flag Afghanistan Afghanistan: Travelling

In this page: Entry Requirements | Organising Your Trip | Visiting | Living Conditions | Eating | Paying | Speaking | Useful Resources

 

Entry Requirements

Passport and Visa Service
Visa Information (Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
For Further Information
List of Afghan embassies and consulates
 
Check IATA Travel Website for visa requirements and health advices.
 

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Organising Your Trip

Means of Transport Recommended in Town

Recommendation
Driving in Afghanistan can be extremely hazardous due to road conditions and the overall security context. While roads in the northern part of the country tend to be paved and safe, infrastructure and security conditions in southern provinces in particular make it quite dangerous to drive. In general, drivers should also be mindful of side road mines.
Milli Bus, a government-run bus service, operates in the capital city of Kabul as a means of public transport and across Afghanistan. In addition to traditional taxis, GPS-monitored and online taxi services were launched in recent years. Taxis are usually available around major hotels, airports and other foreign-friendly locations. Drivers may have a basic command of English.
Maps of Urban Networks
UT Afghanistan Map Collection
Road Map of Afghanistan

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Transportation From Airport to City Centre:


Airport

Distance

Taxi

Bus

Train

Car Rental
Kabul Hamid Karzai Airport (KBL) 8 km / 5 miles AFG 100/ 15 min Available Not available Available

Means of Transport Recommended in the Rest of the Country

Recommendation
Afghanistan's road network was mostly constructed in the 1960s with the assistance from the United States and the Soviet Union. The highway system is going through a construction phase while regional roads are being improved. Less than a third of all roads are paved, mostly in the north of the country.
Milli Bus, a government-run bus service operates nationwide; however, flying remains safer for foreigners visiting Afghanistan.
There are a total of 43 airports in the country, Hamid Karzai Airport being the largest one and serving as the primary hub for international civilian flights. As all Afghan airlines are banned from EU airspace, most international passengers arrive via Istanbul or Dubai.

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Airlines

Name Type Domestic Flights International Flights
Fly Ariana National Yes Yes
Safi Airways Private Yes Yes
Kam Air Private Yes Yes
Fly East Horizon Private Yes No

You Can Consult The EU Air Safety List. Look Also at the rating of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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Travelling By Yourself

Recommendation
Driving in Afghanistan can be extremely dangerous due to poor infrastructure and a highly unstable security situation. Afghanistan's main road network dates from the 1960s and is now being rebuilt through international aid. Highways, in the north of the country in particular, tend to be safe and paved whereas roads in southern provinces are poorly maintained and not safe enough for foreigners. An estimated 5 to 7 million land mines exist throughout the countryside and alongside roads.
Roadside assistance is non-existent alongside highways. Traffic is chaotic in cities as cars must contend with numerous pedestrians, bicyclists, and animals. Many streets have potholes and are not well lit.
Many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, currently advise against all but essential travel to Afghanistan.
Road Maps
Ezilon Road Map
Find an Itinerary
Ezilon Road Map

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Visiting

Different Forms of Tourism

Historical
Despite decades of civil war and conflict, Afghanistan preserves many historic sites, most being located in the capital city of Kabul, Herat, Bamiyan and Mazar-e Sharif. While tourists are advised against at all but essential travel to Afghanistan, several sites remain safe to visit. These include:
- Babur Tomb and Babur's Gardens: Laid out by the Mughal ruler Babur in the 16th century, the site is the largest and oldest public green space in the city of Kabul.
- Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley: This area represents the artistic and religious developments which from the 1st to the 13th centuries and hosted two giant Budha statues, which were exploded by the Taliban in 2001. The site is part of UNESCO's World Heritage in Danger.
- Darul Aman Palace: Former location of the King of Afghanistan. Bombed out during the war, the building is expected to be fully renovated by 2019.
- Balkh: One of the oldest cities in the world and has many ruins from the Hellenistic period and Buddhist constructions. It is also the birthplace of the poet Mevlana Rumi.
- Herat Citadel: Built by Shah Rukh in 1415 after the Mongol invasion of the city of Herat.
Cultural
- Kabul Museum (National Museum of Afghanistan)
- OMAR Mine Museum: Displays 51 of the 53 types of landmines used in Afghanistan. Curated by the Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation (OMAR).
- Sultani Museum: Private museum, contains a large collection of Afghan antiquities
- Ka Faroshi Bird Market
Nature
- Band-e-Amir National Park
- Qargha Lake
- Panjshir Mountains
- Noshaq: The highest point in Afghanistan (7,492 m)
Religious
- Blue Mosque (Mazar-e Sharif): Contains the shrine of Hazrat Ali, the cousin of Prophet Mohammed and the fourth caliph of Islam
- Friday Mosque (Herat)
- Minaret of Jam: Dates back to the 12th century and is part of UNESCO's World Heritage
- Khwaja Abd Allah Ansari Shrine
- Red Mosque (Kandahar)
Thermal
There is no thermal tourism in Afghanistan.
Beach
There is no beach tourism in Afghanistan.
Winter Sports
As the country's landscape is fairly mountainous, there are many skiing sites, most waiting to be restored and improved. There are several ski resorts in Bamyan Province where a ski competition is held every year.
Outdoor Activities
Outdoor activities outside safe zones (The ski resort in Bamyan, Band-e-Amir National Park, Qargha Lake) is advised against due to security concerns. Tourists can also attend traditional Buzkashi games, the national sport of Afghanistan.
Shopping
While international brands are not readily available in the country tourists can buy carpets, handicrafts, cloths, embroideries and gemstones at craft shops. There are also local non‐government and non-profit organisations, such as Zardozi, carrying products made by local entrepreneurs.
Tourism Organisations
Afghan Tourism Organisation

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Living Conditions

Health and Safety

Health Precautions
A proof of vaccination (an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis - ICVP), given four weeks to 12 months before departure may be required on exit. Failure to produce this documentation may lead to vaccination at the point of departure, most likely with oral polio vaccine.
Medical facilities are very limited and supplies are unlikely to be available locally.
Travelling in hotter months could trigger diarrhoeal diseases and other gastrointestinal infections, and malaria.
Respiratory tuberculosis is common among the Afghan population.
Medical insurance is essential.
For Further Information on Sanitary Conditions
Travel advice on FCO's website
Health Information for Travelers to Afghanistan (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
For Further Information on Safety Conditions
UK FCO Security Advice
U.S. Department Travel Advisory
 

Emergency Numbers

Police 119
Ambulance 102
Fire 119
Brigade general in Kabul 0786203500
 

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Time Difference and Climate

Time and Time Difference
It is %T:%M %A In Kabul (GMT+4.5)
Summer Time Period
None
 

Map of the Time Zone

Time zone

Type of Climate
Most of Afghanistan has a subarctic mountain climate, with cold and dry winters, and hot and sunny summers. The climate in the south of the country is arid or semiarid. The country has four distinct seasons (winter, spring, summer, autumn). Summer temperatures can rise to 50⁰C (122⁰F), especially in the south, while winter temperatures can be as low as -25⁰C (-13⁰F). The mountainous landscape of the country causes significant temperature variations amongst regions but also between day and night. The mountainous region in the north receives extensive snowfall and some parts remain isolated from the rest of the world for as much as four months.
For Further Information
Geography and climate information (Norwegian Afghanistan Committee)
 

Average Annual Temperatures and Rainfall

Climate

 

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Eating

Food Specialties
Afghan dining scene has become more vibrant since the end of the Taliban rule; however, eating out is not too common. Several restaurants, especially in the capital city of Kabul, are UN-cleared and thus safer; nonetheless, they are also more expensive compared to traditional eateries.
Afghan cuisine is a mix of flavours surrounding the country and ethnic groups within the country, namely Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Pashtuns. Indian influence is also quite strong, as evidenced by the use of spices like coriander, saffron, black pepper, and cardamom. Qabeli Palaw, a variety of pilaf dish, consisting of steamed rice mixed with raisins, carrots, and lamb, is the staple of Afghan cuisine. Other specialties include mantu (steamed dumplings), shorma (soup), and qorma (fried onion with various meats, spices, fruits, or vegetables).
Drinks
Consumption of alcohol is illegal for Afghan nationals. Alcohol can only be served to foreign journalists and tourists at outlets with special licenses.
Dietary Restrictions
Pork meat and alcohol are illegal.

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Paying

Domestic Currency
Afghanistan Afghani
ISO Code
AFN
To Obtain Domestic Currency
AIB (Afghanistan International Bank), Bank Alfalah, and Standard Chartered Bank ATMs accept international cards and it is possible to withdraw money both in local currency and US Dollar. It is advised to carry sufficient cash in US Dollars.
Possible Means of Payment
While credit cards exist in Afghanistan, most local businesses operate on a cash basis. As the banking system is underdeveloped, local businesses depend on the informal hawala system to make payments and transfer funds. Money is transferred through a network of brokers without any promissory note. Travellers' cheques are not widely accepted.

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Speaking

Official Language
Dari (Afghan Persian) and Pashto.
Other Languages Spoken
Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen), and 30 other minor languages which primarily include Balochi and Pashai.
Business Language
English
Getting Some Knowledge
You can visit MyLanguages website to learn the basics of Dari and Pashto: Introduction to Dari, Introduction to Pashto
Free Translation Tools
Lexilogos : A list of Dari-English dictionaries
ThePashto : Pashto-English Dictionary

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Latest Update: July 2022