The heart of Pakistan lies on the Arabian Sea in the mega metropolis of Karachi, the country’s original capital and the de facto capital of Pakistani commerce and politics to this day. Pakistan’s evolution from fishing village to trading post to urban city center is evident throughout the city, where old colonial structures, dome-topped mosques and urban skyscrapers create a stunning skyline against the sandy beaches of the Arabian Sea. Today, Pakistan’s melting pot welcomes visitors to soak up the country’s history, immerse themselves in a microcosm of modern Pakistani culture and indulge in the perks of an increasingly international city.
The amount of attractions and neighborhoods that compete for a tourist’s attention is almost overwhelming. Beaches surround the city and offer opportunities for watersports like diving and fishing. Green spaces like Bagh Ibne Qasim park offer an idyllic retreat in the heart of this urban metropolis, while amusement parks, modern shopping malls and movie theaters keep everyone entertained in Karachi. Add to that a seemingly endless array of local and international restaurants, and one could easily fill a few days in Karachi with modern luxuries
Such an itinerary might not offer the best reflection of true Pakistan, though, and it’s worth seeking out that which shines light on Pakistan’s past and present. A host of colonial and Anglo-Indian architecture remains throughout Karachi, with must-see specimens including Empress Market, the Mohatta Palace Museum and Frere Hall. The National Museum of Pakistan offers insight into the country’s tumultuous history, while Wazir Mansion – the family home of the country’s founder – displays the clothing and possessions of Muhammid Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Meanwhile, traditional bazaars live on in the shopping district of Saddar, where you can haggle for bargains on everything from clothing and jewelry to rugs and electronics.
Karachi generally experiences little rainfall and mild temperatures, making it a comfortable destination for visitors to explore. The cooler months of November, December, January and February make for prime exploring time in Karachi, while high temperatures during the months of May through September are best avoided by tourists. Cheap flights to Karachi can be found outside of peak season, which runs from November through February.
City buses and minibuses offer transportation throughout Karachi, but the local public transportation system can be difficult to navigate for a visitor – especially if you aren’t planning on staying long in the city. Walking is also a less than desirable option, due to traffic, pollution and long distances between destinations. Many visitors find it best to travel by taxi when it comes to getting around Karachi. Hiring a private car with chauffeur is also a convenient option in Karachi, as are the numerous rickshaws thorough the city.