Zainab Market, Karachi
We entered the market on a busy afternoon (the market opens at 11:00am) and all eyes were on us. Naturally sticking out of the crowd we tried to quickly scan the various shops for something interesting, which is difficult when you have 4 people nervously chatting to you "you buy! Best price! Pashmina! Nice jeans! Best shirt for you!" But you simply have to learn to block-out the unwanted information & concentrate on finding those little treasures (and cheesy souvenirs) that you will take back home with you.
Living in Dubai, we have a lot of practice when it comes to haggling - but nothing can beat having a local friend there with you that will push the price down to rock-bottom.
TIP:If you're a Westerner obviously the opinion is widespread that you're a millionaire and aren't fussed about spending your entire life's fortune in the market. So don't be shy about haggling: you will be quoted at least 40-50% higher that the item is actually worth, so don't rest until you get your discount!
If the sales person won't budge, walk away. I guarantee you that either:
A) he will follow you and agree to your price
B) you will find the exact same item in a different shop, cheaper.
What to buy: Each city has them... especially in Asia & the Middle East: Zeinab Market is a labyrinth of small shops & stalls selling handicrafts (both Indian & Pakistani, so if you want Pakistani art make sure to ask!), textiles, T-Shirts, pashmina shawls, wall hangings, clothes, jeans, sports wear, etc. that have been produced in surplus or have slight defects & cannot be exported. Pretty good copies of the real thing (branded items such as Nike, Adidas, etc.) are also available.
Despite all the commotion & crowds we still felt relatively safe as the shop keepers are relatively relaxed & will leave you alone if you simply say "no thank you" with a smile on yoru face.
However, as in any busy area in the world, beware of pickpockets.
What to pay: For my mother we bought a brass shield (wall decoration) hand-decorated with the Arabic words "Mash'allah" for 800 Rupees and also a wall hanging with stitching (of a traditional dancing scene) for 650 Rupees. There are also many semi-precious stones & healing crystals on offer: don't buy unless you have good knowledge on how to spot the real deal from the fakes.
The leather industry is one of the Pakistan's largest exporters of manufactured goods (and probably the most polluting of all industries). There are close to 600 tanneries in Pakistan with the majority of them located in Karachi. Pakistani exports of tanned leather is on the increase following a decline of leather production in the Western world due to more stringent environmental controls & regulations. The leather industry is a HUGE earner for the country, giving employment opportunity to hundreds of thousands.
Pakistan is therefore reknown for its high-quality leather products at rock-bottom prices.
I dislike wearing leather myself (I don't eat meat, so why should I wear it?) but my friends wanted to buy jackets for themselves, and John's brother-in-law had asked us to get a nice 70s-"Shaft"-style jacket for him.
The Panorama Plaza houses humerous leather shops and our Pakistani friends recommended Mod Mod store. None of the jackets here are bought ready-made:
You choose your style from the sample jackets on the rail, then choose your leather, and finally specify any additional extras (special buttons, decorative stitching, pockets, collar, etc.)
NOTE: In Asian (and also Arabic) shops it's customary for the owner to offer the customers some water, tea or soft drinks. If you gladly accept this gesture you may even find yourself with a bigger discount...
We then left the details & measurements with the tailor, who guaranteed us that the jackets would be ready the next evening! We returned and they actually were.
> For an X-large men's leather jacket, tailor-made, antique dark-brown leather with large extra stitching and a large collar we paid 6,000 Rupees! (100 US$)
> For her tailor-made, black, small-sized women's jacket my friend paid only 4,500 Rupees! (75 US$)
Perfect fit and very good quality.
What to buy: Leather Goods!
Jackets, Wallets, Belts, Shoes, Briefcases, Handbags, etc.
NOTE: Haggeling is expected, so don't stop until you get the best price.
What to pay: Depending on the type (and amount = size) of leather, the amount of work to be done, etc. See my above examples for ideas on prices.
Zainab Market is situated in the heart of City (Saddar) at the end of Zaibunnisa Street near Hotel Avari Tower.
It is also at walking distance from other reknown hotels like PC, Sheraton & Marriot. Nearest markets are Zaibunnisa Street, Bohri Bazar Saddar. So it is a place for complete family shopping. Shop keepers keep latest variety of stuff according to fashion.
Men's wear & Children's wear shops are on the ground floor.
Women's wear shops are in the basement
What to buy: 1-You can buy latest variety of Jeans, Shirts, T-Shirts for both men/women.
2-It is also good place for shopping interior decoration/gift items. One of my foriegner friend liked embroided Cushion covers there.
3-Leather jackets, wallets, purses & other Leather stuff is available too.
LATEST :Now, since I am the father of two children, I know that Zainab Market is a good shopping place for children wear. Specially International Shopping Centre Opposite to Zainab Market is full of Children Clothes, Shoes & Other stuff.
What to pay: Like many other markets in Karachi they don't offer fix price. So you have to bargain as much as you can.
Local Jeans are around Rs. 300 to 350 & Shirts are Rs. 250 to 300
Flood of small shops selling everything imaginable i.e. handicrafts, textile, T-Shirts, leather, children clothes...
What to buy: Local Needle works from interior Sindh and other tribal areas (bed sheets, shawls, wall hanginings, other textile imaginable), marble, woodwork, T-Shirts, other clothes, leather jackets and wallets/purses.
What to pay: Haggle, Haggle, Haggle...Whatever the price..cut it by 1/3. And if the shop keeper says no..start walking to the next shop..he wil call you back
Zainab Market is the best place in Karachi city for shopping of Men/Women clothing i.e Jeans, T-Shirts, Trousers, Shirts, Sportswears etc.
What to buy: You can also find things like carpets, rugs etc in stores near Zainab Market & Saddar.
What to pay: For shopping in Zainab Market, you should not spend more than Rs. 250/- ($ 4.5/-) for a good export quality T-Shirt and Jeans around Rs. 300/- ($ 5.5/-) local made export quality.