Shopping/Entertainment in Karachi 1998, 2000, 2009 & 2015

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Karachi is one of the liveliest and happening cities in Pakistan. Think Times Square in New York everywhere you go. So it is no surprise there is no dearth of things to do while you are visiting-from shopping to eating out, Karachi has everything for everyone. I am finally over my jet lag (took 10 days!) and decided to write part 2 of my trip to Karachi. This time I decided to focus on my lifelines, in other words, the important stuff-shopping and eating.

To my non-desi followers: there is a great source for researching Karachi businesses. KarachiSnob.com is an online space where you can research all the safe, clean, and desirable places to shop, eat, and hang-out without the hassle of going through guidebooks (which unfortunately there aren’t many). Another point to be noted is that you need a rental car (or a local family member) who knows how to navigate the roads (without street signs) and traffic. There is no way you can use public transportation and get to your destination in one piece.

So here goes:

Points of Interests

Pakistan Air Force Museum

If you have young families, then this place is a must-see. It’s a nicely maintained park that houses retired air force planes and navy ships. You can actually walk around on the ship and take Titanic-esque pictures if you want. There are also delicious snacks although I wouldn’t recommend them for out-of-towners.

DHA Golf Club

I love, love this place. Since my aunt and uncle are members of this golf club, we get to go in and out as we please. Security is high and it is right by the ocean. Nestled on the edge of town, in Defense, this impressive location is a great place for families to hang out, whether they are golfers or not. There are restaurants, golf, and miles of green grass for us to hang out in. Their Sunday brunches are nice too (think endless supply of halwa puri).

Arena

I have been here only once. I believe it is the only place in Karachi to go bowling (I could be wrong). It is not well-lit and it is cold with the air conditioning blasting, but it is a fun place to hang out with families.

Hawkes Bay

You cannot go to Karachi and not visit a beach. Hawkes Bay is another must-see locale where you can soak your feet in water, take a camel or horse ride, see monkey shows, or try a game of volleyball. So much fun!

Clifton Beach

This is the most popular and populated beach in town. They have done some pretty cool stuff like put search lights pointing toward the ocean so the waves appear silver at night. There is an endless supply of restaurants as well and locals just come here to hang out with friends and family. Do try some street vendors’ food like roasted corn or sweet potatoes cooked under hot sand-so yummy. Stay away from water drinks!

Sands-pit

If I were you and in town for the first time I would visit Clifton beach. If you have time for a full day picnic then do look into Sands-pit. They have incredible huts for rent that have full functioning bathrooms and kitchens. You can spend the day looking at the ocean waves from the porch or soaking in the sun.

Port Grand

I have been here only once and I thought it was nice- a must-see for all those craving Santa Monica/boardwalk type vibes. Concerts, shops, restaurants, you name it, they have it. Fun for an evening out.

Shopping

Zainub Market

When I was young, this place was the place to go to for souvenirs. However, these days it is a place for locals to shop international designers and brands items at a fraction of the retail place. From what I hear all the rejected, slightly-damaged stuff gets send here and you can purchase items such as original Lacoste polos for $10. Amazing!

E-Street

I love this street. It is where most high-end designer stores and posh restaurants are without the crowds. You can spend an afternoon here shopping or brunching at a café. Cute place indeed.

Dolman Mall Tariq Road/Clifton

These malls are wonderful places to shop safely without the riff-raff of haggling. Top brands such as Generation, Khaadi, Sana Safinaz, and Agha Noor are available at top prices; you can spend hours here. They have wonderful food courts as well. One is in Tariq Road and one is Clifton. The Clifton mall is more impressive and it is right by the ocean- a win-win for me.

Empress Market

This place is crazy! It has a huge historical significance (read here) but today it is mostly shops. One thing I have heard but cannot vouch for since I personally haven’t seen it is their impressive collection of animal stores. You can buy birds there, chicks, fish and God knows what else. Next time I go there, I will definitely check it out.

Food

BBQ Tonight

Hands-down this place is my favorite restaurant in Karachi. Go early (I am saying like eight or eight-thirty) because this place gets packed after nine. It’s all about Mughal barbeque dishes and you will not be disappointed by their selection or the taste of the food. A must-see in my book. Also, if it is warm try their rooftop seating area-totally worth it.

Kolachi

I tried this place this last time and it is kinda worth the hype. It is literally built deck-style on top of the ocean. There is a huge waiting area where you can see where all the magic happens-the huge kitchen which is alive with sounds and smells of food cooking. In my opinion, the food was okay. I prefer BBQ Tonight in terms of food, but Kolachi has what BBQ Tonight doesn’t-supreme views and ambience. In conclusion, I would say eat here just for the experience and request to sit by the ocean.

Red Emperor

A couple of streets from E-Street, this Chinese restaurant was built in a Defense mansion. You walk in a beautifully decorated (with exotic plants) outside dining area. We chose to sit inside because it was cold. The food was absolutely delicious and memorable as well. I would stick with the non-sea food dishes if I was an out-of-towner (which I was).

Hi-Tea at Marriott

Hi-Tea is huge in Pakistan. It is a little different (and heavier) than afternoon too in the western cultures. Hi-Tea is an elaborate, two-to-three hour meal that has a buffet style set-up. At the Marriott, hi-tea included finger sandwiches, ethnic snacks like Gol Guppe and pani puri (they use mineral water so it’s safe); the entrée part included Haleem, halwa puri, and other desi dishes. There were even two random Chinese dishes. The desert bar included many varieties of cakes and pastries, including this carrot-cake concoction which tasted wonderful with tea. I ended the meal with faluda, which is ice cream with syrup and vermicelli.

Brunch at DHA Golf Club

I went here for my birthday in 2015 and had a great time. Their display is so impressive their one whole wall of the hall is dedicated to food presentation. There were breakfast items such as halwa puri, and omelets being made on demand, to Italian items such as lasagna and pasta. There were a few desi items such as nihari as well. Well worth the money spent.

Well, I hope this post gives you a nice introduction so you can start what will naturally and eventually become a pursuit for information on Karachi (hopefully). Happy travels!

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