Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pakistani Souvenirs: Where to Find Them

Pakistan is not exactly a tourist destination (thank you U.S. travel warnings since forever), so it’s tough to know where to go to find souvenirs and gifts. But with the art and political culture opening up, there is a lot of cool stuff around.

This is a list of shops and spots I discovered in Karachi. It should come in handy for those who end up there, including the flood of expats and their kids on ritual family visits during wedding season.

1. Daku (Bandit).

What: Politically-conscious t-shirts.
My Find: A t-shirt with a picture of U.S. drones falling on a village. The back says Stop Bombing My Country.”
Location: Zamzama. The store is closed for expansion but t-shirts are being sold out of Muneeb Nawaz at the end of the “Pizza Hut gully (lane).”

2. Gulabo.

What: Truck Art-inspired everything.
My Find: A pink canvas handbag with large Urdu script: Danger. Look, but with Love. (Yes, hopeful drivers do sprawl that on their trucks and buses.)
Location: Zamzama. At end of lane with Yellow, opposite Pizza Hut gully. They have a bigger store somewhere that you can ask about.

3. I ª KHI t-shirts. A rip-off of I ª NYC.

Where: Yellow and Deepak Parwani in Zamzama have some. Or become a fan on Facebook.
Why: These t-shirts are part of the famous city-wide graffiti campaign.

4. Citizens Archive Project.

What: Clever, historically-inspired mugs, postcards, and t-shirts. Photos here.
My Find: A mug that reads (one side): “What Hollywood icon once said, ‘You’re not famous till they can spell your name in KARACHI?' Other side: Humphrey Bogart.
Location: Defense. Visit Facebook for updated contact details.

5. Great, cheap souvenirs without going to a bazaar.

What: Jewelry, souvenir trucks and rickshaws, home decoration.
My Find: Small, embroidered pillows from Afghanistan.
Location: An Afghan guy has a stand on the ground floor of Park Towers.

6. Caravan.

Why: Run by a Lahore-based NGO.
Proceeds benefit village handicraft-workers.
What: Candles, bags, stationary.
Location: Zamzama, next to Ego.

7. Al Falah, Village Embroidery Center.

Contact: Call 021 5804707 or try their website.

8. Hunar-e-Zan, A Project of Roots for Equity.

What: Handicrafts.
Location: Shop 167 at Gulf Bazaar.
Contact: Call 021 498 4409.

9. Itwar Bazaar!

What: Sunday market.
Why: Fun place to walk around, and you never know what you will find, including smuggled or somehow-damaged factory goods from China.
My find: Wall hangings, and a new pair of my favorite shoes (sold at Macy’s a few years ago)!
Location: Go with a local.

And to experience a bit of Karachi’s cosmopolitan culture while you are there, don’t forget to check out

Feel free to add tips or clarifications. I would love to hear about other finds so I can check them out next time I’m there.


  1. awesome! i still cant believe the things you got from pakistan! definitely not the stuff my mom brings back for me, haha.

  2. Daku T shirts are a riot, aren't they?

  3. I found your post while searching for a karachi souvenir for a foreigner friend from UK. "Stop Bombing My Country" would be too realistic, I guess :)

    a rikshaw or a truck model looks interesting, btw, I would feel lucky if I get W-11 (minibus) model