Karachi

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 skyline

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.

Understand

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.

History

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.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
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.

Politics

The demographics of Karachi are important as most politics in Karachi is driven and influenced by ethnic affiliations. Karachi has been a traditional stronghold Of Jamaat e Islami in late 1970s but in 80s the new Political Power is rises "The MQM". Karachi was a birthplace of the Mahajir Qaumi Movement (now Mutahida Qoumi Moment), generally known as MQM. MQM is a secular political party mainly representing Muhajirs of Sindh. Originally started as an ethnic-based student organisation under the name of All Pakistan Muhajir Student Organization (APMSO) in 1978 by Altaf Hussain in the city's well known university Karachi University where he was a student. Later it renamed Muhajir Qaumi Movement in 1984 and started working as a proper political party to represent the Muhajir community and to protect them who see themselves as the victims of discrimination and inequity. In 1997, MQM replaced the term "Muhajir" in its name with Muttahida (Urdu for "United") thus welcoming all ethnic groups of Pakistan into its folds. MQM in the past and even today often accused for causing terrorism and creating widespread political violence in the city and various crackdown has been launched against the party officials amongst the major ones are Operation Clean-up from 1992 to 1994 during the government of Nawaz Sharif, which is regarded as the bloodiest period in Karachi's history. In 1992, the leader of MQM left the country as a arrest warrant was issued for him and self-imposed exile in London. The party is often labelled as anti-Pakistan and fascist by critics.

Over the years, MQM keep switching forming alliances with ruling parties in federal government of Islamabad in order to remain in power and to establish provincial government in Sindh. Today, MQM is currently the fourth largest political party in Pakistan and holds the most number of seats from Karachi in terms of both provincial and federal level due to which it holds strong mobilizing potential in Karachi as well in some parts of Sindh, having traditionally been the dominant political force in the city. The party have a larger mandate in urban Sindh including Karachi in comparison to Pakistan's second largest party PPP, who to some extent, consider MQM a rival and whose centre of gravity always lies in Sindh as Sindh is considered home province to the party but the stronghold of the party has been significantly reduced in urban areas of Sindh after the emergence and continued popularity of MQM and now majority of PPP's support come from rural areas of Sindh only where it has maintained a large vote bank. PPP has always managed to succeed in gaining power in provincial government of Sindh while on the national front, has remained into power in the federal government for five times since its foundation in 1967 by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who remained the 4th President of Pakistan and later the 9th Prime Minister of Pakistan.

People

The term muhajir comes from an Arabic word meaning "migrant". In Pakistan, Muhajir is used mostly for those Urdu-speaking Muslim immigrants who, at the time of partition of British India between the nations of India and Pakistan in 1947, originally came from North India and settled mostly in Sindh, particularly Karachi. Most of these migrants chose to keep alive their original identity. Today, Muhajirs make up a large portion of the population of Karachi followed by Pathans, Punjabis and Sindhis.

Culture

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.

Get in

By plane

Bird's-eye view of Airport
Karachi airport building

Jinnah International Airport, (IATA: KHI), is Pakistan's busiest and largest international and domestic airport. Between the 1960s and 1980s, Karachi was once a much busier airport and was an online station of several major airlines of the world however, after the emergence of Dubai's airport on the world map, increased usage of longer haul aircraft, and later the poor political climate of Karachi during the 1990s, several airlines discontinued their service to the airport. Currently, It is the hub for Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan's national carrier, which flies to numerous international destinations, and all the major cities in Pakistan as well has connections to many other hubs and major international cities.

The main Jinnah Terminal is divided into two concourses – the Jinnah East Satellite Concourse which is used for international flights and Jinnah West Satellite Concourse for domestic flights, each having a provision of passenger-loading bridges, which extends from airport terminal gate to an airplane, allowing passengers to board and disembark without going outside or transfer via shuttles. The two satellite concourses also supplement the departure lounges of the terminal building. The lower level of the terminal is for arriving passengers, where a dedicated lane of taxis is situated just outside the terminal building for arriving passengers whilst the upper level of the terminal is for passengers departing.

Facilities in the airport include food kiosks such as McDonald's and Butlers Chocolate Cafe. There are also a number of Bank kiosks, ATMs, Money Exchange counters, Wi-Fi, Free Internet kiosk (in Departures), mosques, coffee shops and many gift, a medical store, convenience stores, sweet shops, mobile recharging points, and snack counters. There is a big duty-free shop selling rugs, carpets, sports goods, medical instruments, onyx, gems and many more at cheap prices but it doesn't sell alcohol. Left-luggage facilities are also available within the terminal for those wishing to store baggage. Free trolleys and Dedicated Porter Services are available at Rs100 for domestic flight passengers and Rs 200 for international flight passengers. Assistance for the disabled is available on request from the airline prior to departure. Wheelchairs and wheelchair assistance can be found from desks in the arrival and departure areas of the terminal. Airport's CIP Lounge can be used for free by all first/business class passengers and credit card holders including their guests on all outbound flights while Barclays and UBL have separate lounges for their credit card customers. There is also PIA Business Class Lounge next to CIP Lounge. The facilities at Airport's CIP Lounge includes a comfortable sitting area to relax in, access to leading TV Channels, free wifi, a wide range of snacks and beverages for free, newspapers, magazines, shower, fax, telephone and mobile charging facilities. There is an on-site McDonalds restaurant outside the main terminal building as well.

Immigration and customs procedures are often a lengthy process at Karachi airport with Immigration always hectic with long lanes especially at the Pakistani passport counters, during peak hours which are usually at early morning time, and can take a notoriously long time (more than 45 minutes). In the immigration hall there are supposed to be separate queues for foreign travellers; passengers with children and unaccompanied children; business travellers. However, usually rules are bluntly ignored to fasten the immigration process and those lines are occupied by everyone indiscriminately – which makes for foreign travellers and business travellers a exhausting experience.

As you arrive at the baggage carousel you will find free trolleys as well as a host of porters vying for your attention to carry your luggage. It is best to settle the tip before you engage one, however. Normally Rs 100 will satisfy most of them. If you're departing, be prepared for long delays through security. If you're going from Domestic to International or International to Domestic you are taken outside the airport building and you will re-enter through International or Domestic Departures.

AirlinesDestinations
Air Arabia Sharjah
airblue Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Rahim Yar Khan, Dubai, Jeddah
Air China Chengdu
Air Indus Bahawalpur , Faisalabad , Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta
Emirates Dubai
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
flyDubai Dubai
Flynas Jeddah
Gulf Air Bahrain
Iran Air Tehran-Imam Khomeini
Iraqi Airways Seasonal: Najaf
Oman Air Muscat
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
Qatar Airways Doha
Saudia Dammam, Jeddah, Medina, Riyadh
Shaheen Air Faisalabad, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Muscat, Sharjah
SriLankan Airlines Colombo
Thai Airways International Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Muscat
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk
United Airways Dhaka

By bus

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..

By train

Karakoram train bound for Lahore at Karachi Cantonment Station

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.

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.

By car

Karachi is well connected with the rest of Pakistan via network of multiple-lane highways and can be reached easily by driving your own car. There are two major highways approaches to Karachi: M-9 and N-25. Motorway M-9 commonly known as Super Highway, is a 136 km long motorway — rather a highway in reality — travel between Hyderabad and Karachi and is a common way of entry into Karachi. National Highways # N-5 is the longest highway in Pakistan, it originates from Torkham (Pakistan-Afghanistan border) and via Peshawar, Islamabad, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan, and Hyderabad reaches Karachi however upon reaching Hyderabad, majority of travellers take M-9 as that highway shorten the distance between the two cities.

National Highway # N-25 (RCD Highway) originates from Chaman (Pakistan-Iran border) and via Quetta, Kalat, Khuzdar and Bela reaches the city and merges onto the KPT Flyover at Karachi Port. If coming from Gwadar, take National Highway # N-10 (The Makran Coastal Highway) which later merge with N-25 for Karachi. It is a scenic highway as it follows the Arabian Sea coast.

Distances from Pakistan's major cities to Karachi are: Hyderabad — 160 km, Islamabad — 1,480 km, Lahore — 1,240 km, Peshawar — 1,380 km and Quetta is 700 km.

Get around

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.

By foot

Walking is not only the most environmentally friendly way to see a place, it is also undoubtedly the best way, as it allows one to experience its rich ambiance and charms first hand, but much of Karachi is quite pedestrian-hostile with rarely marked crosswalks in the city and road signs are not good either. But, if you really want to walk around, always ensure you walk on the footpath, or if one isn't available, as far to the side of the road as possible and on the right facing on-coming traffic. City is big and distances are long which makes places of interest scattered far and wide all over the city but sometimes, walking in the city may actually be the fastest way to get from point A to point B particularly in the densely packed downtown areas of the city and the narrow streets of the city where walking is actually a favoured way to get around. The road is not that dangerous a place in Karachi, but many pedestrians are often injured by careless drivers – especially when the roads are narrow. Those who are squeamish about pollution or have asthma may need to wear a mask; the air pollution from passing trucks and buses, combined with the searing heat and humidity can be overwhelming at times. And don't expect driver will give you way even if you will have right of passage on pedestrian crossings. Crossing the road can be very dangerous too and it is important to stay alert for erratic driving.

In particular, Saddar area is fairly spread out, but are enjoyable to explore by foot and getting lost in Saddar can make for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. It is a chaotic tumble of goods, people, and vehicles and can be navigated quickly on foot and are worth taking some time to wander around.

By rickshaw

A Pakistani auto rickshaw in Karachi

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.

Call-a-Rik is an operator of rickshaws which are newest addition to Karachi streets. They've introduced a trend of modern rickshaws. their rickshaws installed with GPS tracker devices, comfortable spacious seat, have doors which make them dust and pollution proof and safe, and also have LED and sound system for passenger entertainment. Fare start at Rs 10/ km and charge a minimum of Rs 100 per trip. These rickshaws provide door-to-door service, and cannot be hailed without pre-booking through either phone or online.

By bus

A jingle mini-bus in Karachi

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.

By taxi

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.

By car

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.

See

There is a lot to see in Karachi, but the typical "tourist" sights are concentrated in downtown district Saddar where the city has a collection of buildings and structures of varied architectural styles. The British built variety of private and public buildings during British Raj from 1858 to 1947 in Karachi, many of which colonial buildings and landmarks still remains today. According to some reports, the city possesses over 600 protected buildings dating largely to the British period. Few of fine examples colonial buildings still remain today but unfortunately not well preserved and most of them deteriorated over time due to lack of heritage preservation. On the other hand, Karachi is currently undergoing a construction boom and hold a number of buildings whose height exceeds 100 metres.

Architecture

Chaukundi tombs
The imposing Empress Market
Frere Hall
The KMC Building at night
Masjid e Tooba
Mohatta Palace
Quaid-e-Azam House
Quaid-e-Azam Mausoleum
Karachi St. Patricks Cathedral

Museums

National Museum of Pakistan

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.

A view of Clifton Beach
Manora beach

Parks

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.

Bagh-e-Qasim

Do

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.

Boat harbour in Kiamari

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.

Buy

Karachi is the shopping capital of the country and Karachiites are avid shoppers and, as such, Karachi boasts an incredible diversity in terms of shopping, accommodating anyone's preferences and budget. Products that shoppers can buy in Karachi come from a vast variety of sources, from one of the many local cottage industries to authentic brand wear by renowned international designers. Whether it is simple trinkets, a nice handicraft or high fashion boutiques that turn you on, Karachi is a shopper's paradise and anything can be found in Karachi if you just ask. A huge range of very affordable products are offered to the point where shopping can overwhelm a visit if you allow it to! Western-style malls and shopping emporiums are popping up across the city but don't expect a traditional or uniquely Pakistani shopping experience in the malls. The city has many modern, high-end shopping malls such as Park Towers, The Forum and Dolmen Mall, in addition to local traditional bazaars and a gamut of streetside vendors. You can shop to your heart's content, in the massive range of markets and bazaars that dot the city, or you can shop and enjoy one of the many modern shopping malls that are found across the city's more affluent sectors, namely Defence and Clifton. And don't worry too much about your budget; a recent survey found Karachi to be the cheapest city in the world for expatriates.

There are a great number of shopping places in Karachi, ranging from the traditional bazaar to the modern shopping malls. A first-time visitor should try and visit the bazaars, The bazaars usually consist of many small vendors selling a variety of products from accessories to clothes to food and drink. In addition, there are larger stores which are more specific in their products. Also one would find that the bazaars are a more culturally enriching experience. One problem is that when shopkeepers find out you're from out of town, they will charge you double/triple prices. Try to go with someone local if you can to get a good price.

The shopping experience in the city is a study in contrasts. At the lower end of the spectrum are street vendors. Existing at the borderline of legality, entire streets have been given over to these hawkers and in many places it is impossible to walk on the footpaths, because they have blocked the way. On the other hand, these vendors often give you a great bargain though you will have to haggle a lot and be careful about what to buy. There's nothing like taking a local along to shop for you.

Karachi is probably worth visiting just for its street markets, the hustle of vendors, and the madness of the crowds. Good places are anywhere in Saddar. If you came to Karachi and didn't give visit to this highly dense and crowded area, it means you didn't meet the real Karachi. Hawkers and street shoppers don't ask for any legal permission and then set their stalls at the places where they see maximum footfall. From electronics items to fresh food, you can get everything anywhere.

Most vendors in Karachi are open to bargaining, which is a common sight at most bazaars and among hawkers. As a result, prices of products vary immensely among every vendor, with the exception of upscale high-end shopping malls, which usually have fixed prices. In Karachi, it is also general knowledge to be cautious when bargaining with vendors, especially in bazaars and with hawkers, as they often sell substandard goods at high prices to unaware shoppers. Apparent foreigners, in particular, are often ripped off.

Shopping reaches its peak during the Eid season, as not only established businesses but vendors from all over the country come to the city to sell their goods to the city's large population, a majority of which is middle class and relatively well-off compared to most other parts of the country.

Haggling is very common in most Karachi bazaars – so don't hesitate to negotiate prices. On the whole, shopping in Karachi is an interesting, exhilarating but often tiring experience.

Places to shop

Shopping at a Karachi Sunday bazaar
  •   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 one of the largest CD and DVD market in Asia.
  •   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.
  •   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.

Malls

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.

Eat

Karachi has a large number of restaurants from fast food, fast casual, casual dining to fine dining as well several fantastic upmarket restaurants, which serve a huge and wide variety of both local and international cuisines such as (Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Arab, Korean, South Indian, etc.). The cuisine of Karachi is strongly influenced by the city's Muhajir population, who have traditionally been based in Karachi, hence the city being known for Muhajir tastes in its cuisine, however cuisines varies from one neighborhood to another, given the diverse nature of ethnic origins that exist in this giant metropolitan. Biryani is arguably the most popular food among Karachiites, with numerous variants. The beauty of the food in Karachi is that you will probably find a cuisine for every taste. Whereas the dining experience at an upscale restaurant in Karachi is more or less the same as anywhere else in the world. If you search hard enough, you will find cuisine from practically every part of the world represented in the city. But to get a real flavour of what's unique to Karachi, you will have to go a little lower down the scale and experience the street food. Few upper-end restaurants are located in major splurge hotels in the city (the Sheraton, the Pearl Continental, Mövenpick Hotel and Avari Towers). It is a huge task for a visitor to find the "right place" to eat in Karachi largely because, as in any big city, there are literally thousands of venues from which to choose, ranging from fast food joints, mainstream chains all the way up to some of the most exclusive restaurants in the subcontinent which attract the kind of clientele that don't need to ask the price. On the other hand, one can easily find a franchise of an international fast food outlets such as KFC ☎ +92 21 111 532532, McDonalds ☎ +92 21 111 244622, Subway ☎ +92 21 586-8907, Papa Johns ☎ +92 21 585-3374, Mr Cod ☎ +92 21 535-0746, Henny's ☎ +92 21 5867151, +92 21 5864023 (09:00-23:00), Pizza Hut ☎ +92 21 111 241-241, Domino's ☎ +92 21 111 366-466, Penny Pizza ☎ +92 21 34991029.

There are thousands of restaurants scattered throughout the city with Defence and Clifton is chock-full of fine dining, trendiest and happiest restaurants and cafés. It's useful for the visitor to be aware that there are some areas where the majority of diners are Karachiites, rather than tourists and, in general, there you will get better food and value. But city have scores of food streets as well that is devoted specifically to eating out. They are lined with food stalls, restaurants, and other food shops, and are typically pedestrianised. They has become a social norm, with people using them as both formal and informal meeting areas. These places can be visited even during the day but are best visited in the evening. To name a few most popular food districts,

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

When it comes to alcohol, Karachi is more lax and getting alcohol is much 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 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 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.

On the other hand, 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.

Cafes

Apart from many good restaurants in town, there are also plenty of cafes cum restaurants with a nice ambience:

Cigar lounges

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.

Nightlife

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.and the most beautiful and entertaining than these Bars and clubs is Sea View,here you can not only enjoy camel and horse ride but also Beach bikes with lights on them and they look beautiful and charming and entertaining too, everyday (if there is no strike).

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under Rs 5,000
Mid-range Rs 5,000-13,000
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.

Budget

Mid-range

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.

Splurge

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.

Stay safe

Crime

Since the late 2000s, Karachi has seen many bombings and attacks as well as political and ethnic tensions, since the city has a conspicuous history of problems with terrorism, violent demonstrations, street crime, kidnappings and other negative effects of Islamic fundamentalism, and has become one of the most crime-infested and troubled cities of the region. Several countries started to order their citizens to register with their consulate to receive contact details during extreme situations. Check with your consulate before you travel, if you are required to register, too.

Street crime in Karachi is about what you'd expect in a huge city. Use common sense and avoid dangerous areas such as slums and suburbs with bad reputation such as Lyari, Orangi town, Malir, New Karachi, and North Karachi where gun crime is getting common, however, there should be no serious danger in the affluent parts of the city. Defence,Nazimabad,Gulshan 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

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

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, motorbikes and female drivers 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.

Connect

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 Rs 15-Rs 20/MB data transfer, 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, World Call, 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, then most of the area will have Wi-Fi.

Cope

Consulates

  • Libya, 1/5-F, Street-15, Shahra-e-Iran, New Clifton,  +92 21 3536 4306.
  • Macedonia, 53, 10th Commercial Street, Phase-4, DHA,  +92 21 3588 5449.

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