Kabul has been the capital of Afghanistan since about 1776. The city has been badly damaged during the various 1979–2001 wars, particularly its western parts. Kabul is currently going through a period of renovation and development, with some modern style tower blocks and a handful of glitzy shopping malls appearing over the last few years. However, roads and other infrastructure remain in poor condition, and electricity is spotty even in the downtown areas.
Kabul International Airport (IATA: KBL), +93 9251-61001, is a short drive east of the city center. Airport facilities include banks, restaurants, post office and car parking (all very basic). Taxis are available to the city center, but it is safer to meet someone whom you know. Alternatively, Afghan Logistics (+93-777 443311, see below in Get Around) offers an airport pick-up for about $25. Compared to international standards, the existing airport is not very good, despite some refurbishment in 2007. A new international terminal has been constructed next to the existing terminal, however all flights are still being handled by the old terminal.
Kabul International Airport is the hub of Ariana Afghan Airlines, Afghanistan's national carrier. It flies to a few destinations including Delhi, Dubai, Frankfurt, Islamabad and Istanbul, along with some domestic flights. Note that Ariana's safety standards are not up to EU safety requirements and it is one of the banned carriers in the EU (with the exception of the plane that flies to Frankfurt).
Other airlines that fly to/from Kabul include:
- Safi Airways which flies to Dubai, and, intermittently, some other destinations (Kuwait, Riyadh and Sharjah). The London-Gatwick route mentioned on their website remains a mystery.
- Pamir Airways to Dubai, Jeddah and Riyadh
- Kam Air to Almaty, Delhi, Dubai, Dushanbe, Mashhad and Urumqi.
- India to Delhi.
Foreigners will need to get a visitors' permit - after immigration go to the room with the sign 'duty free' behind the baggage carousel and complete the form - if you have 2 passport photos with you then you can complete the registration there. Otherwise you'll have to finish your registration at the Ministry of Interior later (mucho hassle - best to make sure you have those photos). The Foreigner Registration card is taken off you when you exit Afghanistan, and a big fine / bribe is required if you haven't got it when you fly out. The registration card is free.It is also a good idea to have a few spare US dollars or afs when you want to leave the country as there are porters who put your bags on the airport bus and then demand sufficient payment.
- The highway from Kandahar has been rebuilt, but travelling on it is very dangerous because of the Taliban.
- The highway from Mazar-e Sharif and the North via the Salang Pass is open, although one has to be careful travelling on it during the winter months.
- The newly rebuilt highway from Jalalabad is open which has reduced the journey time to 2-3 hours.
- From Bamiyan it is advisable to take the longer northern route, as the southern route is of questionable safety.
Private operators serve most destinations in fairly comfortable Mercedes buses. Safety can be a problem, with frequent accidents. On August 9th, 2005, twenty people died on the Kabul - Kandahar road when two buses collided. It is debateably safer to take slightly more expensive shared taxis (Toyota Corollas) or private hire vehicles.
- Millie Bus operates many routes around Kabul, but it is faster and more comfortable to use taxis.
- Taxis are plentiful and to hire the whole car should cost around 30 to 50 Afg depending on destination and bargaining skills.
- Afghan Logistics & Tours  700 277 408, 700 288 668, 700 479 435, 799 391 462. Catering mostly to expats they are probably the safest way to get around town. 24 hour minicabs are available as well as airport pickups and dropoffs. $5-7 around town, $15 to airport, $20 from airport.
- Babur Gardens. The gardens surround the tomb of the first Mughal Emperor Babur. Though he had wished to be buried here, he was originally buried in Agra, and later moved to this spot. It's a popular park with Afghans for picnics and lazy afternoons.10 Af for locals, 250 Af for foreigners.
- Bagh-e Zanana (Women Park), park dedicated for women only, renovated and nice place to enjoy the outdoors.
- Lake Qargha. described as Kabul's lake district. It is 9km from the city. Spojmai restaurant provides international cuisine. Swimming and boating are popular on the lake with plans for water skiing and jet-skis in the future.
- Bagh-e Bala. Another famous park in the city.
- Kabul Zoo. 6AM-6PM daily. The zoo is very popular with Afghans, and houses over 100 animals, albeit in relatively poor condition. China was once one of the main donors of animals in the zoo, but after the death of a few animals to disease and malnutrition, China has announced that there will be no donations until living conditions improve. 'Marjan' the lion, which was blinded by a grenade, was the main draw of the zoo, but has died recently.10 Af for locals, 100 Af for foreigners.
- Afghan National Museum, (several miles from the city center, across from Darulaman Palace). The Afghan National Museum once housed one of the greatest collections of Central Asian artifacts in the world. A large percentage of the previous collection was looted in the 1990s during Taliban rule after the upper floors of the museum were bombed. Many of the early Buddhist treasures were destroyed by the Taliban at the same time as the Bamiyan Buddhas. Looted items still turn up around the world at auctions. The museum is open once again, with far more modest displays of early Buddhist and Islamic artifacts.
- Darul Aman Palace. Originally built as King Amanullah's Palace, it has been destroyed and rebuilt a few times over. Plans were unveiled a few years ago to renovate it once again although it is still in a state of crumbling disrepair on the verge of collapsing.
- Ariana Cinema, Pashtunistan Square. Primarily shows Bollywood or trashy action flicks, and the occasional American blockbuster.
- Olympic Stadium Home of the Afghan cricket team. Also where the Taliban carried out their public punishments on those who violated their laws. Just past the stadium is the mine museum as well as a road up the hill where you will find hundreds of Afghan men and boys flying kites on holidays.
- British Cemetery. Where foreigners are buried in Kabul. There are also Memorial plaques commemorating those ISAF forces killed during the last few years.
- Kabul Golf Club, Qargha Road, ☎ +93 79 22 63 27, . Closed down in 1978 by the Soviet Union, it reopened in 2004 after a 25 year hiatus. This 9-hole course bills itself as "extreme golf with an attitude".Af 750/$15 greens fee for 9 or 18 holes, or Af15,000/$300 yearly.
- Kabul Wall. A pleasant hike with rewarding views over the city. The Kabul City Wall is still is pretty good condition, running west-east from Babar Gardens over to Bala Hissar (about 3 km in distance).
The Share-e Naw area has some shops.
- The Kabul City Center, next to the park, has some very smart shops.
- Roshan Plaza has some quite respectable clothes shops.
- Chicken Street is famed for its tourist fare (carpets, carvings, knives etc) and pirated CD/DVD's.
- Chelsea Supermarket sells many types of western foods and products.
- Supreme Supermarket on the Jalalabad road (near the British military base) has western products, but currently no alcohol is available. It is not open to Afghans. A little further down the road is Ciano, an Italian commissary. There is frequently a security alert on the Jalalabad road.
- Spinneys Seems to cater to NGO's Can buy most western products and food. They had turkeys available for christmas this year. Also a lot of holiday fixings.
- Shah M Book Co, (across from Mustafa Hotel). The best bookstore in the city, it's the place to head for your next novel, and also has a good selection of coffee table books and books about Afghanistan. The owner was the subject for the recent book The Bookseller of Kabul. Prices are high, but you'll appreciate his selection.
A few ATMs that accept international cards are scattered around the city. However, credit cards are unlikely to work or be accepted anywhere in the city, save a couple of the top end hotels.
- Standard Chartered Bank  is in Wazir Akbar Khan.
- Afghanistan International Bank (AIB)  has a few machines around Kabul, including one inside the Kabul City Center shopping mall. They dispense in US dollars and Afghanis, however they are often reluctant to part with any cash and sometimes dispense old, ripped notes.
- Kabul Bank  has many branches in the city.
- Azizi Bank  has many branches in the city.
- Western Union  has many branches across the city.
- Money Changers – some prefer to exchange their dollars for Afghanis through the local money changers that stand on the road. There is no fee to exchange money this way, but make sure you know the rough exchange rate before attempting this.
- Cafe in the basement of Kabul City Center, Share-e Naw. Burger and banana drink for less than $3.
- Peshawar Kebab Shop, (Shash Darak). 11am-6pm. A great local place for a tasty lunch. They only serve one type of food (Pakistani style flat chapli kebabs) but they do it well and it will only set you back Afs 100 or so. 34°31'33.95N , 69°11'28.41E(34°31'33.95N,69°11'28.41E)
- Shar-e-now Burgers, Shar-e-now, opposite the Shar-e-now park, ☎ +93 799-300797, +93 70-255788. 10AM-10PM. Fast Food cuisine, English menu. Phone orders available.
- Everest Pizza, 13 Str.Wazir Akbar Khan, ☎ +93 799-317979, +93 70-263636. 9AM-9PM. Fast Food cuisine, English menu. Phone orders/ home delivery available.
- Afghan Fried Chicken clean westernized fast-food restaurant in Kabul City.
- Street stalls abound, and good ones can be found around Shahr-e Naw Park and near the Pul-e Khisti bridge in the old town. However, the hygiene is questionable particularly in the summer.
- Afghan International Pizza Express, Darulaman Road(near Ministry of Commerce and Ariana TV), ☎ +93 700 383 918. Good pizza. Destroyed during the May 2006 riots, but has since been rebuilt and has a new chef.
- Anaar Restaurant & Bar, Crossing of St 14, Lane 3, Wazir Akbar Khan(Between Wazir Akbar Khan circle and Heetal Plaza Hotel, towards end of St 14), ☎ +93 700 284 315(firstname.lastname@example.org). 10AM-10PM. UN Security Clearance. Great Indian and Asian Cuisine. English Menu, English Speaking Staff. Phone Orders - Carry Out and Delivery Available.
- L’Atmosphere Restaurant, Str.4, Qala-e- fatullah, ☎ +93 799-300264, +93 700-224982. 10AM-10PM. French cuisine, French and English menu. Phone orders available. Garden dining and swimming pool. Closed on Sundays.
- B’s Place Restaurant(Guest House), Str.2, Qala-e- fatullah House No.3, ☎ +93 70-276416, +93 70-276711. 11AM–11PM. Italian and Mexican cuisine, English menu. Phone orders available.
- La Cantina, (East of Shar-e Nau park, about 1 block from Assa II Guesthouse), ☎ +93 798 27 19 15(email@example.com), . Tu-W 6-10PM, Th-Su 12-3PM & 6-10PM, M closed. Surely the most far-flung Mexican restaurant on the globe, serving up burritos, enchiladas, nachos and other Mexican standards.Mains Af 350-550.
- Carlito's Restaurant & Bar, Str 15 Wazir Ak Khan, ☎ +93 799-159697, +93 799-167824. 10AM-10PM. Mexican cuisine, English Menu. No phone orders/home delivery
- Delhi Darbar, Cinema Zainab Rd, Share-e Naw(between the park and Flower St), ☎ +93 799 324 899, . Great Indian food including a $6 thali. Indoor seating is intimate and spread through 3 rooms, or sit outside in the spacious garden.
- Escalades Restaurant, Macroian2, Matba block 104, ☎ +93 799-473763. 10AM–10PM. European cuisine, English menu. No phone hours/home delivery.
- Golden Key, No 284, Lane 4, Wazir Akbar Khan,(4th Turning on the left off St 13), ☎ +93 799-002800, +93 799-343319, . 10AM–11PM. Chinese seafood restaurant. Garden dining in the summer, Sheesha, Karaoke and English breakfast on Fridays. Phone orders for take away and home delivery.
- The Grill Restaurant, Street 15, Wazir Akbar Khan(on junction near British embassy). Lebanese food.
- Hong Kong Restaurant, Wazir Akbar Khan(near Pakistani embassy). Good Chinese food & better. (Ask around to know what I mean.
- Istanbul Restaurant, Macroian2, Matba block 104, ☎ +93 70-200116, +93 799-356282. 8AM–9PM. Turkish cuisine, English menu. Phone orders available.
- Kulba Afghan, Shar-e-now, Esmat Moslim Str. 3rd floor, ☎ +93 799452151, +93 70034979. 10AM–9PM. Afghan and Italian cuisine, English menu. No phone orders/home delivery.
- Mai Thai Restaurant, Str15 Wazir Ak Khan House No.124, ☎ +93 70-297557, +93 70-278640. 11AM–9PM. Thai cuisine, English menu and English speaking staff. No phone orders/home delivery. The reincarnation of Lai Thai. Inside i very nice, and you can sit outside if you'd like. Park outside on the dirt road. Good prices too.
- New World Korean Restuarant, Charyi Ansari(Shar-e Now), ☎ 0799-199509. until 9pm. Now moved to a new location, but the food is still excellent quality. Good selection of Korean favourites, including excellent kimbab (Korean sushi).
- Pamir Restaurant, Bagh-e Bala road(at the Intercontinental Hotel), ☎ +93 20 2201321. Offers an excellent and cheap buffet.
- Park Residence Hotel. Provides a good Afghan buffet.
- Popolano Italian Restaurant, Charahi Ansari, Share-e Naw, ☎ +93 70-288116. 9AM-10PM. English menu, good pizza and pastas. Phone orders available.
- The Springfield Restaurant & Bar, Wazir Akbar Khan. Offers pizza and assorted Italian / Western fare, and has a weekly quiz night on Mondays.
- Sufi Afghan Restaurant, near the Intercontinental Hotel, .
- Taverna du Liban, Street 14, Lane 3, Wazir Akbar Khan, ☎ +93 799 828 376. Excellent Lebanese restaurant.
- Boccaccio Restaurant & Bar, Str 10 Wazir Ak khan (same street as Everest Pizza), ☎ +93 799-160368. 10AM–10PM. European and Italian cuisine, English menu. No phone orders/home delivery. Expensive, but the food is some of the best in Kabul.
- Café Zarnegar, Froshgah Street(in the Kabul Serena Hotel), ☎ +93 79 9654 000, . 6:30AM-10PM daily, F brunch 11AM-4PM. Tasty high-end international food and nice atmosphere, one of the nicest restaurants in the city. Their large buffet is probably the best in the country.Mains $15-20.
- Silk Route Restaurant, Froshgah Street(in the Kabul Serena Hotel), ☎ +93 79 9654 000, . 6-10PM daily. Specializes in South-east Asian food, in a luxurious atmosphere.$15-20.
- Gandamack Lodge, Sherpur Square, next to the UNHCR, . One of Kabul's classiest establishments serving a varied menu in a nice atmosphere. Alcohol is very expensive, even by Afghan standards, but that can be forgiven given the fairly reasonable food prices.
At one time alcohol was available at the Military P/X shops (Supreme, Blue and Ciano's) however it is no longer available to anyone. Beer and wine can be found sporadically on the black market in local shops on Flower Street. Most expat restaurants offer beer, wine and spirits but it is unknown how long this will last given current conditions.
- Mustafa Hotel . Has a restaurant, Internet cafe and billiards. Single rooms from $30/night.
- Salsal Guesthouse, Zarghona Maidan, Shar-e Naw Park, (located between the park and the Chelsea Supermarket, and is signed in English), +93 (0) 799 734 202. Reasonably clean, shared bathrooms, friendly manager (Bashir) speaks English. Single rooms from $10/night, includes cable TV and a fan. Double rooms from $20/night.
- Le Monde Guest House Kabul, 7 Herati Mosque Street, Shar-e Naw Park, and Flower street.
- Park Residence Hotel, Ansari Square, Shahr-e Naw Park, +93 799 373 780, reasonable rooms with cable TV and Internet access. Internet cafe is now shifted inside the hotel near the reception (this was the site of the 2005 internet cafe suicide bombing). Single, double and triple rooms from $55/night including breakfast. Dinner buffet is $6.
- UNICA Guest House, Shar-i-Naw, Ansari Wat. Rooms starting at $25 per night--majority of rooms are $48 and $50. Facility is nice by Kabul standards and includes nice common gardens, swimming pool and Bar. Dinner buffet is $6.
- Golden Star Hotel . A clean and modern 4-star hotel, with restaurant, conference hall & small gym. High speed internet in each room. $80 USD a night.
- Heetal Plaza Hotel, Street 14, Wazir Akbar Khan, +93 799 167 824, . A nice, quiet, relaxing and cozy place. Single rooms from Af 5000/$110.
- Intercontinental Hotel, Bagh-e Bala Rd, +93 20 220 1321, . A great 5-star hotel with nice restaurants and a swimming pool. Single room from $90/night.
- Kabul Serena Hotel . A clean and modern 5-star hotel with 3 great restaurants. Certainly the best hotel in the city, rooms from $250/night. The hotel was attacked on 14th January 2008. A large explosion killed at least 7 people. The Taliban has claimed responsibility.
- Safi Landmark Hotel & Suites, Shar-e Naw Park (top 6 floors of the Kabul City Center shopping mall), +93 20 220 3131, . Large conference hall, restaurant and gym area, apartments also available. Single room from $80/night.
- There are numerous internet cafes around the city, so getting access should not be too hard.
- Assa II Net Cafe, Muslim St. On the ground floor of Assa II Guesthouse, they have several computers with semi-reliable connections. 25 Afs. or $1 per hour.
- The cellular telephone system in Kabul is excellent. American and European phones do work on the local system.
- Roshan Shop, Street # 13, Wazir Akbar Khan(off Main Street), ☎ +93 79 997 1333.
Westerners are occasionally targeted by criminals or Taliban sympathisers, and kidnapping can be a threat. Riots happen occasionally and are often accompanied by looting -- stay well away from them as authorities will respond with lethal force. Avoid walking after dark, and vary your routes during the day. Kabul is generally considered one of the safer parts of the country, but bombings have increased somewhat since late 2006.
Read the Scene magazine for restaurant reviews and all sorts of useful info. It is free, although street sellers may charge for it. There are many FM radio stations. However, the only widely available English language broadcast is from the BBC World Service on 101.6MHz.
This page was last edited at 08:49, on 28 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Dave Stanley and cz, Wikitravel user(s) Cacahuate and Creative, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.