Best time to go to Afghanistan
Afghanistan has four seasons. In spring (March to May) the weather is good and the country is blooming, but rain and melting snow can make many roads difficult to pass. In summer (June to August) it can get very hot outside the mountains – Herat, Mazar-e Sharif and Jalalabad. The nights in Kabul and Bamiyan are pleasantly cool during this time. Autumn ( September to November ) is one of the best times to visit Afghanistan. It is pleasantly dry and many delicious fruits are now ripe. Winter sets in at the end of November, with snow now covering large parts of the country.
National currency: 1 Afghani corresponds to 100 pul
Currency abbreviation: Af, AFN – ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG
Banknotes are issued in the value of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 AFN, coins in amounts of 1, 2 and 5 AFN.
Many goods and services in Afghanistan can be paid for in US dollars. Smaller amounts are usually requested in Afghani. In areas close to the border, it is often possible to pay in the currency of the neighboring country.
1 US dollar = 49.7 Afghani
1 euro = 72.8 Afghani
1 Swiss franc = 48.2 Afghani
Currency exchange:Money can be exchanged on the streets in Afghanistan faster than in banks. The only place where banks can change money reliably is the capital Kabul. The Afghan money changers are generally quite honest, but you should always use common sense and always count. In addition to the exchange offices, it is also possible to change money in hotels, taxis and many shops (especially those that import goods from abroad).
New and larger US dollar bills are preferred. Cities can easily change to cities, but other currencies can be difficult. Currencies from neighboring countries are also changed in the respective border regions.
Cash: Carrying cash is almost inevitable in Afghanistan. It is unwise to keep tons of money in your wallet, and a shoulder bag is also not recommended. It is best to carry a small amount of money for daily needs in a handy but hidden place (e.g. in an inside pocket), most of the money should be more difficult to access (e.g. in a well-hidden money belt). In addition, some money should be kept in another location for emergencies.
Credit cards: Credit cards are rarely accepted in Afghanistan, almost exclusively in Kabul. You can pay with credit cards in better hotels, travel agencies and airlines. Banks almost never give cash to credit cards.
ATMs are gradually spreading in Kabul, mainly through the banks Standard Chartered and Afghanistan International Bank (AIB). Visa and MasterCard are accepted. Either US dollars or Afghani are issued.
Travelers checks Most banks in Afghanistan do not exchange travelers checks, with the exception of Kabul. However, it is sometimes possible to exchange travelers’ checks at money changers in Kabul.
If you bring traveler’s checks to Afghanistan, take the purchase receipt with you in a separate place and write down the serial numbers.
Foreign exchange regulations: Foreign currency may be imported without restrictions, Afghani up to an amount of AFN 500, a declaration is required upon entry.
Foreign currencies may be
exported up to the amount declared minus the amount changed, Afghani up to a maximum of 500 AFN.
Bank opening times: Sat – Wed 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 4.30 p.m., Thu 8 a.m. – 1.30 p.m.
One should know about Afghanistan that the country had a very diverse cultural heritage. A lot was destroyed by the war, especially by the Taliban. Numerous paintings and figures dating back to the Buddhist period were destroyed. Particularly significant among the destroyed art treasures are the Bamyia Buddha statues carved out of the rock, which were once the most popular sight in the country.
Nevertheless, Afghanistan still has a large number of different sights and attractions to offer. So you shouldn’t miss the Bala Hissar. According to scientific estimates, the old fortress dates from the 5th century BC.
Originally there was the lower and the upper fortress. Only the latter is preserved today. The Balar Hissar was the scene of the bloodiest fighting in the country.
Today the 55th Division of the Afghan National Army is housed here.
Also worth seeing are the Balkh fortifications. The facilities completely surround the city. The stone walls are up to nine meters high and in excellent condition. From up here you have a wonderful view of the city and the surrounding landscape.
One of the highlights was the Bamiyan Buddha statues. However, these were destroyed by the Taliban in 1998 for religious reasons. Today, unfortunately, only the ruins can be seen. A team from Switzerland has so far unsuccessfully attempted to finance a reconstruction.
The Darul Aman Palace is very special. It was built in the early 20th century in a neoclassical style. From there you have a wonderful view of Kabul and the surrounding landscape. It was originally intended as a parliament building, but in 1969 the palace was damaged by a strong fire. After a restoration, the building was claimed by the Kabul National Museum. It later housed the country’s Ministry of Defense. The latter major destruction at the palace occurred in the early 1990s. After that it was not restored.
Today, nato troops and an observation post are stationed in the Darul Aman Palace.
The tomb of Jami is also worth seeing. The tomb was dedicated to Jami, one of the most famous Sufi poets of the 15th century. The Tomb of Jami is not far from the minarets of the Baiqara.
The Jam Minaret is definitely worth a visit. It is lonely and deserted in the valley of the Hari river and has a height of 65 meters. The Jam Minaret has been on the World Heritage List for some time.
You should also have seen the minarets of the Sultan Baiqara. They are in Herat and are the remains of a madrassa built by the Sultan Baiqara. Unfortunately, the minarets are no longer in their original condition, as the historical remains were victims of theft.
The absolute highlight is the Beuschd he Citadel of Herat. From there you have a wonderful view over the city. Because the citadel was used for military purposes for a long time, it was not open to the public for a certain period. But today you can explore different parts of the impressive building again.
Nature lovers will also get their money’s worth in Afghanistan. So they should not miss the Band-e-Amir lake. There are many stories to be learned about the lake. Among other things, it was an important main goal of the hippie trail. The hippie trail was an itinerary of the hippies in the 60s to 70s to search for themselves and God.
The Dargah of Rabia Balkihi is absolutely impressive. This is a small tomb of the Persian poet Rabia Balkhi. Her brother locked her up there because he thought she had a premarital relationship. So she is said to have written one of her most famous poems on the wall of her room with her own blood before she died.
You should definitely have seen the Eid Gah mosque. It is the second largest mosque in Kabul and was estimated to have been built in 1893. The Friday mosque in Herat, over eight hundred years old, is also worth a visit. The mosque minarets are very dominant and impressive.
Gazar Gah is one of the most famous Sufi shrines by Khoja Agbdullah Ansari. This shrine is right in front of its tomb and is absolutely impressive in its blue construction.
Also worth seeing is the shrine of Hazrat Ali. The shrine is located in Mazari Sharif one of the fourth largest cities in Afghanistan. After the restoration, the shrine is one of the most impressive monuments in the country. The Shrine of Hazrat Ali is passionately worshiped by both Sunnis and Shiites. Both groups of the Muslim faith believe that this would be the grave of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad.
Afghanistan has many other attractions to offer, from parks to museums.
Airplane: Aside from flights from the immediate area, there are few direct flights to Afghanistan. The most popular route from Europe or North America to Afghanistan is via Dubai. From there there are a number of connections to Kabul. Other routes are via Delhi and Islamabad.
Airlines that offer flights to and from Afghanistan include Air Arabia (G9), Ariana Afghan Airlines (FG), Azerbaijan Airlines (J2), Indian Airlines (IC), Kam Air (RQ) and Pakistan International Airlines (PK).
Ariana operates a weekly flight between Frankfurt and Kabul and between Moscow and Kabul with a stopover in Kau (Azerbaijan).
Airports:Kabul International Airport is currently the only international airport in the country.
Ship: There is a daily ferry connection from Shir Khan Bandar (Afghanistan) via the Amu Darya to the Tajik city of Panj-e Payon. There is no connection on Sundays.
Car / bus: Afghanistan maintains open border crossings with all of its neighbors – with the exception of China. The easiest way from Iran to Afghanistan is from Mashhad across the border towards Herat. The highway between the Islam Qala border crossing (and Taybad in Iran) was renewed not so long ago, so that a quick passage is possible. Buses run daily between Mashhad and Herat. From Islam Qala, the journey to Herat takes around 90 minutes.
Between Afghanistan and Pakistan has two official border crossings open to foreign travelers: at Torkham between Peshawar and Jalalabad via the Khyber Pass and at Spin Boldak and Chaman (Pakistan) between Quetta and Kandahar. However, travelers should refrain from individual border crossings and trips through Pakistan due to the current political situation. Minibuses and shared taxis run daily from Kabul to Jalalabad. To travel from Peshawar to Torkham through tribal areas, foreign visitors need a so-called Tribal Area Permit in addition to the required visas, which can be obtained from the Home Department of Tribal Affairs. There is an irregular bus service between Peshwar and Jalalabad.
Between Afghanistan and Tajikistanthere are three border crossings. Two of them connect Tajikistan with the Afghan province of Badakhshan. The busiest border crossing is at Shir Khan Bandar near Kunduz. Visitors can arrive by ship or over a newly built bridge. From the Tajik border town of Panj-e Payon there are daily shared taxis that bring travelers to Dushanbe.
The border crossings to the Badakhshan province are at Ishkashim and Khorog. From there, entering Afghanistan is a little easier. However, a special entry permit is required for the autonomous province of Gorno-Badachschan (GBAO / Berg-Badachschan). It is usually available in Dushanbe. Sometimes, however, it is also exhibited in the Tajik embassy in Kabul.
The Ishkashim border crossing is officially open from Monday to Thursday. There is a bridge over the Panji. Minibuses run daily between the border crossing and the Afghan city of Faizabad. The largest city in the Tajik province of Berg-Badachschan, Khorog, also has a border crossing and an Afghan consulate.
There are two official border crossings on the Afghan- Turkmen border. The transition from Torghundi (Afghanistan) to Serhetabat (Turkmenistan) is often used because of its proximity to Herat. An alternative is the transition at Iman Naza, near Andkhoi. Anyone who travels to Turkmenistan must have the border crossing registered on their visa and can usually only move through the country with an official guide.
The friendship bridge over the Amu Darya connects Hairatan (Afghanistan) with the Uzbek city of Termiz.
Travel in the country
the two Afghan airlines Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air operate domestic flight connections. Their aircraft regularly connect Kabul with Herat, Maza-eSharif and Kandahar. There are also other, but rather irregular, flight connections to Faizabad, Kunduz, Maimana and Shiberghan.
the roads in Afghanistan are mostly in poor condition. The road ring from Herat to Kandahar via Kabul to Mazar-e Sharif is paved. Likewise, the highway from the Pakistani border to Kabul.
The traffic rules are not particularly strict. As a rule, there is right-hand traffic. Accidents due to excessive speed occur mainly on the paved roads, especially on the Kabul-Mazar-e Sharif route.
Travelers should refrain from driving in open areas because of the landmines. Likewise from trips at night. When traveling to remote areas or in winter, the vehicles should be equipped with suitable tools, spare parts, emergency rations and ideally also with telecommunications equipment.
In Afghanistan it is not possible to rent vehicles without a driver. There are a number of private companies in Kabul that provide reliable drivers and vehicles. Outside of Kabul, for example, hotels can make reliable recommendations.
Traveling by bus or minibus is not always comfortable, but quite cheap. There are also bus connections to almost all locations. The almost indestructible minibuses called Falang are particularly popular. There are no timetables and the vehicles will only start when there are enough passengers on board. The prices fluctuate depending on the demand. A trip to Kabul is usually a little cheaper than a trip to Faizabad. Except for very large bags, there is no surcharge for luggage. On long journeys (overnight), travelers should have a blanket or sleeping bag within reach. More comfortably equipped buses run, for example, on the route from Mazar-e Sharif via Kabul to Herat.
In Afghanistan there are two ways to get around by taxi – in a regular taxi or in a shared taxi. For a journey along a special route or to reach some remote places that are not reached by minibuses, it is advisable to rent a normal taxi. It is advisable to select the driver carefully and to examine the vehicle a little more carefully before setting off. If you are traveling alone, you should give the taxi’s license plate number and the planned route to a person you trust. The price and possible other conditions, such as waiting times or whether the petrol is included, must be negotiated before starting the trip. Taxi drivers can be tough negotiating partners.
Apart from Small or minibuses are shared taxis the most important means of transportation in Afghan road traffic. Shared taxis mostly operate on fixed routes and are often found at the stops for minibuses. Fares are higher than buses, but taxis reach their destination much faster. Most shared taxis are yellow and can accommodate a total of five passengers. The price is calculated based on the number of seats rented.