After gazing on Mughal monuments and feeling the beat of pounding drums at Sufi shrines in Lahore, many travelers choose to head south to Pakistan’s financial capital, Karahi for some fun in the sun, upscale nightclubs, and modern skyscrapers. From rambling through the ramparts of Old Lahore to an all night beach rave in Karachi, you might be in for a culture shock, but here’s how to get there.
The cheapest option is the train. The Fareed Express #38DN leaves Lahore every morning at 10:00am and arrives in Karachi at 12:35pm the next day. That means your train journey will be at least 26 1/2 hours if the train is running on time. Trains in Pakistan are not known to be exceptionally punctual or safe. There are 5 possible classes for this train, including the full berth AC class for 1810 rupees ($23), the full berth EC (Economy) for 790 rupees ($10), a full seat in economy for 710 rupees ($8.90), a half-berth for 480 rupees ($6) and a half seat for 400 rupees ($5). Sitting on half of a seat for 26 hours is certainly not the most comfortable way to travel to Karachi, but it is the cheapest.
To see fares, timetables, and addresses of booking agents, you can check out Pakistan Railways online. Tickets are usually booked through a travel agent in order to avoid the inevitable chaos on the station.
A safer, more comfortable, and faster option is to the take the bus. There are many different bus companies that ply the route from Lahore to Karachi, but Daewoo is by far the most comfortable and professional. For women traveling alone, Daewoo is the best choice. The Daewoo station is located near Calma Chowk, while other bus companies operate out of the main bus station in Old Lahore. A one-way ticket on the Daewoo bus costs 1900 rupees ($24), and buses leave from the station five times a day. You can book tickets at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 5:00pm, 11:00pm and 1:00am. The journey takes 21 hours, a good five hours less than the train.
To book tickets, you can call the Daewoo office at 111-007-008. From Lahore, dial 042 first. You can book 48 hours ahead and you must arrive 30 minutes before departure to hold your seat.
The most expensive, most comfortable, and fastest option is by air. Two airlines fly regularly between Lahore and Karachi: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Air Blue. One-way tickets on PIA are 6000 rupees ($76) and up, depending on how far ahead you book them. You can book at any PIA office or at most travel agents. Air Blue offers special online fares and e-ticketing that is easy for travelers. One-way tickets from Lahore to Karachi are currently 5250 rupees ($66) with the special online discount. When you print your e-ticket, you will still need to get a paper standard ticket at the Air Blue office in the departure area before checking in. Air Blue flights are twice a day and take about two hours.
As you can see, it’s really up to you how you travel from Lahore to Karachi. From flying in style with a business class seat to being crammed into a train car like a sardine for $5, everything is available!