*Currently, it is not safe to travel to Afghanistan, including the border areas. If you are a journalist or if you must visit, please check the USA Travel Warnings and seek government and UN protection and guidance.
Afghanistan is a country in the middle of Asia, landlocked from all sides. Historically, being on the silk route, Afghanistan has a rich cultural heritage. The countries bordering it are Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. China borders it too but the border has an inaccessible terrain.
Even though the country is so culturally rich, and has an exquisite inheritance, it has been unfortunate in the recent years to be a victim of terrorism and political strife, due to which the local population as well as the tourism in the country has suffered considerably. Most countries advise their people not to travel to Afghanistan.
Present Situation of the Country
Presently, the situation of Afghanistan isn’t very stable, breaking the hearts of the global population, due to its rich scenic beauty and rugged terrain. There are a lot of threats to tourist including insurgency, explosions, robbery, kidnapping, murders, etc. The country is occupied by international anti-terrorist forces and NATO troops.
However, the country is going through a rebuilding phase with international effort, and in the future might become a popular tourist hub.
Getting In the Country
Anyone who wishes to travel to Afghanistan should get his visa in advance. Visas to Afghanistan are very easy to obtain than expected. You can fly into Kabul International Airport in Kabul. it is the main entryway people use to enter the country, and various airlines cater the services to Afghanistan.
If you plan to enter the country through a car, there are a couple of entry points in the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border, i.e., Peshawar and Quetta, one from Uzbekistan and one from Tajikstan. However, the safety level on these routes is still considered highly dangerous. There are bus services to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran.
Despite being considered a poor country full of terrorism and potential threats, Afghanistan has still managed to preserve many places that can be a huge attraction for tourists.
If one is into hilly terrains, nothing beats the beauty of the mountain peaks in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the bed of the Hindu Kush Mountains. There are various hiking and trekking routes in Afghanistan, like the Wakhan Corridor. However, these are considered to be highly unsafe.
The National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul is a beautiful display of the historical culture of Afghanistan in a very elaborate manner.
There are various companies that offer tour packages to Afghanistan. That is a simple way to leave the entire itinerary, lodging, planning and other time-consuming things to them.
The entire country is filled with beautiful and remarkable mosques, and every city has at least one. Afghanistan also holds several of UNESCO World Heritage Sites; The Minaret of Jam north of Herat is a famous one among them. Also, there are Buddhists scriptures at Bamiyan. However, these have been vastly destroyed by the Taliban.
Culture and Cuisines
The country is divided into various ethnic groups like the Pashtuns, The Hazaras, Tajik, Uzbek, etc. People are strongly bound to their own cultural ethnicity, and speak their own ethnic dialects and follow different customs.
The food, however, is not divided ethnically. Afghan dishes like Naan, Obi-non, and Lavash are a delicacy you shouldn’t miss if you get into the country. Other than those, rice dishes are considered to be the king of all dishes. Afghanistan has a lot of variety in rice dishes, and some of these are Chalao, Palao, Yakhni Palao, Qorma Palao, Bore Palao, etc. Try them and you wouldn’t look at rice the same way again!
Other than that, there are a variety of desserts and those spicy kebabs that would be an absolute fantasy of yours. If you are in Afghanistan, be sure to eat as much as you can, and if you can, try to learn the recipes too!
Lodging isn’t something hard to find in Afghanistan. There are various hotels and guesthouses available everywhere. These may start from as low as $10 to a few hundred dollars. You can sleep comfortably in a simple and cheap place. Make sure to check its safety before you get in.
Mud houses are common in throughout Afghanistan, specially in the remote areas.
Currency and Souvenirs
The currency of Afghanistan is the Afghani. $1 USD is equal to about AFN65. Check for the latest exchange rates online before you leave for the country. When you pay for anything, remember, vendors of Afghanistan always haggle, and you can often by things for considerably less price then they demand initially.
If you are in Afghanistan, there are several things that are sold here that you MUST take home. You would absolutely love those. The Afghani rugs are famous worldwide. These are full of absolute beauty and gorgeous patterns and come for quite cheap a price. Check out the quality of the rug before you buy it. All of them are hand woven by the Afghan tribes.
This post was written by Rishab Bansal