Karachi, the noisy, bustling, ever-growing troubled metropolis of Pakistan, lies on the eastern coast of the Arabian Sea, just northwest of the Indus river delta. The largest city, and unarguably the most important, Karachi was the original capital of the nation. The sprawling huge metropolis has grown into the commercial, transport and political hub of the country, and operates the largest and busiest ports in the country. The growth rate of the city propels it forward onto the global stage and Karachi is on its way to becoming a massively influential player.
Karachi offers a remarkable variety of attractions and activities – from sunny, sandy beaches and scurf-infested old colonial buildings, still preserved and in some cases inhabited, to traditional bazaars and modern shopping malls. Upscale luxury hotels overlook modish restaurants with flavors from all over the nation and much of the world. These and so much more make the city a hotspot for both local and tourist activity.
The remarkable skyline is but one of the wonderful attractions of the city, and this grand South Asian city holds many surprises for anyone who decides to seek them out. Karachi is home to over 23 million inhabitants, from all over the country and even abroad, and is a vibrant melting pot of cultures and ideas. Visitors will be met with a new and exciting experience around each corner, and on every visit. The city is known as the "City of the Quaid", due to the fact that the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was born, raised and spent his last years here. Additionally due to its round-the-clock liveliness, Karachi is now more popularly and affectionately referred to as the "City of Lights".
The most diverse and cosmopolitan city of Pakistan, Karachi lives and breathes with a style of its own. The most advanced city of the nation, it often blazes forward as an example of the Pakistan to come, and because of its diverse makeup, is sometimes described as a mini-Pakistan, where you can find representatives of every Pakistani culture. Karachi is the third most populous city in the world, and the largest among the Muslim world. Due to this and its melting pot nature, the pace of life is faster and the social attitudes more liberal than elsewhere in the nation, and growth rate of the city makes it an evolving hub where people from different backgrounds meet and shape the future of both the city and Pakistan itself.
- "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, Commissioners of Sind (1843–1847)
Who are Muhajirs?
The term muhajir comes from an Arabic word meaning "migrant". In Pakistan, Muhajir is used mostly for those Urdu-speaking Muslim immigrants who, at the time of partition of British India between the nations of India and Pakistan in 1947, originally came from North India and settled mostly in Sindh, particularly Karachi. Most of these migrants chose to keep alive their original identity. Today, Muhajirs make up a large portion of the population of Karachi followed by Pathans, Punjabis and Sindhis.
Located in the south of Pakistan, Karachi is a multi-ethnic, multilingual, multicultural and multi-religious city and since the 1970s, capital of Sindh province. One of the world's most rapidly growing cities, Karachi is also Pakistan's wealthiest. Surprisingly, according to some sources, it is also amongst the world's least expensive cities to live in. Despite its troubled nature which gives it a bad reputation, it continues to be the nerve centre of the country's economy and financial powerhouse of Pakistan. The city is notable for its architecture, music scene, media links, financial and commercial output, social impact, and transport connections. Today it is ranked as a beta world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.
|Population Growth of Karachi|
Karachi, then and now
There was a time when Karachi was regarded as one of the most beautiful cities of the east and the life and environment of the city was more peaceful and orderly as compared to today. The city which once used to be peaceful, modern, liberal, and clean is now troubled, obsolete, conservative and dirty. There was a time when Karachi was seen as a progressive and prosperous city of international standards and a hub for foreign travellers to Pakistan. The city became the entertainment capital in its golden days and was the country's most liberal and secular place. It had more than five hundred cinemas, over three dozen bustling night clubs, and numerous bars and liquor shops scattered throughout the city. And although drugs were easily available and alcohol and gambling were legal, there was far less crime than today: the crime rate was very low and gun crime was non-existent. Surprisingly, women used to wear western clothes in an Islamic country, and even walking alone late at night was not uncommon. By the late 1960s, the tourism industry in the city was flourishing and it had become a hotspot for international tourists with many young western travellers and "Hippy" types venturing into the city. The public transport system was relatively good. A number of urban tramway systems, as well as a local train service, the "Karachi Circular Railway", used to operate throughout the city. The Karachi-Mumbai Ferry Service was also in operation, while the Karachi airport was served by many major airlines and was ranked among the busiest airports in the world at the time. There was no political, sectarian and ethnic violence at all. In brief, Karachi projected an image of an truly international city of the world.
As time passed, the image and environment of Karachi changed drastically and it became the very different city it is today.
The earliest history of the area where Karachi is today stands was known as "Krokola" and "Ramya" to the ancient Greeks. According to some sources, the Hindu deities Ram and Sita spent a night in the area now known as Arambagh on their way to the temple in Baluchistan's Hingol National Park. In the Ancient period of 327–325 BC, Alexander the Great used the city to camp and prepare a fleet for Babylonia after completing his campaign in the Indus Valley. 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.
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 and became a trading centre. The city was then called "Kolachi-jo-Goth" (translated as "The Village of Kolachi" in Sindhi language) 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, the city passed from the control of the Khan of Kalat to the Talpur rulers of Sindh. During the Talpur Period (1795–1839), the city was an integral part of the Talpur dynasty.
In the late 18th century, Karachi gained 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 Khaara-dar (Khaara Darwaaza) and Meetha-dar (Meetha Darwaaza) respectively.
The city was developed into an important port when it 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 3 Feb 1839 and gained control of the region. 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 became 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 and 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 the largest urban centre in present-day Pakistan and was connected to the rest of British India by rail link and Karachi was then enjoying an economic boom: the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 meant the city was 200 nautical miles closer to Europe for shipping than Bombay (now called Mumbai). The constant developments in the city resulted in a large influx of economic migrants. The population of the city was about 105,000 by the end of the 19th century, with a cosmopolitan mix of different nationalities. However, 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, rapid growth occurred in the city and it had became the focus for settlement by Muslim migrants from India, and hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from India sought refuge and the population has exploded from about 450,000 to an estimated 23.5 million today. Their settlement in Karachi gave the city its northern Indian atmosphere, as well expanded the city's population and transformed its demographics and economy. There were 50% Hindu population in the city before the partition in 1947 which later decreased to only 2% within 10 year period in 1951 whereas Muslim population exceeds to 95% in 1951 which was previously only 40% before the partition of sub-continenet.
Karachi was chosen as the capital of Pakistan from 1947–1958 and became a bustling metropolis, with beautiful classical and colonial European styled buildings lining the city’s thoroughfares. Over the next several decades it was one of the fastest growing cities in the world. In 1958, the capital was moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi and then later moved to the newly built Islamabad in 1960. A huge crowd of illegal refugees from around the world continued to flock into the city which made the city’s population continue to grow and exceed the capacity of its creaking infrastructure. During the 1960s, Pakistan was seen as an economic role model around the world and that was the golden age of Karachi. Many countries sought to emulate Pakistan's economic planning strategy; one of them, South Korea, copied the country's second "Five-Year Plan", and the World Financial Centre in Seoul is designed and modelled after Karachi.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the city saw an influx of illegal Afghan refugees from the Soviet war in Afghanistan moving into Karachi and as of 2010, the number of illegal aliens in Karachi was estimated to be between 1.6 and 2 million people along with thousands of nationals from many other countries who are living illegally in Karachi without proper documentation. Political tensions and ethnic violence between the Muhajir and local groups such as ethnic Sindhis and Punjabis erupted across the city and the city was racked 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 1980s, first by ethnic militia MQM and then by fundamentalists since 1995, and militancy has damaged the city enormously. Many Karachiities believe the violence and tension in their city as part of a conspiracy. However, 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.
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|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
Karachi has a relatively mild and an arid climate — albeit a moderate version of this climate — pretty much throughout the year because the city rests on the coast. Karachi has two main seasons; summer and winter, while spring and autumn are very short. The city enjoys a tropical climate encompassing warm and humid summers while the mild and dry winters; the proximity to the sea maintains humidity levels at a near-constant high and cool sea breezes relieve the heat of the summer months however summer season persists for longest period during the year. Due to the high temperatures during the summer (ranging from 30-44°C from April to October), the winter season that last from November to March, are the best times to visit Karachi. Most rainfall occurs during the rainy season of monsoon occurs in Summer from July to August, occasionally featuring lengthy spells of continuous rain. The highest ever recorded temperature in Karachi is 47.8°C while the lowest is 0°C.
The demographics of Karachi are important as most politics in Karachi is driven and influenced by ethnic affiliations. Karachi has been a traditional stronghold and birthplace of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, generally known as MQM. MQM is a secular political party mainly representing Muhajirs. Originally started as an ethnic-based student organisation under the name of All Pakistan Muhajir Student Organization (APMSO) in 1978 by Altaf Hussain in the city's well known university Karachi University where he was a student. Later it renamed Muhajir Qaumi Movement in 1984 and started working as a proper political party to represent the Muhajir community and to protect them who see themselves as the victims of discrimination and inequity. In 1997, MQM replaced the term "Muhajir" in its name with Muttahida (Urdu for "United") thus welcoming all ethnic groups of Pakistan into its folds.
MQM in the past and even today often accused for causing terrorism and creating widespread political violence in the city and various crackdown has been launched against the party officials amongst the major ones are Operation Clean-up from 1992 to 1994 during the government of Nawaz Sharif, which is regarded as the bloodiest period in Karachi's history. Since 1992, the leader of MQM left the country as a arrest warrant was issued for him and self-imposed exile in London. The party is often labelled as anti-Pakistan and fascist by critics.
Over the years, MQM keep switching forming alliances with ruling parties in federal government of Islamabad in order to remain in power and to establish provincial government in Sindh. Today, MQM is currently the fourth largest political party in Pakistan and holds the most number of seats from Karachi in terms of both provincial and federal level due to which it holds strong mobilizing potential in Karachi as well in some parts of Sindh, having traditionally been the dominant political force in the city. The party have a larger mandate in urban Sindh including Karachi in comparison to Pakistan's second largest party PPP, who to some extent, consider MQM a rival and whose centre of gravity always lies in Sindh as Sindh is considered home province to the party but the stronghold of the party has been significantly reduced in urban areas of Sindh after the emergence and continued popularity of MQM and now majority of PPP's support come from rural areas of Sindh only where it has maintained a large vote bank. PPP has always managed to succeed in gaining power in provincial government of Sindh while on the national front, has remained into power in the federal government for five times since its foundation in 1967 by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who remained the 4th President of Pakistan and later the 9th Prime Minister of Pakistan.
On the fringe of the Indian Ocean, the city is unarguably Pakistan's diverse melting pot, a mingling of old and new, east and west — a confluence of people from various parts of Pakistan as well from all over the world. With a regular influx of immigrants from rest of Pakistan, the residents who're called "Karachiites" have shown remarkable tolerance towards other cultures, making it a true cultural melting pot and therefore, everyday lifestyle of Karachi differs substantially from that of other cities 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. The city has a cosmopolitan population composed of many ethnolinguistic groups and hosts the largest middle class stratum of the country. 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. Large numbers of non-Muslims live in Karachi compared to other Pakistan cities.
The entrepreneurial spirit and pulsing pace of life is a sharp contrast to much of Pakistan. 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." It can be comparable to Asia's other largest city, Mumbai, with whom the city shares many similarities due to fact both having been British colonies in the past. Karachi was built in successive waves of migrations 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. The neighborhoods acquired their character from the communities that settled there first. These neighborhoods are too numerous to list and there is no commonly accepted way to group these neighborhoods into larger districts. But roughly, the city developed from the south to the north.
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. In-fact Karachi has also produced many renowned artists. Many of the nation's fresh musical acts can be found in cafes, restaurants and concerts across Karachi.
Jinnah International Airport, (IATA: KHI), is Pakistan's busiest and largest international and domestic airport. Between the 1960s and 1980s, Karachi was once a much busier airport and was an online station of several major airlines of the world however, after the emergence of Dubai's airport on the world map, increased usage of longer haul aircraft, and later the poor political climate of Karachi during the 1990s, several airlines discontinued their service to the airport. Currently, It is the hub for Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan's national carrier, which flies to numerous international destinations, and all the major cities in Pakistan as well has connections to many other hubs and major international cities.
The main Jinnah Terminal is divided into two concourses – the Jinnah East Satellite Concourse which is used for international flights and Jinnah West Satellite Concourse for domestic flights, each having a provision of passenger-loading bridges, which extends from airport terminal gate to an airplane, allowing passengers to board and disembark without going outside or transfer via shuttles. The two satellite concourses also supplement the departure lounges of the terminal building. The lower level of the terminal is for arriving passengers, where a dedicated lane of taxis is situated just outside the terminal building for arriving passengers whilst the upper level of the terminal is for passengers departing.
Facilities in the airport include food kiosks such as McDonald's and Butlers Chocolate Cafe. There are also a number of Bank kiosks, ATMs, Money Exchange counters, Wi-Fi, Free Internet kiosk (in Departures), mosques, coffee shops and many gift, a medical store, convenience stores, sweet shops, mobile recharging points, and snack counters. 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. Left-luggage facilities are also available within the terminal for those wishing to store baggage. Free trolleys and Dedicated Porter Services are available at Rs100 for domestic flight passengers and Rs 200 for international flight passengers. Assistance for the disabled is available on request from the airline prior to departure. Wheelchairs and wheelchair assistance can be found from desks in the arrival and departure areas of the terminal. Airport's CIP Lounge can be used for free by all first/business class passengers and credit card holders including their guests on all outbound flights while Barclays and UBL have separate lounges for their credit card customers. There is also PIA Business Class Lounge next to CIP Lounge. The facilities at Airport's CIP Lounge includes a comfortable sitting area to relax in, access to leading TV Channels, free wifi, a wide range of snacks and beverages for free, newspapers, magazines, shower, fax, telephone and mobile charging facilities. There is an on-site McDonalds restaurant outside the main terminal building as well.
Immigration and customs procedures are often a lengthy process at Karachi airport with Immigration always hectic with long lanes especially at the Pakistani passport counters, during peak hours which are usually at early morning time, 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 rules are bluntly ignored to fasten the immigration process and those lines are occupied by everyone indiscriminately – which makes for foreign travellers and business travellers a exhausting experience.
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.
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|Air Indus||Bahawalpur , Faisalabad , Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta|
|Etihad Airways||Abu Dhabi|
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|Saudia||Dammam, Jeddah, Medina, Riyadh|
|Shaheen Air||Faisalabad, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Muscat, Sharjah|
|Thai Airways International||Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Muscat|
Being the largest city of Pakistan, Karachi is the natural hub for the country's bus companies and is well served by inter city buses from destinations from all over the country. 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 most cheapest alternative to get into the city but will take some effort and time. Both the normal (non-airconditioned) and luxury buses (air-conditioned) runs in and out of the city but luxury Intercity buses tend to be more modern and well kept. They serve locations dotted all over the country. The most popular luxury buses are operator is Daewoo Sammi. Luxury buses are air-conditioned, punctual, spacey, have a road hostess to serve the passengers and usually a security guard on board as well. Cheap bus service to nearly all parts of the country are very frequent as well. All the buses now stop for lunch and snacks at prearranged restaurants.
There's no proper bus terminus in the city but most of the intercity buses are clustered at several bus stops, some of biggest ones are outside the Cantonment railway station, in Sohrab Goth on M-9, and in Saddar around Empress Market. These bus stops are not for the faint of heart, being extremely crowded, noisy and confusing with no proper platforms. Tickets can be purchased in the bus from the conductor or kiosk of bus operating companies.
A journey to Karachi from Hyderabad cost around Rs 200 in non air-conditioned and Rs 250 in air-conditioned bus as well on Hiace van whereas from Sukkur Rs 500 on non air-conditioned and Rs 700 in air-conditioned bus and van. If you may want to travel with Daewoo air-conditioned bus, the one-way fare from Sukkur is Rs 1,500 and the buses runs throughout the day at one-hour intervals and the ride takes seven hours.
Getting into the city by train is a cheap and convenient alternative as the is well connected with the rest of the country by state owned Pakistan Railways. The city is served by two major railway stations namely The Karachi Cantonment Railway Station and Karachi City Station where trains arrive from all over Pakistan.
Cantonment railway station (Cantt. station) is the principal railway station of Karachi. It is actually the final destination station of virtually all trains travelling into Sindh and has railway connections with almost all the major Pakistani cities and towns. Most of the trains travelling from Karachi originate from Cantt. station, although all trains starting from City railway station also stop briefly at Cantt. station soon after. Located near Dr Daud Pota Rd in Saddar, the station building has been declared as ‘Protected Heritage’ by the Government of Sindh which makes it an attraction in itself. The railway station has all the facilities expected of a large station: a large car parking lot, ATM machines, food and drink stalls and book shop kiosks on the platforms. Some food chains like Student Biryani, Rehmat-e-Shereen and Pizza Hut have their branches at platform no. 1. Tickets can be purchased from Pakistan Railways booking offices located across the city including Level 1 of the Jinnah International Airport and railway station itself.
City railway station is regarded as the oldest railway station of Pakistan. It is situated near Habib Bank Plaza on congested I. I. Chundrigar Rd, where the financial district of the city is.
Trains are in abundance for Karachi so you should have no difficulty to find one that suits you best. If you're travelling from northern Punjab with both speed and comfort as a priority, both the Pakistan Business Express and the Karakoram Express are good choices. They run daily non-stop between Lahore and Karachi and are faster than other trains, taking less than 20 hours travel time, because they make only few stops, whereas other trains make stops at every major station along the route and are usually delayed as well. Pakistan Business Express is a privately run business-class train and has LCD TV in its cabins and provides free high tea, dinner, breakfast and beverages throughout the journey. Tickets can be reserved online and can be collected via a home delivery option where you can pay for the ticket via cash on delivery. The Karakoram Express has both economy and air-con class accommodation. A ticket (berth) on Karakoram Express and Pakistan Business Express from Lahore to Karachi in air-conditioned class will cost not more than Rs5,000.
Other than that, plenty of trains (both economy and air-conditioned class) run from Lahore as well other major big cities such as Peshawar, Faisalabad Multan, Qetta, and Rawalpindi on a daily basis as well but they're slow as they make stops at every major railway station along the way. Tezgam or Shalimar Express are best preferred for travellers from Punjab; Khyber Mail for travellers from the north-western city of Peshawar while the Bolan Mail is recommended for journeys between Karachi and western city of Quetta.
Internationally, India is connected with Karachi by rail, using the Thar Express, which runs weekly between Bhagat Ki Kothi near Jodhpur in Indian state of Rajasthan and Karachi. Thar Express is a weekly train run every Friday. The border crossing takes place between Zero Point (Khokhrapar) in Pakistan and Munabao in India which are the two last railway stations of the India-Pakistan border and this is the point where passengers had to change trains. The train have only economy class and leave Karachi every Friday at midnight.
Karachi is well connected with the rest of Pakistan via network of multiple-lane highways and can be reached easily by driving your own car. There are two major highways approaches to Karachi: M-9 and N-25. Motorway M-9 commonly known as Super Highway, is a 136 km long motorway — rather a highway in reality — travel between Hyderabad and Karachi and is a common way of entry into Karachi. National Highways # 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 however upon reaching Hyderabad, majority of travellers take M-9 as that highway shorten the distance between the two cities.
National Highway # N-25 (RCD Highway) 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. If coming from Gwadar, take National Highway # N-10 (The Makran Coastal Highway) which later merge with N-25 for Karachi. It is a scenic highway as it follows the Arabian Sea coast.
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.
Walking is not only the most environmentally friendly way to see a place, 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. City is big and distances are long which makes places of interest scattered far and wide all over the city but sometimes, walking in the city may actually be the fastest way to get from point A to point B particularly in the densely packed downtown areas of the city and the narrow streets of the city where walking is actually a favoured way to get around. 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. Crossing the road can be very dangerous too and it is important to stay alert for erratic driving.
In particular, 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 a chaotic tumble of goods, people, and vehicles and can be navigated quickly on foot and are worth taking some time to wander around.
Rickshaws are a popular method of travelling in Karachi, they're cheap, flexible and are everywhere in the city at any time of day. If you need to travel shorter distances, go by rickshaw. They're small three-wheeled vehicle powered by a two-stroke or four-stroke engine, 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 is an operator of rickshaws which are newest addition to Karachi streets. They've introduced a trend of modern rickshaws. their rickshaws 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/ km and charge a minimum of Rs 100 per trip. These rickshaws provide door-to-door service, and cannot be hailed without pre-booking through either phone or online.
Karachi is dominated by jingle minibuses which 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, 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. Women have reserved a separate sitting area in the front of the buses near driver. Apart from the main bus stops, buses are usually 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 conductor or a friendly looking passenger and they will take care of you. Buses will stop anywhere along the route for you and all have conductors, ask either the conductor of tap on the bus door to signal that you wish to stop.
There are plenty of black and white taxis in Karachi. They are convenient, comfortable, and safer than auto rickshaws but cheap by Western standards. 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 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 non-existent, 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. 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. According to some reports, the city possesses over 600 protected buildings dating largely to the British period. Few of fine examples colonial buildings still remain today but unfortunately not well preserved and most of them deteriorated over time due to lack of heritage preservation. On the other hand, Karachi is currently undergoing a construction boom and hold a number of buildings whose height exceeds 100 metres.
- I. I. Chundrigar Rd. This wide and long yet congested street is the largest financial district of Karachi and is the centre of Karachi's banking and financial institutions, often termed as the "Wall Street of Pakistan" and is widely known as main business street of Karachi as most of the headquarters of Pakistan's financial institutions are located here. The road starts from the Merewether Memorial Tower up to Shaheen complex and preserves some of the finest private architecture from Karachi's early period. Merewether Clock Tower is 35 m high tower and carries a clock with four faces. It was constructed in 1892 in the memory of 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 coloured Gizri stone and shows a heightened sensitivity to detailing and emphasis on carving and decoration. The head office of Habib Bank Limited was the tallest building in South Asia for more than a decade until the 156 m tall World Trade Centre building were built in Mumbai in 1970. This 101 m high rise building with 23 floors was built in 1963, has marvellous architecture and is one of the most recognizable landmarks of the city. Other famous monuments to be seen are Former Lloyds Bank building, Karachi Stock Exchange and many banks that are also excellent examples of colonial architecture in the city.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Rd (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.
- 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.
- Chaukhandi Tombs (چوکنڈی), Bin Qasim Town (on National Highway N-5). located on the outskirts of the main city though in a huge populated area. Built during the Mughal rule in between 15th to 18th century form an early Islamic cemetery, the tombs are scattered on a large area and is the only archaeological ruins site in Karachi. The tombs are remarkable for the elaborate and exquisite stone carving, a style unique to the region of Sindh, exquisitely carved in relief with intricate motifs. The site is currently listed as tentative site of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each tomb is unique in it design and motifs with the most impresive tomb are the Peramidal structures. Tombs of men are carved with horses and weapons while women with jewelry. Rich carved sandstone depicting the relation of the local tribes with the neighboring Iran, central Asia and Turkey.
- Quaid-e-Azam's Mausoleum and Museum (Mazar-e-Quaid) (مزار قائد), MA Jinnah Rd, Jamshed Quarters. The final resting place and magnificent mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (known as Quaid-e-Azam or "Great Leader"), is a prominent impressive landmark of Karachi made entirely of white marble with impressive north African arches. 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.
- Abdullah Shah Ghazi Mausoleum (مزار عبد الله شاه غازى), Shahrah-e-Firdousi, Clifton. It is 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.
- Jehangir Kothari Parade. now a beautiful monument used to be a promenade, built in 1919 by prominent philanthropists and businessmen of that time, provide spectacular view of giant Bin Qasim park.
- Swami Narayan Mandir, M.A Jinnah Rd (Opposite KMC). The most popular and busy Hindu temple in Karachi is belongs to the Nar Narayan Dev Gadi of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, a Hindu sect established by Swaminarayan. This large temple with a worth watching facade was built in 1849 and is worth a visit.
- 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.
- 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). 08:00-22:00. 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 Rd (near PNS Karsaz). 08:00-22:00. 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). Currently closed. 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.
- State Bank Museum, I.I. Chundrigar Rd,. M-F 09:00-17:00. Focuses on money, coinage and economic. This is the only currency museum of Pakistan that displays the financial history of the nation dating back to when Pakistan was part of the British Raj. The exhibition hall comprise of seven Galleries. Free.
Beaches and waterfronts
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.
- Port Grand, Near Jinnah Fly Over – M.T. Khan Rd (Near Beach Luxury Hotel), ☎ , e-mail: , email@example.com. 12:00-01:00. Along side Karachi Harbour, this is ann extensive and very pedestrian friendly food strip with scores of restaurants, cafes and eateries 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.
- 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 Beach, Manora Island. On the southwestern outskirts of Karachi is a long sandy beach along the southern edge of a small peninsula "Manora Island" which consists of an exotic location with natural landscapes such as the beach and the mangrove forest can be a good picnic spot. Island has the remains of a 19th-century old Hindu temple "Shive Varon Dev Mandir" just near to beach. Swimming is not recommended due to strong currents and polluted sea water. A few small food stalls on the beach mostly sells fish. The beach is connected to the mainland Karachi by a 12 kilometre long causeway "Manora Drive".
- Clifton Beach (Sea View), Defence. 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 and most popular such as 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.
- 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.
- 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 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, and a mosque. A food court and shops are also inside the park.
- Hill Park, PECHS. built on a hilltop offers birds eye view of Karachi and is a popular picnic spot where you could spend some good time to relax and enjoy the park's calm and peaceful atmosphere. On Saturday and Sunday evenings the hill park swarmed with families and become a crowded spot. 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.
Karachi offers a wide scope of activities; however, don't expect too much even though it's one of the world's biggest cities. Due to being on the shoreline, Karachi offers plenty of opportunities for water babies.
- Hutting - there are hundred of beach huts on the outskirts of the city, not found elsewhere in the country, built on the shoreline of the Arabian Sea. You can rent a hut on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. When summer comes to Karachi, more beach huts spring up and every day large numbers of people from Karachi rent huts to enjoy picnic, swimming, and sunbathing. The huts are built on various small beaches located 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 a day. Prices can be negotiable though, so don't hesitate to haggle. Even huts with low charges are equipped with some basic furniture such as chairs and a bed together with a stove. Lifeguards and security are usually available as well in case of emergency. Bring your own food and drink. The beach with the most huts is Hawke's Bay beach., which is most 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. 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 fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving as well as surfing during the monsoon season. Visitors have to bring their own equipment for diving and fishing though. 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. You'll need to book the hut in advance.
- Boating You can hire a boat for a 15–20min ride at Kiamari boating harbour, which will take you to Manora Island (though not really an island) or tour you around the Karachi harbor. 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. 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 harbour 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 can 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. One of the best ways to see Karachi coastline is from the waters of Karachi. Boats in Kiamari may offer marvellous tour and views of the Karachi beach and Port of Karachi of varying durations and prices.
- Snorkelling and scuba diving Snorkelling and diving is getting popular in Karachi. 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 would 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. Karachi Scuba Diving Centre 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 as well Divers Reef Karachi along with knee-boarding, banana tubing and cliff diving. For those looking for some thrilling experience, take a thrilling and exciting ride on Jet Ski in city's seashore. The riding time is from dawn in the morning until afternoon. Ride usually cost around Rs 3,000 for two persons.
- Water parks There are some water parks in Karachi located in the suburbs of the city. They usually charge around Rs 500 entrance ticket and open from early in the morning until 6PM. Among the good ones are The Great Fiesta Water Park. located on M-9, 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 and Cosy Water Park. on N-5 which is recommended for ladies because it is one of the water parks in Karachi that offers private ladies slides in a wide range. Other includes Al Mehran Water Park and Dreams-world Resorts.
- 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.
- Cinemas. 10:00-02:00. Karachi loves going to movies, and Karachihites flocks to cinemas every day. Nueplex Cinemas in The Place, Khayaban e Shaheen, is a recently opened magnificent and country's biggest movie theatre. This is Pakistan's most notable cinema, offers a high quality experience with a good 3D system and has huge screens in an attractive 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. Other major players includes Cinepax in Clifton, Cineplex at Seaview and Atrium Mall in Saddar, close to Zainab Market. These cinemas show mainstream releases of Bollywood, Hollywood and Pakistani. Rs.500-1,000.
- Arena, FEC-01, Habib Ibrahim Rehmatullah Rd, Main Karsaz (Near Maritime Museum), ☎ +92 21 9924 5251/54, e-mail: , 9924 firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 13:00-23:30, F,Sa 13:00-00:30, Su 12:00-23:30. 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.
- 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.
- 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. Also, houses Karachi's largest adventure park Go-Aish which offers different adventure activities such as rope course, Paintball, Wall climbing, ATV track, Big swing and Flying fox.
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.
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 hosts plenty of cultural events on regular basis, from art exhibitions to concerts, theatre plays and local newspapers often have listings of forthcoming culture event in the city. The city 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.
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. Whether it is simple trinkets, a nice handicraft or high fashion boutiques that turn you on, Karachi is a shopper's paradise and anything can be found in Karachi if you just ask. A huge range of very affordable products are offered to the point where shopping can overwhelm a visit if you allow it to! Western-style malls and shopping emporiums are popping up across the city but don't expect a traditional or uniquely Pakistani shopping experience in the malls. The city has many modern, high-end shopping malls such as Park Towers, The Forum and Dolmen Mall, in addition to local traditional 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 and 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 found Karachi to be the cheapest city in the world for expatriates.
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. On the whole, shopping in Karachi is an interesting, exhilarating but often tiring experience.
Places to shop
- Saddar. is the largest shopping district of the city and home to Pakistan's big jewellery market, electronics market, mostly consumer electronics as well everything from A to Z. You can find cheap and high quality products here. It consists of number of interconnecting by-lanes with street vendors hawking a wide variety of items from antiques to shoes to car accessories etc. The place can be quite a surprise for the number and type of items on sale. 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. Shop with a keen eye – look out for fakes or second hand items that are shoddily repaired and can be passed out for a quick buck. Don’t carry too many items like money / jewellery / watches on you when visit this huge shopping area. Keep it to bare essentials and keep an eye on your belongings. There is a very good chance that you may get robbed since locals are apt at spotting first time shoppers. Beware of the auctioneering shops in Saddar which are illegal and fake. Those fake auctioneers hire a group of people who apparently take part in the bidding but their purpose is to trap other people.
- Co-operative 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.
- Rainbow Centre. 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 Rs 50.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tariq Rd. Houses more than one thousand shops, from jewellery, garments, cosmetics, food, computers to shoes and is among the city's largest shopping district. It is one of the best shopping places of Karachi. In fact, it is the most famous and number one shopping centre, people from almost all areas of Karachi come and do shopping here. It is also home to several malls with Dolmen Mall more popular. Tariq Rd is most famous for its high-quality garments and thriving market for the footwear business, with hundreds of shoe-stores lining the road. This street is famous for different traditional food item including traditional Samosa, Katchori and especially the mixed fruit chat.
- Zamzama Boulevard. This is the place where the rich, famous and affluent like to hangout for up-market designer boutiques, clubs and restaurants. 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, and here are the some of the city's most expensive and trendiest boutiques and designers. 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.
- Gulf Shopping Center, 3 Talwar, Clifton. many traditional vendors and more up-market boutiques and designer shoes yet in affordable prices.
- Defence Sunday Bazaar. Similar to a flea market, open only on Sundays all over the city but the one worth to visit is in Defence. It is a new generation of modern open bazaar, which is very well organised which makes it a huge tourist attraction as well and quite popular among city's expatriates community 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.
Karachi is rapidly becoming a 'mall crazy' city with a variety of large and luxury shopping malls. There're plenty of big and small shopping malls in the city. 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.
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 cuisine of Karachi is strongly influenced by the city's Muhajir population, who have traditionally been based in Karachi, hence the city being known for Muhajir tastes in its cuisine, however cuisines varies from one neighborhood to another, given the diverse nature of ethnic origins that exist in this giant metropolitan. Biryani is arguably the most popular food among Karachiites, with numerous variants. The beauty of the food in Karachi is that you will probably find a cuisine for every taste. Whereas 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. Few upper-end restaurants are located in major splurge hotels in the city (the Sheraton, the Pearl Continental, Mövenpick Hotel and Avari Towers). It is a huge task for a visitor to find the "right place" to eat in Karachi largely because, as in any big city, there are literally thousands of venues from which to choose, ranging from fast food joints, mainstream chains all the way up to some of the most exclusive restaurants in the subcontinent which attract the kind of clientele that don't need to ask the price. On the other hand, one can easily find a franchise of an international fast food outlets such as KFC ☎ +92 21 111 532532, McDonalds ☎ +92 21 111 244622, Subway ☎ +92 21 586-8907, Papa Johns ☎ +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.
There are thousands of restaurants scattered throughout the city with Defence and Clifton is chock-full of fine dining, trendiest and happiest 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. But city have scores of food streets as well that is devoted specifically to eating out. They are lined with food stalls, restaurants, and other food shops, and are typically pedestrianised. They has become a social norm, with people using them as both formal and informal meeting areas. These places can be visited even during the day but are best visited in the evening. To name a few most popular food districts,
- Boat Basin. is a mile-long gastronomic delight strip of open-air street food/restaurants. 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 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 per person will be more than sufficient.If you're not the experimenting type then there's always the International fast food options as well.
- Burns Road (Saddar). 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. 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 throughout this street. Restaurants accept only cash here.
- Do Darya. Price wise you can easily have food dessert and a glass of Lassi for less than Rs 300. Adjacent but far away from the Sea View beach is a giant food street Do Darya which is along the scenic sea front of Arabian See, fastly becoming a very well known dining spot in city. This is the only food street of its 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. 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.
- Hot N Spicy, Khada Market, Phase 5, Defence, ☎ . It is mainly famous for its delicious and best "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, Chatni, Ketchup, and Garlic Mayo also. One average Paratha Roll with out any fillings will cost you around Rs 100. The more fillings you add the more price increases this can go up to around Rs 120 per roll. Other than the Paratha Rolls, serve some great Sandwiches and Burgers. Recently introduced crispy chicken filling rolls. Have outlets all over the city.
- Student Biryani, ☎ . A popular and one of the oldest Pakistani food chain that is best known for selling its famous biryani dish, a variant of India's Bombay Biryani. It is a very much renowned Biryani center in Pakistan and has the most excellent biryani for biryani lovers. Having branches throughout the city with the flagship in Saddar. Home delivery is also possible. A regular chicken biryani plate, salad, raita with a cold drink will cost not more than Rs 250. Must try special zarda as well.
- 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.
- Lal Qila, Shahrah-e-Faisal, ☎ . A theme restaurant 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. Very busy on weekends. Buffer style dinner cost per person around Rs 1,300 whereas lunch Rs 750.
- Salt n Pepper Village, Beach Avenue, Defence, ☎ . On the edge of sea coast of Arabian see, offers a scenic view of the beach. This is theme restaurant depicts the village architecture of Pakistan and is popular for its authentic Pakistani food with often live music. Buffet style dinner cost per head is Rs 1,300 whereas lunch Rs 900.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bundu Khan. One of the oldest restaurants in Karachi. Serve authentic Pakistani food and delicious Bar B Q dishes.
- 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 Patioh, ☎ . 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.
- Fujiyama (Avari Towers), ☎ . 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. 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 Rd, ☎ . 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+
When it comes to alcohol, Karachi is more lax and getting alcohol is much more easily and less harassing than rest of the Pakistan but still drinking alcohol in public areas including restaurants is banned and strongly discouraged and only legal wine shops allowed to sell alcohol. The signage of wine shops are usually marked with blue and red colour stripes (which depicts they're legalised), have no area to sit and drink, mostly sell locally produced brand such as Murree Brewery and are usually closed on Fridays. And even though, Karachi have the largest number of wine shops but still finding one can be hassle for a newcomer since most of the taxi and rickshaw drivers simply deny knowing of the shop whereabouts as alcohol is considered taboo in the society.
On the other hand, cafés culture is on the rise in the city and they're numerous excellent places to sit and spend evenings. Coffee shops, cigar lounges, juice and ice cream parlours are all in plentiful and scattered throughout the city, mostly in Defence and Clifton areas. 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 but are very private), there are some fantastic restaurants that offer musical and theatrical performances on a daily basis.
- Espresso, Dolmen City Mall, Clifton (Marine Promenade), ☎ , toll-free: . 8:30AM-12AM. The bigger branch of a local coffee chain house, Espresso is very popular among young generation serve all type of hot and cold coffee, shakes, juices as well light snacks. Free WIFI. Have four more branches in the city. Rs.500-800.
- Agha Juice House, Near Jamia Masjid, Block No. 1, Nazimabad. Daily 11:30-02:45. A chain of juice house serving some fresh fruit juices from all seasonal fruits and some good shakes. Have more three outlets: Opp Amber Auditorium Bahadurabad, Main Rashid Minhas Road, Gushan Iqbal and Khadda Market Defence.
Apart from many good restaurants in town, there are also plenty of cafes cum restaurants with a nice ambience:
- 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 Rd, ☎ . 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.
If you have the inclination to smoke, check out one of Karachi's cigar lounges. They stock quality international brands including authentic Cuban cigars. 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.
For Sheesha lovers, "Indulge," a chain of cigar lounges, have branches in Park Tower, Millennium Mall, Rashid Minhas Road, and Gulshan-e-Iqbal.
- 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.
Nightlife is exists in Karachi and 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 but it's not easy to find. There are no open 'night clubs' in the city – however periodic special events are organised in various venues about once every two months – spread by word-of-mouth.
- PC hotel, Live band playing all types of music followed by ghazals 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.
- 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.
- Rehaish Plus, 6-E Block-6, PECHS, Nursery, Main Shahran-e-Fasial, ☎ +92 21 3439 6841/6842. Recently opened guest house with security guards. Have spacious room, have Wifi and TV in rooms. Some rooms have air-conditioned and guest house offer laundry and break fast facility for guest. Rs 2,500-Rs 3,500.
- 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.
- New City Lodge, Banglow 70, Block 7/8, Jinnah Housing Society, Ahmed Shah Rd, ☎ +92-21-3432 5361/5362. Guarded by security personals. Room service and complimentary breakfast. Have spacious room, have Wifi in rooms and TV in every rooms. Rooms have air-conditioned. Have single, double and triple rooms. Rs 3,000-Rs 3,500.
- Luxury Inn, 245-1-B, Block 6, P.E.C.H.S., ☎ . Room service and complimentary breakfast. Have spacious room, have Wifi in rooms and TV in every rooms. Rooms have air-conditioned. Have single, double and triple rooms. Hotel have gym and in house restaurant to serve staying guest. Guarded by security personals. Rs 3,000-Rs 4,000.
- Seaview Guest House, 99/2, 29th Street, Khayaban-e-Bukhari, Phase 6, DHA, ☎ . , , Near Karachi beach in a safer and posh neighbourhood of Karachi. Room service and complimentary breakfast. Have Wifi in rooms and TV in every rooms. Rooms have air-conditioned. Rs 3,500.
- 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.
- Grace Inn Guest House, C - 23, Block - B, Gulshan-e-Jamal,, ☎ 92 346 232 3323. A nice guest house equipped with all basic facilities such as restaurant, room service. Have both single and double rooms. All air-conditioned, equipped with TV and wireless internet. Rs 3,000 - Rs 4,000.
- 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.
- Beach Luxury Hotel, Lalazar, MT Khan Rd (Adjacent to PNSC Building and Port Grand), ☎ , , 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.
- La-Anthurium, C-16, Clifton Block 4,, ☎ +92 21 35879844 / 35879845, e-mail: email@example.com. This recently opened is an elegant boutique hotel run by a hotel chain. Have some 14 rooms including suites and a cafe located in a residential area. Free Wifi, and complimentary breakfast. The hotel is much like a guest house. Very clean, cosy and trendy. Rs. 6,500.
There are not many splurge hotels in Karachi as they're in a mega city like Karachi but the ones in city 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 high-rise Sheraton and Avari Towers hotels are prominent landmarks on the Karachi skyline. All the hotels provide complimentary buffet breakfast, 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 all the other services a full-service hotel have. The hotels provide broad range of facilities and extensive service to guests and generally staffed around the clock and usually divided into floors and rooms on upper floors are more attractive, executive and costly. The hotel include a front desk and room service available 24 hours a day, an on-site restaurants with upscale cuisine.
Special, lower rates are often available when booking in advance.
- Ramada Plaza Hotel, Star Avenue, Terminal 1, Airport Rd (Close to airport), ☎ , fax: +92 21 99242978. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 12 noon. Owned by international hotel chain (Ramada) Wyndham Worldwide. This is considered as airport hotel because of its very close proximity to 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 re-branded. There are 407 rooms inside the hotel including 21 suites, which vary according to price, hotel offers some fashionably elegant rooms in the city. There are five restaurants inside the hotel named "Al Bustan" and "The Pakistani" which offer Pakistani cuisine, an Italian trendy atmosphere "La Mamma" and "Kabab-Ji Restaurant" 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 20,000-125,000.
- Pearl Continental, Club Rd, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 18,000-95,000.
- Avari Towers, Club Rd, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 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).
Since the late 2000s, Karachi has seen many bombings and attacks as well as political and ethnic tensions, since the city has a conspicuous history of problems with terrorism, violent demonstrations, street crime, kidnappings and other negative effects of Islamic fundamentalism, and has become one of the most crime-infested and troubled cities of the region. Several countries started to order their citizens to register with their consulate to receive contact details during extreme situations. Check with your consulate before you travel, if you are required to register, too.
Street crime in Karachi is about what you'd expect in a huge city. Use common sense and avoid dangerous areas such as slums and suburbs with bad reputation such as Lyari, Orangi town, Malir, New Karachi, and North Karachi where gun crime is getting common, however, there should be no serious danger in the affluent parts of the city. Defence and Clifton are regarded as the safest neighbourhoods of Karachi and will 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, so they 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. Surprisingly, its fine to offer bribes to a police officer in case you violated a traffic rule but possession of firearm, drugs can lead you into trouble.
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 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. Public Call Offices (PCO), can be found all over the city although they're not so popular nowadays as they once used to be because of vast use of mobile phones now but still you can find a PCO in general or convenience stores; there is usually someone who operates the phone and fax unlike coin operated telephone booths. Rates are usually cheap and will be charged according to the time spent, and you will pay when you have finished your call. Often it is difficult to find one that is open early in the morning or late at night.Cell phone, coverage in the city is excellent.
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. Do note that they have probably not kept pace with advances in hardware or software, so if you find yourself in one of them, don't be surprised if you are stuck with a really small monitor, Windows XP, and Internet Explorer 5.0. Also data security could be an issue. As a caution, change your password after you use it at a cybercafe or do private/incognito browsing. Most of the cafes in downtown area 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, Finding Wi-Fi in Karachi is very difficult. However there are several Wi-Fi Hotspots in hotels, malls and cafes/restaurants. If you are in a business district like Shahra-e-Faisal or I.I.Chundrigar Rd, then most of the area will have Wi-Fi.
- 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 — Here you can visit Makli – a UN World heritage site, and Jamia Masjid – built by Mughal emperor Shah Jehan who also built Taj Mahal
- Kirthar National Park – a beautiful rugged vast-land with good variety of wildlife