Bamyan, Afghanistan
Bamyan, Afghanistan

Bamyan

Bamyan, located in the central highlands, is one of the oldest cities in the country and is widely known for the giant, ancient Buddha statues that were carved into the side of a cliff.
Photo by Nasim Dadfar

AFGHANISTAN

Asia

Afghanistan Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Kabul

Location:

Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran

Currency:

afghanis (AFA)

Area:

652,230 sq km

Population:

37,466,414 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 78% (Dari functions as the lingua franca), Pashto (official) 50%, Uzbek 10%, English 5%, Turkmen 2%, Urdu 2%, Pashayi 1%, Nuristani 1%, Arabic 1%, Balochi 1%, other <1% (2017 est.)

Religion:

Muslim 99.7% (Sunni 84.7 - 89.7%, Shia 10 - 15%), other 0.3% (2009 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+4.5

Tel Code:

+93

Weather

Climate

Afghanistan has a varied climate depending on the region. The country has a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. The low-lying areas in the south and east have a hot and arid climate, while the high-lying areas in the north and west have a cold and semi-arid climate. The northeastern region of Afghanistan has a subarctic climate, with cold winters and short, cool summers. The mountainous regions of the country have a subalpine climate, with cool summers and cold winters. The country also has a dry climate with low rainfall and high evaporation, resulting in a high rate of desertification.

Transportation

Air Travel

Air travel is the most common way to travel to Afghanistan. The main international airport in Afghanistan is Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, which has regular flights from several major cities in the region and around the world. Other airports in Afghanistan, such as Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, also have some international flights.

Road

Road transportation is also available within Afghanistan, but it may not be the most reliable option due to the poor condition of many roads and the ongoing security concerns in certain areas of the country. It's important to note that it's not safe to travel on some parts of the country due to ongoing conflict and the presence of non-state armed groups.

Public transportation

Public transportation options such as buses and shared taxis are available in some parts of Afghanistan, but they are not as developed as in other countries and may not be reliable. It's also important to consider the security situation in the area you will be travelling, as public transportation can also be a target for attacks.

Military and private transport

Due to the security concerns, many organizations and individuals rely on military or private transportation options, such as armored vehicles and convoys, to move around the country. This mode of transportation is generally considered to be the safest, but also the most expensive.

Accommodation

Hotels

There are a variety of hotels available in Afghanistan, ranging from luxury resorts to budget-friendly options. However, it's important to note that the quality of accommodations can vary greatly and may not meet the standards of those used to Western-style hotels. Also, due to ongoing security concerns, many hotels have security measures in place and may be located in areas that are considered safe.

Guesthouses

Guesthouses are also available in Afghanistan, and they can provide a more authentic and local experience. They are often family-run and offer basic amenities. They may be a good option for travelers who are looking for budget-friendly accommodation and a more authentic experience.

Military and NGO Accommodations

Due to the ongoing security concerns in Afghanistan, many organizations and individuals rely on military or private accommodation options, such as military bases or compounds operated by NGOs. These options are generally considered to be the safest, but also the most expensive and may not be available for general public.

It's important to note that the situation in Afghanistan is constantly changing, and accommodations options and security measures may change as well. It's important to check the current information and consult with the relevant authorities before planning your trip.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Afghanistan Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Afghanistan may not be the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of a vacation spot, but it is a country with a rich history and culture. From ancient ruins to bustling markets, there is a lot to see and do in Afghanistan. However, it is important to note that the security situation in Afghanistan is constantly changing and it is important to check the current information and consult with the relevant authorities before planning your trip. With that being said, here are the top 10 things to do in Afghanistan:

      1. Visit the Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif

      The Blue Mosque, also known as the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, is a stunning example of Islamic architecture. It is said to contain the tomb of Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and is considered one of the most important religious sites in Afghanistan.

      2. Explore the Bamiyan Buddhas

      The Bamiyan Buddhas were two monumental statues of standing buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamiyan valley. They were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 but the remains of the statues and the niches in which they stood are still visible today, and they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

      3. Visit the Herat Citadel

      The Herat Citadel is a fortress that dates back to the 11th century and it is considered one of the most important historical sites in Afghanistan. The citadel is located on a hilltop in the city of Herat and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

      4. Explore the Minaret of Jam

      The Minaret of Jam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the remote Ghor province of Afghanistan. The minaret is an architectural wonder, built in the 12th century and stands at a height of 65 meters. It's only accessible by a several-days long journey by car or horseback.

      5. Visit the National Museum of Afghanistan

      The National Museum of Afghanistan is located in Kabul and it is a great place to learn about the country's rich history and culture. The museum has a wide variety of artifacts on display, including manuscripts, textiles, and sculptures.

      6. Take a trip to the Paghman Gardens

      The Paghman Gardens are a beautiful set of terraced gardens located in the Paghman valley, west of Kabul. They were built by King Amanullah Khan in the 1920s and are a popular spot for picnics and relaxation.

      7. Visit the Shahr-e-Zohak

      Shahr-e-Zohak is an ancient fortress located in the Bamyan province of Afghanistan. The fortress dates back to the 10th century and offers a glimpse into the country's rich history. The fortress is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site

      8. Explore the Khwaja Parsa Mosque

      The Khwaja Parsa Mosque is a 15th-century mosque located in the Balkh province of Afghanistan. The mosque is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture and is considered one of the most important religious sites in the country.

      9. Visit the Kandahar Old City

      The Kandahar Old City is a historic district located in the city of Kandahar. It is home to a number of important historical sites, including the 19th-century Arg (citadel) and the 16th-century mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Durrani.

      10. Visit the National Botanical Garden of Afghanistan

      The National Botanical Garden of Afghanistan is a beautiful garden located in the capital city of Kabul. The garden is a great place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Afghanistan. It is also an important research center for the study of the country's flora.

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