While Pakistan cannot compete with India in the shopping handicraft stakes, there is a refreshing lack of hassle. Special purchases include carved wooden tables, trays, screens, silver trinkets, pottery, camel-skin lamps, bamboo decorations, woodwork, brassware, cane items, glass bangles, gold ornaments, hand-embroidered shawls, rugs and carpets, silk, cashmere shawls and saleem shahi shoes with upturned toes. Chadors (a type of light woollen blanket) are a particularly good buy in Pakistan.
While some of the major towns have craft centres where handicrafts from different regions are sold, bazaars often provide the most interesting shopping. Peshawar (Old City), is home to some of the best bazaars in the country. Try the carpet and rug shops which sell Afghan carpets and Balochi carpets; many shops will help you to ship your purchase home. Also in Peshawar visit the Meena Bazaar.It is a maze of shops mainly selling womenswear but it also has some interesting architectural sights such as the old Sikh havelis with carved windows. It is expected that the customer should bargain for goods and as a tourist you will inevitably be constantly asked to stop and look, or to pause for chai.
Large, air-conditioned shopping malls with food courts and designer shops, catering to the young, aspirational and wealthy are beginning to pop up all across the country, especially in Karachi. Malls can be a great way to beat the heat and offer a wide-range of international cuisine. Popular malls in Karachi include The Forum, Park Towers and Dolmen Mall. The Saddar district of Karachi is good for souvenir style shopping and this is where the famous Zainab Market can be found. In Lahore try the Anarkali Bazar, which is believed to be the oldest bazaar in South Asia, this is a market in which to bargain hard and is a good place to come for gifts back home. For a more modern experience, try the Pace shopping centre, it’s costly by local standards, and has many recognisable brands.