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)
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 Pakistan's wealthiest and 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. 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.
Karachi: from city of lights to city of nightmares
Once regarded as one of the most beautiful cities of the east where the setting was used to be peaceful, orderly, fashionable, tolerant, and clean is now troubled, obsolete, orthodox and dirty. Right after the independence of Pakistan, Karachi was seen as a progressive and prosperous city of international standards and become a hub for foreign travellers to Pakistan. The city became the entertainment capital in its golden days where it hosted hundreds of cinemas, dozens of bustling night clubs, and numerous bars and liquor shops throughout the city. And while 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. 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 being served by many major airlines of the world and thus it was ranked among the busiest airports in the world. In short, in the abbsense of political, sectarian and ethnic violence, Karachi projected an image of an truly international city of the world but as time passed by, the image of city changed drastically and it became the very another city what it is today.
In 18th century, an old Sindhi Balochi fisher-woman, Mai Kolachi, took up residence in the area, to what is today known as Karachi, to start a family. By then, the area established as a small fishing community and started to known as "Kolachi-jo-Goth" ("The Village of Kolachi"). As the town started to trade with Persian Gulf region across Arabian Sea, it gained importance and thus a small mud-fort was constructed for its protection which had two main gates: Khaara-dar (Salty Gate) facing the sea as the taste of underground water near to the Arabian Sea was salty and the Meetha-dar (Sweet Gate), facing the adjoining Lyari river of which people found drinking water of natural taste. The location of these gates corresponds to the present-day localities of Khaara-dar and Meetha-dar 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 Sindh, conquered the region in 1839 and gained control of Karachi as well. During the early Company Rule, the population of the city was merely 15,000. Later in 1843, the city became part of British India and later in late 1840s it was made the capital of Sindh. 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. Massive infrastructure development was undertaken which followed by 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 railway link. By then, Karachi was then enjoying an economic boom and 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. 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. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from India sought refugee in the city and the population exploded from about 450,000 to an estimated 23.5 million today. Refugees settlement in Karachi gave the city a 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 the sub-continent.
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. It is being said that 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 which in 2010, 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.
|Daily highs (°C)||25.6||26.4||28.8||30.6||32.3||33.3||32.2||30.8||30.7||31.6||30.5||27.3|
|Nightly lows (°C)||14.1||15.9||20.3||23.7||26.1||27.9||27.4||26.2||25.3||23.5||20.0||15.7|
Check Karachi's weather forecast at BBC Weather
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 was traditionally a stronghold of Jamaat e Islami through the late 1970s. In the 1980s a new political party called MQM rose to dominate the politics of the city. Considered a secular political party, it was originally started as an ethnic-based student organisation in 1978 in the city's well known Karachi University to represent the Muhajir community and to protect them from what they see as discrimination and inequity. It later started working as a proper political party.
Accused for causing militancy and creating widespread political violence in the city, the party is often labelled as anti-Pakistan and fascist by critics and remains the fourth largest political party in the country, but the one which holds the most number of seats from Karachi and is the dominant political force in the city.
Who are the Muhajirs?
Muhajir is a term comes from an Arabic word meaning "migrant". The term is used in Pakistan to describe the Muslim immigrants who at the time of the partition of British India between the nations of India and Pakistan in 1947, came from North India and chose to settle in different parts of the country but mostly in Sindh, particularly Karachi. Today, Muhajirs make up a large portion of the population of Karachi followed by Punjabis, Pathans and Sindhis.
Being the economic hub of Pakistan, Karachi is populated by people from all over the country. 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.
Karachi is a huge city official divided into six districts and six cantonment towns, which are administered by the Pakistani military.
- Saddar means the "centre" was the centre of Karachi during the colonial era. The neighbourhood is central business area of Karachi and contains much of the oldest parts of the city which presents the pre-colonial history of Karachi. Many beautiful examples of colonial architecture can be found in the busting streets of Saddar. This is where most of the visitors to city end up spending much of their time as many historic attractions and eateries are concentrated here. Saddar is made up of several budget markets and bazaars where one can buy everything from jewellery and clothes, electronics to shoes.
- Defence and Clifton Both neighbourhoods have the reputation for being affluent, with posh housing. Here, homes, shops, shopping centres and restaurants are tend to be in order, highly upmarket and luxurious. Originally developed for housing of current and retired military personnel, it is now mostly occupied by the civilian elite of the city. Overall, this is considered a nice area in which to live, eat and shop. Most of the city's upscale restaurants and high end shops are concentrated in these two parts of the city.
- Lyari it is the oldest locality of the city and contains much of old Karachi, Lyari is close to the main business district of Karachi and several industrial areas including the country's busiest sea port.
Jinnah International Airport, (KHI IATA), is Pakistan's busiest and largest airport handle both the international and domestic flights. Between the 1960s and 1980s, Karachi Airport was once a much busier and was a station for several major airlines of the world however, it being said that after the emergence of Dubai's airport, 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 state owned national carrier, which flies to numerous international destinations, and all the major cities in Pakistan. The airport is also a hub to Air Blue and Shaheen Air, Pakistan's other two private airlines both of which fly domestic and international routes.
The main Terminal is divided into two concourses – the East Satellite Concourse which is used for international flights and 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 and a giant McDonald is situated just on the exit of the terminal building for arriving passengers whilst the upper level of the terminal is for passengers departing.
Facilities inside the airport's departure lounges include food kiosks such as McDonald's and Butlers Chocolate Cafe. There are also a number of Bank kiosks, ATMs, Money Exchange counters, Free Internet kiosks, 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 in the international departure area. Left-luggage facilities are also available within the terminal for those wishing to store baggage. Free trolleys and 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 procedures are often a lengthy process at Karachi airport. It is 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 30 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 business and senior 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.
|airblue||Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Rahim Yar Khan, Dubai, Jeddah|
|Etihad Airways||Abu Dhabi|
|Iran Air||Tehran-Imam Khomeini|
|Iraqi Airways||Seasonal: Najaf|
|Pakistan International Airlines||Bahawalpur, Dalbandin, Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Faisalabad, Gwadar, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Lahore, Mohenjo-daro, Multan, Nawabshah, Panjgur, Peshawar, Quetta, Rahim Yar Khan, Sialkot, Skardu, Sukkur, Turbat, Zhob, Dammam, Dhaka, Dubai, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, London-Heathrow, Manchester, Medinah, Mumbai, Muscat, New York-JFK, Riyadh, Toronto-Pearson, Zahedan|
|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. And a journey to interior Balochistan like Gwadar and Turbat cost Rs 1200 to 2000 by Inter city bus terminous in yousuf goth where there are more than 20 to 30 transports, the main transports are Al-Habib Travels and Jasum al Faisal. These transport buses runs daily services from karachi to interior Balochistan..
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 major and busy, the Karachi Cantonment Railway Station where trains arrive from all over Pakistan.
1 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.
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. Recently, Pakistan Railways launched new train service named "Green Line" service between Islamabad and Karachi which offers free WiFi among other basic facilities to its passengers including complimentary breakfast. The train has few major stops along the route such as Lahore, Hyderabad, Khanewal, Rawalpindi.
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 riding a 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 travel between Hyderabad and Karachi and is a common way of entry into Karachi. The longest highway in Pakistan National Highways N-5 also connects Karachi with rest of the country via Hyderabad but is usually avoided in favour of shorter M-9.
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.
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 oncoming traffic. Karachi is big and distances are long which makes places of interest scattered far and wide all over the city but sometimes, walking in the neighbourhoods may actually be the fastest way to get from point A to point B particularly in the densely packed downtown areas of the city such as Saddar and the narrow streets of the old parts 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.
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 over quoted, 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.
If you want a cheap yet effective travel solution then you can try Bike rides offered by Bykea where a bike rider can take you where ever you want to go.
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.
Uber and Careem private taxi services are also available in Karachi. You can find the ride though their Mobile Apps and book the trip for your favourite destination. The rates are quite reasonable and drivers are trained to provide a good experience for passengers.
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 of Saddar which is fairly spread out and where there's 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. Saddar is a chaotic tumble of goods, people, and vehicles and getting lost in Saddar can make for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. 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.
- 1 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.
- 2 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 design and motif, the most impressive tombs are the Peramidal structures. Tombs of men are carved with horses and weapons while women are decorated with jewelry. Rich carved sandstone depicting the relation of the local tribes with the neighboring Iran, central Asia and Turkey.
- 3 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 19th 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.
- 4 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.
- 5 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.
- 6 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.
- 7 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.
- 8 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.
- 9 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.
- 10 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.
- 11 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.
- 12 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.
- 13 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. The might mausoleum 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.
- 14 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.
- 15 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.
- 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.
- Christian cross. An unusual addition of Karachi skyline is 140 foot tall Christian cross which is belived to be Asia's tallest cross. This massive symbol of Christianity faith stands tall at the entrance to city's largest and oldest Christian cemetery "Gora Qabaristan" is a bid to represent the Christian community in the country which is only 1.5% according to official estimates.
- 16 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.
- 17 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.
- 18 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.
- 19 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.
- 20 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.
- 21 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.
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.
- 22 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. If swimming, beware of the strong currents, especially from June to August. 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.
- 23 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".
- 24 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.
- 25 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. The place has a discriminatory policy of forbidding single males, except for Wednesday evenings. Likely to be overcrowded during weekends and public holidays. Musical concerts often take place as well. The entry fee is PKR 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 PKR 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.
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.
- 26 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.
- 27 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.
- 28 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.
- Sindbad Amusement Park, NIPA. In Karachi, there are three indoor Sindbads located inside Dolmen Mall Clifton, Dolmen Mall Tariq Road and Dolmen Mall Hyderi. They include a mix of the latest video games, redemption games as well as kiddy rides. Sindbad at Dolmen Mall Clifton also includes the largest indoor playground in Pakistan, with three storeys of soft play. The play ground includes slides, ball pools, ball shooters and trampolines. Karachi is also home to two outdoor Sindbads located at Nisar Shaheed Park and NIPA.
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.
- 1 Arena, FEC-01, Habib Ibrahim Rehmatullah Rd, Main Karsaz (Near Maritime Museum), ☎ , , e-mail: 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.
- 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.
- 2 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 and Atrium Mall in Saddar, close to Zainab Market. These cinemas show mainstream releases of Bollywood, Hollywood and Pakistani. Rs.500-1,000.
- 3 Dinner Cruise, 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.
- 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 4 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. 5 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. 6 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 7 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.
- 8 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.
- 9 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.
- 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 at the 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 10 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 11 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.
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.
- Dolmen Mall Clifton, Sea View Rd (http://www.dolmengroup.com/our-projects/dolmen-mall-clifton/). 11:00am-11:00pm. More than just a shopping mall, this giant luxurious mall situated infront of the Karachi beach has much more to offer for its visitors. Every weekend thousands of people from across the city flock to mall for window shopping, eating and fun.
- Tour bus (Super Savari Express), ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com. Karachi's first and only guided bus tour service. It is recently started and is popular among elite, students and foreigners. Rs 2,000.
Karachi is the shopping capital of the country and Karachiites are avid shoppers. 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.
- 1 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.
- 2 Rainbow Centre. is famous as the hub of video entertainment in Pakistan and reported to be one of the largest CD and DVD market in Asia.
- 3 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.
- 4 Zebunissa Street (neighborhood of Saddar, in the heart of Karachi). 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.
- 5 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. Rabi Centre have good quality shops for bridal and casual suiting. It is also home to several malls with Dolmen Mall more popular have mostly branded shops. 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.
- 6 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.
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.
- 7 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.
- 8 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.
- 9 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.
- 10 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.
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 hundreds of restaurants, small and big scattered throughout the neighbourhoods of Defence and Clifton which is chock-full of fine dining, trendiest and happiest restaurants, food joints and cafés. Although technically cannot be termed as a food street given the large distances between the restaurants, but Defence is a force to be reckoned. 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. A mile-long gastronomic delight strip of open-air eateries and restaurants. Boat Basin is where almost all of Karachi's late-partying citizens wind up, as food is often available here until five or six in the morning, and some restaurants serves 24 hours a day. Due to open air dining option available, the place becomes the most popular hangout place in the city. Like Burns Road, this bustling street offers a huge variety of local food, drinks and deserts. Boat Basin truly comes alive at night. Local style breakfast (such as halwa puri and anda paratha) is served at Boat-Basin as early as 6 AM. At most of the eateries Rs 500 per person will be more than sufficient. If you're not the experimenting type then there's always the International fast food options apart from the authentic and traditional food.
- Burns Road (Saddar). Burns Road is a historic traditional and bustling food street which offers a huge variety of local food and drinks. For authentic and traditional food of any budget this is the place to be. The street house countless famous and unique eateries that feature their own specialty dishes, crowded Burn Road is a must-see for curious eaters and food-lovers. 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. 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 eateries scattered throughout this street. Most restaurants and eateries accept only cash. Many places on the street are open during the day but like Karachi itself, Burns Road truly comes alive at night.
- Do Darya. Adjacent but far away from the Sea View beach is a unique food street Do Darya which is along the scenic sea front of Arabian Sea, and fastly becoming a very well known dining spot in city. Has the reputation of being one of the posh food street of the country, this is the only food street of its kind in the country where you will be greeted by giant restaurants clustering at the edge of the Arabian Sea. Several 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. The choice of restaurants is endless here.
- 1 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.
- 2 Nihari Inn, ☎ . Boat Basin. The 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.
- 3 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.
- 4 Zahid Nihari, Main Tariq Rd, ☎ . Famous for Nihari, a traditional thick stew dish. The restaurant unarguably serves the most delicious Nihari in town along with many other traditional dishes.
- 5 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.
- 6 Bundu Khan. One of the oldest restaurants in Karachi. Serve authentic Pakistani food and delicious Bar B Q dishes.
- 7 China Town, ☎ . Near Bilawal 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.
- 8 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.
- 9 Ginsoy, ☎ . 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.
- 10 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.
- 11 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.
- 12 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.
- 13 Usmania Restaurant, ☎ . Near Bilawal 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.
- 14 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.
- 15 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.
- 16 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+.
- 17 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+
- 18 The Patio, ☎ . F-50/1, Block 4, Clifton. Popular upscale and contemporary fine dining restaurant offering Pakistani and Pan-Asian cuisine. Outdoor seating also available. Price per head around Rs 1,500.
- 19 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+
- 20 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+.
Obtaining alcohol is easier and less harassing than in the rest of the Pakistan but still, drinking alcohol in public areas including restaurants is banned and strongly discouraged, and only legal wine shops are allowed to sell alcohol. The signs of wine shops are usually marked with blue and red colour stripes (which indicates 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 has 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.
Café culture is on the rise in the city and there are 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.
- Agha Juice House, Near Jamia Masjid, Block No. 1, Nazimabad. Daily 11:30-02:45. A chain serving fresh fruit juices from all seasonal fruits and some good shakes. There are no more branches but some fake have made them at: Opp Amber Auditorium Bahadurabad, Main Rashid Minhas Road, Gushan Iqbal and Khadda Market Defence.
- 1 Espresso, Dolmen City Mall, Clifton (Marine Promenade), ☎ , toll-free: . 08:30-00:0). The bigger branch of a local coffee chain house, Espresso is very popular among the young generation serve all type of hot and cold coffee, milkshakes, fruit juices as well light snacks. Free WIFI. Four more branches in the city. Rs.500-800.
Apart from the many good restaurant there are also plenty of cafes with pleasant ambience:
- 2 Butlers Chocolate Café, Main Road, Off 6th Commercial Lane, Zamzama, ☎ . 07:00-14:00. The Irish chocolatier has an upmarket and elegant cafe offering chocolates and gifts. Rs 800-1,000.
- 3 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.
- Gloria Jeans Coffee, located at many places such as in Dolmen City Mall. branch of the global chain.
- 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.
- 4 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.
- 5 Purple Haze, 66C-68C, 25th St Tauheed Commercial, Defence (In the basement of 'Evolution' restaurant), ☎ . 13:00-01:00. Serves excellent desserts and shisha. Karaoke nights are usually fun. Rs 800-1,000.
Karachi's cigar lounges stock good quality international brands including authentic Cuban cigars. These places have luxurious interiors and can give the illusion of being in a 1950s film.
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, ☎ . 11:30-00:30. A unique, cozy and tranquil atmosphere cigar lounge in the city often play music in the background. Has a large collection of cigars. Rs 800-1,000.
Nightlife 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 these are 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.
- Dumpukht, (Marriott Hotel). Live Indian traditional dancer every night except Monday from 20:00-23:30.
- PC hotel, Live band playing all types of music followed by Ghazals from 20:30-23:00. Live Ghazal band from 23:00-01:00.
|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.
- 1 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.
- 2 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.
- 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.
- New City Lodge, Banglow 70, Block 7/8, Jinnah Housing Society, Ahmed Shah Rd, ☎ (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.
- 3 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.
- Rehaish Plus, 6-E Block-6, PECHS, Nursery, Main Shahran-e-Fasial, ☎ (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.
- 4 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.
- 5 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.
- 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.
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 staying in mid-range hotels.
- 6 Airport Hotel, Star Gate Rd, Near Old Airport Rd, ☎ , fax: . 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.
- 7 La-Anthurium, C-16, Clifton Block 4,, ☎ , . This recently opened is an elegant boutique hotel run by a hotel chain. 14 rooms including suites and a cafe located in a residential area. Inclusive Wifi, and breakfast. The hotel is much like a guest house. Clean, cosy and trendy. Rs. 6,500.
- 8 Beach Luxury Hotel, Lalazar, MT Khan Rd (Adjacent to PNSC Building and Port Grand), ☎ , , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. A mid-range resort hotel set amongst tropical gardens and palm trees, with views of China Creek and the Arabian Sea. This female-friendly hotel has 82 bedrooms with free Wi-Fi located at some distance from the shopping area, but close to the business district. 4 restaurants including the only floating buffet restaurant in Pakistan, "Seafront BBQ", and a 24/7 coffee shop. All guests provided with free buffet breakfast, airport pick/drop, swimming pool/gym. Free WifI. Discount rate is given to corporate guests. Rs 8,000-27,500.
- 9 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. Has two cafes.
- 10 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. Rs.6,500-Rs.8,500.
- 11 Embassy Hotel, Shahrah-e-Faisal, ☎ . Another mid-range hotel, with a 24-hour coffee shop and restaurant. Rs.6,000.
- Grace Inn Guest House, C - 23, Block - B, Gulshan-e-Jamal,, ☎ . 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.
- 12 Mehran Hotel, Shahrah-e-Faisal, ☎ , fax: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 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.
- 13 Regent Plaza Hotel & Convention Centre., Shahrah-e-Faisal, ☎ , fax: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 14:00. facilities including airport transfer, in room safe, buffet breakfast, health club with service. Rs 7,000-10,000.
- Regine Inn, C-139/1 Block 2 Clifton, ☎ . Fully furnished air-con rooms with free Wifi internet. 4,500-11,000.
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.
- 14 Avari Towers, Club Rd, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This 20 story hotel is the tallest hotel in Pakistan. Hotel has 236 rooms in addition to suites and presidential suites. Complimentary mini bar. Hotel provides international standard facilities. Tennis courts, swimming pool, fitness centre with Jacuzzi, sauna etc. are located on the premises along with four restaurants offering specialist cuisine, named "Fujiyama" for Japanese, the Karachi famed restaurant "Dynasty" for Chinese cuisine, "Asia Live" for Pakistani and continental food and a Pakistani/Continental barbecue restaurant "Sky BBQ" located on the rooftop that gives the best views of the Karachi city. There is also a 24 hours casual dining place inside the hotel offering coffee with desserts and snacks. Rs 18,000-70,000.
- 15 Marriott Hotel, Abdullah Haroon Rd, ☎ , fax: . 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).
- 16 Mövenpick Hotel (previously Sheraton Hotel And Towers), Club Rd, ☎ , fax: . 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.
- 17 Pearl Continental, Club Rd, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. This five star hotel is the most sophisticated hotel in the city and provides international standard facilities with quality service. Hotel has total 258 rooms and 21 suites which includes some stylish rooms. Tennis and squash courts, swimming pool and a health club are located inside the hotel building. Among the restaurants inside the hotel are, rooftop "Chandni" for Pakistani, "Taipan" and "Marcopolo" for Chinese, a steak house "Jason Steak House" and "the Royal Elephant" for the sea food lovers, also a 24 hours nice coffee shop and a small shopping centre in the lobby. Overall a high standards hotel. This was the first-ever five-star Intercontinental Hotel in Pakistan, and has hosted Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela, and other world leaders and royalty. Its known for its classic luxury and an array of restaurants including Sakura serving authentic Japanese food on the hotel's top floor, which has views of downtown Karachi. Rs 18,000-95,000.
- 18 Ramada Plaza Hotel, Star Avenue, Terminal 1, Airport Rd (Close to airport), ☎ , fax: . 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.
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 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, Nazimabad, Gulshan Lyari 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.
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, it's 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.
Never bribe a police officer or a traffic sergeant if they refuse the offer. Never let any bikers get closer to you, even if they ask for directions. They could be muggers, and you could lose you valuables as the crime rate in Karachi is significant, especially in abandoned or dark areas. While driving, beware of chingchis, rickshaws and motorbikes as they can literally emerge from anywhere right in front of you, and if any accident happens, you will be blamed because you or your car is deemed to be stronger than they or their vehicle. Even worse, irate crowds gather in such situations.
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/3G enabled mobile connections, supported by almost all of the 5 mobile operators. The standard cost of GPRS/EDGE/3G usage is PKR 15-Rs 20/MB of data download with no charges on uploads, Although some provide prepay Unlimited daily/weekly packages, 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, WorldCall, Wateen, Qubee are WiMax internet providers and Wi-Tribe offers USB internet. PTCL 3G/4G evo is also a good highspeed and budget option for 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, or Malls in Clifton 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.
- Kirthar National Park – a beautiful and rugged vast land area; home to a large variety of wildlife.
- 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 the Taj Mahal.