Transportation - Get In
Jinnah International Airport , 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 state owned 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 airport is also a hub to AirBlue and Shaheen Air, Pakistan's other two private airlines both of which fly domestic and international routes.
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.
|airblue||Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Rahim Yar Khan, Dubai, Jeddah|
|Etihad Airways||Abu Dhabi|
|Iran Air||Tehran-Imam Khomeini|
|Iraqi Airways||Seasonal: Najaf|
|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|
|Saudia||Dammam, Jeddah, Medina, Riyadh|
|Shaheen Air||Faisalabad, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Muscat, Sharjah|
|Thai Airways International||Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Muscat|
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.
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..
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.
Transportation - 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.