Pakistan has a wide variety of locally produced, handmade arts and crafts. These include metalworks such as etched copper and brass, terracotta tiles, hand-woven rugs, embroidery, wool shawls, stone works, unique wood works, furniture, and much more. At a single shop in Islamabad you can find wool and silk rugs, shawls, carved wooden trunks and dishes, and even hand carved camel bone.
My favorite was the man in a craft store who was making artistic designs on cloth squares using tree resin. He could pull and stretch strings of the malleable material into almost any shape or pattern, even making designs similar to a photo you could provide. Very impressive!
After the Marriott bombing in 2008, foreigners, many of whom live and work in the Diplomatic Enclave, were wary of venturing out into the city. This meant they weren't buying necessary food and sundries, but also not purchasing gift and tourist trinkets, all of which pump money into the local economy.
The city adjusted by allowing a number of shops in the protected diplomatic enclave. While these markets originally consisted of over 30 stores selling a bit of everything, the return to normal levels of security has meant many of the stores have closed, but one apartment building has a few carpet shops and antique stores.
Islamabad is a well planned city. Each sector has a central commercial area. Like Market area in sector F-10 is called F-10 Markaz, in G-10 it is called G-9 Markaz. Markaz means CENTRE.
Simillarly G-9 Markaz has another popular name called "KARACHI COMPANY". It is relatively bigger market. Karachi Company is famous for its whole sale market of groceries, auto workshops, cloth stores, fruit and vegetable stalls, photo shops etc.
There is a General bus stand here from which you can get bus for inter city travel. Means buses from any location in Islamabad must reach Karachi company.
What to pay: Must bargain
While in Islamabad you may have to visit markets to meet your shopping requirement ; searching for some antique to your personal necessary items. This city has number of small and large markets including discount stores and places where you can find items of your own areas. Few major markets where you can visit easily and find every thing are :-
Jinnah Super Market(Hundreds of stores of all types)
Supper Market(very clean atmosphere with lot of various stores)
Kohsar Market(Place you can have choices from all over the world specially food items)
Abpara Shopping area(Crowded area)
Blue Area(Spread over a large area you may visit selected stores)
Sector Shopping Areas
And you can count many. I will keep on updating to describe important stores in subsequent tips separately.
::: Essentially a 2nd hand goods market. Mostly furniture and other goods bought off departing diplomats, purchased by wily businessman who resale the goods at sometimes exorbitant prices. You might strike a good bargain or come across an occasional gem - well worth a visit but rehearse your bargaining vigorously as you're likely to need it.
::: Rana Market has developed into a small but extremely useful market providing a solid range of items and services for everyday use. There are a few general stores, a dry cleaner, electrical and hardware stores, a fruit and vegetable shop and a second hand store selling mainly furniture. There is a barber with a growing reputation (Paul Dixon). Rana Market has also made a name for itself in the field of local tea time snacks. The hot jalebis and samosas are excellent on those cold winter days along with a cup of piping hot tea.
One of Islamabad's oldest markets, it caters primarily to the well heeled and the diplomatic community who don't gave access to their own in-house shopping. A couple of shops offer a surprisingly large selection of canned and packaged imported food items. It's a small, cosy market away from the hustle and bustle of the more crowded market areas. Clean and well maintained area with Old World shopowners who have a pleasant manner with customers.
List of shops...
::: Islamabad's premier butcher's shop Qureshi's which offers the best selection of fresh and frozen meat including frankfurters and sausages (non-pork of course) as well as having a supply of turkey for occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Qureshi's is another of Islamabad's success stories and appear to be maintaining a decent standard. Pet food is also available.
::: yet another of Islamabad's long standing businesses. It is a hair salon offering a clean, unfussy haircut for men, which is usually, an efficient job if not quite Vidal Sassoon. There is a separate section for women.
:::London Book Store
::: Has the best selection of paperbacks available in the city. A quiet and unobtrusive shop which attracts a regular clientele especially because they import a wide range of European and American publications with an emphasis on newspapers from the UK. One can come across the New York Times and even the New York Post, as well as papers from all over Europe as well as the Middle East.. Not too hot on new paperbacks and hardbacks for which its still best to rely on the internet and excellent sites like Amazon.com, one of the few that still deal with orders from Pakistan (many companies no longer deal with orders from this country because of widespread credit card fraud and abuse). The Book shop import a fairly wide range of imported magazines which, due to their weight, end up becoming exorbitantly expensive once they arrive on the shelf… expect to pay about $10 for a $2.50 magazine!
This quite specialist market is dominated by 3 or 4 good general stores stocking a wide range of local and imported 'supermarket' items. However, prices are fairly steep. There is a good bakery in Gourmet and an old bookshop. Chatkhara provides 'local' snacks in the form of 'gol gappas' and 'chaat'. Tasty but suspect to sending the stomach for a run! Round the other side of the block is Harold's - Islamabad's 'first' supermarket. Again it is well stocked with local and imported items and includes an in-store butcher.
List of shops..
::: Islamabad's 'first' supermarket. Well stocked with local and imported items and includes an in-store butcher. Prices are comparatively high and do check expiry dates on cans and bottles when you shop.
:::International Mail Office
::: International Mail Office - one of two main Post Offices in Islamabad - the other being the GPO in Melody Market. Airmail rates to countries far and wide are very reasonable and the post is reliable provided nothing of value is enclosed within. If that is the case, then even insurance and registration may not be enough....
::: F -8's main market known as Ayub Market has lagged behind in business enterprise as compared to most of Islamabad's other sectors. However, it has lately been showing some signs of development yet still has a long way to go to match other shopping centers for utility. The area is dominated by the "kachayree" or law courts and various administrative offices such as the main Police chiefs. List of shops...
::: One of the citie's only dedicated audio hi-fi store. Unfortunately the choice is limited to the extreme with only a couple of brands being represented.
Pakistan has glorious bazaars, selling gold and silver jewellery, glass bracelets, hand embroidered shawls, silk and brocade. Pakistan is one of the biggest exporters of hand woven carpets available in all style. Tourists can export jewellery or precious stones (other than gold) of value up to Rs 10,000 and that of gold up to Rs 2000.
Islamabad has many markets and Bazaars, these include:
District F-7 Jinnah Market
District F-8 Ayub Market
District F-7/2 Laila Market
District F-6/3 Kohsar Market
District F-7/2 Rana Market
District F-6/1 China Market
District F-6 Super Market
He & She is one of the biggest garment shop in G9markaz and have a lot of verity in this shop.
What to buy: Garments
What to pay: Rs5000
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