Shopping in Karachi
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
- Saddar. is the largest shopping district of the city and home to Pakistan's big jewellery market, electronics market, mostly consumer electronics as well everything from A to Z. You can find cheapand high quality products here. It consists of number of interconnecting by-lanes with street vendors hawking a wide variety of items from antiques to shoes to car accessories etc. The place can be quite a surprise for the number and type of items on sale. 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. Shop with a keen eye – look out for fakes or second hand items that are shoddily repaired and can be passed out for a quick buck. Don’t carry too many items like money / jewellery / watches on you when visit this huge shopping area. Keep it to bare essentials and keep an eye on your belongings. There is a very good chance that you may get robbed since locals are apt at spotting first time shoppers. Beware of the auctioneering shops in Saddar which are illegal and fake. Those fake auctioneers hire a group of people who apparently take part in the bidding but their purpose is to trap other people.
- 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.
- Defence Sunday Bazaar. Similar to a flea market, open only on Sundays all over the city but the one worth to visit is in Defence. It is a new generation of modern open bazaar, which is very well organised which makes it a huge tourist attraction as well and quite popular among city's expatriates community as well. These bazaars are organized under a cloth canopy and there are hundreds of stalls. Prices are lower compared to regular shops, but you can still haggle to get a good bargain. Bazaars usually start their business as early as 08:00 and continue until the sun sets.
- Tariq Rd. Houses more than one thousand shops, from jewellery, garments, cosmetics, food, computers to shoes and is among the city's largest shopping district. It is one of the best shopping places of Karachi. In fact, it is the most famous and number one shopping centre, people from almost all areas of Karachi come and do shopping here. Rabi Centre have good quality shops for bridal and casual suiting. It is also home to several malls with Dolmen Mall more popular have mostly branded shops. Tariq Rd is most famous for its high-quality garments and thriving market for the footwear business, with hundreds of shoe-stores lining the road. This street is famous for different traditional food item including traditional Samosa, Katchori and especially the mixed fruit chat.
- Zamzama Boulevard. This is the place where the rich, famous and affluent like to hangout for up-market designer boutiques, clubs and restaurants. Zamzama is home to the trendiest and hippest Cafes in town, where all the hip and young people of Karachi like to hang out in their designer attires and sip on the best brews in town. At the same time, Zamzama is also home to the more up end and exclusive dining places in the city, and here are the some of the city's most expensive and trendiest boutiques and designers. Zamzama is basically a rich mans playground where most of the restaurants and cafes clientele comprises of people from the rich and upper middle class of society.
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.
- Dolmen City Mall, Marine Drive, Block 4, Clifton. It is the largest shopping complex in Pakistan and can be much comparable to ones in Dubai for its giantess. It is home to numerous high street shops, a huge "Hyperstar – Carrefour" hyper market, a giant food court with eateries from western cinnabon, fat burger, johnny rockets to the most trendiest GunSmoke. Many people heads to this mall not only for shopping, but to spend some good time which make it very crowdy on weekends. You can also enjoy beautiful sea view from Gloria Jeans here or try Fish Spa. There is also an indoor Sindbad amusement park for kids, which is the biggest in the whole country.
- The Forum, Khayaban-e-Jami, Block 9, Clifton. Known as one of the few good and modern shopping mall in city. Includes shops, food court and Ebco superstore.
- Ocean Mall, Teen Talwar, Clifton. 10AM-2AM. This is the Pakistan's tallest building which is recently opened. It is 393ft high skyscraper and houses a large upmarket shopping mall houses many local and international brands. It also houses a big food court and Cinepax, four grand cinemas, one of them being a 3D cinema.
- Park Towers, Shahrah-e-Firdousi, Clifton. One of the oldest upscale shopping in town still attracts many visitors. Has shops of various downtown boutiques, a food court, a superstore, an indoor kids' theme park and art gallery.