-only park was opened in 1970, has a small zoo, a children's playland and some gardens. This park is one of the major recreation and amusement park in the city. Catch a bird's-eye view of the animals from the 10 minutes long chairlifts in the park.
- Go-Aish Adventure Park, Main University Rd, Gulshan-e-Iqbal (adjacent of Safari Park). Gulshan-e-Iqbal. Karachi's largest adventure park offering different adventure activities such as rope course, Paintball, Wall climbing, ATV track, Big swing and Flying fox.
- Aladdin Amusement Park, Main Rashid Minhas Rd, Gulshan-e-Iqbal. Part of above Safari Park.
- Sindbad Amusement Park, NIPA, Gulshan-e-Iqbal. One of two outdoor Sindbad Amusement Park in the city.
There are many water parks in Karachi mostly located in the suburbs of the city near Super Highway. Some worth to visit are:
- The Great Fiesta Water Park, Survey No. 23, Deh Amilano, Tappo Kathore, District Malir, ☎ +92 336 3529940-41, +92 333 3529940-41. 09:30-05:30. It is one of the best water park in Pakistan. Surely a family park so only families are allowed. Offering many exciting water slides including one of the most heart wrenching "Raft Spiral Black Tunnel", Teenager, Cyclone, Wave Pool, Lazy River, Mountain Fall, Aqua Play, Mini Titanic Ship, Light House, and Free Fall. The most amazing slide is Rainbow slide. Entrance fee Rs 600 per person.
- Sunway Lagoon Water Park, 6.5 kms, Ahead from Gharo, Main National Highway, District Thatta. 10am-6pm. One of the largest and good water park in Pakistan. Entrance fee Rs 700 for adult, Rs 400 for children under age of 12 years and free for children under 3 years of age..
- Cosy Water Park, Deh Shah Mureed Rd, Topa Songal, Near Super Highway (Between Gulshan-e-Maymar and New Sabzi Mandi), ☎ +92 336 2137355 / 3333164494 / 333 2193528. 10am-6pm. Recommended for ladies because it is one of the water parks in Karachi that offers private ladies slides in a wide range. Entrance fee Rs 400 per person.
Karachi is a festive city, and many religious and cultural festivities are observed across the city throughout the year. The Sindh Cultural Day gets celebrated in the city in the month of December every year. People wear traditional Sindhi Topi and Ajrak and gather in different areas of the city where they play songs, dance, attend functions where artists come and perform.
Karachi is the shopping capital of the country and Karachiites are avid shoppers and, as such, Karachi boasts an incredible diversity in terms of shopping, accommodating anyone's preferences and budget. Products that shoppers can buy in Karachi come from a vast variety of sources, from one of the many local cottage industries to authentic brand wear by renowned international designers. The city has many modern, high-end shopping malls such as Park Towers, The Forum and Dolmen Mall, in addition to local mid-range bazaars and a gamut of streetside vendors.. You can shop to your heart's content, in the massive range of markets and bazaars that dot the city, or you can shop & enjoy one of the many modern shopping malls that are found across the city's more affluent sectors, namely Defence and Clifton. And don't worry too much about your budget; a recent survey by the Times newspaper (UK) found Karachi to be the second-cheapest city in the world.
There are a great number of shopping places in Karachi, ranging from the traditional bazaar to the modern shopping malls. A first-time visitor should try and visit the bazaars, The bazaars usually consist of many small vendors selling a variety of products from accessories to clothes to food and drink. In addition, there are larger stores which are more specific in their products. Also one would find that the bazaars are a more culturally enriching experience. One problem is that when shopkeepers find out you're from out of town, they will charge you double/triple prices. Try to go with someone local if you can to get a good price.
The shopping experience in the city is a study in contrasts. At the lower end of the spectrum are street vendors. Existing at the borderline of legality, entire streets have been given over to these hawkers and in many places it is impossible to walk on the footpaths, because they have blocked the way. On the other hand, these vendors often give you a great bargain though you will have to haggle a lot and be careful about what to buy. There's nothing like taking a local along to shop for you.
Karachi is probably worth visiting just for its street markets, the hustle of vendors, and the madness of the crowds. Good places are anywhere in Saddar. If you came to Karachi and didn't give visit to this highly dense and crowded area, it means you didn't meet the real Karachi. Hawkers and street shoppers don't ask for any legal permission and then set their stalls at the places where they see maximum footfall. From electronics items to fresh food, you can get everything anywhere.
Most vendors in Karachi are open to bargaining, which is a common sight at most bazaars and among hawkers. As a result, prices of products vary immensely among every vendor, with the exception of upscale high-end shopping malls, which usually have fixed prices. In Karachi, it is also general knowledge to be cautious when bargaining with vendors, especially in bazaars and with hawkers, as they often sell substandard goods at high prices to unaware shoppers. Apparent foreigners, in particular, are often ripped off.
Shopping reaches its peak during the Eid season, as not only established businesses but vendors from all over the country come to the city to sell their goods to the city's large population, a majority of which is middle class and relatively well-off compared to most other parts of the country.
Haggling is very common in most Karachi bazaars - so don't hesitate to negotiate prices.
Places to shop
- Tariq Rd. is the largest shopping district of the city with more than one thousand shops, including for jewellery, garments, cosmetics, food, computers and shoes. There are several malls such as Dolmen Mall, Dolmen Centre, Jumeirah and Lavish. Tariq Road is most famous for its high-quality garments and thriving market for the footwear business.
- Saddar. Pakistan's big electronics market, mostly consumer electronics. You can find cheap and high quality products here. Worth a visit.
- Bahadurabad Bazaar (adjacent to Tariq Rd). A replica of the famous Charminar at the Bahadurabad roundabout is a nice touch. This bazaar have many clothing and footwear shops as there're in Tariq Rd Bazaar
- Zamzama Boulevard. for up-market designer boutiques, clubs and restaurants. Here are the some of the city's most expensive and trendiest boutiques and designers.
- Gulf Area Market, 3 Talwar, Clifton. many traditional vendors and more up-market boutiques and designer shoes yet in affordable prices.
- Chase Value Centre. Khaid bin Waleed Rd, (behind Tariq Rd). Department store selling products at wholesale rates. You are sure to get the best value for your money here.
- D.H.A. Bachat Bazaar, Phase 8, Defence. Opens only on every Sundays. A new generation of modern open bazaar, a huge tourist attraction as well. Many Asian and European foreigners come here to shop.
- Co-Operative Market. This market is one of the oldest and major marketplace in Saddar, selling the most diverse goods from clothing to electronics at reasonable prices. You can find a huge number of potential gifts such as traditional souvenirs, rugs, all types of handicraft, and other cultural products of Pakistan.
- Zainab Market (in Saddar near Avari hotel.). One of the cheapest market in city, Zainab Market is a labyrinth of small shops selling handicrafts and casual clothing including export-surplus or slightly defective genuine name brands such as Adidas, Nike, Polo etc. manufactured locally for export or very good copies of the real thing for a fraction of the real price! Check out the brass-ware, the pashminas, the rugs and the leather goods as well, all for very reasonable prices. But don't be shy to haggle. It's expected and quoted prices are invariably 30-40% inflated.
- Bohri Bazaar, Saddar.
- Zebunissa Street. It is one of Karachi's most renowned shopping area and one of the city's most vital arteries which used to be called as 'Karachi's Piccadilly Circus' by British tourists, as it is lined with historic colonial buildings from the British Raj era. It is now home to Karachi's biggest high end shoe shops such as Metro, Sputnik, English Boot House together with Gold Souks and other retails shops. It also houses one of Karachi's largest Atrium Malls.
- Hyderi Bazaar, North Nazimabad. is also home to several high-end malls such as Dolmen Hyderi, Madni and Saima mall.
- KDA Market, Gulshan Iqbal. Comparatively smaller than other bazaars in Karachi, but KDA offers a wide range of branded/non-branded clothes, foot-wear and cosmetics.
- Sunday Bazaars. open only on Sundays all over the city. It's worth visiting the one in Defence, which is quite popular with expatriates as well. These bazaars are organized under a cloth canopy and there are hundreds of stalls. Prices are lower compared to regular shops, but you can still haggle to get a good bargain. Bazaars usually start their business as early as 08:00 and continue until the sun sets.
- Jummah Bazaars. open only on Fridays all over the city and are much cheaper than Sunday bazaars
- Meena Bazaar, Karimabad, Gulberg. This bazaar is said to be one of the oldest women's market in the city. It's a shopping street only for women and carry number of things at very cheap prices.
- Mangal Bazaar. open only on Tuesdays all over the city. Worth a visit is the one on Kashmir Road near the PIA Sports Complex.
There are also three underground bazaars in Karachi at Bohri Bazaar, Nazimabad chowrangi and Liaqatabad No. 10. On the whole, shopping in Karachi is an interesting, exhilarating but often tiring experience.
- Rainbow Centre, Saddar (adjacent to the Empress Market). This place is famous as the hub of video entertainment in Pakistan and reported to be the largest CD and DVD market in Asia and perhaps one of the largest hubs of pirated CDs in the world. You can buy CD's/DVD's at very cheap price from PKR 50.
There're plenty of big and small shopping malls in the city with mostly located in the South district. Here are some better-known shopping malls, which are big, more most popular which makes them busy throughout the year.
- Dolmen City Mall, Marine Drive, Block 4, Clifton. It is the largest shopping complex in Pakistan and can be much comparable to ones in Dubai for its giantess. It is home to numerous high street shops, a huge "Hyperstar - Carrefour" hyper market, a giant food court with eateries from western cinnabon, fat burger, johnny rockets to the most trendiest GunSmoke. Many people heads to this mall not only for shopping, but to spend some good time which make it very crowdy on weekends. You can also enjoy beautiful sea view from Gloria Jeans here or try Fish Spa. There is also an indoor Sindbad amusement park for kids, which is the biggest in the whole country.
- Ocean Mall, Teen Talwar, Clifton. 10AM-2AM. This is the Pakistan's tallest building which is recently opened. It is 393ft high skyscraper and houses a large upmarket shopping mall houses many local and international brands. It also houses a big food court and Cinepax, four grand cinemas, one of them being a 3D cinema.
- Park Towers, Shahrah-e-Firdousi, Clifton. One of the oldest upscale shopping in town still attracts many visitors. Has shops of various downtown boutiques, a food court, a superstore, an indoor kids' theme park and art gallery.
- The Forum, Khayaban-e-Jami, Block 9, Clifton. Known as one of the few good and modern shopping mall in city. Includes shops, food court and Ebco superstore.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Budget||Below Rs 500|
|Splurge||Over Rs 1500|
The cuisine of Karachi is strongly influenced by the city's Muhajir population, Muslim immigrants originally from India who migrated to Pakistan following the independence in 1947. Most Muhajirs have traditionally been based in Karachi, hence the city being known for Muhajir tastes in its cuisine, however cuisines vary from one neighborhood to another, given the diverse nature of ethnic origins that exist. Muhajirs clung to their old established habits and tastes, including variety of dishes and beverages. The Mughal and Indo-Iranian heritage played an influential role in the making of their cuisine, having taste vary from mild to spicy and is often associated with aroma. In comparison to other native Pakistani dishes, Muhajir cuisine tends to use stronger spices and flavors. Most of a dining table include chapatti, rice, dal, vegetable and meat curry. Special dishes include biryani (is arguably the most popular food among Karachiites, with numerous variants (Awadhi, Mughlai, Bombay, Sindhi, Memoni etc.), qorma, kofta, seekh kabab, Nihari and Haleem, Nargisi Koftay, Kata-Kat, Rogani Naan, Naan, sheer-qurma (sweet), qourma, chai (sweet, milky tea), paan and Hyderabadi cuisine, and other delicacies associated with Muhajir culture. The food of Muhajirs is renowned for its cultural fusion, due to Muhajirs hailing from a number of ethnic backgrounds. As a result, Bengali cuisine, Bihari cuisine, Uttar Pradeshi cuisine and Muslim Hyderabadi cuisine collaboratively impose an influence on the style of food.
Karachi has a large number of restaurants from fast food, fast casual, casual dining to fine dining as well several fantastic upmarket restaurants, which serve a huge and wide variety of both local and international cuisines such as (Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Arab, Korean, South Indian, etc.). The beauty of the food in Karachi is that you will probably find a cuisine for every taste.
The dining experience at an upscale restaurant in Karachi is more or less the same as anywhere else in the world. If you search hard enough, you will find cuisine from practically every part of the world represented in the city. But to get a real flavour of what's unique to Karachi, you will have to go a little lower down the scale and experience the street food. Most of the upper-end restaurants are located in major hotels in the city (the Sheraton, the Pearl Continental, Mövenpick Hotel and Avari Towers).
Like other capitals in the world, Karachi has the usual array of International fast food outlets. One can easily find a franchise of KFC ☎ +92 21 111 532532, McDonalds ☎ +92 21 111 244622, Subway ☎ +92 21 586-8907, Papa Johns (Clifton) ☎ +92 21 585-3374, Mr Cod ☎ +92 21 535-0746, Henny's ☎ +92 21 5867151, +92 21 5864023 (09:00-23:00), Pizza Hut ☎ +92 21 111 241-241, Domino's ☎ +92 21 111 366-466, Penny Pizza ☎ +92 21 34991029, or Dunkin Donuts ☎ +92 21 111 366-887.
Tip between 5-10% at sit-down places as tipping is always a good practice in Pakistan so in Karachi as well.
There are many food streets throughout the city but Defence and Clifton is chock-full of trendiest restaurants and cafés. It's useful for the visitor to be aware that there are some areas where the majority of diners are Karachiites, rather than tourists and, in general, there you will get better food and value. These places can be visited even during the day but are best visited in the evening.
- Beach Avenue is a huge strip along the Clifton beach and Sea View beach that is home to several restaurants. It's popular for its giant food outlets such as McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dip Shop, The Village restaurant, Kinara and, of course, the Dolmen Mall. Adjacent and far away from the main beach is an area known as “Do Darya”, a newly developed giant food street along this scenic sea front and fast becoming a very well known dining spot. This is the only food street of it’s kind in the country where you will be greeted by many restaurants clustering at the edge of the Arabian Sea. There are several Pakistani food restaurants here offering both indoor and open air dining facilities: Sajjad, Afridi Inn, Charcoal Grill, Ambala, Kolachi and Hot Bite, to name a few. Here, the rocky shore provides shrimps which are used as bait to catch fish. You can feel the cool, relaxing sea breeze, enjoy the pleasant atmosphere and huts right above the shore giving an ultimately fulfilling experience without worrying about security.
- Zamzama, This is the place where the rich, famous and affluent like to hangout. Zamzama is home to the trendiest and hippest Cafes in town, where all the hip and young people of Karachi like to hang out in their designer attires and sip on the best brews in town. At the same time, Zamzama is also home to the more up end and exclusive dining places in the city, some of the most expensive restaurants in the country are found on this one boulevard. For Cafés be sure to check out Ciao, Espresso, Aylanto, Chatterbox and of course the only chocolate café in town Butlers Chocolate Café ( the Irish chain). As far as restaurants go Copper Kettle, Arizona Grill and Roasters being the oldest restaurants on the street win hands down as far as popularity goes. For fine dining the most reputed places to head to are Fuchsia, Okra and Baan Thai. Other than the above mentioned Zamzama has a fair share major fast outlets scattered across it, the most notable being Pizza Hut, Dominos and Subway.
- Boat Basin, is a mile-long strip of open-air street food/restaurants. Favorites tend to include Karachi Broast, Mr. Burger, Qasr-Al-Nakheel, Jans, Dera, Nihari Inn, Cafe Clifton and Tandoori Hut. Boat Basin is where almost all of Karachi's late-partying citizens wind up, since food is often available here until five or six in the morning, and some restaurants are open 24 hours. Most dining is open air, during winter this becomes the most popular hangout place in the city. Local style breakfast (such as halwa puri and anda paratha) is also served at Boat-Basin 06:00-07:00 onwards. Note that restaurants here will frequently only accept cash. It is a good idea to carry enough cash to tide you over, at most of these locations Rs 1,000-2,000/person will be more than sufficient. If you're not the experimenting type then there's always the fast food option. KFC, Pizza Hut, Mr Burger and Nandos can all be found here. The Chicken Makhni (Butter Chicken) with Garlic Naan at Tandoori Hut is by far the most popular dish on this mile long gastronomic delight.
- Burns Road, For authentic Karachi food this is the place to be. The best tasting Nihari, Sajji, Bottis and Tikkas can be found in this congested corner of Old Karachi. Burns Road is a part of Saddar the main business district of Karachi. Most of the restaurants here are built in really old pre independence era Victorian style buildings which sort of gives you the feeling of being in a crowded part of Old Delhi. Hygienically this may not be the cleanest part of town, but if you are a big time foodie and you really want to taste real Karachi food then seriously this is the place to head to. If food preparation hygiene is really an issue for you then the best option is to head to Food Centre, the biggest and prettiest building on the street. Places to head to here include Punjab Lassi house for the best Lassi in town, Food Center and Sabri Nihari. Other than these there are many more restaurants scattered througout this street. Restaurants accept only cash here. Price wise you can easily have food dessert and a glass of Lassi for less than Rs 300.
- Khadda Market, is mainly famous for its delicious "Paratha Rolls" that can be eaten with a various array of different meats eg Chicken, Beef and Kebab to name a few. With different fillings and yea that includes Cheese and Garlic Mayo also. For the best Paratha Rolls head to Hot and Spicy and Red Apple. One average Paratha Roll with out any fillings will cost you around Rs 80. The more fillings you add the more price increases this can go up to around Rs 130-150 per roll. Other than the Paratha Rolls both of the above mentioned restaurants serve great Sandwiches and Burgers also. Other popular places in the area to head to are Chatkharay and Gazebo for "Chaat" , Indus Biryani for Biryani , Kay Bees for fast food. Mingcourt, Chopstix and China Ming for Chinese. Food aside Khadda market is home to the best Salons in the city for a designer snip head to Clippers and Pzazz.
- Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society (SMCHS), The main food district in this area is basically built around one roundabout. Sindhi Muslim is home to the typical fast food joints like KFC, Nandos and Pizza Xperts. Places to check out over here are Kahva, Royal, Bundoo Khan and Hyders. Karachi's famous Hob Nob bakery is also located here. Most recently a new coffee chain Gloria Jeans Coffee house has opened there.
- Shahbaz Commercial, This place is slowly developing in to the new Zamzama. With Zamzama getting more and more congested new restaurateurs are looking towards Shahbaz to set up their new businesses . Trendy cafes and restaurants have started to spring up left right and center. Shahbaz like Zamzama is basically a rich mans playground where most of the restaurants and cafes clientele comprises of people from the rich and upper middle class of society. Notable places to check out are Studio Cafe for the best Sheesha in town theres a separate floor for Sheesha, the one thing that's special about this place is that once you're done eating your food a professional photographer takes you down to the basement for a photo shoot and you get a CD that contains your pictures in it to keep as a memorabilia of your visit here. Then there's Kaps Cafe that's a flower shop cum coffee shop all in one. Secret Recipe is popular for its sumptous Cheesecakes and other desserts. Not to forget Espresso is by far hands down the most popular cafe in town, this place serves the best western styled breakfast in town. Espresso has two more outlets in town but this branch tends to be the most popular one in town. The newly opened The Diner seems to be doing pretty well it serves great continental food. Sawasdee is famous for its tangy hot and sour Thai food. Other than the above mentioned your fast options in this part of town include Pizza Hut and Subway.
- 26th Street and Tauheed Commercial, Fine dining in Karachi has officially found a new home. Most of the finest art galleries in the city are found in this area , so it isn't uncommon to come across a restaurant that has an art gallery within in it or vice versa. Hence because of this , this area has unofficially been dubbed the "Artist district" of Karachi. The finest French restaurant in the city if not the country Cafe Flo is located here. An artist favourite is Cafe Koel. The Patio is another favourite that has an art gallery attached to it. Purple Haze a popular youngster hang out where they occasionally have a Karaoke night. Another youngster favourite hang out is The Hotspot. The Hotspot is known to serve the best desserts in town. From Banoffee Pie to Supersonic fudge sundaes you name it and they've got it. Infact you can also create your own Milkshake flavour over here like for eg Banana Caramel with White Chocolate (Toblerone).
- Hyderi, This tiny suburb of Karachi has now grown into a food hub of Karachi housing numerous restaurants. These include US famous Hardees which is famous for its thick burgers and unlimited drink refills to other fast food chains like Pizza Hut, KFC, Arizona Grill and several others. Hyderi is also home to sub branches of Karachi namely chains like Red Apple, United King Bakery, Naheed Super Market and several other restaurants and food centers.
- Bahadurabad, (off Tariq Rd). Famous for its restaurants like Tooso, Wimpys and Have More and ofcourse the United King bakery.
- Tariq Road, is famous for different traditional food item including traditional Samosa, Katchori and especially the mixed fruit chat (Type of fruit Salad mixed with spices and/or fresh Cream) Laziz Mix Fruit Chat Liberty Signal Tariq Road is the most renowned famous and an old clean place for dine in and take away
- Hasan Square, University Rd, Gulshan Iqbal. Famous for Sajji, Barbeque and various other Pakistani dishes.
- Port Grand Promenade, along side Karachi Harbor is the city's only pedestrian friendly food strip with scores of restaurants, cafes and eateries such as Aylanto, Chairman Mao, Bistro, Skewers, Mr. Cod, Mr. Burger, Oishi Sushi etc.
- Hot N Spicy, ☎ . Main Khada Market, Phase 5, Defence. Started a decade ago as a fast food restaurant now offering quality Pakistani, Chinese and Arabia cuisine at very reasonable prices. Famous for its Bar BQ rolls. Cost per person around 200.
- Nihari Inn, ☎ . Boat Basin. This restaurant is especially famous for it traditional Nihari (a popular meat dish of Pakistan) with piping hot hans. A plain nihari cost Rs 150 whereas special nihari dish cost per person around Rs 350. Located on the strip of Boat Basin food street.
- Village Garden Grill and BBQ, ☎ . Club Rd, (opposite Avari towers). One of the oldest restaurant and top ones in Karachi however moderate prices. Has an open air garden and offer some good quality Pakistani food. Also offers shisha. Located near to many splurge hotels in the city. Cost per head is around Rs 500.
- Student Biryani, ☎ . A popular Pakistani food chain that is best known for selling its famous biryani dish. Having branches throughout the city as well in Lahore, Hyderabad, Dubai and Sharjah. Home delivery is also possible.
- Anwar Baloch Restaurant, Near Malir Bridge, Malir (near Tool Plaza), ☎ . A popular restaurant in town offering good food at very affordable prices. Karahi dishes are must try. Recently, Open 24/7. Rs 300-500.
- Al Habib Restaurant, Super Highway (near New Sabzi Mandi/Northern Bypass on main shahrah-e-Pakistan Rd; it is roughly 22 km away from city centre and on highway going towards interior Sindh province), ☎ +92 21 687-0702, +92 21 687-0703. One of the most popular restaurants of the City. It remains open 24 hr and has a huge sitting area and it receives a lot of diners from all over the city specially on weekends. You can try all kind of Pakistani food here.
- Biryani of the Seas, ☎ . 20 Prince Complex, Near PSO House, Clifton. Serving good Pakistani cuisine and quality frozen sea food of all kinds at very affordable prices. Famous for its fish and shrimps biryani. Sitting arrangements not that appropriate but overall good environment. Cost per person around Rs 500.
- Salt n Pepper Village, ☎ . Beach Avenue, Phase 6, Defence. Located on the sea coast of Arabian see thus offers a scenic view of the beach. Restaurant is popular for its good Pakistani food in buffet style dining with often live music. Very crowd on weekends. Restaurant also have branches all over the country. Cost per head is around Rs 800.
- Usmania Restaurant, ☎ . Near Belawal House, Block 2, Clifton. A fine dining restaurant serving quality and authentic Pakistan cuisine along with continental, Chinese and Indian dishes and Bar BQ as well. Restaurant offers air side as well for dining. Have branches throughout the country. Price per head around 800.
- BBQ Tonight, ☎ . Main Bilawal Roundabout, Clifton. One of Karachi's most popular and splurge restaurants. Spread over four stories of seating, including partly covered rooftop seating, the restaurant is almost always completely packed, but the turnover is high, so reservations aren't required. It now serves lunch. The rooftop is good. Per person will cost at around Rs 900.
- China Town, ☎ . Near Belawal House, Block 2, Clifton. Traditional, authentic and fresh Pakistani Chinese food at reasonable prices. Popular among local Chinese community. Cost per person is around Rs 800.
- Ginsoy, ☎ +92 21 3534 5362/3. 29-C Main Khayaban-e-Shahbaz, Phase 6, Defence. A pretty good Chinese restaurant offering some excellent authentic Chinese food in town at affordable prices and in a pleasant ambience. Overall, good value for money. Recently opened an extension nearby. Cost per person is around Rs 700.
- Café 9, 5-E, 9th Commercial Lane, Zamzama, Phase V, Defence, ☎ . 11:00-01:00. Recently renovated and soothing cafe offering many dishes from different cuisines. A branch is also located in Emerald Tower at Do Talwar. Rs 800-1,000.
- Café 76, 76 Old Clifton, ☎ +92 21 583-3163/64. 11:00-01:00. A cozy cafe offering many Continental dishes. Recently, opened a new branch in Dolmen Mall, Clifton. Rs 800-1,000.
- Café Chatter Box, 3-C, 3rd Commercial Lane, Zamzama, Phase V, Defence, ☎ . 08:00-12:00. Pakistan's premier and popular bakery "Pie In The Sky" is located inside the cafe, which offers an extensive selection of high quality baked good. Cafe is very popular gathering spot among young people and offers many dishes of various cuisines in a nice atmosphere. Rs 1,000-1,500.
- Damascus, Block 9, Near KPT Underpass, Clifton, ☎ . 18:00-02:00. One of the oldest cafe in the city. Mostly a restaurant specialized in Arabic cuisine, also offers many seafood items. Rs 500-800.
- Roasters, 23-C, 2nd Commercial Lane, Main Zamzama Rd Phase 5, Defence, ☎ . A very cosy cafe with nice interior. A good place to hangout. Food is excellent and offering gourmet coffee, deserts, grill as well steak. Rs 800-1,000.
- The Elbow Room, Mumtaz Hussan Street, II Chundrigarh Road, Saddar, ☎ . 12:00-23:59. Continental food. Menu is limited, however quality is good. A good restaurant in the area, very busy during lunch time. Rs 800-1,000.
- Olé, Plot# 22C/1, 6th Commericial Lane, Zamzama, Phase 5, Defence, ☎ . 12:00-23:59. Cafe is congested however environment is cosy and Continental menu is good. Overall a good place to hangout. Rs 800-1,000.
- Lal Qila, ☎ . Buffet, 10/A, MACHS, Shahrah-e-Faisal. Built in the style of a 17th century Moghul fort. Offering Pakistani cuisine such as Barbecue, biryani, and a local beef-based delicacy, haleem, in its open brick courtyard. Beware long lines during the peak evening dining hours. Cost per person around Rs 1,500.
- Chandni (Pearl Continental Hotel), ☎ . Club Road. A fine dining restaurant in town offering quality desi Pakistani cuisine in buffet style only. Great atmosphere with live classical music daily. Cost per person is around Rs 1,500.
- The Patio, ☎ . F-50/1, Block 4, Clifton. Popular upscale and contemporary fine dining restaurant offering Pakistani and Pan-Asian cuisine. Outdoor seating also available. Price per head around Rs 1,500.
- Aqua Lounge, ☎ . 18-C, 1st Floor, 5th Zamzama Commercial Street, Phase V, Defence. An upscale premier restaurant serving almost all kind of quality sea food as well steaks. Popular among elites and very busy. Cost per person is around Rs 2,000.
- Saffron, ☎ . D-82, Block 4, Clifton. Upscale dining restaurant offering both Continental and Mediterranean cuisine. Restaurant is very cosy with low lit dining rooms and totally wooden floors. Outdoor seating is also an option. Live Jazz music every Sunday on brunch. Cost per person around Rs 2,000.
- Kahva Cafe and Grill, ☎ . 6-C, Mustafa Arcade, Block A, SMCHS. Upscale classic theme dining restaurant+cafe offering both Continental and Italian cuisine. A nice place in the city to go with family. Don't forget to taste their popular Bon Bon dish. Cost per person around Rs 1,000-1,500.
- Fujiyama (Avari Towers), ☎ +92 21 3566 0100 ext. 2076. Fatima Jinnah Road. Traditional Japanese food, located on the top floor of the 17 story Avari Towers offers 360 degrees panoramic views of the city. Located on the top floor of the 17 story tower offering a nice view of the city. Cost per person is Rs 2,000+
- Sakura (Pearl Continental Hotel), ☎ . Club Road. Specialties includes spicy tuna tartare, Japanese green tea, noodles with shrimp, tempura and teriyaki. Located on roof top of the hotel. Cost per person is above Rs 2,000+.
- Dynasty (Avari Towers), ☎ . Fatima Jinnah Road. Award winning top end restaurant serving truly quality and authentic Chinese cuisine with around 139 dishes in the menu. Restaurant is decorated in Chinese style and popular among expats. Cost per person is around Rs 2,000+.
- Pompei (Shapes Health Club Compound, old railway club), 139 Mc Niel Road, ☎ . Cantt. A finest dining restaurant serving Italian cuisine. Open air dining as is also available in beautiful garden. Interior is excellent Italian style. Cost per person is Rs 2,000+
There are thousands of places to slake your thirst in Karachi—most don't serve alcohol, of course. Cafés, coffee shops, cigar lounges, juice and ice cream parlours are scattered throughout the city, but especially in the South district in the DHA and Clifton areas.
Several Dunkin Donuts restaurants are located in the city. For Sheesha lovers, "Indulge," a chain of cigar lounges, have branches in Park Tower, Millennium Mall, Rashid Minhas Road, and Gulshan-e-Iqbal. Agha Juice, pioneer of juices in the city, serve some fresh fruit Juices and shakes and have four outlets: In Nazimabad No. 1, Opp Amber Auditorium Bahadurabad, Main Rashid Minhas Road, Gushan Iqbal and Khadda Market Defence, open noon till 3AM. Make sure you go to the branches listed above as there are a lot of places with a similar name. There are many international coffee houses in Karachi including Australian brand Gloria Jean's, branches are located in Clifton and S.M.C.H.S.
Karachi is the most liberal cities in Pakistan when it comes to attitudes to alcohol and alcohol is much more easily available than many cities in Pakistan but still drinking alcohol in public areas is nominally banned, but most of the top end hotels have their own bars. There're wine shops in the city sell alcohol, but they don't usually have an area to sit and drink. Try local brands like Murree Brewery; others include Budweiser and Bavaria without alcohol. Wine shops usually closed on Fridays; and are only allowed to supply locally produced alcohol such as Murree Brewery.
Try a local limca cola, which makes a "pop" sound when opened. Pakola, Pakistan's premier soft drink brand, is available in flavours such as Ice cream soda, Lychee, Orange, Raspberry, Apple Sidra, Vino, Double cola and Bubble up. Try Lassi, which is a classic yoghurt drink served either plain or sweet and sometimes flavoured or even fused with fresh fruit. Rooh-Afza, a red-coloured, sweet, herbal drink. Sugar Cane Juice — which is extracted by mechanical force — is best when served fresh. You might also love the Falouda and Gola Ganda, which include various kinds of syrups in crushed ice.
If you just want to drink plain water, always go for bottled water of a good brand costing Rs 50 for a 1.5 L bottle of mineral water.
If you have the inclination to smoke, check out one of Karachi's cigar lounges. They stock quality international brands including authentic Cuban cigars at Club Havana (DHA 5). Other notable lounges are Castro's and the Cigar Bar in Zamzama. These places have luxurious interiors and can give the illusion of being in a 1950s film, Note that you will have to pay a handsome sum for the pleasure of genuine Cubans. You can also try shisha at Cafe Shisha or at Indulge.
- Ittehad Wine Shop, Phase 6, D.H.A. (Near Cafe Zouk). One of few Wine shop in the city which sells liquor mostly local Murree Brewery with few other brands as well.
Apart from many good restaurants in town, there are also plenty of cafes cum restaurants with a nice ambience:
- Bread People Bakery & Cafe, 10-C, Khayaban-e-Shahbaz, 26th St, Shahbaz Commercial Area, Phase 6, Defence, ☎ . Live music bands, usually on random Saturday nights. Call for schedule.
- Butlers Chocolate Café, Main Road, Off 6th Commercial Lane, Zamzama, ☎ . 07:00-14:00. Ireland’s leading and award winning chocolatier has an upmarket and elegant cafe offering fine chocolates and gifts. Large selection in an excellent atmosphere. Rs 800-1,000.
- Casbah & 007 Club (Beach Luxury hotel), ☎ . M T Khan Rd. Saturday night dance party. Couples only. Call to confirm.
- Cinnamon Lounge, Avari Towers, Fatimah Jinnah Road, ☎ . 24 hr. Casual cafe located inside a splurge hotel offering many desserts, snacks and good coffee. Rs 1,000-1,500.
- Koel Cafe, F-42/2, Block 4, Scheme # 5, Clifton, ☎ . A nice open air cafe with good Continental food and in a pleasant atmosphere. Rs 1,000-1,500.
- Latte Lounge, 47-C, Main khayaban-e-Sehr, Phase 6, Defence, ☎ . 11:00-23:00. Popular among youngsters, cafe offers continental food, many homemade baked goods, coffee as well as shisha in a nice pleasant atmosphere. Rs 500-800.
- Purple Haze, 66C-68C, 25th St Tauheed Commercial, Defence (In the basement of 'Evolution' restaurant), ☎ . 13:00-01:00. Serves some of the best desserts in Karachi and shisha as well. Karaoke nights are usually fun too. Rs 800-1,000.
There are hundreds of coffee shops clustered in this district especially in the Clifton and Defence areas. Few are mentioned here:
- Gloria Jeans Coffees, 122-A, Malik Heights, SMCHS, ☎ . 8AM-2AM. Australian based International coffee chain in the city offers more than 60 different varieties of coffees. Rs 500 -800.
- Espresso, ☎ . A chain of an excellent local coffee house in the country located throughout out the city.
- (The Forum)Ground Floor, The Forum, Clifton, ☎ . 8:30AM-1AM. Rs 500 -800.
- (Naheed Supermarket)Plot 157, City View, Shaheed-e-Millat Road, ☎ . 8:30AM-12PM. Rs 500 -800.
- (Khayaban-e-Shahbaz)7-C, Khayaban-e-Shahbaz, Commercial Area, Phase-6, Defence, ☎ . 8AM-2AM. Rs 500 -800.
- (Zamzama)Plot 10-C, 10th Commercial Lane, Phase V, Zamzama, ☎ . 08:00-14:00. Rs 500-800.
- Castro's Cigar Lounge, Carlton Hotel, DC-5, Opp. Zulfiqar St, Phase 8, Defence, ☎ .
- Cigar Bar, 6th Commercial Lane, Zamzama, Phase 5, D.H.A., ☎ .
- Club Havana, 10, Vawda House, 10th Commercial Lane, Zamzama, Phase 5, Defence, ☎ . 11:30AM-12:30AM. A unique, cozy and tranquil atmosphere cigar lounge in the city often play music in the background. Offering large collection of cigars. Rs 800-1,000.
- Agha Juice House, Near Jamia Masjid, Block No. 1, Nazimabad. Daily 11:30-02:45. The main branch of Karachi's popular juice bar, established in the 1960s, offering fresh juices made from all seasonal fruits.
Excelsior, Toby's bar, Purple haze, Basement, the Casbah. Karachi's night life has become the envy of the region. Bars, nightclubs and dance halls have sprouted across the city and some people have also made entertainment venues in their own homes.
- Karaoke nights & Live Bands at Purple haze, at Base Rock cafe (6th lane, Ittehad, DHA phase 6), at The Sports Bar (26th St, Towheed, DHA Phase 5), and at Thespianz Theater
- The Elbow room, (off II Chundrigar Rd).Concerts, movie nights, masquerade balls.
- PC hotel, Live band playing all types of music from 8:30PM-11PM. Live Ghazal band from 11PM-2AM
- Dumpukht, (Marriott Hotel). Live Indian traditional dancer every night except Monday from 8-11:30PM.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||Under Rs 5,000|
|Splurge||Over Rs 13,000|
Karachi has a glut of hotels. Prices range from Rs 1,500 to Rs 95,000 (USD15-1,000). As in any other destination, you get what you pay for! The majority of hotels of interest to visitors from outwith Pakistan are located in the Saddar where both the business district and the heavily touristed areas are.
There are hundreds of budget hotels and dormitories to sleep in, scattered throughout Saddar, most dotted around Dr Daud Pota Road, south of Empress Market. For USD30 per night you can get a very decent room, with private bathroom, cable TV and air conditioning. Please remember that the cheaper budget hotels often don’t have their own electric generators - a real problem in the oppressive heat of summer during one of Karachi’s many power cuts. Even within the same budget hotel there will often be a range of rooms with varying facilities and prices, but breakfast is not usually provided. Room amenities such as bed linen, soap and even toilet paper may only be provided on request. Budget hotels here are generally male dominated and solo women or couples may feel uncomfortable staying at them. Some places won't even accept women travelling without men at all and it is particularly important for women and couples to personally inspect accommodation first, to make sure it meets their needs.
- Young Women's Christian Association of Pakistan (YWCA), Opposite Tibet Centre, MA Jinnah Rd (Near Mama Parsi School), ☎ . A women-only budget lodging; males are not allowed inside rooms. Guests can stay for a maximum of 15 days. Hostel has common kitchen for self-caterers. Toilets and rooms are shared except for a few with private facilities. The gates of the hostel are closed at 22:00. Rs 200.
- Gulf Hotel, Dr Daud Pota Rd, ☎ . Pretty simple midrange hotel but very reasonable prices. Good executive rooms with air-con for a little extra charge. Rs 1,500-2,500.
- Serena Inn, E167, Block B, Gulshan-E-Jamal, Main Rashid Minhas Rd. One of a number of budget hotels in this district.
- Paradise Hotel, Abdullah Haroon Rd, ☎ . A tall building with rooms offering views of Saddar town but bad street noise. Overall a good option for the price. Rooms are larger than average and fairly comfortable. Rs 2,500-3,500.
- Bloom Luxury Hotel, Golf Club Rd, ☎ . A nice choice as compared to other budget hotels in the city in terms of quality. Some balcony rooms are also available. Ask at the reception. Rs 2,500-4,000.
- Sarawan Hotel, Raja Ghazanfar Ali Rd, ☎ . Good central location in Saddar town. Rooms are large and the whole is solidly reliable if lacking some charm and beauty but overall a decent choice, all in all. Rs 3,000-4,500.
- Royal Inn Guest House, 245-2-H, Block 6, P.E.C.H.S., ☎ . Free Wi-Fi, breakfast, TV, fridge, air-con. Different type of rooms and it is more likely a mid-range guest house.
Karachi’s mid-range hotels usually provide free breakfast and mostly have restaurants and room service. There are usually fewer issues for solo women when stay in mid-range hotels.
- Days Inn, Shahrah-e-Faisal (PAF Museum Road). Check-in: 12 noon, check-out: 12 noon. A three star hotel near PAF and Naval museum. $70-$90 (Rs.6,500-Rs.8,500).
- Embassy Hotel, Shahrah-e-Faisal, ☎ . Another mid-range hotel, with a 24-hour coffee shop and restaurant. $65 (Rs.6,000).
- Mehran Hotel, Shahrah-e-Faisal, ☎ , fax: +92 21 35677019. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 12 noon. A 8-floor hotel with 182 room four-star hotel offering hospitality between a mid-range and splurge hotel. Recently renovated, modern and clean rooms. Two restaurant, a few shops and a bank located inside the hotel. Rs.4,500-6,000.
- Airport Hotel, Star Gate Rd, Near Old Airport Rd, ☎ , fax: +92 21 34578401. A pretty good hotel which originally opened in 1955 under the name of “Speed Bird House” owned by Pakistan's national flag carrier airline PIA for its transit passengers and walk in guests. The hotel have some 244 air-conditioned rooms including some executive rooms. Facilities includes standby generators, cable TV in rooms, free WiFi, gym, sauna, jacuzzi, steam bath, swimming pool and free airport pickup/drop.
- Carlton Hotel, DC-5, off Zulfiqar Street # 1, Phase VIII, DHA (Next to Marina Creek Club), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Built and managed by an international chain, this hotel is a mid-range beach resort. Have two restaurants serving Chinese and Pakistani cuisine. Offers a luxury cruise out to sea with a buffet dinner for up to 35 people. There are two cafes also located inside the resort hotel. Currently closed for renovations for 2 months as of December 2013.
- Regine Inn, C-139/1 Block 2 Clifton, ☎ 92-21-3582 3441/2. Fully furnished A/C rooms with free Wifi internet. 4,500-11,000.
- Regent Plaza Hotel & Convention Centre., Shahrah-e-Faisal, ☎ , fax: +92 21 35631523. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 2PM. A hotel offering high end facilities (Airport transfer via Shuttle, Welcome Drink upon arrival, Fruit Basket upon arrival, In room safe, Local Morning Newspaper of your choice delivered in room, Buffet Break Fast, Health Club Facilities and Usage of Swimming Pool, WIFI connectivity in Room and through out hotel) along with generous-sized rooms at the bottom end of the price range. Have three floors, Standard, Executive and Deluxe. Suite Room at Executive floor. Suit rooms and Deluxe rooms have other than facilities mentioned above Tea/Coffee maker in room, Evening turn down service, large mineral water bottle, free Laundry Service, and Dry Fruit Platter and sweets/Chocolate Platter in room. Rs 7,000-10,000.
There are not many splurge hotels in Karachi but these, mostly located in the business district are amongst the very best to be found in all of Pakistan. Security tends to be very strict at splurge hotels - so expect metal detectors on entry. The hotels providing extensive service to guests and staffed around the clock. Breakfasts are free, along with complimentary airport transfers. All the hotels have fine dining restaurants which are often full of Karachi elites. The high-rise Sheraton and Avari Towers hotels are prominent landmarks on the Karachi skyline. All the hotels have gym, swimming pool, free laundry service to its guests, provide tea maker in the rooms, mini bar, LCD tea, Free Wifi, free shuttle airport drop/pickup. and are divided into Floors. rooms on upper floors are more attractive, executive and costly.
Special, lower rates are often available when booking in advance.
- Beach Luxury Hotel, Lalazar, MT Khan Rd (Adjacent to PNSC Building and Port Grand), ☎ +92 21 3561-1031, +92 21 111-254-111, fax: +92-21-3561-1625, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. A mid-range resort hotel set amongst lush tropical gardens and palm trees, offering unique views of China Creek and the Arabian Sea. This female-friendly hotel has 82 spacious bedrooms with free Wi-Fi located at some distance from the shopping area, but close to the business district. There are 4 good restaurants including the only floating buffet restaurant in Pakistan, "Seafront BBQ", and a 24/7 coffee shop available inside the hotel. Have standard, superior and deluxe rooms, and extra person will be charged Rs. 1,200/night. All guests provided with free buffet breakfast, airport pick/drop, swimming pool/gym, Free WifI, welcome drink, Deluxe and suites are on top floor and offer some fantastic views of the Arabian Sea Creek, Karachi Harbour and Mangroves, mini bar in room, tea maker, LCD TV, free laundry, assorted cookies, newspaper, and what not. Discount rate is given to corporate guests. Rs 8,000-27,500.
- Ramada Plaza Hotel, Star Avenue, Terminal 1, Airport Road (Close to airport), ☎ , fax: +92 21 99242978. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 12 noon. Swimming pool, free buffet breakfast, gym, free WiFi, restaurants, sauna, tennis courtyard, LCD TV in rooms. Overall excellent place to stay if you want to stay just outside the airport. Rs 20,000-32,000.
- Mövenpick Hotel (previously Sheraton Hotel And Towers), Club Rd, ☎ , fax: +92 21 3563-3209. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. An international managed five star hotel which is recently renovated and rebranded. There are 407 rooms inside the hotel including 21 suite, which are vary according to price, hotel offering some fashionably elegant rooms in the city. There are some five restaurants inside the hotel named "Al Bustan" and "The Pakistani" which offering Pakistani, a Italian trendy atmosphere "La Mamma" and "Kabab-Ji Restaurant" which offer Lebanese cuisine. There is one good 24 hours coffee lounge and a snacks restaurant also located inside the hotel. Swimming pool and fitness centre are available on the premises. Also a shopping arcade provides a variety of souvenirs. Rs 14,500-75,000.
- Pearl Continental, Club Rd, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. This five star hotel is the most sophisticated hotel in the city and provides international standard facilities with quality service. Hotel has total 258 rooms and 21 suites which includes some stylish rooms. Tennis and squash courts, swimming pool and a health club are located inside the hotel building. Among the restaurants inside the hotel are, rooftop "Chandni" for Pakistani, "Taipan" and "Marcopolo" for Chinese, a steak house "Jason Steak House" and "the Royal Elephant" for the sea food lovers, also a 24 hours nice coffee shop and a small shopping centre in the lobby. Overall a high standards hotel. This was the first-ever five-star Intercontinental Hotel in Pakistan, and has hosted Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela, and other world leaders and royalty. Its known for its classic luxury and an array of restaurants including Sakura serving authentic Japanese food on the hotel's top floor, which has views of downtown Karachi. Rs 14,000-85,000.
- Avari Towers, Club Rd, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This 20 story hotel is the tallest hotel in Pakistan. Hotel has 236 rooms in addition to suites and presidential suites. Complimentary mini bar. Hotel provides international standard facilities. Tennis courts, swimming pool, fitness centre with Jacuzzi, sauna etc. are located on the premises along with four restaurants offering specialist cuisine, named "Fujiyama" for Japanese, the Karachi famed restaurant "Dynasty" for Chinese cuisine, "Asia Live" for Pakistani and continental food and a Pakistani/Continental barbecue restaurant "Sky BBQ" located on the rooftop that gives the best views of the Karachi city. There is also a 24 hours casual dining place inside the hotel offering coffee with desserts and snacks. Rs 18,000-70,000.
- Marriott Hotel, Abdullah Haroon Rd, ☎ , fax: +92-21-3568-9510. A five star hotel situated opposite the historic building of Frere Hall and provides very tight security due to the close proximity of the Japanese consulate. Quality of the hotel is best, with elegant rooms and good service. Few good restaurants are located inside the hotel such as "Dumpukht" for Bar B Q, "Suzie Wong" for Chinese and a popular "Nadia Coffee Shop" for continental and Pakistani cuisine. Hotel offer business facilities along with Leisure Club which includes tennis and squash courts, swimming pool and a fitness centre complimentary. Rs 22,000-94,000).
Street crime in Karachi is about what you'd expect in a huge city. Use common sense and avoid dangerous areas. Generally, tourist are advised to avoid going into the Lyari town area and some suburbs of the city such as Orangi town, Malir, New Karachi, and North Karachi, because of recent violence and rising gun crime in the city. However, there should be no serious danger in the affluent parts of the city. Defence and Clifton in Karachi South district are regarded as safe at all times, as they are populated by the city's business and cultural elite. These districts offer the most "tourist-friendly" experience of Karachi, given that there will be no language barrier (most Pakistanis can speak some English, and many people in these districts will be completely fluent). Most visitors will find there is a large degree of cultural understanding and compatibility between the residents of Karachi and western tourists.
The people of Karachi are very hospitable. They tend to welcome any foreigner very warmly, but regardless of how nice someone seems you should remain aware and alert at all times.
Women are usually stared at, in certain parts of the city and so should bring along a male relative or friend, to be safe. Women should never ever take lifts from strangers and should be careful not to go out alone at night..
In general, in Karachi, if you are ever worried about your safety, make a loud scene. It is an extremely crowded city, and somebody is always around and willing to help. Keep your money and credit cards safe at all times. Always carry some cash as many places won't take cards. Do not display 5,000 rupee notes in public. Also beware of mobile, chain, or bag snatchers who operate in densely populated places.
Police can sometimes be almost as shady as criminals in Karachi. Some police officers may be corrupt and unhelpful, while others are very honest and helpful.
Karachi has mostly been spared the attacks that have happened in the rest of the country, but "mostly" is a relative term. You should always keep handy the emergency telephone contact numbers of your country's consulate in Karachi.
Traffic jams are a major hassle in Karachi. Although the city government has recently built dozens of underpasses and flyovers to get rid of the overflow of the traffic, it is a good idea to keep a look for any rallies/protests and check out alternate routes while travelling in the city. Because it is Pakistan's biggest city, it's the area most affected during strikes and you should do your best to keep a low profile during times of political unrest. Avoid any sort of large gatherings, even positive ones, as there's a good chance you'll become the centre of attention and you probably don't want that from a group of raucous chanters.
Try not to to drive in Karachi if you are new to the city since drivers are aggressive and undisciplined and traffic is chaotic. Pollution levels (like most other cities in the subcontinent) are high. It's not common to see local people with face masks on, but at the very least you should carry a handkerchief with you to cover your mouth and nose, especially during rickshaw rides.
Pedestrians should be careful while crossing roads as some drivers will neither slow down nor sound a horn to warn of an impending collision. This also applies when getting out of the car on the traffic side; look both ways until you are off the road and don't hesitate to run if you sense a car barrelling towards you. Minibus drivers are particularly notorious.
The area code for Karachi is 21. (International code +92 if calling from outside Pakistan). Karachi phone numbers are eight digits long. All mobile numbers, however, are 11 digits long and begin with "03", and should not be dialled with the city prefix. Omit the '0' when dialling a cell phone from outside Pakistan and prefix with the '92' international code.
Public Call Offices (PCO), can be found all over the city. You will find a PCO in nearly 50% of general or convenience stores; there is usually someone who operates the phone and fax. Rates are usually cheap and will be charged according to the time spent, and you will pay when you have finished your call.
Cybercafes, locally known as "Internet cafes" can be found on virtually every street corner and the rates at around Rs 50 per hr. They usually don't have a very fast operating system nor good internet speed so don't be too impatient. They usually use 14" monitors, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows XP are usually installed on these operating systems. Most of the cafes have a decent speed internet connection with good operating systems.
Internet Access, can be obtained easily on notebook computers with the help of GRPS enabled mobile connections, supported by almost all of the 5 mobile operators. Mobilink provides EDGE based connection in very limited areas of Karachi, however Telenor's coverage of EDGE is wider. The standard cost of GPRS/EDGE usage is Rs 15-Rs 20/MB data transfer, however if you wish to download much more you may want to use unlimited packages, provided by all of the 5 mobile operators. PTCL, Mobilink Infinity, World Call, Wateen, Qubee are WiMax internet providers and Wi-Tribe offers USB internet.
Wi-fi, There are several Wi-Fi Hotspots in Karachi in hotels, malls and cafes/resturants. If you are in a business district like Shahra-e-Faisal or I.I.Chundrigar Road, then most of the area will have free Wi-Fi.
Cell phone, coverage in the city is excellent. Cell phones were considered as a status symbol a few years ago but, since 2002, the telecommunications industry has experienced a bit of a boom. These days you can hardly find a single person in the city without a personal cell phone. There are various service providers offering a huge variety of plans. Among them are Mobilink, Warid Telecom, Telenor, Ufone & Zong (China Mobile). Its not a bad idea to buy a cell phone and use a prepaid plan to get yourself connected while you are in the city. The mobile phones and the prepaid plans are very cheap; you can usually get a new cheap cell phone just for Rs 2,000 and a prepaid connection for Rs 150-400.
- Aga Khan Hospital, Stadium Rd. This hospital is by far the best and biggest private hospital in the city, with world class medical care at an affordable cost. However, the free, government hospitals aren't up to par with what some visitors may be used to.
- Mohenjo-daro – A spectacular, fascinating and important archaeological site of ruins of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.
- Thatta – once a famous centre of learning, arts, and commerce, as well as a provisional capital for about four centuries. Here you can visit Makli - a UN World heritage site, Debal - where the first Mosque in South Asia was built in the 8th Century AD by Muhammad Bin Qasim, Jamia Masjid - built by Mughal emperor Shah Jehan who also built Taj Mahal, Haleji Lake - famous bird sanctuary
- Keenjhar Lake Resort (28 km (16 mi) from Thatta on the left side) the famous Keenjhar Lake has cottages for overnight stays. Here, travellers can take a break, go boating, bird-watching and fishing. At night you can light beachcombers' torches to extend your enjoyment of the day, before turning in at your cottage. The cottages are booked through the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) whose offices are located in Karachi on Stratchen Rd, opposite the Hotel Metropole.
- Kirthar National Park – an absolutely beautiful park
- Hungol National Park – the biggest national park in Pakistan, with volcanoes and remnants of Pakistan's ancient civilizations
|Routes through Karachi|
|Hyderabad ← Kotri ← Thatta ←||' '||→ END|
|Quetta ← Khuzdar ← Bela ←||' '||→ END|
|Hyderabad ←||' '||→ END|