KarachiCopyright: Mohammad Ali Photography/Shutterstock.com
KarachiA cosmopolitan melting pot of Eastern and Western influences, ethnicities and cultures, Karachi will enrapture all those who visit. With the warm waters of the Arabian sea lapping at its shores, a breathtaking mix of architectural styles and the warm welcoming hospitality of its people, Karachi will uplift the spirits and animate you with a glow that gives credence to its nickname as the “City of Lights".
The CitySaddar, the commercial heart of the city, is where visitors will undoubtedly be drawn to. The wide boulevards and narrow side streets are home to all manner of markets and bazaars where you will find Karachi street life at its most vibrant. Along Zaibunnisa Street there are also some fine examples of Victorian architecture, a relic from colonial times, whilst on MA Jinnah Road you will find Karachi’s most famous landmark: the Quaid Mausoleum. Saddar is also a good place to head if you’re looking for budget accommodation; for cheap eats, head to the famous Burns Road. South of Saddar, hugging the coastline, are the upmarket neighbourhoods of Clifton and DHA (Defence Housing Association). Clifton’s marine promenade is a popular evening hangout for Karachiites, who come to eat at the numerous restaurants dotting the boatyard, or simply just to walk and talk, all while admiring one of the world’s tallest water fountains. In the adjoining neighbourhood of DHA, Zamzama Boulevard has a range of designer boutiques, coffee shops and stylish restaurants that attract a well-heeled crowd.
NightlifeNightlife in Karachi centres around dining, and restaurants tend to keep to late opening hours. Alcohol sale and consumption aren't legally allowed in Pakistan, so alcohol-free drinks, such as teas and juices, tend to substitute wine and beer during evening outings. Parties involving alcoholic drinks do happen, but these are largely kept hidden, and information about when and where they take place can only be obtained by word of mouth. Non-Muslim foreign visitors may be served alcohol at some high-end hotels.
Do & See
There is plenty to see in sprawling Karachi, the financial first city of Pakistan and a fascinating melting pot of cultures. Most visitor attractions are concentrated in the southern district, while the outlying beaches and islands make for excellent short trips out of the city. If you're keen on learning more about the city’s history, museums like the National Museum of Pakistan and Mohatta Palace Museum are ones not to be missed.
Eating in Karachi is a gourmet's dream, with a seemingly endless selection of eateries: from the cosmopolitan finery of upmarket restaurants to the traditional delights served by street vendors. Among the most popular local dishes are nihari, a stew made from beef or lamb, and biryani; these are almost always accompanied by a variety of breads such as naan, paratha or chapati. After a rich, spicy meal it’s always nice to refresh the palate with one of the traditional desserts, a particular Pakistani favourite being kulfi (a variety of ice cream). Don’t forget to bring cash, as restaurants outside of the city centre may not take cards.
After a long day of sightseeing it can be nice to sit down in a cafe and relax with a cup of tea or coffee. You will notice that the city has plenty of cafes to choose from, due to the flourishing cafe culture of Karachi. You will find places offering tasty ice creams, hot beverages, and delicious pastries.
Saddar, the old area of the city, is home to a number of markets. Zainab Market and Bhori Bazaar are full of stalls selling handcrafted items such as woodwork, clothes, and leather garments. For jewellery, head for Sarafa Bazaar, which is a gold and silver market, whilst the Empress food market is great for spices and is worth a trip for the atmosphere alone. Aside from the souks, Zaibunnisa Street is lined with fashionable boutiques and jewellers, whilst Tariq Road in the neighbouring PECHS district has much of the same. Need a new carpet for the living room? Then head down to Abdullah Haroon Road, where you can pick up quality new or antique carpets from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. If the thought of haggling leaves you in a cold sweat, head to the Clifton and DHA areas, where you will find a number of malls which provide a range of brand name outlets in air-conditioned surroundings.