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Noisy, bustling and multicultural Karachi is a sprawling modern metropolis and truly a global mega-city. Pakistan's largest city, it lies on the eastern coast of the Arabian Sea and is the original capital of the nation. It is the commercial, transport and political hub, as well as the largest port of Pakistan. Karachi offers a remarkable variety of attractions and activities – ranging from natural sandy sunny beaches and colonial buildings of varied architectural styles, to modern shopping centres and the hippest restaurants; from luxurious hotels to plenty of water-based activities. Karachi is Pakistan's only city which offers a remarkable skyline with both Pakistan's tallest buildings together with much underdevelopment. Simply put, this city holds many surprises for the visitor. Anything can be found in Karachi if you just ask. A city of more than 23 million people - the most populous city of more than 200 independent countries - is not short of things to see and do! Let yourself be overwhelmed by the size and scope of this city: its heartbreaking disparity between rich and poor, and its breathtaking sights and sounds. It is popularly known as the City of Lights for its liveliness, and the City of The Quaid, being the birth and burial place of Quaid-e-Azam, the founding father of Pakistan. Karachi is the most diverse and cosmopolitan city in Pakistan, with a flair of its own. It offers a hint of the future direction of modern life in Pakistan. Wrongly described as a mini-Pakistan sometimes, Karachi is exceptional in many ways and rather different to the rest of Pakistan, just as Amsterdam is not typical of the Netherlands, London is not a mini-England and New York is different from the rest of the United States. As the third most populous city in the world, and the largest in the Muslim world, it's an important hub. Karachi, the financial powerhouse of the country, is Pakistan's richest city, but surprisingly it is the cheapest city in the world as well. The pace of life is more hurried – time is money, and money is life – while social attitudes are far more liberal than elsewhere in Pakistan. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Karachi
There is a lot to see in Karachi, but the typical "tourist" sights are concentrated in downtown district Saddar where the city has a collection of buildings and structures of varied architectural styles. The British built variety of private and public buildings during British Raj from 1858 to 1947 in Karachi, many of which colonial buildings and landmarks still remains today. According to some reports, the city possesses over 600 protected buildings dating largely to the British period. Few of fine examples colonial buildings still remain today but unfortunately not well preserved and most of them deteriorated over time due to lack of heritage preservation.
- 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 35m 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 156m tall World Trade Centre building were built in Mumbai in 1970. This 101m high rise building with 23 floors was built in 1963, has marvellous architecture and is one of the most recognizable landmarks of the city. Other famous monuments to be seen are Former Lloyds Bank building, Karachi Stock Exchange and many banks that are also excellent examples of colonial architecture in the city.
- Empress Market (ایمپریس مارکیٹ), Preedy St. A famous marketplace dominated by a Gothic-Mughal-style clock-tower of the colonial era, situated in Saddar, which is one of the most congested and busiest areas of Karachi. The market is one of the most important landmarks of the city and traces its origins to the British Raj era, when it was constructed in 1889 and named "Empress Market" to commemorate Queen Victoria, the Empress of India during late 18th century. The building was constructed as a marketplace to cater for the European elites who were either living in or frequently visiting Karachi at that time. Today, it is amongst the most popular, oldest and busiest places for shopping in Karachi and one of the few historical spots of the city. The building was arranged around a courtyard, 130 ft by 100 ft, with four galleries each 46 ft wide and those four galleries provide accommodation for some 280 shops and stall keepers. Commodities sold in the Empress Market range from condiments, footwear, fruit, vegetables and meat to stationery materials, textiles and has numerous pet shops.
- Frere Hall (موہٹہ پیلس), Civil Lines, Abdullah Haroon Rd (opposite the Marriott Hotel). A well preserved building and a beautiful structure built during the days of the British Raj in 1865. The main building built in the Venetian Gothic style with yellowish Karachi limestone and red and grey sandstone located in the middle of two beautiful, large and lush green lawns which extend to the road. The two peaceful gardens named "Bagh-e-Jinnah" (Jinnah Garden) have two old Victorian style fountains. It houses a gallery on first floor, which is full of paintings by Pakistan’s iconic artist Sadequain. The gallery exhibits his masterpieces of paintings and calligraphy. There is also a library. There is a book fair every Sunday where you can get cheap books both new and used.
- Mohatta Palace Museum (فریئر ہال), Hatim Alvi Rd, Clifton. Tu-Su 11:00-18:00. Another fine British Raj building, completed in 1928, but has an architecturally resemblance to palaces in Rajasthan. It was built with pink stone from Jodhpur in combination with the local yellow stone from Karachi, creating a fusion of Rajput and Mughal architectures. The palace was built by an ambitious self-made businessman from Marwar as his luxurious summer home and then became the residence of Jinnah’s sister, Fatima, after he left Karachi for India in 1947. Now, it offers a diverse range of activities for both the casual and informed visitor.
- Karachi Municipal Corporation Building (KMC Building), M.A. Jinnah Rd. One of the historical British Raj buildings, has evolved an iconic status as one of the landmark structures of Karachi. This Anglo-Mughal architecture building was built in 1930 with local sandstone from Gizri and Jodhpur red sandstone at the front and is said to be the crown jewel of colonial era architecture in the city. The clock tower was made to honour and commemorate the visit of King George V, the Emperor of India of that time. Today the building houses the offices and various departments of the Karachi Municipal Corporation.
- Quaid-e-Azam House (Flag Staff House) (قائد اعظم ہاؤس), Fatima Jinnah Rd (opposite Avari Tower Hotel). Th-Tu 09:00-16:00, F 09:00-12:00. This beautifully maintained British Raj building with is an important National Monument, once owned by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who lived there from 1944 until his death in 1948. His sister, Fatima Jinnah lived there until 1964. This is yellow stone double strayed building comprising of three rooms at ground and three in first floor is worth a visit, and you can see Jinnah and Fatima’s private apartments, with period teak wood furniture and accessories such as relics used by Jinnah. The structure of building is limestone masonry with wooden trusses supporting the roof which is covered by red ceramic Mangalore tiles. Free.
- Holy Trinity Cathedral, Fatima Jinnah Road (near Zainab Market). Built in 1855 to a design by Captain John Hill of the Bombay Engineers. One of the first major churches of Karachi and currently the seat of the Church of Pakistan, Diocese of Karachi. Its tall tower was also a light house built to facilitate ships arriving into Karachi Harbour.
- Hindu Gymkhana (National Academy of Performing Arts), M R Kayani Rd. is one of the first Mughal revival buildings in the city constructed in 1925. The building is designed by Muslim architect Agha Ahmed Hussain. The plan and massing was based on the tomb of Itamad-ud-Daulah (1628) in Agra. The building is small in size and consists primarily of a hall and some smaller rooms used for administrative purposes. Stone for the 2-foot-thick (0.61m) walls was acquired in Bijapur. The roof line is defined by delicate massing of cupolas and balustrades directly influenced by Akbar's Fatehpur Sikri. The octagonal corner towers framing the projecting central jharoka are capped with chattris. Smaller chattris highlight the corners of the projecting porch that carry the drooping bangladar roof used in Emperor Akbar's period. The projecting chajjas are supported by ornamental brackets. The cupolas of the chattris are reinforced concrete and the walls are dressed in Gizri stone. Some of the carved elements are of Jodhpur stone. Now converted to the National Academy of Performing Arts.
- Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Shahrah-e-Iraq (near the Empress Market). Built in Gothic Revival style and opened in April 1881, it's currently the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi and can accommodate at least 1,500 worshippers at the same time. It's a protected monument because of its outstanding architectural beauty. The cathedral's grounds are adorned with a white marble monument to Christ the King.
- Sindh High Court, Shahrah Kamaal Ataturk. Built in 1929 entirely out of pink-hued Jodhpur sandstone and one of the most imposing buildings in the city. Architecturally, it's a combination of local and Roman styles.
- Wazir Mansion (Quaid-i-Azam Birthplace Museum) (وزیر مینشن), Barkati Street, Haji Sharif Balwani Rd, Kharadar (off M.A. Jinnah Rd). This two storey building was a family home completed in 1865, of the country's founder, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, where he was born and brought up. The house is foremost among Karachi’s historical and oldest buildings and is a protected national monument. It was renovated in 2008, has a reading hall and a library on the ground floor which has a collection of books related to the history of Pakistan and those that were once possessed by Quaid-i-Azam during his law graduation. The museum is located on the first floor and contains two galleries. One gallery incorporates three rooms including the one in which Quaid-i-Azam was born while the second and third rooms contain articles such as furniture which he used as the first Governor General of Pakistan. The second gallery on the second floor contains other relics of Quaid-e-Azam which are displayed in nine showcases. Relics includes his dresses and other personal items used by Jinnah.
- Masjid e Tooba (Gol Masjid) (مسجد طوبٰی), Phase 1, Defence. This mosque is often claimed to be the largest single-domed mosque in the world. It was built in 1969 of pure white marble with a dome 72 m in diameter which covers the central prayer hall which can accommodate a congregation of 5,000 persons. The dome is balanced on a low surrounding wall with no supporting pillars and has a single minaret standing 70 m high. This mosque is a major tourist attraction in the city due to its modern architecture. Non-Muslim visitors are welcome, although avoid visiting during the prayer times and on Fridays.
- Chaukhandi Tombs (چوکنڈی), Bin Qasim Town (on National Highway N-5). Built during the Mughal rule in between 15th to 18th century form an early Islamic cemetery, the tombs are scattered on a large area and is the only archaeological ruins site in Karachi. The tombs are remarkable for the elaborate and exquisite stone carving, a style unique to the region of Sindh, exquisitely carved in relief with intricate motifs. The site is currently listed as tentative site of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each tomb is unique in it design and motifs with the most impresive tomb are the Peramidal structures. Tombs of men are carved with horses and weapons while women with jewelry. Rich carved sandstone depicting the relation of the local tribes with the neighboring Iran, central Asia and Turkey.
- Quaid-e-Azam's Mausoleum and Museum (Mazar-e-Quaid) (مزار قائد), MA Jinnah Rd, Jamshed Quarters. The final resting place and magnificent mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (known as Quaid-e-Azam or "Great Leader"), is a prominent impressive landmark of Karachi made entirely of white marble with impressive north African arches. It was completed in the 1960s and designed by Mumbai based, Indian architect Yahya Merchant. The tomb is fabulously built on a 4 m high platform made of white marble with curved Moorish arches, copper grilles and a four-tiered crystal chandelier gifted by the people of China.
Fifteen successive fountains lead to the platform from one side and, from all sides, terraced avenues lead to the gates. In the interior of the grave complex, there are three graves in a row and one to the north. The northern one, which is decorated with a series of black floral designs at the base, belongs to Fatima Jinnah, Jinnah's sister. Out of the three graves, the northern one belongs to Liaquat Ali Khan, who died as Prime Minister of Pakistan. The extreme southern grave belongs to Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar. In the middle lies buried Nurul Amin, who rose to be the Vice-President of Pakistan. All these graves are made of Italian white marble, and they are of the box type, like the sarcophagus of Jinnah, placed on a triple base. But the sides of these graves are tapering inward while that of Jinnah is diverging outwards. These are all plain graves, except that of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, which has a basal floral ornamentation.
Official and military ceremonies take place here on special occasions, especially on 23 March, 14 August, 11 September and 25 December. Dignitaries and officials from foreign countries also visit this place.
Around the mausoleum is a 53 hectare park "Bagh-e-Quaid-i-Azam" laid in the format of Islamic art, with fountains all around it, fitted with spot-lights which project light on the white mausoleum and making the glowing tomb able to be seen for miles at night. The tomb is guarded at all times and after every 20 minutes there is a ceremonial position shift of the honour guard and, every 4 hours, the guard is changed.
In addition to the tomb, you can also see a small museum housing various artefacts used by Jinnah such as cars, dinning sets, bedroom furniture, swords and guns from is private collection. The location is usually calm and tranquil - which is significant considering that it is in the heart of one of the largest global megalopolises. Open Sa-Tu, Th 10:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00; F 09:00-12:00.
- Abdullah Shah Ghazi Mausoleum (مزار عبد الله شاه غازى), Shahrah-e-Firdousi, Clifton. It is green-domed shrine dedicated to a 9th century Sufi, "Abdullah Shah Ghazi", is in a sprawling complex perched on a hilltop overlooking Clifton Beach. This 1,400 year old tomb is built on a very high platform with the grave being downstairs, has a tall and square chamber and a green-and-white striped dome, decorated with centuries old Sindhi tile-works and green flags flutter gives a majestic view. There are separate sitting arrangements for men and women inside the shrine. Abdullah Shah Ghazi was born in Medina in 720, claimed direct descent from the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and is thought of by his followers as the patron saint of Karachi and widely revered in Pakistan. The shrine is said to have protected Karachi from natural disasters such as storms, tsunamis, earthquakes and all sea-related phenomenon, despite it having a climate ripe for tropical storms. An Urs (festival) is held at the shrine from 20 to 22 Dhu al-Hijjah (12th month of the Islamic calendar) for three days marking the anniversary of Abdullah. Qawwali also often takes place on Thursday nights at the shrine. The shrine complex has a vast car-park, a rest house for devotees, a mosque and long lines of shops selling rosaries, incense sticks, glass and silver bangles, prayer mats and beads.
- National Museum of Pakistan, Burns Garden, Dr. Ziauddin Ahmed Rd. Displays a two million years old axe discovered on the Potohar Plateau. There is a remarkable gallery describing the early civilisation of Debal and Mansura. The collection of 58,000 old coins goes back as far as the 7th century CE and there are hundreds of well preserved sculptures. Another gallery, the ‘Freedom Movement gallery’, contains a large collection of pictures and articles arising from the time of the Independence movement. Items on display include archaeological artefacts, Islamic art, and other historical documents. Quran gallery is recently renovated, equipped with air conditioning, modern lighting and audio system and has more than 300 copies of the Holy Quran, out of which around 52 rare manuscripts are on display. A gallery is dedicated to the relics obtained from cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa of the famous Indus Valley Civilization, such as Moenjodaro’s best-known relics, the iconic sculpture of the priest-king and a bronze statuette of a dancing girl. Sa-Tu, Th 10:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00; F 09:00-12:00.
- Pakistan Air Force Museum, Shahra-e-Faisal, Karsaz (near Karsaz Flyover). 8am-10pm. An impressive outdoor Air Force museum and park established in 1990 and then expanded significantly. Well organized displays with over 30 aircraft, weapons and radar have been displayed in vast lush green park, the main museum is located inside the building and features all major fighter aircraft that have been used by the Pakistan Air Force during wars with India. On display includes the scale models of some World War I, World War II and modern aircraft and photo galleries of almost all the squadrons of Pakistan Air Force. The museum also houses the Vickers VC.1 Viking used by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and a Folland Gnat of Indian Airforce, which was captured by Pakistani forces from Pasror in 1965 war. Guided tours are free, and uncrowded on weekdays. Rides for children's and a restaurant also available. Only families are allowed on Sundays. Rs 30.
- Pakistan Maritime Museum, Karsaz Road (near PNS Karsaz). 8am-10pm. A well maintained naval museum and park which comprises six galleries and an auditorium. The main museum building is located inside the park. The museum is based on modern concepts of presentation and interactive education. Different artifacts of maritime and naval heritage have been incorporated through attractive dioramas, relief sculpture, murals and miniature paintings, touch screen computers, taxidermy and ancient weapons. A computer based maritime information retrieval system has also been incorporated to facilitate the visitors and students for easy access. Besides, the museum also displays Daphne Class Submarine PNS Hangor (S131), a small yard-class Minesweeper Ship, Breguet Atlantic aircraft and a wooden barge that was gifted to Naval Chief during 60s. Some good outdoor exhibits. Only families are allowed on weekends. Rs 30.
- PIA Planetarium, Main University Rd (next to Karachi Expo Centre). Currently closed. A virtual observatory which regularly puts on shows about the solar system and cosmic phenomenon. The shows in English are much more detailed, and are held every Sunday evening. On other days there are only Urdu shows. A ticketed, guided tour by an officer enables one to view the plane from the inside; its cockpit, pilot seats, and various other areas.
- State Bank Museum, I.I. Chundrigar Road,. Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m. Focuses on money, coinage and economic. This is the only currency museum of Pakistan that displays financial history of the nation dated back when the country was part of India. The exhibition hall comprise of seven Galleries. Free.
Beaches and waterfronts
Karachi coastal line of more than 60 km stretches from Cape Monze in the west to Bundle Island in the east however most of its area is barren except little tourist attraction or facilities provided and waiting for developments. Karachi has many big and small beaches, including one in the Karachi downtown area "Clifton Beach", which is city's busiest and most popular beach. But they aren't that great and the water off Karachi's coast is extraordinarily dirty and also these beaches are not the kind where women can wear swimsuits particularly two-pieces. The relatively better ones are in the Karachi outskirt most popularly Sandspit Beach, Hawks Bay Beach and French beach. These are located at the outskirts of the city and are less strict about clothing. These beaches are also the breeding ground for endangered turtles and sometimes contain stinging jellyfish, especially during the monsoon (July to September), so it is advisable to avoid walking on beach alone after dark.
- Port Grand, Near Jinnah Fly Over - M.T. Khan Rd (Near Beach Luxury Hotel), ☎ +92 21 3833-0020, +92 21 3831-1111, e-mail: email@example.com. 12:00-01:00. Along side Karachi Harbour, this is ann extensive and very pedestrian friendly food strip with scores of restaurants, cafes and eateries and entertainment complex popular with the elite of Karachi. Pedestrian friendly pier built along the 19th century Native Jetty Bridge, with having different good restaurants of exotic Pakistani and foreign food and other food and beverages kiosks on one side and breathtaking views of Karachi Harbour on the other side. A shopping mall, an art gallery, a tavern area, a mosque, many stalls, a children's play area, and a theatre stage is located in the complex area. A 200 year old Hindu temple named "Shri Laxmi Narayan Mandir" is just outside the complex entrance. Entrance is "strictly for families & couples", which makes the atmosphere very family friendly and safe. Single males forbidden except for Wednesday evenings. Likely to be overcrowded during weekends and public holidays. Musical concerts often take place as well. The entry fee is Rs 300 per person out of which Rs 200 would be redeemable at different food outlets and shops inside the complex. Free valet parking is available for visitors. Don't forget to take an exciting speed boat ride in Chinna Creek for Rs 500 per person which also includes a complimentary pass to enter the Port Grand area. With amazing stunts and incredible spins, the ride will provide an unforgettable experience.
- Paradise Point. A sandstone rock promontory in the Arabian sea with a natural bridge located west of Manora Island. Attractions for families and tourists, facilities including beach-side horse and camel rides, amusement park, restaurants, and swimming.
- Manora Island, Manora Cantonment. A small peninsula consisting of an exotic location with natural landscapes such as the beach and the mangrove forest. It can be a good picnic spot because of the long sandy beach along the southern edge of the island. Island has the remains of a 19th-century old Hindu temple "Shive Varon Dev Mandir" and at the southeastern end of Manora island is the tallest lighthouse (28 m high) in Pakistan, which was erected by the British after they captured Karachi's Talpur rulers. The access to lighthouse is unfortunately restricted due to its presence inside the military protected area. The island lies approximately 15–20 min by boat ride from Kiamari boating harbour and is connected to the mainland Karachi by a 12 kilometre long causeway called "Manora Drive". Swimming is not recommended due to strong currents and polluted sea water. There is no good restaurant, except few small food stalls on the beach mostly sells fish.
- Clifton Beach (Sea View), Defence. Pakistan’s busiest beach and the most popular entertainment site in Karachi, located in a quiet and safe suburb of the city. The beach itself is nothing special, only made of mud grey sand, but it’s fun for people spotting and attract many families and tourists throughout the year. This was the world's most popular silver-sand beach and health resort throughout the 20th century, but it was affected by an oil spill in 2003 when the Greek registered oil tanker MV Tasman Spirit ran aground and over 12,000 tons of oil spilled into the Arabian Sea in what is considered by some to be the largest environmental disaster in Pakistan's history, so it is better take a stroll rather than swim in the sea because of polluted sea water and strong currents. You can also enjoy horse or camel riding and hop on a dune buggy to roam around the beach area. Many grilled corn stalls can be found on the beach and many fast food kiosks. As the sun sets, flood lights come on and the beach starts getting crowded with the picnic continuing until midnight. Street lights dotting the kilometre long promenade increase the beauty of the sea and surrounding areas. The beach tends to attract children, teenagers, vendors, lovers, kite flyers, merrymakers, and families. Usually on Saturday and Sunday evenings, the land is filled with day-trippers, food vendors, and people picnicking which make it very crowded especially during public holidays and on weekends. On weekends, you can also spot a fountain on eastern side which is built near the series of islets off the coast of the Karachi harbour and attract many people. Overall, the beach is a nice place to spend time. Also take a long walk along the Clifton beach and you'll found locals as well walking, under clear skies, at sundown for a spectacular view while at night is an experience worth the travel alone, as visitors can gaze towards the heavens while the Arabian sea cascades over their sandalled feet. You can either start walking from McDonalds or from Village restaurant. Small parts are located at both ends where you can relax after the long tiring walk. Free.
Karachi has a justified reputation as a concrete jungle, but there are some nice pockets of greenery within the city. Some city parks are very well-maintained and most popular such as Bagh-e-Ibn-e-Qasim Park, Boat Basin Park, Hill Park, Nisar Shaheed Park and Jheel Park are located, which offers birds eye view of the city.
- Karachi Zoo (کراچی چڑیاگھر), Garden East Area, Jamshad Town. Established in the year 1878 and originally known as 'Mahatma Gandhi Garden', this is one of the oldest zoos in Pakistan. There are around 500 different species of birds, 180 species of mammals and nearly 200 species of reptiles in some 107 cages. Attractions include "White Lions", "Mumtaz Mahal" and the "Elephant House", where two female African bush elephants born in Tanzania, named 'Noor Jahan' and 'Madhu Bala' were brought. A Mughal Garden including Mughal-style fountains, established in 1970, occupies a major part of the zoo with green lawns and seasonal plants. The garden is famous for different varieties of roses and other flowers that are exhibited there. A "Natural History Museum", is also one of the famous attractions of the zoo with stuffed animals, skins, antlers, horns and feathers. The Municipal Aquarium is also located in the zoo. It was constructed in 1953 and has a total of 28 tanks which contain a total of around 300 fishes from about 30 species. There is also a boating lake and a "Reptile House" which is one of the few reptile houses in Pakistan. There are 13 species of snakes and lizards. Newly born hatchlings of turtles, tortoises, terrapin and crocodilians are also exhibited. Rs 10.
- Bagh-e-Ibn-e-Qasim (Bin Qasim Park) (باغ ابنِ قاسم). A popular and well planned park of the city opened in 2007. It is the largest family park in South Asia built in memory of the 8th century Muslim conqueror Muhammad Bin Qasim. The park consists of extensive lighting, pathways, a turtle pond, 20 stone canopies and lush green spaces with hundreds of thousands of unique rose saplings planted throughout the park. The Lady Loyd Pier runs down the middle of the park providing spectacular views of the park so try to visit the park in the late evening when the park is lit. Attractions include: Lady Lloyd pier, Jahangri Kothari Parade, a century old amusement park called Funland, an underground Hindu temple, and a mosque. A food court and shops are also inside the park.
- Hill Park, PECHS (near Tariq Rd). A very popular park offering birds eye view of Karachi. Have many amusement play land spots, a fast food centre, restaurants, and an artificial lake inside the park. One can take a nice view of Karachi skyline from this park.
The city was earlier known as "Krokola" and "Ramya" by the ancient Greeks and the early history of the city dates back to the Ancient period of 327–325 BC, when Alexander the Great used the city to camp and prepare a fleet for Babylonia after completing his campaign in the Indus Valley. Karachi was later known to the Arabs as "Debal", the place where Muhammad bin Qasim led his conquering force into South Asia in 712 AD. During the Tarkhan Dynasty (1554 to 1591 AD) and under the rule of the Mughal administrator of Sindh, Mirza Ghazi Beg, the city was well fortified against Portuguese colonial incursions in Sindh. In 1568 the city was attacked by the Portuguese Admiral Fernão Mendes Pinto in an attempt to capture or destroy the Ottoman vessels anchored in the city.
The modern-day history of Karachi begins during the reign of the Kalhora Dynasty (1701–1782), when an old Sindhi Balochi fisher-woman, Mai Kolachi, took up residence in the city to start a family and the city started as a fishing settlement. The city was then called "Kolachi-jo-Goth" (translated as "The Village of Kolachi" in Sindhi language) in 1729. The name Karachee appears for the first time in a 1742 document of the Dutch East India Company, when a ship, the Ridderkerk, was shipwrecked along the coast nearby. In 1795, the city passed from the control of the Khan of Kalat to the Talpur rulers of Sindh. During the Talpur Period (1795 - 1839), the city was an integral part of the Talpur dynasty.
In the late 18th century, Karachi gained importance when it started to trade with Persian Gulf and a small fort was constructed for its protection which had two main gateways: one facing the sea, known as Khaara Darwaaza (Brackish Gate) and the other facing the adjoining Lyari river, known as the Meetha Darwaaza (Sweet Gate). The location of these gates corresponds to the present-day city localities of Khaara-dar (Khaara Darwaaza) and Meetha-dar (Meetha Darwaaza) respectively.
The city had caught the attention of the British East India Company who, after sending a couple of exploratory missions to the area, conquered the Sindh on 3 Feb 1839. During the early Company Rule, Karachi was known as Khurachee Scinde (i.e. Karachi, Sindh) and the population of the city was 15,000 in 1838. The city became part of British India in 1843, after which it was made the capital of Sindh in the late 1840s. The British realised the importance of the city as a military cantonment and rapidly developed its harbour for shipping, and started to develop the city. The foundations of a city municipal government were laid down in 1852 and infrastructure development was undertaken. New businesses started opening up and the population of the town began rising rapidly. British colonialists embarked on a number of public works of sanitation and transportation — such as gravel paved streets, proper drains, street sweepers, and a network of trams and horse-drawn trolleys. Karachi quickly turned into a city, making true the famous quote by Napier who is known to have said on his departure in 1847: Would that I could come again to see you in your grandeur!
During the British Raj, the city was connected to the rest of British India by rail. Public building projects, such as Frere Hall, and the Empress Market were undertaken. Karachi was then enjoying an economic boom: the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 meant the city was 200 nautical miles closer to Europe for shipping than Bombay (now called Mumbai). The developments in the city resulted in a large influx of economic migrants such as Parsis, Hindus, Christians, Jews, Marathis, Goans, Armenians, Chinese, British, Lebanese and Gujaratis. The population of the city was about 105,000 by the end of the 19th century, with a cosmopolitan mix of different nationalities. However, before the year 1880, the majority of the population in Karachi consisted of the indigenous Sindhis and Balochis (who spoke Sindhi as their mother tongue). In 1876, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born in the city.
Following the bloody partition of the British Raj and the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the city became the focus for settlement by Muslim migrants from India, and hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from India (now known as Muhajirs in Pakistan) sought refuge. Their settlement in Karachi gave the city its northern Indian atmosphere, expanded the city's population and transformed its demographics and economy. Karachi became a bustling metropolis, with beautiful classical and colonial European styled buildings lining the city’s thoroughfares.
Karachi was chosen as the capital of Pakistan from 1947-1958. In 1958, the capital was moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi and then later moved to the newly built Islamabad in 1960. A huge crowd of illegal refugees from around the world continued to flock into the city which made the city’s population continue to grow and exceed the capacity of its creaking infrastructure. During the 1960s, Pakistan was seen as an economic role model around the world and that was the golden age of Karachi. Many countries sought to emulate Pakistan's economic planning strategy; one of them, South Korea, copied the country's second "Five-Year Plan", and the World Financial Centre in Seoul is designed and modelled after Karachi. Life of Karachi was peaceful and orderly in those days as compared to now. The public transport system was quite good and a number of urban tramway systems used to operate. A local train service, the "Karachi Circular Railway", was started in 1969 with the aim of providing better transportation facilities to the people of Karachi. The Karachi-Mumbai Ferry Service also operated until 1965, and the Karachi airport was served by many major airlines and was one of the busiest airports in the world. The city was the country's most liberal and secular, and it still is today in comparison with the rest of the country. The city had more than five hundred cinemas, over three dozen bustling night clubs, and numerous bars and liquor shops. Burmese, Chinese (during Mao’s Cultural Revolution in late 1960s), Nepalese, Sri Lankans and Indians started to migrate to the city. The city was one of the most beautiful cities of the east after Beirut and Cairo and was very safe as compared to nowadays. It became the entertainment capital and, although drugs were easily available and alcohol and gambling were legal, there was comparatively less crime as compared to today. The crime rate was very low and gun crime was nonexistent. Surprisingly, women used to wear western clothes in an Islamic country, used to cycled to schools and even walking alone late at night was not uncommon. By the late 1960s, tourism as an industry in the city was flourishing and many young western travellers and "Hippy" types used to venture down to the city, especially for its finest natural beaches. Karachi was a very different city to what it became many years later.
In the 1970s during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Indian Navy launched Operation Trident and its follow-up, Operation Python, on Karachi harbour that resulted in the first use of anti-ship missiles in the region, as well as the first sinking of naval vessels during hostilities in the region since World War II. During the operation it also targeted Kemari oil storage tanks on the south of the harbour, which were burnt and destroyed causing heavy losses to the country. In 1972, Karachi witnessed major labour unrest (the Karachi labour unrest of 1972) in its industrial areas of the S.I.T.E Industrial Area and Korangi-Landhi. Several protesting workers were killed or injured by police during this period. In a number of cases, workers briefly occupied their factories.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the city saw an influx of illegal Afghan refugees from the Soviet war in Afghanistan moving into Karachi. As of January 2010, the number of illegal aliens in Karachi was estimated to be between 1.6 and 2 million people, and that's why the city is still called a "city of illegal refugees". Thousands of nationals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzistan, and Azerbaijan are illegally living in Karachi. Political tensions and ethnic violence between the Muhajir, followers of the Mohajir Quami Movement and other groups (ethnic Sindhis and Punjabis) erupted across the city and the city was wracked with political violence. As a result, the Pakistani army was deployed to restore peace in the city. The period from 1992 to 1994 is regarded as the bloodiest period in the history of the city, when the Army commenced its "Operation Clean-up" against the Mohajir Qaumi Movement. The city has been badly hit by militancy since the mid 1980s, first by ethnic militia MQM and then by fundamentalists since 1995, and militancy has damaged the city enormously. Since the last couple of years however, most of these tensions have largely been quieted. Many Karachiities consider the violence and terrorism in their city as part of a conspiracy.
Since the late 2000s, Karachi has seen many bombings and attacks as part of the War on Terror as well as political and ethnic tensions, since the city has a conspicuous history of problems with terrorism, violent demonstrations, kidnappings and other negative effects of Islamic fundamentalism, and has become one of the most crime-infested cities in the region. However, Karachi continues to be an important financial and industrial centre. It handles most of the overseas trade of Pakistan, and it accounts for a lion's share of the GDP of the country. Karachi is Pakistan's most important and biggest city, and it works as the nerve centre of the country's economy. Karachi is one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world, and it faces challenges that are central to many developing metropolises, including traffic congestion, pollution, poverty and street crime.
Karachi has a relatively mild and an arid 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 summer 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. 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 monsoon season (July to August), occasionally featuring lengthy spells of continuous rain. Karachi's weather can be compared to Florida's weather. The highest ever recorded temperature in Karachi is 47.8°C while the lowest is 0°C.
Karachi doesn't offer that much activities as you would expect from a world's biggest city but still, as compare to other Pakistani cities, the city offers some wide scoop of activities especially for water-based activities fans due to its location on the shoreline. One thing you might find enjoyable and interesting while in city is to rent a beach hut which are not exist anywhere in the country. There are hundred of beach huts on the outskirts of the city, built on the shoreline of various beaches. You can rent these on daily, weekly or monthly basis. When summer comes to Karachi, more beach huts spring up and every day large numbers of people from Karachi visit beaches to enjoy picnic, swimming, and fishing. The beaches are next to each other with a parallel access road and are less strict about clothing because of the more private access to the beach via these huts. Prices depend on the quality of hut you want, but normally start from Rs 8,000 per day. Prices can be negotiable so don't hesitate to haggle. Even some low cost huts are equipped with furniture such as chairs and a bed together with a stove. Lifeguards and security are usually available on some beach areas. Bring your own food and drink as there is only one proper restaurant in this resort area named "Beach Bar B Q". The beach with the most huts is Hawke's Bay beach, which is most popular due to its close proximity to the city. It's a sandy beach with crystal blue water and is one of the few beaches in the world where green sea turtles come to lay eggs. There are hundred of huts built on the beach shoreline along Hawke's Bay Drive. Sandspit beach is also a popular tourist spot due to its close proximity to the city, ideal for swimming and sunbathing. Huts built on the beach shoreline are along Manora Drive. French beach is often cited as Karachi’s most beautiful beach. Located half way between Hawke's Bay and Paradise Point, it offers plenty of beach huts for rent. Its rocky beach and clear water are ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving as well as surfing during the monsoon season. Visitors have to bring their own equipment for diving. A minute away from French Beach is Tushan beach and "Turtle beach" which have a mixture of small hills with a perfect sandy beach with a few beach huts. You'll need to book the hut in advance.
You can hire a boat at Kiamari boating harbour, which will take you to Manora Island (though not really an island) or tour you around the Karachi harbor. Private boats can be hired for around Rs 500-3,000 per hour according to size of boat. If you are also interested in eating fish or crabs, ask the boat owner to arrange some and have a cookout on the boat while you travel. Please avoid taking photographs as it is prohibited when you're touring near the harbor due to its proximity to a Naval base, and other sensitive installations around. Even the boats crew will discourage you to take photos. Aside from the wooden trawlers, ferries are also available. Some captains of boats and ferry offers sea fishing, or even just crabbing but within the harbour. You 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.
Karachi is not haven for divers and snorkelers but snorkelling and diving is getting popular now. The most well-known dive site in Karachi is Churna Island, where you can explore the city's beautiful aquatic life at a totally different level. It can be a thrilling, fun and excitement filled experience for those who've never dived before. The diving season in Karachi is from September to mid-May, so it's better not to dive during the monsoons in Pakistan which usually occur from June until September. The water temperature is a minimum of 16⁰C to a maximum of 29⁰C and you may dive to a depth of more than 30 m (100 ft). Churna Island is actually a small island off the coast of the city and is only accessible by boat. It has abundant of coral reefs and widely varied marine life which makes it very popular for diving. There is a marine park where you can find fishes such as hound fish, marlin, angel fish, parrot fish, puffer fish and barracuda together with dolphins, sea urchins, turtles, jelly fish and sea anemones as well. Karachi Scuba Diving Centre offer a complete scuba diving and snorkelling package which usually includes breakfast, lunch, diving instructions, diving gear, life jackets, local boat ride to Island and a pick-up, drop-off service as well Divers Reef Karachi along with knee-boarding, banana tubing and cliff diving. For those looking for some thrilling experience, take a thrilling and exciting ride on Jet Ski in city's seashore. The riding time is from dawn in the morning until afternoon. Ride usually cost around Rs 3,000 for two persons.
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 6 PM. Among the good ones are The Great Fiesta Water Park located on M-9, one of the best water park in Pakistan. Surely a family park so only families are allowed. Offering many exciting water slides including one of the most heart wrenching "Raft Spiral Black Tunnel", Teenager, Cyclone, Wave Pool, Lazy River, Mountain Fall, Aqua Play, Mini Titanic Ship, Light House, and Free Fall. The most amazing slide is Rainbow slide and Cosy Water Park on N-5 which is recommended for ladies because it is one of the water parks in Karachi that offers private ladies slides in a wide range. Other includes Al Mehran Water Park and Dreams-world Resorts.
- Cruise Dinner, Phase 8, DHA.. Enjoy dinner on board while taking a boat ride off Karachi coastline in middle of sea. Cruise dining is itself most exciting part and makes this fantastic dining experience especially if you never did cruise dining before. Please note booking needs to made a day in advance. Either go with Savor, Savor provide 2 hour sailing time but if you've money and you want to go private, nearby Carlton Hotel can rent a nice comfortable, with both air-conditioned and open air deck and clean boat for you. They charge Rs 17,500/hour and Rs 2,300 per person for dinner. They've 2 menus to choose from, either Chinese or Pakistani. so Hop aboard and enjoy an unforgettable evening.
- Cinemas. 10:00-02:00. Karachi loves going to movies, and Karachihites flocks to cinemas every day. Nueplex Cinemas in The Place, Khayaban e Shaheen, is a recently opened magnificent and country's biggest movie theatre. This is Pakistan's most notable cinema, offers a high quality experience with a good 3D system and has huge screens in an attractive ambience. The cinema is designed by world renowned cinema Architects Mesbur & Smith and comprises five theatres including a luxury one, totalling 1100 seats and features 3 of the largest silver screens in Pakistan. Other major players includes Cinepax in Clifton, Cineplex at Seaview and Atrium Mall in Saddar, close to Zainab Market. These cinemas show mainstream releases of Bollywood, Hollywood and Pakistani. Rs.500-1,000.
- Arena, FEC-01, Habib Ibrahim Rehmatullah Rd, Main Karsaz (Near Maritime Museum), ☎ +92 21 9924 5251/54, 9924 5264, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 1pm-11:30pm, F,Sa 1pm-12:30pm, Su 12pm-11:30pm. A modern and family friendly gaming arcade offering 16 lanes computerised bowling alley, virtual bowling for those who don't want to handle the traditional heavier bowling balls, mini golf, pool tables, 29 different arcade games, coin-operated kiddy rides for children, ice skating rink which is first of its kind in Pakistan, virtual reality simulator, paint ball, rock climbing, and a gymnasium. There's a nice buffet restaurant "Rangoli" which serve continental & Mughlai dishes and a cafe styled restaurant "Cafe Mist" and "Mocktail Bar" located inside the Arena. Entrance fee is Rs 500 per person which is redeemable.
- Revolving restaurant, 16th Floor, Caesar's Tower, Main Shahrah-e-Faisal (Opp. Aisha Bawany School), ☎ +92 21 3278 5147-8. Have you ever heard of or experienced dining in a Revolving restaurant? If not, this is time to do. It is the only restaurant of its kind in the country where one can dine on a revolving floor located on the rooftop of the building and enjoy the stunning views of the Karachi skyline and major landmarks such as Mazar-e-Quaid.
- Safari Park, Main University Rd, Gulshan-e-Iqbal. This family-only park was opened in 1970, has a small zoo, a children's playland and some gardens. This park is one of the major recreation and amusement park in the city. Catch a bird's-eye view of the animals from the 10 minutes long chairlifts in the park. Also, houses Karachi's largest adventure park Go-Aish which offers different adventure activities such as rope course, Paintball, Wall climbing, ATV track, Big swing and Flying fox.
The cuisine of Karachi is strongly influenced by the city's Muhajir population, Muslim immigrants originally from India who migrated to Pakistan following the independence in 1947. Most Muhajirs have traditionally been based in Karachi, hence the city being known for Muhajir tastes in its cuisine, however cuisines vary from one neighborhood to another, given the diverse nature of ethnic origins that exist. Muhajirs clung to their old established habits and tastes, including variety of dishes and beverages. The Mughal and Indo-Iranian heritage played an influential role in the making of their cuisine, having taste vary from mild to spicy and is often associated with aroma. In comparison to other native Pakistani dishes, Muhajir cuisine tends to use stronger spices and flavours. Special dishes include biryani (is arguably the most popular food among Karachiites, with numerous variants (Awadhi, Mughlai, Bombay, Sindhi, Memoni etc.), qorma, kofta, seekh kabab, Nihari and Haleem, Nargisi Koftay, Kata-Kat, Rogani Naan, Naan, sheer-qurma (sweet), qourma, chai (sweet, milky tea), paan and other delicacies associated with Muhajir culture. The food of Muhajirs is renowned for its cultural fusion, due to Muhajirs hailing from a number of ethnic backgrounds. As a result, Bengali cuisine, Bihari cuisine, Uttar Pradeshi cuisine and Muslim Hyderabadi cuisine collaboratively impose an influence on the style of food.
Karachi has a large number of restaurants from fast food, fast casual, casual dining to fine dining as well several fantastic upmarket restaurants, which serve a huge and wide variety of both local and international cuisines such as (Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Arab, Korean, South Indian, etc.). The beauty of the food in Karachi is that you will probably find a cuisine for every taste. 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.
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.
There are thousands of restaurants scattered throughout the city with Defence and Clifton is chock-full of fine dining, trendiest and happiest restaurants and cafés. It's useful for the visitor to be aware that there are some areas where the majority of diners are Karachiites, rather than tourists and, in general, there you will get better food and value. But city have scores of food streets as well that is devoted specifically to eating out. They are lined with food stalls, restaurants, and other food shops, and are typically pedestrianised. They has become a social norm, with people using them as both formal and informal meeting areas. These places can be visited even during the day but are best visited in the evening. To name a few most popular food districts, Boat Basin is a mile-long gastronomic delight strip of open-air street food/restaurants. Boat Basin is where almost all of Karachi's late-partying citizens wind up, since food is often available here until five or six in the morning, and some restaurants are open 24 hours. Most dining is open air, during winter this becomes the most popular hangout place in the city. Local style breakfast (such as halwa puri and anda paratha) is served at Boat-Basin 06:00-07:00 onwards. Note that restaurants here will frequently only accept cash. It is a good idea to carry enough cash to tide you over, at most of these locations Rs 1,000 per person will be more than sufficient. If you're not the experimenting type then there's always the International fast food options as well. Burns Road, For authentic Karachi food this is the place to be. The best tasting Nihari, Sajji, Bottis and Tikkas can be found in this congested corner of Old Karachi. Burns Road is a part of Saddar, the main business district of Karachi. Most of the restaurants here are built in really old pre-independence era Victorian style buildings which sort of gives you the feeling of being in a crowded part of Old Delhi. Hygienically this may not be the cleanest part of town, but if you are a big time foodie and you really want to taste real Karachi food then seriously this is the place to head to. If food preparation hygiene is really an issue for you then the best option is to head to Food Centre, the biggest and prettiest building on the street. Places to head to here include Punjab Lassi house for the best Lassi in town, Food Center and Sabri Nihari. Other than these there are many more restaurants scattered througout this street. Restaurants accept only cash here. Price wise you can easily have food dessert and a glass of Lassi for less than Rs 300. Adjacent but far away from the Sea View beach is a giant food street Do Darya which is along the scenic sea front of Arabian See, fastly becoming a very well known dining spot in city. This is the only food street of it’s kind in the country where you will be greeted by many restaurants clustering at the edge of the Arabian Sea. There are several Pakistani food restaurants here offering both indoor and open air dining facilities. Here, the rocky shore provides shrimps which are used as bait to catch fish. You can feel the cool, relaxing sea breeze, enjoy the pleasant atmosphere and huts right above the shore giving an ultimately fulfilling experience.
- Hot N Spicy, Khada Market, Phase 5, Defence, ☎ +92 21 358 43930. It is mainly famous for its delicious and best "Paratha Rolls" that can be eaten with a various array of different meats eg Chicken, Beef and Kebab to name a few. With different fillings and yea that includes Cheese, Chatni, Ketchup, and Garlic Mayo also. One average Paratha Roll with out any fillings will cost you around Rs 100. The more fillings you add the more price increases this can go up to around Rs 120 per roll. Other than the Paratha Rolls, serve some great Sandwiches and Burgers. Recently introduced crispy chicken filling rolls. Have outlets all over the city.
- Student Biryani, ☎ +92 21 111 111 778. A popular and one of the oldest Pakistani food chain that is best known for selling its famous biryani dish, a variant of India's Bombay Biryani. It is a very much renowned Biryani center in Pakistan and has the most excellent biryani for biryani lovers. Having branches throughout the city with the flagship in Saddar. Home delivery is also possible. A regular chicken biryani plate, salad, raita with a cold drink will cost not more than Rs 250. Must try special zarda as well.
- Nihari Inn, ☎ +92 21 3587 0026. Boat Basin. This restaurant is especially famous for it traditional Nihari (a popular meat dish of Pakistan) with piping hot hans. A plain nihari cost Rs 150 whereas special nihari dish cost per person around Rs 350. Located on the strip of Boat Basin food street.
- Lal Qila, Shahrah-e-Faisal, ☎ +92 21 3438 8363-64. 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.
- Al Habib Restaurant, Super Highway (near New Sabzi Mandi/Northern Bypass on main shahrah-e-Pakistan Rd; it is roughly 22 km away from city centre and on highway going towards interior Sindh province), ☎ +92 21 687-0702, +92 21 687-0703. One of the most popular restaurants of the City. It remains open 24 hr and has a huge sitting area and it receives a lot of diners from all over the city specially on weekends. You can try all kind of Pakistani food here.
- Salt n Pepper Village, Beach Avenue, Defence, ☎ +92 21 3584 3121. On the edge of sea coast of Arabian see, offers a scenic view of the beach. This is theme restaurant depicts the village architecture of Pakistan and is popular for its authentic Pakistani food with often live music. Buffet style dinner cost per head is Rs 1,300 whereas lunch Rs 900.
- Usmania Restaurant, ☎ +92 21 3586 3470. Near Belawal House, Block 2, Clifton. A fine dining restaurant serving quality and authentic Pakistan cuisine along with continental, Chinese and Indian dishes and Bar BQ as well. Restaurant offers air side as well for dining. Have branches throughout the country. Price per head around 800.
- BBQ Tonight, ☎ +92 21 111 227 111. Main Bilawal Roundabout, Clifton. One of Karachi's most popular and splurge restaurants. Spread over four stories of seating, including partly covered rooftop seating, the restaurant is almost always completely packed, but the turnover is high, so reservations aren't required. It now serves lunch. The rooftop is good. Per person will cost at around Rs 900.
- China Town, ☎ +92 21 3586 0528. Near Belawal House, Block 2, Clifton. Traditional, authentic and fresh Pakistani Chinese food at reasonable prices. Popular among local Chinese community. Cost per person is around Rs 800.
- Ginsoy, ☎ +92 21 3534 5362/3. 29-C Main Khayaban-e-Shahbaz, Phase 6, Defence. A pretty good Chinese restaurant offering some excellent authentic Chinese food in town at affordable prices and in a pleasant ambience. Overall, good value for money. Recently opened an extension nearby. Cost per person is around Rs 700.
- Damascus, Block 9, Near KPT Underpass, Clifton, ☎ +92 21 3587-9902. 18:00-02:00. One of the oldest cafe in the city. Mostly a restaurant specialized in Arabic cuisine, also offers many seafood items. Rs 500-800.
- Roasters, 23-C, 2nd Commercial Lane, Main Zamzama Rd Phase 5, Defence, ☎ +92 21 3530-2204. 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.
- Chandni (Pearl Continental Hotel), ☎ +92 21 3568 5021. Club Road. A fine dining restaurant in town offering quality desi Pakistani cuisine in buffet style only. Great atmosphere with live classical music daily. Cost per person is around Rs 1,500.
- The Patio, ☎ +92 21 3530 9871. F-50/1, Block 4, Clifton. Popular upscale and contemporary fine dining restaurant offering Pakistani and Pan-Asian cuisine. Outdoor seating also available. Price per head around Rs 1,500.
- Aqua Lounge, ☎ +92 21 3537 6700-1. 18-C, 1st Floor, 5th Zamzama Commercial Street, Phase V, Defence. An upscale premier restaurant serving almost all kind of quality sea food as well steaks. Popular among elites and very busy. Cost per person is around Rs 2,000.
- Saffron, ☎ +92 21 3586 8394. D-82, Block 4, Clifton. Upscale dining restaurant offering both Continental and Mediterranean cuisine. Restaurant is very cosy with low lit dining rooms and totally wooden floors. Outdoor seating is also an option. Live Jazz music every Sunday on brunch. Cost per person around Rs 2,000.
- Kahva Cafe and Grill, ☎ +92-21-3455-3582. 6-C, Mustafa Arcade, Block A, SMCHS. Upscale classic theme dining restaurant+cafe offering both Continental and Italian cuisine. A nice place in the city to go with family. Don't forget to taste their popular Bon Bon dish. Cost per person around Rs 1,000-1,500.
- Fujiyama (Avari Towers), ☎ +92 21 3566 0100 ext. 2076. Fatima Jinnah Road. Traditional Japanese food, located on the top floor of the 17 story Avari Towers offers 360 degrees panoramic views of the city. Located on the top floor of the 17 story tower offering a nice view of the city. Cost per person is Rs 2,000+
- Sakura (Pearl Continental Hotel), ☎ +92 21 111-505-505. Club Road. Specialties includes spicy tuna tartare, Japanese green tea, noodles with shrimp, tempura and teriyaki. Located on roof top of the hotel. Cost per person is above Rs 2,000+.
- Dynasty (Avari Towers), ☎ +92 21 3566 0100. Fatima Jinnah Road. Award winning top end restaurant serving truly quality and authentic Chinese cuisine with around 139 dishes in the menu. Restaurant is decorated in Chinese style and popular among expats. Cost per person is around Rs 2,000+.
- Pompei (Shapes Health Club Compound, old railway club), 139 Mc Niel Road, ☎ +92 21 3521 9657-8. Cantt. A finest dining restaurant serving Italian cuisine. Open air dining as is also available in beautiful garden. Interior is excellent Italian style. Cost per person is Rs 2,000+
When it comes to alcohol, Karachi is more lax and getting alcohol is much more easily and less harassing than rest of the Pakistan but still drinking alcohol in public areas including restaurants is banned and strongly discouraged and only legal wine shops allowed to sell alcohol. The signage of wine shops are usually marked with blue and red colour stripes (which depicts they're legalised), have no area to sit and drink, mostly sell locally produced brand such as Murree Brewery and are usually closed on Fridays. And even though, Karachi have the largest number of wine shops but still finding one can be hassle for a newcomer since most of the taxi and rickshaw drivers simply deny knowing of the shop whereabouts as alcohol is considered taboo in the society.
On the other hand, cafés culture is on the rise in the city and they're numerous excellent places to sit and spend evenings. Coffee shops, cigar lounges, juice and ice cream parlours are all in plentiful and scattered throughout the city, mostly in Defence and Clifton areas. Nightlife in Karachi is livelier than in other Pakistani cities although nightclubs can't be found easily (except a few that have recently popped up across the city but are very private), there are some fantastic restaurants that offer musical and theatrical performances on a daily basis.
International chains such as HOBNOB, GLORIA JEANS COFFEES, CINNABON, DUNKIN' DONUTS, MOVENPICK, BERRYLICIOUS FROZEN YOGURT, TUTTI FRUTTI FROZEN YOGURT, TCBY, RED MANGO, YOGEN FRUZ, SNOG PURE FROZEN YOGURT, CI GUSTA, all have a presense in the city.
- Espresso, Dolmen City Mall, Clifton, ☎ +92-21-3486-0245, toll-free: +92-21-111-393-377. 8:30AM-12AM. The bigger branch of a local coffee chain house, Espresso is very popular among young generation serve all type of hot and cold coffee, shakes, juices as well light snacks. Free WIFI. Have four more branches in the city. Rs.500-800.
- Agha Juice House, Near Jamia Masjid, Block No. 1, Nazimabad. Daily 11:30-02:45. A chain of juice house serving some fresh fruit juices from all seasonal fruits and some good shakes. Have more three outlets: Opp Amber Auditorium Bahadurabad, Main Rashid Minhas Road, Gushan Iqbal and Khadda Market Defence.
Apart from many good restaurants in town, there are also plenty of cafes cum restaurants with a nice ambience:
- Bread People Bakery & Cafe, 10-C, Khayaban-e-Shahbaz, 26th St, Shahbaz Commercial Area, Phase 6, Defence, ☎ +92 21 524-3256. Live music bands, usually on random Saturday nights. Call for schedule.
- Butlers Chocolate Café, Main Road, Off 6th Commercial Lane, Zamzama, ☎ +92 21 3530-1927. 07:00-14:00. Ireland’s leading and award winning chocolatier has an upmarket and elegant cafe offering fine chocolates and gifts. Large selection in an excellent atmosphere. Rs 800-1,000.
- Casbah & 007 Club (Beach Luxury hotel), ☎ +92 21 561-1031. M T Khan Rd. Saturday night dance party. Couples only. Call to confirm.
- Cinnamon Lounge, Avari Towers, Fatimah Jinnah Road, ☎ +92 21 3566-0100. 24 hr. Casual cafe located inside a splurge hotel offering many desserts, snacks and good coffee. Rs 1,000-1,500.
- Koel Cafe, F-42/2, Block 4, Scheme # 5, Clifton, ☎ +92 21 3530-9745. A nice open air cafe with good Continental food and in a pleasant atmosphere. Rs 1,000-1,500.
- Latte Lounge, 47-C, Main khayaban-e-Sehr, Phase 6, Defence, ☎ +92 21 3535-0877. 11:00-23:00. Popular among youngsters, cafe offers continental food, many homemade baked goods, coffee as well as shisha in a nice pleasant atmosphere. Rs 500-800.
- Purple Haze, 66C-68C, 25th St Tauheed Commercial, Defence (In the basement of 'Evolution' restaurant), ☎ +92 21 3586-0941. 13:00-01:00. Serves some of the best desserts in Karachi and shisha as well. Karaoke nights are usually fun too. Rs 800-1,000.
If you have the inclination to smoke, check out one of Karachi's cigar lounges. They stock quality international brands including authentic Cuban cigars. These places have luxurious interiors and can give the illusion of being in a 1950s film, Note that you will have to pay a handsome sum for the pleasure of genuine Cubans. You can also try shisha at Cafe Shisha or at Indulge.
For Sheesha lovers, "Indulge," a chain of cigar lounges, have branches in Park Tower, Millennium Mall, Rashid Minhas Road, and Gulshan-e-Iqbal.
- Castro's Cigar Lounge, Carlton Hotel, DC-5, Opp. Zulfiqar St, Phase 8, Defence, ☎ +92-21-3453-4176.
- Cigar Bar, 6th Commercial Lane, Zamzama, Phase 5, D.H.A., ☎ +92 21 530-2006.
- Club Havana, 10, Vawda House, 10th Commercial Lane, Zamzama, Phase 5, Defence, ☎ +92-21-3582-1696. 11:30AM-12:30AM. A unique, cozy and tranquil atmosphere cigar lounge in the city often play music in the background. Offering large collection of cigars. Rs 800-1,000.
Nightlife is exists in Karachi and has become the envy of the region, bars, nightclubs and dance halls have sprouted across the city and some people have also made entertainment venues in their own homes but it's not easy to find. There are no open 'night clubs' in the city - however periodic special events are organised in various venues about once every two months - spread by word-of-mouth.
- PC hotel, Live band playing all types of music followed by ghazals from 8:30PM-11PM. Live Ghazal band from 11PM-2AM
- Dumpukht, (Marriott Hotel). Live Indian traditional dancer every night except Monday from 8-11:30PM.
Karachi is the shopping capital of the country and Karachiites are avid shoppers and, as such, Karachi boasts an incredible diversity in terms of shopping, accommodating anyone's preferences and budget. Products that shoppers can buy in Karachi come from a vast variety of sources, from one of the many local cottage industries to authentic brand wear by renowned international designers. Whether it is simple trinkets, a nice handicraft or high fashion boutiques that turn you on, Karachi is a shopper's paradise. 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. Worth a visit. Co-operative market is one of the oldest and major marketplace in Saddar, selling the most diverse goods from clothing to electronics at reasonable prices. You can find a huge number of potential gifts such as traditional souvenirs, rugs, all types of handicraft, and other cultural products of Pakistan. Rainbow Centre is famous as the hub of video entertainment in Pakistan and reported to be the largest CD and DVD market in Asia and perhaps one of the largest hubs of pirated CDs in the world. You can buy CD's/DVD's at very cheap price from Rs 50. 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.
- Tariq Rd. Houses more than one thousand shops, from jewellery, garments, cosmetics, food, computers to shoes and is among the city's largest shopping district. It is one of the best shopping places of Karachi. In fact, it is the most famous and number one shopping centre, people from almost all areas of Karachi come and do shopping here. It is also home to several malls with Dolmen Mall more popular. Tariq Rd is most famous for its high-quality garments and thriving market for the footwear business, with hundreds of shoe-stores lining the road. This street is famous for different traditional food item including traditional Samosa, Katchori and especially the mixed fruit chat.
- Zamzama Boulevard. This is the place where the rich, famous and affluent like to hangout for up-market designer boutiques, clubs and restaurants. Zamzama is home to the trendiest and hippest Cafes in town, where all the hip and young people of Karachi like to hang out in their designer attires and sip on the best brews in town. At the same time, Zamzama is also home to the more up end and exclusive dining places in the city, and here are the some of the city's most expensive and trendiest boutiques and designers. Zamzama is basically a rich mans playground where most of the restaurants and cafes clientele comprises of people from the rich and upper middle class of society.
- Gulf Area Market, 3 Talwar, Clifton. many traditional vendors and more up-market boutiques and designer shoes yet in affordable prices.
- Sunday Bazaars. Similar to a flea market, open only on Sundays all over the city but the one worth to visit is in Defence. It is a new generation of modern open bazaar, which is very well organised which makes it a huge tourist attraction as well and quite popular among city's expatriates community as well. These bazaars are organized under a cloth canopy and there are hundreds of stalls. Prices are lower compared to regular shops, but you can still haggle to get a good bargain. Bazaars usually start their business as early as 08:00 and continue until the sun sets.
Karachi is rapidly becoming a 'mall crazy' city with a variety of large and luxury shopping malls. There're plenty of big and small shopping malls in the city. Here are some better-known shopping malls, which are big, more most popular which makes them busy throughout the year.
- Dolmen City Mall, Marine Drive, Block 4, Clifton. It is the largest shopping complex in Pakistan and can be much comparable to ones in Dubai for its giantess. It is home to numerous high street shops, a huge "Hyperstar - Carrefour" hyper market, a giant food court with eateries from western cinnabon, fat burger, johnny rockets to the most trendiest GunSmoke. Many people heads to this mall not only for shopping, but to spend some good time which make it very crowdy on weekends. You can also enjoy beautiful sea view from Gloria Jeans here or try Fish Spa. There is also an indoor Sindbad amusement park for kids, which is the biggest in the whole country.
- Ocean Mall, Teen Talwar, Clifton. 10AM-2AM. This is the Pakistan's tallest building which is recently opened. It is 393ft high skyscraper and houses a large upmarket shopping mall houses many local and international brands. It also houses a big food court and Cinepax, four grand cinemas, one of them being a 3D cinema.
- Park Towers, Shahrah-e-Firdousi, Clifton. One of the oldest upscale shopping in town still attracts many visitors. Has shops of various downtown boutiques, a food court, a superstore, an indoor kids' theme park and art gallery.
- The Forum, Khayaban-e-Jami, Block 9, Clifton. Known as one of the few good and modern shopping mall in city. Includes shops, food court and Ebco superstore.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Karachi on Wikivoyage.