Difference between revisions of "User:W. Frank/Sandbox/Karachi"
Latest revision as of 21:47, 9 October 2012
Beginning in 1947 at the bloody partition of the British Raj, when hundreds of thousands of Muhajirs from India sought refuge, the population has exploded from about 450,000 to an estimated 18 million today. With more than a million new inhabitants pouring in each year, it's not surprising that the stretch marks are showing in one of the largest and most rapidly growing cities in this world!
Karachi, located on the coast of the Arabian Sea, is the financial and commercial centre of the nation, as well as its largest port. Karachi is different from the rest of Pakistan in the same way that New York is different from the rest of the United States. The pace of life is more hurried; time is money, and money is life. It is comparable to other Asian cities, such as Mumbai. Locals call it: the City of Lights, the City of The Quaid, and the City that Never Sleeps.
The city credits its growth to the mixed populations of economic and political migrants along with refugees from different national, provincial, linguistic and religious origins, who generally come to the city to settle permanently. Residents and those born in the city are called "Karachi-ites" and almost 98% of the population in Karachi understands the Urdu language.
Karachi is a huge city and an administrative division of Sindh Province. Karachi is officially divided into 5 districts and 6 military cantonments.
However, visitors should find the conceptual region list below more useful for getting around:
Karachi is the most diverse and cosmopolitan city in Pakistan and may offer a hint as to the future direction of modern life in Pakistan. Large numbers of non-Muslim religious communities are settled in Karachi compared to other Pakistan cities: Hindus, Christians, Ahmadiyya, Parsis, Sikhs, Bahai, Jews, Buddhists as well as Zoroastrians. Karachi's inhabitants, locally known as Karachiites, are a cosmopolitan population composed of many ethno-linguistic groups from all parts of Pakistan, as well as migrants from several different countries and regions, making the city's population a diverse melting pot.
The early history of Karachi dates back to 327–325 BC, when Alexander the Great used the city to camped and prepare a fleet for Babylonia. Karachi was later known to the Arabs as Debal from where Muhammad bin Qasim led his conquering force into South Asia in 712 AD. The modern day history of Karachi begins when it was made the capital of Sindh in the 1840s. In 1878 under the British Raj, the city was connected to the rest of British India by rail. Public building projects, such as Frere Hall and the Empress Market were undertaken. In 1876, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born in the city. Following the independence of Pakistan in 1947, Karachi had become a bustling metropolis with beautiful classical and colonial European styled buildings, lining the city’s thoroughfares. Karachi was chosen as the capital of Pakistan. In 1960, the capital of Pakistan was moved from Karachi to the newly built Islamabad. During the 1960s, Karachi was seen as an economic role model around the world. Many countries sought to emulate Pakistan's economic planning strategy and one of them, South Korea, copied the city's second "Five-Year Plan" and world Financial Centre in Seoul is designed and modelled after Karachi. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, ethnic and political violence broke out across the city between Muhajir followers of the Mohajir Quami Movement, ethnic Sindhis and Punjabis and state forces. As a result, the Pakistani army was deployed to restore peace in the city.
Located on the coast, Karachi has a relatively mild climate with low levels of precipitation (approximately 10 inches per annum), the bulk of which occurs during the July-August monsoon season. Winters are mild, and the summers are hot. The city's proximity to the sea keeps humidity levels at a near-constant high, and cool sea breezes relieve the heat of the summer months. Due to the high temperatures during the summer (ranging from 30-44°C from April to October), the winter months (November to February) are generally considered the best times to visit Karachi. July, December and January have pleasing and cloudy weather when most of the social events, ranging from weddings to charity fund raisers, frequently take place. Tourists and expatriates usually visit Karachi in these months. Karachi's weather is considered mild and can be compared to Florida's weather (except for the precipitation). The highest ever recorded temperature in Karachi is 47.8 °C while the lowest is 0 °C.
The everyday lifestyle of Karachi differs substantially from that of other cities and towns in Pakistan. Karachi's culture is characterized by the blending of Middle Eastern, Central Asian, South Asian and Western influences, as well as the city's status as a major international business centre. As a whole, there is considerable diversity in culture, and this diversity has produced a unique cultural amalgam of its own type. Karachi also hosts the largest middle class stratum of the country.
Karachi is home to some of Pakistan's important cultural institutions. The National Academy of Performing Arts, located in the newly renovated Hindu Gymkhana offers a two-year diploma course in performing arts that includes classical music and contemporary theatre. The All Pakistan Music Conference, linked to the 45-year old similar institution in Lahore, has been holding its Annual Music Festival since its inception in 2004. The Festival is now a well-established feature of the city life of Karachi that is awaited anxiously and attended by more than 3000 citizens of Karachi as well as people from other cities.
The National Arts Council (Koocha-e-Saqafat) also has musical performances and Mushaira (poetry recitations). The Kara Film Festival organized annually showcases independent Pakistani and international films and documentaries. Our Karachi Festival celebrates Architecture of Karachi.
Karachi is Pakistan's melting pot — a confluence of people from various parts of Pakistan as well from India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Urdu and English are both official languages of Pakistan and, therefore, Karachi. English is the lingua franca (British control began in the 1840's and did not end until 1947). Most locals learn English in school and know at least basic English. English is widely used in the corporate world and in banking and trading. Other languages widely spoken in Karachi include Punjabi, Sindhi, and Pashto.
Jinnah International Airport (IATA: KHI ICAO: OPKC), , is Pakistan's busiest and largest international and domestic airport. It has connections to many other hubs such as Toronto, London, Dubai, Delhi, Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Istanbul and basically any major international city. It is also the hub for Pakistan International Airlines , Pakistan's national carrier, which flies to numerous destinations, including all the major cities in Pakistan, and international cities such as Beijing, Barcelona, London, New York, Toronto, Istanbul, Kabul, Copenhagen, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Milan, Kuala Lumpur, Oslo, Abu Dhabi, Chicago, Birmingham, Manchester, Hong Kong, Dhaka, Sharjah, Al Ain, Kathmandu, Kuwait, Mumbai, Muscat, Riyadh, Jeddah, Amman, Bangkok, Tokyo and a couple of others. Facilities in the airport include a McDonald's, ATMs, free internet, wifi, a hotel, currency exchange counters, first class lounges, mosques and a duty free shop that doesn't sell alcohol. Immigration used to be a lengthy process, but after a rearrangement of counters and the introduction of a green channel in 2006 this is no longer the case. There are separate queues for foreign travelers, children's and unaccompanied travelers, and business travelers in the immigration.
Karachi is well served by inter city buses from destinations inside Pakistan. There are plenty of long-distance bus companies both private and public sector, mostly clustered outside the Cantonment Railway Station. These include Blue Lines and Green Lines. Buses run 24 hours a day in and out of the city to other major cities of Pakistan. Intercity buses tend to be more modern and well kept than local buses of Karachi. The most comfortable and popular bus operators to and from Karachi are:
Trains arrive in Karachi from all over Pakistan. Karachi has two main train stations, City Railway Station and Cantonment Railway Station. Both train station originates almost about the same number of trains from each, but all trains from City railway station also stop at Cantonment soon after.
First Class travel with Pakistan Railways  is good, and Karachi has railway connections with various major cities in Pakistan including Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Hyderabad, Rawalpindi, & Peshawar. India is directly connected with Karachi via rail, using the Thar Express. The Thar Express runs weekly between Bhagat Ki Kothi near Jodhpur, India and Karachi.
National Highways number N-5, Karachi Northern Bypass no. N-10, RCD Highway no. N-25, no. N-55 and Motorway M-9 also known as Super Highway radiate from the city providing links to all parts of the country. The road conditions are generally better. Distances from various cities to Karachi are:
Karachi is a major trading hub for dhows from around the Indian Ocean. Travellers wanting to arrive in the city this way will probably need to make their own arrangements with the captain of the vessel.
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. The Karachi Circular Railway was planning to re-start a proposed Mass Rapid Transit System a few years ago but the project is still delayed due to bureaucratic hurdles.
Sometimes, walking may actually be the fastest way to get from point A to B. 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. The road is not that dangerous a place in Karachi, but many pedestrians are often injured by passive drivers. Those who are squeamish to 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.
Auto rickshaws are a popular method of travelling in Karachi and very common. If you need to travel shorter distances, go by auto-rickshaw (locally known as just rickshaw) You can find them everywhere. Set prices beforehand. 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. 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.
City bus and minibus routes move back and forth around Karachi 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, but the most common method of travelling in Karachi is by bus, both private and government-run. For lack of space, people often sit on the roof, or hang from bars, and are jam-packed inside the bus.
Local buses are run by the Metro Bus Service and the Green Bus Service, which are a little more expensive than other buses but are more comfortable and usually less crowded. They cover a limited area and you can catch them from Saddar’s Empress Market.
Black and Yellow
Black and Yellow taxis usually don't have any meter, so you should first fix the charge and the location with the driver before getting in. The official rate per kilometre is around Rs 7 but expect to pay around double. Taxis are cheap and plentiful ($15-20 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), painted black-and-yellow. You can hail a cab off the streets. However, many are quite rickety and dirty. 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 want a comfortable and air-conditioned ride, it's best to travel by branded cab services that operate with government-approved tariffs. These services operate modern fleets with well trained drivers. Available with 30-60 minutes notice, 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:
The speed limit is 40 km/h in residential areas and generally 80 km/h on arterial roads.
Driving in Karachi can be bit difficult because of poor driver discipline, so it may be easier to hire a car with a driver.
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.
Travel agents and hotels can arrange private chauffeur driven cars. Expensive compared with taxis, however they are the most trusted, secure and comfortable way to travel around the city.
Karachi is a huge city and there is a lot to see here, so all individual listings are in the appropriate district articles, but the typical "tourist" sights are concentrated in South Karachi. An overview is presented here.
Colonial buildings and landmarks
The British built variety of private and public buildings during British Raj from 1858 to 1947 in Karachi, many of which colonial buildings and landmarks still remains today. Some fine examples are located in the Karachi South district, such as Frere Hall, Mughal architecture styled Mohatta Palace and Hindu Gymkhana, Karachi Port Trust, Khaliqdina Hall, City Court Building, Denso Hall, Quaid-e-Azam House, Trinity Church, Sind Club, Karachi Gymkhana, Karachi Cotton Exchange, DJ Science College, Supreme Court, Saint Andrews Church, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Sindh High Court, Wazir Mansion and the most notable Empress Market. There are a also lot of other modern and old structures to look at in this district specially in Saddar town.
To get the best experience, take a long stroll around the wide roads of MA Jinnah Road, and I I Chundrigar Road. Other famous monuments to be seen in I I Chundrigar area are the Mereweather Tower, Former Lloyds Bank building, Karachi Stock Exchange and many banks that are also excellent examples of colonial architecture in the city. This area preserves some of the finest private architecture from Karachi's early period. The area is known as main business street of Karachi and home to a large number of banks and office buildings. It is the also largest financial district in the country and often termed as the "Wall Street of Pakistan".
There are few good if not so many museums in Karachi which can be referred to as the most famous museums in Pakistan. Most of the museums in the city are concentrated in Karachi South district such as Mohatta Palace, Quaid-e-Azam's Mausoleum and Museum, State Bank Museum and most popular National Museum of Pakistan. Also worth planning a visit is prominent Arts Council of Pakistan.
Pakistan Air Force Museum, and Pakistan Maritime Museum situated in Karachi East district on Karsaz road are with to visit. There are many small museums scattered all over the city’s. For listings of specific museum, see the individual district sections of our guide.
Beaches and islands
Karachi has many big and small beaches, including one in the Karachi South's downtown area "Clifton Beach", which is city's busiest and most popular beach. But they aren't that great and the water off Karachi's coast is extraordinarily dirty. The relatively better ones are in the Karachi West district most popularly Sandspit Beach, and Hawke's Bay Beach. However, they are a great place to see how the locals spend their Sunday evenings, with various food and game activities such as horse riding etc. A word of advice to women: Karachi beaches are not the kind you can wear swimsuits to, particularly two-pieces.
There are a few waterfronts and islands are also located in Karachi, most popular island among tourists is Manora Island in Karachi West district.
Karachi has a justified reputation as a concrete jungle, but there are some nice pockets of greenery within the city. Some city parks are very well-maintained mostly in Karachi South district where two most popular Bagh-e-Ibn-e-Qasim Park, Boat Basin Park, Hill Park, and Jheel Park are located, which offers birds eye view of the city. The city zoo (Karachi Zoo) is also located in this district and well-preserved. In Karachi East, there are plenty of amusement parks are situated and some parks with "Safari Park" being most popular. In Malir district, you can found plenty of water parks, a best option for relaxation.
Karachi also have Pakistan's second largest national park "Kirthar National Park", which is situated outside the city in the Kirthar range mountains in Karachi District.
There is much to do in Karachi; a city of more than 16 million people is unlikely to be short on activities. Simply let yourself be overwhelmed by this city, its size and scope, its heart breaking disparity between rich and poor, and its breathtaking sights and sounds. Karachi isn't just a city, it is a world unto itself.
Karachi hosts plenty of cultural events on regular basis, from art exhibitions to concerts, theatre plays and has a fine collection of Anglo-Indian architecture, a legacy of the British Raj, which will keep history buffs engaged. Culture vultures will find a city with many art galleries, displaying a broad spectrum of works from Asia, and some New Age works from aspiring Pakistani artists.
Local newspapers often have listings of forthcoming culture event in the city. Some active cultural centers in the city are:
Alliance Française Block 8, Plot St-1, Kehkashan, Clifton
Arts Council of Pakistan MR Kayani Road. Probably the best place to see musical, mushairas and theatrical performances.
British Council c/o British Deputy High Commission in Karachi located at Shahrah-e-Iran Road, Clifton
One is spoiled for choice by the variety of sports that can be found in Karachi. Cricket can be found at every conceivable corner, from the lush grounds of the more wealthy professional clubs or elite schools to the side streets of the working class Saddar City district.
Go Aish Adventure park, University Rd,  is Karachi's largest adventure park offering different adventure activities such as rope course, Paintball, Wall climbing, ATV track, Big Swing & Flying Fox.
Golf, there are several fine golf courses which host international tournaments such as the Pakistan Open on the Asian circuit.
Snorkelling, Explore the beautiful aquatic life of Karachi at a totally different level. Spend a thrilling, fun and excitement filled day with Divers Reef  at the Churna Island and know what true open sea adventure is all about.
Amusement parks & wildlife
Don't miss the indoor kids theme parks that are located inside shopping malls, listed under Buy section. See Karachi South, Karachi East and Malir districts for listenings.
Other things you might be interested in doing is catching a movie at the Karachi Cineplex . Or catch a bird's-eye view of the animals from the Chair lifts at Karachi Safari park  or visit The Arena,  a gaming arcade at Karsaz offering an ice skating rink, bowling alley, minigolf, arcade games, rock-climbing and much more or Area 51, a bowling alley.
For those who love watching the city skyline, they can visit Hill Park, an amusement park, offering a nice view of the City or Polo ground or the Revolving Restaurant , which offers a good view of central Karachi.
You can also walk along the beaches, under clear skies, which at night is an experience worth the travel alone, as visitors can gaze towards the heavens while the Arabian sea cascades over their sandalled feet. Streetlights dotting the coast of Karachi increase the beauty of the sea and surrounding areas. Most city dwellers visit other beaches at the outskirt of the city like Hawksbay, Paradise Point, Sansdpit & French Beaches. Huts are available on these far-flung beaches, where you can also fish, yacht, ride horses and camels, collect sea shells and dive. Explore the under water world, marine life and coral reefs via Scuba Diving. Manora Island, next to Clifton Beach, is another breathtaking place for a picnic. Private boats are the easiest way to reach the Island; they can be hired at the marshes of the PNSC building. Manora Island also has a shrine and some hundred-year old monuments. A Riding Victoria type horse carriage from Polo ground to Clifton can be a memorable experience.
Karachi has recently been experiencing a spa boom, and there is now plenty of choice for everything from holistic Ayurveda to green tea hydrotherapy. Good spas can be found in most five-star hotels such as Avari, PC and on Zamzama Avenue.
If you have the time, and inclination to smoke, check out one of Karachi's cigar lounges. They stock quality international brands including authentic Cuban cigars at Club Havana (DHA 5). Other notable lounges are Castro's and the Cigar Bar in Zamzama. These places have luxurious interiors and can give the illusion of being in a 1950s film, Note that you will have to pay a handsome sum for the pleasure of genuine Cubans. You can also try shisha at Cafe Shisha or at Indulge.
See Karachi South district.
Karachi is the financial and commercial capital of the country, there are many jobs available in the financial sector such as banking, the IT/media sector such as BPO, call centre, etc., especially for English-speakers.you can also do acting in one of the largest play and drama industry of world kariwood.most of the dramas are aired in karachi with hundreds of thousands of studios.you can also work in morning shows.
You can shop to your heart's content, in the massive range of markets and bazaars that dot the city, or you can shop & 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 by the Times newspaper (UK) found Karachi to be the second-cheapest city in the world.
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.
If there is one book you need to pick up about the people of Karachi, go for 'Karachiwala: a subcontinent within a city' written by Rumana Husain. It is a coffee-table book sold at all outlets of Liberty Books and copies of the book are also available at bookshops located in major hotels in the city. The book is priced reasonably, and it helps to understand the origins, traditions, history and lifestyles of the diverse communities inhabiting this metropolis.
Buying Pakistani currency
The Pakistani currency is the Pakistani Rupee (Rs). It is usually advised to get your foreign currency converted in local currency before you buy stuff (off course that's only applicable if you're planning to buy with cash - not a credit card). A number of licensed currency exchange companies operate their offices located in various parts of the cities that can be used for the exchange. A passport might be required as an identification document but the requirement is often ignored. Some good repute currency exchange companies are Khanani & Kalia, and Galaxy International. Most large department stores and souvenir shops, as well as all upmarket restaurants accept major credit cards. Some small shops may choose to pass on their 2-3% service free on to you should you choose to use a credit card, but this is negotiable so don't hesitate to haggle.
ATMs exist in most areas and accept major credit cards.
Places to shop
Many good places to shop can be found in Karachi South district as well some in Karachi East. Some of the main bazaars in Karachi that deserve a visit:
There are also three underground bazaars in Karachi at Bohri Bazaar, Nazimabad chowrangi and Liaqatabad No. 10. These are just a few to mention. On the whole, shopping in Karachi is an interesting, exhilarating and often tiring experience.
or visit stores located at Zamzama Ave.
Like other capitals in the world, Karachi has the usual array of International fast food outlets. One can easily find a franchise of KFC ☎ +92 21 111 -532-532, McDonalds ☎ +92 21 111 244-622, Subway ☎ +92 21 586-8907, Papa Johns (Clifton) ☎ +92 21 585-3374, Mr Cod ☎ +92 21 535-0746, Henny's ☎ +92 21 5867151, +92 21 5864023 9a-11p), Pizza Hut ☎ +92 21 111 241-241, Domino's ☎ +92 21 111 366-466, Penny Pizza ☎ +92 21 34991029, or Dunkin Donuts ☎ +92 21 111 366-887. The beauty of the food in Karachi is that you will probably find cuisine for every taste.
There are many food streets throughout the city but South Karachi is full of restaurants and cafes and it is useful for the visitor to be aware that there are some areas where the majority of diners are Karachiites, rather than tourists, and in general you will get a much more pleasant, and better value. These places are can be visited even during day time but best visited in the evenings.
Tip between 5-10% at sit-down places. If a place includes service charges on the bill, you don't need to leave an extra tip. Note the difference betwen service tax and service charges. Service tax goes to government and not to the staff. While tipping is always a good practice.
There are thousands of places to slake your thirst in Karachi—most don't serve alcohol, of course. Cafés, coffee shops, cigar lounges, juice and ice cream parlours are scattered throughout the city, but especially in the South district in the DHA and Clifton areas. There are many good places in the East district too. Several Dunkin Donuts restaurants are located in the city. For Sheesha lovers, "Indulge," a chain of cigar lounges, have branches in Park Tower, Millennium Mall, Rashid Minhas Road, and Gulshan-e-Iqbal. Agha Juice, pioneer of juices in the city, serve some fresh fruit Juices and shakes and have four outlets: In Nazimabad No. 1, Opp Amber Auditorium Bahadurabad, Main Rashid Minhas Road, Gushan Iqbal and Khadda Market Defence, open noon till 3AM. Make sure you go to the branches listed above as there are a lot of places with a similar name.
Drinking alcohol in public areas is nominally banned, but most of the top end hotels have their own bars. A few shops also sell alcohol, but they don't usually have an area to sit and drink. Try local brands like Murree Brewery; others include Budweiser and Bavaria without alcohol.
Try a local limca cola, which makes a "pop" sound when opened. Pakola, Pakistan's premier soft drink brand, is available in flavours such as Ice cream soda, Lychee, Orange, Raspberry, Apple Sidra, Vino, Double cola and Bubble up. Try Lassi, which is a classic yoghurt drink served either plain or sweet and sometimes flavoured or even fused with fresh fruit. Rooh-Afza, a red-coloured, sweet, herbal drink. Sugar Cane Juice — which is extracted by mechanical force — is best when served fresh. You might also love the Falouda and Gola Ganda, which include various kinds of syrups in crushed ice.
If you just want to drink plain water, always go for bottled water of a good brand costing Rs 50 for a 1.5 L bottle of mineral water.
Karachi has a glut of hotels. Prices range from US$15 (Rs. 1,500) to US$1,000 (Rs. 95,000). As in any other destination, you get what you pay for! The majority of hotels of interest to visitors from outwith Pakistan are located in the Karachi South district where both the business district and the heavily touristed areas are. For listings of specific hotels, see the individual district sections of our guide.
There are hundreds of Budget hotels and dormitories to sleep in. For US$30 per night you can get a very decent room, with private bathroom, cable TV and air conditioning. Please remember that the cheaper budget hotels often don’t have their own electric generators - a real problem in the oppressive heat of summer during one of Karachi’s many power cuts. Even within the same budget hotel there will often be a range of rooms with varying facilities and prices, but breakfast is not usually provided. Room amenities such as bed linen, soap and even toilet paper may only be provided on request. Budget hotels here are generally male dominated and solo women or couples may feel uncomfortable staying at them. Some places won't even accept women travelling without men at all and it is particularly important for women and couples to personally inspect accommodation first, to make sure it meets their needs.
Karachi’s Mid range hotels usually provide breakfast and all have restaurants and room service. There are usually fewer issues for solo women when stay in mid range hotels. Many can be found in Karachi South district. There are also a couple of budget and some good mid range hotels in Karachi East district.
There are plenty of Splurge hotels in Karachi and these, mostly located in Karachi South district are amongst the very best to be found in all of Pakistan. Security tends to be strict at splurge hotels - so expect metal detectors on entry. Breakfasts are usually free, along with airport transfers. The high-rise Sheraton and Avari Towers hotels are prominent landmarks on the Karachi skyline.
Street crime in Karachi is about what you'd expect in a big city. Use common sense and avoid dangerous areas. Avoid going out alone, or walking by yourself on dark, empty streets at night. Never flash electronics or valuables in public; keep your cell phones, watches, and purses in a safe place. These things easily attract attention. There are also con men looking out for foreigners, so if someone you don't trust approaches you, just keep on walking. Beware of pickpockets when you are in any crowded areas. If withdrawing large amounts of cash from ATM's or banking institutions, either conceal the notes or ask the institution's security to escort you to your vehicle.
The people of Karachi are very hospitable. They tend to welcome any foreigner very warmly, but regardless of how nice someone seems you should remain aware and alert at all times, and try to keep a low profile at all times. Women are usually stared at, in certain parts of the city so bring a male relative or friend, to be safe. In general, in Karachi, if you are ever worried about your safety, make a loud scene. It is an extremely crowded city, and somebody is always around and willing to help. Women should never ever take lifts from strangers. Police can sometimes be almost as shady as criminals in Karachi. Some police officers may be corrupt and unhelpful, while others are very honest and helpful. The safest mode for travel for a tourist is to hire a private taxi. These can be rented for a trip as well as by the day.
Karachi has mostly been spared the attacks that have happened in the rest of the country, but "mostly" is a relative term. You should always keep the emergency telephone contact numbers of your country's consulate in Karachi.
There should be no serious danger in the affluent parts of the city. Defence and Clifton in Karachi South district are regarded as safe at all times, as they are populated by the city's business and cultural elite. These districts offer the most "tourist-friendly" experience of Karachi, given that there will be no language barrier (most Pakistanis can speak some English, and many people in these districts will be completely fluent). Most visitors will find there is a large degree of cultural understanding and compatibility between the residents of Karachi and western tourists.
Traffic jams are a major hassle in Karachi. Although the city government has recently built dozens of underpasses and flyovers to get rid of the overflow of the traffic, it is a good idea to keep a look for any rallies/protests and check out alternate routes while travelling in the city. Being the capital, it's the area most affected during strikes, and you should do your best to keep a low profile during times of political unrest. Avoid any sort of large gatherings, even positive ones, as there's a good chance you'll become the centre of attention and you probably don't want that from a group of raucous chanters. Beware of beggars scattered through out the city.
Try not to to drive in Karachi if you are new to the city since drivers are aggressive and chaotic. Pollution (like most other cities in the subcontinent) is high. It's not common to see local people with face masks on, but at the very least you should carry a handkerchief with you to cover your mouth and nose specially during rickshaw rides.
Pedestrians should be careful while crossing roads as some drivers will neither slow down nor sound a horn to warn of an impending accident. This also applies when getting out of the car on the traffic side; look both ways until you are off the road and don't hesitate to run if you sense a car barrelling towards you. Minibus drivers are particularly notorious.
The area code for Karachi is 21. (International code +92 if calling from outside Pakistan). Karachi phone numbers are eight digits long. All mobile numbers, however, are 11 digits long and begin with "03", and should not be dialled with the city prefix. Omit the '0' when dialling a cell phone from outside Pakistan and prefix with the '92' international code.
Public Call Offices (PCO), can be found all over the city. You will find a PCO in nearly 50% of general or convenience stores; there is usually someone who operates the phone and fax. Rates are usually cheap and will be charged according to the time spent, and you will pay when you have finished your call.
Cybercafes, locally known as "Internet cafes" can be found on virtually every street corner and the rates at around Rs 50 per hr. They usually don't have a very fast operating system nor good internet speed so don't be too impatient. They usually use 14" monitors, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows XP are usually installed on these operating systems. Most of the cafes have a decent speed internet connection with good operating systems.
Internet Access, can be obtained easily on notebook computers with the help of GRPS enabled mobile connections, supported by almost all of the 5 mobile operators. Mobilink provides EDGE based connection in very limited areas of Karachi, however Telenor's coverage of EDGE is wider. The standard cost of GPRS/EDGE usage is Rs 15-Rs 20/MB data transfer, however if you wish to download much more you may want to use unlimited packages, provided by all of the 5 mobile operators. PTCL, Mobilink Infinity, World Call, Wateen, Qubee are WiMax internet providers and Wi-Tribe offers USB internet.
Wi-fi, There are several Wi-Fi Hotspots in Karachi in hotels, malls and cafes/resturants. If you are in a business district like Shahra-e-Faisal or I.I.Chundrigar Road, then most of the area will have free Wi-Fi.
Cell phone, coverage in the city is excellent. Cell phones were considered as a status symbol a few years ago but, since 2002, the telecommunications industry has experienced a bit of a boom. These days you can hardly find a single person in the city without a personal cell phone. There are various service providers offering a huge variety of plans. Among them are Mobilink, Warid Telecom, Telenor, Ufone & Zong (China Mobile). Its not a bad idea to buy a cell phone and use a prepaid plan to get yourself connected while you are in the city. The mobile phones and the prepaid plans are very cheap; you can usually get a new cheap cell phone just for Rs 2,000 and a prepaid connection for Rs 150-400.
Aga Khan Hospital is by far the best private hospital in the city, with world class medical care at an affordable cost. The free-government hospitals, however, aren't up to par with what some visitors may be used to.