Tourism in Afghanistan

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Some popular landscapes of Afghanistan, from left to right: 1. Band-e Amir National Park; 2. Salang Pass in Parwan Province; 3. Korangal Valley in Kunar Province; and 4. Kajaki Dam in the valley of Helmand Province Geography of Afghanistan.jpg
Some popular landscapes of Afghanistan, from left to right: 1. Band-e Amir National Park; 2. Salang Pass in Parwan Province; 3. Korangal Valley in Kunar Province; and 4. Kajaki Dam in the valley of Helmand Province
Foreign tourists in Kabul, c. 1940 CH-NB - Afghanistan, Kabul- Menschen - Annemarie Schwarzenbach - SLA-Schwarzenbach-A-5-21-123.jpg
Foreign tourists in Kabul, c. 1940

Tourism in Afghanistan is regulated by the Ministry of Information and Culture. There are at least 350 tourism companies operating in Afghanistan. [1] Tourism was at its peak before the 1978 Saur Revolution, which was followed by the decades of warfare. [2] Between 2013 and 2016, Afghan embassies issued between 15,000 and 20,000 tourist visas annually. [3] [4]


Afghanistan has four international airports, which include Kabul International Airport, Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport, the Ahmad Shah Baba International Airport in Kandahar, and Herat International Airport. It also has a number of smaller domestic airports such as Bamyan Airport, Bost Airport, Chaghcharan Airport, Farah Airport, Fayzabad Airport, Ghazni Airport, Jalalabad Airport, Khost Airport, Kunduz Airport, Maymana Airport, Nili Airport, Tarinkot Airport, and Zaranj Airport.

Guest houses and hotels are found in every city of Afghanistan. Some of the major hotels in Kabul are the Serena Hotel, the Hotel Inter-Continental Kabul, and the Safi Landmark Hotel. Most places in the country serve traditional Afghan cuisine.


Badakhshan Province Badakhshan province of Afghanistan.jpg
Badakhshan Province

Fayzabad, the capital and largest city of Badakhshan Province, has several hotels and tourist attractions. The Fayzabad Airport serves the population of the entire province. There is also a road network from Fayzabad to other districts. Tourists can book a hotel in the city and then drive from there to Ishkashim, which is a border town next to the Afghanistan–Tajikistan border. They can then drive to the Wakhan National Park in Wakhan District to as far as Baza'i Gonbad or the Wakhjir Pass (Afghanistan–China border). [5] [6] [7] Wakhan is one of the most coldest and isolated districts of Afghanistan. [8]


The Shrine of Ali is located in the center of Mazar-i-Sharif from there many people visit the border town of Hairatan, which sits next to the Amu River near the Afghanistan–Uzbekistan border. [9] The ancient town of Balkh is located about 20 km (12 mi) northwest of Mazar-i-Sharif. [10]


Band-e Amir National Park in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan Afghanistan's Grand Canyon.jpg
Band-e Amir National Park in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan

The Band-e Amir National Park is located in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan. [11] There are several modern hotels in Bamyan, which is the capital of the province. [12] The site of the Buddhas of Bamyan is also located in this province. [13] Some people visit Bamyan in the winter for skiing purposes. [14] Below are some notable tourist sites in Bamyan Province:


A number of mausoleums of Ghaznavid rulers are located in and around the ancient city of Ghazni. Below are some notable sites for travelers to visit in Ghazni Province:


Herat Citadel in Herat, Afghanistan View of Herat Citadel from atop the premises.jpg
Herat Citadel in Herat, Afghanistan

Herat, which is the capital of Herat Province, is an ancient city that has many historical sites for visitors to see. [15] [16] Below are some notable tourist sites in Herat Province:


Inside the Kabul Serena Hotel Kabul IMG 2206 (9484281229).jpg
Inside the Kabul Serena Hotel

Kabul has many hotels, guest houses and tourist attractions. [18] The Kabul International Airport has an international terminal and a domestic terminal. There is also a bus terminal that provides coach (bus) service to other provinces of the country. [19]

The Ghazi Stadium often hosts football matches. Next to the stadium is an indoor skating ground called Skateistan. There are two bowling alleys, one is named Bravo Bowling and Cafe while the other is named Striker Bowling. There are also two indoor water parks, and several snooker and billiards clubs in different parts of the city. Below are some notable sites for travelers to visit in Kabul Province:

Abdul Rahman Mosque

The Abdul Rahman Mosque, which was completed in late 2009 and officially inaugurated in July 2012, is one of the largest mosques in Kabul. It is adjacent to the Zarnegar Park in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of the city, not far from the Kabul Serena Hotel.

Bagh-e Babur

Gardens of Babur Babur Gardens in May 2010.jpg
Gardens of Babur

The Gardens of Babur is a historic park in Kabul. It is the resting-place of Babur, the first emperor of the Mughal Empire. The gardens are thought to have been developed in the 16th century when Babur gave orders for the construction of an avenue garden in the city, described in some detail in his memoirs, the Baburnama. [20]

Bagh-e Bala

Bala Hissar

The Bala Hissar is a fortress believed to be built over 1,500 years ago. It was last destroyed by the British in the 19th century and was then abandoned. It is being restored. [21]

Chihil Sutun

The Chihil Sutun Palace was built in the late 19th century for Habibullah Khan, who was Prince at the time. It was later used primarily as a guest house for diplomats and important figures such as U.S. President Eisenhower and Nikita Khrushchev of the USSR.

Darul Aman Palace

The Darul Aman Palace (King's Palace) was built for King Amanullah Khan. It sits directly across from the parliament building in the southern section of the city.

Eid Gah Mosque

The Id Gah Mosque is one of the oldest and largest mosques in Kabul. Its historical importance has been that of Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, where top officials and the city's wealthy people would perform Eid prayers.

Habibullah Zazai Park

Habibullah Zazai Park is the largest amusement park located in and around Ahmad Shah Baba Mina, which is in the far eastern part of Kabul. The park sits on a hillside and provides large walking space with beautiful views of the city. [22] Another such park is called the City Park, which is much smaller and located near Kabul Zoo.

Kabul Zoo

Kabul Zoo has around 280 animals, which includes 45 species of birds and mammals and 36 species of fish. [23] Among the animals there are two lions and a khanzir (pig), which is extremely rare in Afghanistan. [24] As many as 5,000 people visit the zoo during the weekends. [25]

National Museum of Afghanistan

The National Museum of Afghanistan sits next to the Darul Aman Palace in the southeastern section of the city. The museum's collection had earlier been one of the most important in Central Asia, [26] with over 100,000 items dating back several millennia. With the start of the civil war in 1992, the museum was looted numerous times resulting in a loss of 70% of the 100,000 objects on display. [27] Since 2007, a number of international organizations have helped to recover over 8,000 artifacts, the most recent being a limestone sculpture from Germany. [28] Approximately 843 artifacts were returned by the United Kingdom in 2012, including the famous 1st Century Bagram Ivories. [29]


The Qargha picnic area is between Kabul and Paghman Lake Qargha.jpg
The Qargha picnic area is between Kabul and Paghman

Paghman has been used historically as a summer retreat. Most people go there for backpacking (hiking) and see large European style mansions and other structures, including the Paghman Citadel which was recently built. It is located northwest of Kabul. The Qargha picnic area is located on the way to Paghman. The area is being developed by the government to attract more visitors. There are a number of places to eat and relax.

Sakhi Shrine

Shah wa Arus Dam

Tajbeg Palace

The Tajbeg Palace (Queen's Palace) was built in the 1920's by King Amanullah Khan for Queen Soraya. It is located near the Darul Aman Palace. One of its purposes was for women of Afghanistan to address their issues with the Queen. Another was for women only parties to take place there. Afghanistan has always been a very conservative country where men and women do not sit or party together.


The shrine of Baba Wali next to the Arghandab River in Kandahar Baba Saab.JPG
The shrine of Baba Wali next to the Arghandab River in Kandahar

Visiting Kandahar Province has long been avoided by foreign tourists due to insecurity. Despite that, a number of foreigners have visited the province in recent years. [30] Aino Mina, which is located in the northeast of Kandahar, has a number of large mosques, parks, hotels, places to shop and eat, sports facilities, etc. There is also a bus terminal in Aino Mina. [31] Another is located in the western end of Kandahar. [32] Below are some notable sites for travelers to visit in Kandahar Province:


Kabul River near Jalalabad in Nangarhar Province Kabulriverinjaa1.jpg
Kabul River near Jalalabad in Nangarhar Province

Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar Province, has a number of hotels and tourist attractions. Below are some notable sites for travelers to visit in Nangarhar Province:


Below are some notable sites for travelers to visit in Nimruz Province:


Below are some notable sites for travelers to visit in Panjshir Province:

Culture and security issues

Afghanistan is an Islamic country where alcohol and drugs are prohibited. In Islam, a tourist or a traveler is called a musafir . Such person is generally treated as a diplomat and well protected under Afghan culture. Every mosque is a place of ultimate protection against those wanting to cause harm. Although Afghans are generally very friendly to tourists or travelers, kidnapping for ransom still exists in the county. [33] [34] Several foreign tourists have been kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan in the past. [35] Finding an honest and reliable tour guide is the key to safety in Afghanistan.

In June 2022, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that "anyone" can visit Afghanistan for tourism, [36] and the Ministry of Information and Culture started promoting it while claiming that Afghanistan is now safe. [37] This, however, does not mean that unexploded ordnances or land mines no longer exist because they likely still do. [38] [39] [40]


Below is a series of old post stamps of Afghanistan from the 1960s and 1970s that promote tourism in the country.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Economy of Afghanistan</span>

The economy of Afghanistan is listed as the 124th largest in the world in terms of nominal gross domestic product (GDP), and 102nd largest in the world in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). With a population of around 41 million people, Afghanistan's GDP (nominal) stands at $14.58 billion as of 2021, amounting to a GDP per capita of $363.7. Its annual exports exceed $2 billion, with agricultural, mineral and textile products accounting for 94% of total exports. The nation's total external debt is $1.4 billion as of 2022.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Herat</span> City in Herat Province, Afghanistan

Herāt is an oasis city and the third-largest city in Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated south of the Paropamisus Mountains in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country. An ancient civilization on the Silk Road between West, Central and South Asia, it serves as a regional hub in the country's west.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jalalabad</span> City in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan

Jalalabad is the fifth-largest city of Afghanistan. It has a population of about 356,274, and serves as the capital of Nangarhar Province in the eastern part of the country, about 130 kilometres (80 mi) from the capital Kabul. Jalalabad is located at the junction of the Kabul River and the Kunar River in a plateau to the south of the Hindu Kush mountains. It is linked by the Kabul-Jalalabad Road to the west and Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, to the east through Torkham and the Khyber Pass.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kabul</span> Capital and the largest city of Afghanistan

Kabul is the capital city of Afghanistan. Located in the eastern half of the country, it is also a municipality, forming part of the Kabul Province; it is administratively divided into 22 municipal districts. According to 2023 estimate, the population of Kabul was 4.95 million people. In contemporary times, the city has served as Afghanistan's political, cultural, and economical center, and rapid urbanisation has made Kabul the 75th-largest city in the world and the country's primate city.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Afghan Civil War (1928–1929)</span> Military conflict

The Afghan Civil War was fought from 14 November 1928 to 13 October 1929. Rebelling, and subsequently governing Saqqawist (Saqāwīhā) forces under Habibullāh Kalakāni fought against various opposing tribes and rival monarchs in the Kingdom of Afghanistan, among whom Mohammed Nādir Khān eventually achieved a preponderant role. Despite early successes, such as the capture of Kabul and defeat of Amanullah Khan on 17 January 1929 or the capture of Kandahar on 3 June, the Saqqawists were eventually deposed by anti-Saqqawist forces led by Nadir on 13 October 1929, leading to Nadir's ascension as King of Afghanistan, who ruled until his assassination on 3 November 1933.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Transport in Afghanistan</span>

Transport in Afghanistan is done mostly by road, rail and air. Much of the nation's road network was built in the mid-20th century but left to ruin during the last two decades of that century due to war and political turmoil. Officials of the current Islamic Emirate have continued to improve the national highways, roads, and bridges. In 2008, there were about 700,000 vehicles registered in Kabul. At least 1,314 traffic collisions were reported in 2022.

The Kabul–Kandahar Highway (NH0101) is 483-kilometer (300 mi) long that links Afghanistan's two largest cities, Kabul and Kandahar. It starts from Dashte Barchi in Kabul and passes through Maidan Shar, Saydabad, Ghazni, and Qalat until it reaches Aino Mina in Kandahar. It is currently being rehabilitated at different locations. This highway is a key portion of Afghanistan's national highway system or "National Highway 1". The entire highway between Kabul and Kandahar has no mountain passes but there are many mountains nearby in some places. Approximately 35 percent of Afghanistan's population lives within 50 km (31 mi) of the Kabul to Kandahar portion of the Afghanistan Ring Road.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paghman</span> District in Kabul Province, Afghanistan

Paghman (Dari/Pashto:پغمان) is a town in the hills near Afghanistan's capital of Kabul. It is the seat of the Paghman District which has a population of about 120,000, mainly Pashtuns and Tajiks. The gardens of Paghman are a major tourist attraction, and why the city is also known as the garden capital of Afghanistan. The neighboring town of Qargha is to the southeast, which can be reached by several roads.

Bakhtar Afghan Airlines is an airline from Afghanistan, which offers domestic flights. The company was founded in 1967 as Bakhtar Airlines, a name it kept until 1985, when it was renamed Bakhtar Afghan Airlines by Pashtun governments. In 1985 the company absorbed Ariana Afghan Airlines and became Afghanistan's sole airline company. In 1988 the Ariana and Bakhtar brands merged. However, the airline relaunched in 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eidgah Mosque</span> Mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan

The Eidgah Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Kabul, Afghanistan. It is located to the southeast of the affluent Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, near the Ghazi Stadium and Chaman-e-Hozori. It was built during the late 19th century and early 20th century, when the country was ruled by Emir Abdur Rahman Khan and his son Habibullah Khan. It is now a historical site for tourists to visit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Environmental issues in Afghanistan</span>

Environmental issues in Afghanistan are monitored by the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA). They predate the political turmoil of the past few decades. Forests have been depleted by centuries of grazing and farming, practices which have only increased with modern population growth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">UTC+04:30</span> Time zone

UTC+04:30 is an identifier for a time offset from UTC of +04:30. This time is used only in Afghanistan, so it is also called Afghanistan Standard Time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ishkashim, Afghanistan</span> Place in Badakhshan, Afghanistan

Ishkashim is a border town in Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, which has a population of around 12,120 people. The town serves as the capital of Ishkashim District. Another town by the same name is located on the other side of the Panj River in the Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan, although that town is normally transliterated Ishkoshim following Tajik practice. A bridge linking the two towns was reconstructed in 2006.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Energy in Afghanistan</span> Overview of the production, consumption, import and export of energy and electricity in Afghanistan

Energy in Afghanistan is provided by hydropower followed by fossil fuel and solar power. Currently, less than 50% of Afghanistan's population has access to electricity. This covers the major cities in the country. Many rural areas do not have access to adequate electricity but this should change after the major CASA-1000 project is completed.

Nili Airport is located about one kilometer of driving distance from the center of Nili, which is the capital of Daykundi Province in Afghanistan. It is a domestic airport under the country's Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (MoTCA), and serves the population of Daykundi Province. Security in and around the airport is provided by the Afghan National Security Forces. It has been used in the past mostly for emergency relief purposes.

The COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan was part of the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The virus was confirmed to have spread to Afghanistan when its index case, in Herat, was confirmed on 24 February 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paghman Hill Castle</span> Palace in Afghanistan

Paghman Hill Castle, also known as Paghman Palace, is located in the town of Paghman in Afghanistan, a short distance northwest of the city of Kabul. The site opened to the public in 2014 and is visited by many tourists, especially during major festivals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Kandahar (2021)</span> 2021 conflict in Kandahar

The Battle of Kandahar began on 9 July 2021, as Taliban insurgents assaulted the city to capture it from the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). After heavy fighting for weeks the city's defenses had started to dissolve in August. This allowed the Taliban to enter and overrun most of the city on 12 August 2021, including the Sarposa prison, which included the release of over 1,000 prisoners, and ultimately the capture of the city. However, the siege for the nearby airport continued, where government loyalists held out until being evacuated on 16 August.


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