Afghanistan is one of the unfortunate countries which has not seen a permanent peace in last 35 years. This country was established in 1709 by Ahmed Shah Durrani, and the modern day Afghanistan was declared & recognized as an independent country on 19th August 1919 by Ghazi Amanullah Khan after the famous victory against the Great Britain. This country was a prosperous & peaceful country in the region until 1979 when the famous & so-called “Inqilab-e-Sor” took place, after that, the country has only seen international & neighbors interventions and home wars. However, the modern day Afghanistan including the era after the end of “Taliban-Regime” in 2001, the ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) took part in re-building & rehabilitating the country. Today in this post, I’ll show you the 2015 Afghanistan which is a better place to live and visit. As a Pakhtun (every Pashtun is basically considered Afghan), I always wanted to visit Afghanistan, and the opportunity finally came when I entered into Afghanistan on 10th February 2013 via Turkham border. I traveled by road to the famous Afghan cities such as Kabul, Jalalabad and Kunduz, and I’ll share the story of this journey on this page.
How to Obtain Afghan Visa & Tickets?
If you want to visit Afghanistan from Pakistan, then you can obtain a visa from Afghanistan’s embassy in Islamabad or three different consulates in Quetta, Peshawar and Karachi. You need to have a valid passport up to six months and visa fee of Rs.200. The visa form can be obtained from the embassy or consulate, and the addresses of embassies and consulates of Afghanistan around the world can be found on this page.
Now, after the visa work is done, you can confirm your ticket if you want to go by AIR, there are two weekly flights from Islamabad to Kabul via PIA (Pakistan International Airlines). The return ticket will cost you around Rs.40,000 or USD $400. However, if you want to go by road then this will be an amazing journey via Peshawar, you can just reach in 4 hours if you go by road from Islamabad. But if you are already in Peshawar then you can reach Afghanistan (Turkham) in just 2 hours. There are many Taxis, Corollas and other type of vehicles you can find in Haji Camp Peshawar or Motorway Chowk in Islamabad which straight go to the famous Pak-Afghan border called “Torkham“. And the travel in Taxi or bus will cost you only a few hundred Pakistani rupees (600-800). So welcome to Torkham Afghanistan if everything goes smooth :).
Afghan People & Languages
Afghanistan is a multicultural country same like neighboring Pakistan and India, in Afghanistan the majority ethnic group is Pakhtuns (Pashtuns) people who speak Pashto (Pakhtu) language, they hold 42% of the total population of Afghanistan, in numbers, Pakhtuns are about 14 to 16 millions in Afghanistan, Pashtuns in Afghanistan live in Southern & Eastern parts of the country. The second major ethnic group is called Tajik, they speak Dari language which is similar to Persian, they are almost 10 to 12 millions in Afghanistan, they live in the Northern Afghanistan. There are some other ethnic groups such as Uzbek, Hazara, Baloch, Pashai, Turkmen and Noristani. However, the major nations are Pashtuns and Tajiks. And therefore, the official language of Afghanistan is not one language, but there are two official languages i.e Pashto & Dari. Most of the people in Afghanistan wear local dress which consists of a Salwar & Kameez with a coat (Waskat in local language), but western dressing (For Boys) is also common. People of Afghanistan are very beautiful, energetic, honest, simple and hard working, every task is done on time, but some of the government officials are involved in corruption.
Which Places to Visit in Afghanistan?
You might be thinking about why should you visit Afghanistan? my simple answer to your question will be; if you are a real traveler who wants to visit the famous & historical places in the world then you’d be so much excited to visit Afghanistan after reading this whole article. Afghanistan is one of the strategically important countries, it connects Central Asia to South Asia via Pakistan, Asia Pacific to Central Asia via China, Europe via Russia and Middle east via Iran.
The famous Afghan cities are Kabul (The Capital), Jalalabad (In Nangarhar province), Kandahar, Kunar, Mazar-e-Sharif (In Balkh Province), Herat, Panjsher, Kunduz and Takhar. But if you really want to enjoy your visit then I’ll suggest you my favorite destinations in Afghanistan which are Jalalabad, Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat & Takhar. These are beautiful cities with good infrastructure and all facilities available.
If I assume, you want a 10 days visit to Afghanistan which can be one of the amazing journeys of your life then I can give you this simple plan below – city by city and place by place.
Visit Jalalabad – Nangarhar (2 Days)
First of all go to Jalalabad via Torkham (for 2 days), have some nice Afghan food, The Afghan food is very very tasty and delicious, You’ll find high class restaurants in Jalalabad city where you can have taste of all type of food such as famous Afghan food, Pakistani food, Indian food, Chinese food and even Italian food. You can find fast food as well, such as KFC & McDonald. You should also visit the famous markets in Jalalabad for some shopping which will not be a bad idea to explore the city. But here is my list of places in Jalalabad to visit when you are in Town:
- Ameer Shaheed Park
- Sherzai Park
- Sherzai Cricket Stadium (Also called Jalalabad Cricket Stadium)
- Amanullah Khan City (A Modern City)
- Museum of King Amanullah Khan
- Museum of Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan (Bacha Khan)
- Nangarhar University
- Jalalabad Press Club
- Governor House
The special thing in Jalalabad city is that, most of the Afghan cricket team players belong to this city. The captain of Afghan cricket team Mohammad Nabi also belongs to this city.
Visit Kabul (3 Days)
Now after exploring Jalalabad, straight take a Corolla from Jalalabad to Kabul, and it will take 3 to 4 hours to reach Kabul via beautiful Mahipar pass. If you have not arranged accommodation in Kabul before arrival then you can straight go to Shahr-e-naw area or Kart-e-Naw area, even you’ll find nice guest houses & apartments in Kart-e-3, Kart-e-4 and Kota Sangi areas. But my recommendation is Shahr-e-naw, because that’s a popular tourist place in Kabul where you can find all international facilities with ease. That area is very clean and beautiful as well as well-structured. It should cost you around $40 to $60 (per day) for a beautiful guest house or hotel room in Shahr-e-naw area in Kabul. I once even found a room for $15 in that area, but it was not a nice room.
You can also book hotel room online using Agoda.com and that’ll be more feasible for you if you are coming from a Western country, because it’ll not be easy for you to look for hotel room upon arrival in Kabul.
Kabul is truly the city of life, you can see a rush of people which never ends. Wherever you go, you’ll see a flood of people, rush and rush everywhere in Kabul. However, as I mentioned, the Shar-e-naw, Kart-e-Naw, Kart-e-3 and Kart-e-4 areas are not so busy areas, you can easily go there and spend your time. You should enjoy the nice food in Kabul, but apart from that, visit the Lyssa Maryam in Khair Khana area which is one of the famous shopping malls in Kabul. Also visit another popular shopping mall in Kota Sangi area. You should also visit the following places in Kabul for a great 3 days stay in this nice city:
- National Museum of Afghanistan
- Gardens of Babur
- Qargha Lake
- Kabul University
- The Faroshgah
- Kabul Zoo (Bagh-e-Wahsh)
- Wazir Akbar Khan
- Kabul Museum
- National Gallery of Art
Visit Mazar-e-Sharif (3 Days)
I think 3 days will be enough to explore Kabul city, now heads up and think for something more interesting and excited. Go to bus/taxi station in Kabul where you’ll find a lot of Corollas & buses going to Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz. If you want to go by Air then you can go to Shar-e-naw area and find some travel agencies who will arrange air tickets for you on cheap prices from Kabul to Mazar-e-Sharif or from Kabul to Kunduz or from Kabul to Herat. But I’ll suggest you to first go to Mazar-e-Sharif (Simply called Mazar), if you go to Mazar from Kabul by air then you’ll reach in 1 hour, but if you want to go by road then it will take 6 hours to reach there. Mazar or Mazar-e-sharif is one of the beautiful destinations in Afghanistan. You’ll find so many historical places in this city, it also has a border with Uzbekistan the neighboring country. If you ever visited Mazar, then apart from the delicious Afghan food, visit the following places in Mazar-e-Sharif:
- Shrine of Hazrat Ali (Very Famous)
- Mulana Jalaludin Cultural Park
- Governer’s Old House
- Tashkurgan Palace
- Mazar-e-Sharif Gate
- Khalid Bin Walid Park
- Mazar-e-Sharif Cricket Stadium
- Buzkashi Stadium in Mazar
- Balkh University
Some of the famous 2,3,4 and 5 star hotels which you can easily find in Mazar-e-Sharif are mentioned below, you can go there if you need a hotel room for your stay, also, there are a lot of guest houses available in Mazar, but these hotels also provide best facilities:
- Serena Hotel
- Mazar Hotel
- Farhat Hotel
- Kefayat hotel
- Barat Hotel
- Shinwari hotel
- Marco Polo hotel
Visit Kunduz City (2 Days)
Now after exploring Mazar, you can go for a short visit to either Kunduz or Takhar which is just 150 KM away from Mazar-e-Sharif, you can easily reach there in 4 hours if you go by road. During my visit, I went to Kunduz, so I’ll talk about Kunduz, but you can go to Takhar or Herat as well. Kunduz is a small city, but actually it is the entire province too which consists of 7 districts, but the main city is a beautiful town located in northern Afghanistan, it also has a beautiful border with neighboring Tajikistan. You must visit the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border to see the natural beauties. Again, apart from delicious foods and great weather, do visit the following places in Kunduz:
- Sher Khan Bandar
- Imam Sahib
- Kabul Bandar
- Kunduz University
- Kunduz Cricket Stadium
Kunduz has some great natural beauty scenes, I’ve been to many countries in the world, but the days I spent in Kunduz were amazing not because of this part of the world, but it was because the people and the silence in the surroundings and then the Tajikistan border which was one of the wonderful places.
So at the end of the day, it was an amazing journey to Afghanistan, you can share your thoughts on this in the comments, and if you want any help regarding this then I’ll be there to help you out. Please share this with others if you like. Thanks for reading.