Diary Of My Trips in Karachi 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009 & 2015

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Karachi is one of the liveliest and happening cities in Pakistan. Think it as comparative to Times Square in New York. So it is no surprise there is no dearth of things to do while you are visiting – from shopping to eating out to spending a day at one of its numerous beaches with private huts. While my trips to Karachi usually focus on my two lifelines – shopping and eating, I have done other activities in this city that may be points of interests for my readers.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the city and would like to get some ideas on what to see, stay, and eat in Karachi, start with KarachiSnob.com. This website is an informative online space on which you can search all the safe, clean, and desirable places to shop, eat, and hang-out without the hassle of going through guidebooks for visiting Pakistan (which unfortunately there aren’t many in the first place). Another point to note is that you need a rental car (or a local family member) who knows how to navigate the roads (they are without street signs and plenty of traffic). There is no way I would recommend you can use public transportation in Pakistan.

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 an endless supply of halwa puri).

The 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 due to the air conditioning blasting, but it is a fun place to hang out with families.

Hawkes Bay

You cannot go to Karachi without visiting a beach. Hawkes Bay is a must-see locale for beach lovers. If you don’t mind hoards of crowds there cooling off in the water, you can actually soak your feet in the water, take a camel or horse ride, see monkey shows, or try a game of volleyball all in a day. So much fun!

Clifton Beach

This is the most popular and popular beach in K-town. They have done some pretty cool stuff like put searchlights pointing toward the ocean so the waves appear silver at night. This beach due to its popularity doesn’t have rental huts but, there is an endless supply of restaurants nearby where you, along with K-town locals can just come to hang out with friends and family. If you manage to find one, do try some street vendors’ food like roasted corn or sweet potatoes roasted under hot sand – so yummy. Stay away from water drinks!

Sands-pit

If I were you and in K-town for the first time I would visit Clifton beach. If you have time for a full day picnic and need some privacy, then look into Sands-pit. This beach has incredible huts for rent with full functioning bathrooms and kitchens. You can spend the day looking at the horizon way beyond the ocean waves crashing – all from the porch of your private hut or if you prefer, go soaking in the sun.

Port Grand

I have been here only once and I thought it was a nice spot for tourists to explore. It is, however, a must-see for those craving the boardwalk type vibes. Concerts, shops, Pakistani restaurants, you name it, they have it. Beware, you never know if you will be surprised by an evening concert.

Shopping

Zainab Market

When I was young this place was the place to go to for Pakistani 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 disregarded stuff gets sent here that can be purchased at highly affordable prices. I have seen people find original Lacoste polos for $10. Amazing!

E-Street

I love this street! It is where most high-end Pakistani designer stores and posh restaurants are without the crowds and without the hassle of driving around town. You can spend an afternoon here shopping or brunching at a chic café.

Dolman Mall Tariq Road/Dolman Mall Clifton

These two malls are wonderful places to shop safely without the riff-raff of haggling. Top hi-street Pakistani brands such as Generation, Khaadi, and Agha Noor are available. Both malls have wonderful food courts as well with plenty of familiar and exotic restaurants to choose from. The Clifton mall is more impressive and it is right by the ocean. Both places have valet parking.

Empress Market

This place is crazy! It has a huge historical significance (read here) but, currently it mostly houses shops for random things. One thing I have heard but, cannot personally vouch for since I haven’t seen it is their collection of animal stores. You can buy pets such as birds, chicks, fish, etc.

Food

Pizza Hut

For those pizza-loving tourists, you have to visit Pizza Hut with branches scattered around the large city. If you manage to get a seat inside by dinner time, then try dishes such as their chicken tikka pizza, spicy ranch, chikan fajita supreme, and halal pepperoni pizza. Omit soda, opt for water, and fill your stomach with slices of pizza instead.

BBQ Tonight

Hands down this place is my favorite restaurant in Karachi. Go early (I am saying like eight or eight-thirty lol) because this place gets packed after nine every day. The menu is all about barbeque and curry dishes from the Mughal era. A must-see in my food book. Also, if you can bear a bit of traffic noise, try their rooftop seating area – totally worth it.

Kolachi

I tried this place once 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 witness the magic happen. The huge kitchen is right by the waiting area, which is alive with loud sounds of pots and shimmering meat and smoky smells of the food cooking. In my opinion, the food was okay. I prefer BBQ Tonight, but Kolachi has what BBQ Tonight doesn’t – supreme views and ambiance. 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 (it was December). The fusion Chinese food was absolutely delicious.

Hi-Tea at Marriott

Hi-Tea is huge in Pakistan. It is a little different (and heavier) than an afternoon tea prevalent in 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 or 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 dessert 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 brunch buffet display is so impressive that one whole wall of the brunch 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 additional Pakistani items such as nihari as well. Well worth the money.

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. Happy travels!