10 Ways To Go Local In Karachi, Pakistan

Photo of Nadia Dohadwala
9 February 2017

When someone thinks of traveling to Pakistan, the cities that often come to mind are Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar. However, Karachi, which is the main port city and commercial hub, is also a center of rich culinary tastes, beautiful and intricately embroidered clothes, and exquisite handicrafts. You may not know how to fully experience this cosmopolitan city the way a local does, so here are ten tips on how to get the best experience out of Karachi.

Chaat | © Sonia Goyal/WikiCommons

Roadside Chaat and Pakola at Flamingo’s

After a meal or before, the best place to have a satisfying snack without having to get out of the car is Flamingo’s. Order and eat in the comfort of your car as the menu and food is brought to you. There are many different chaats: a combination of chickpeas, potatoes, tortilla-like crunchy chips topped with condiments and sweet and spicy sauces. A must-try is the mixed chaat with Pakola, an ice cream soda-flavored carbonated drink that is found only in Pakistan.

Flamingo’s Shop No., 14th S St, Karachi, Pakistan, +92 21 35870168

Zainab Market and Bun Kebabs

Zainab Market is a well-known market among locals. Both western and Pakistani clothes are found here. One can find many export leftovers for a bargained price. The market is also well known for handicrafts and knick-knacks from all the over the country, ranging from carpets to marble, wood carvings and silverware. After a day of shopping and bargaining at Zainab Market, do stop by at one of the many roadside stalls along the outskirts of the market for a bun kebab — a hot chargrilled meat or potato patty with lettuce, tomato and some sweet sauces — to drive away the tiredness.

Zainab Market, Abdullah Haroon Rd, Karachi, Pakistan, +92 21 35653479


Don’t feel like having dinner on land? Head to Keamari Port and have a seafood dinner cooked on a sailboat. As the boat sails into the Arabian Sea, the chefs onboard will cook, in a traditional way, a mouthwatering meal of lobsters, crabs, fishes and prawns. You can find out more about crabbing in Karachi here.

Mohatta Palace Museum

Built in 1927, Mohatta Palace was originally a summer home for the Hindu businessman Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta. However, after the subcontinent’s partition, he left Karachi for India, and the building was acquired by the Pakistani government. The palace, which was built out of pink Jodhpur stone and a local yellow stone from Gizri, is now an art museum. When exiting the museum, be sure not to miss the Victorian-era statues that can still be found there.

Mohatta Palace Museum, 7 Hatim Alvi Road, Clifton, Karachi, Pakistan, +92 21 35837669

Camel Riding at Clifton Beach

There is no way that you can lie on the sand at Clifton Beach, unlike most beaches around the world. The shore is full of camels, horses and four-wheeled buggies zooming around. Do make sure to go on a camel ride, which lasts about ten minutes and is inexpensive. The camels are fully decked out with colorful and traditional Pakistani materials. Remember to hold on tight as the camel stands up before the ride!

Clifton beach, Karachi, Pakistan

Hangout at Dolmen Mall Clifton

Dolmen Mall is an upscale retail mall that rivals those in any first-world country. It has both international outlets, such as Mango, Nike and Next, as well as local outlets, such as Bonanza and Khaadi. Other than that, there are also many places to grab a bite to eat. Try Butler’s Chocolate Café on the first floor for interesting truffles and chocolates.

Dolmen Mall, Sea View Rd, Karachi, Pakistan, +92 21 111 362 111

Port Grand

Port Grand is a one-kilometer stretch located on the waterfront. It used to be the Native Jetty Bridge before it was redone to become a dining and entertainment hub. There are many different restaurants here that serve local and international cuisines. Make sure to bring a sweater or jacket if it is winter as it gets cold around the area.

Port Grand, Port Grand Food St, Karachi, Pakistan, +92 21 35863826

Halwa Puri for Breakfast

One of the most satisfying yet sinful breakfasts someone can possibly have is halwa puri. It is a Pakistani breakfast dish that consists of deep-fried bread, a curry made of chickpeas and potatoes, and a dense, sweet confection made of semolina. It is easily available all over Karachi.

Shop at Jafferjees

Jafferjees is a reputable local franchise that sells handcrafted leather goods. They sell high-quality handbags, wallets and bookmarks among many other things. When you buy something from there, do not forget to get your name engraved on it. There are many branches all over Karachi, and you can check out their nearest branch here.