Help Wikitravel grow by contributing to an article! Learn how.

Difference between revisions of "Kabul"

From Wikitravel
Jump to: navigation, search
(International)
(Mid-range: update on park residence.... anyone know current status? couldn't pay me to stay here :))
Line 271: Line 271:
 
* '''Le Monde Guest House Kabul''', 7 Herati Mosque Street, Shar-e Naw Park, and Flower street.
 
* '''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.  The hotel has been destroyed in the bombing of 26th February 2010.
+
*'''Park Residence Hotel''', Ansari Square, Shahr-e Naw Park, ''+93'' 799 373 780, reasonable rooms with cable TV and Internet access. Single, double and triple rooms from $55/night including breakfast. Dinner buffet is $6.  The current state of the hotel is unknown.... this was the site of the 2005 internet cafe suicide bombing, and was again targeted and heavily damaged in the bombing of 26th February 2010.
  
 
* '''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.
 
* '''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.

Revision as of 03:31, 12 October 2010

An overview of Kabul during the winter.

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.

Contents

Understand

History

The city is believed to have been founded between 2000-1500BC. It is mentioned in Hindu's sacred Rigveda text (ca.1700-1100BC) as a vision of paradise set in the mountains. It was an important center of Zoroastrianism and later Buddhism. The city remained of little importance for much of the first three millenia of its existence. It was controlled variously by: the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Seleucid Empire, the Mauryan Empire, the Bactrians, various Hellenistic kingdoms, the Sassanid Empire, and by the 5th century AD was its own kingdom known as Kabul-Shahan. This last kingdom before the Islamic conquest built a large wall to protect the city from invasion when the Arabs arrived at the edge of the kingdom; parts of the wall have survived to this day and are visible above ground within the city.

In 871 Kabul fell to the Islamic invasion (nearly 200 years after invading Muslims reached modern-day Afghanistan). The Kabulistan empire was formed covering much of modern-day Afghanistan and parts of western modern-day Pakistan. The city once again passed uneventfully through the hands of several empires, including the Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Timurids, Mughols, Durranis, and the Barakzais, before conquest by the Mongols in the 13th century. The famous Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta visited the city in 1344, noting:

"We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans."

Under the rule of Tamerlane in the 14th century, the city developed into a regional center of trade. In 1504, the city was captured by the Mughal emporer Babur.

Babur Gardens (ca. 1528 AD) is the final resting place of the first Mughal emperor, Babur.

In 1747, Kabul came under control of the Durrani (or Afhghan) Empire. In 1776, Kabul would become the empire's capital, although the empire soon fell into tribal civil war. In 1839, the region was claimed by the British and Kabul was established as the location of British government and the British Indian Forces. They were very unpopular amongst local tribes and in 1841, they began a revolt. Within a few days, a series of events led to the massacre of all but one of the 16,000 occupying British and Indian civilians and soldiers withing miles of Kabul as they attempted to flee to Jalalabad, a famous blunder known as the Massacre of Elphinstone's Army. The British returned in 1878 and 1879, but were both times thousands of them were killed and they were forced to retreat.

In the early 20th century, electricity was introduced to the city and the Darul Aman palace was constructed for the royal family. The 1930s-60s were good times in Kabul. Kabul University was opened; the roads were paved; modern shops, offices, & schools were opened; shopping centers and a cinema were opened; and the Kabul Zoo opened. The city also saw a vibrant tourism industry appear, largely due to the Istanbul-New Delhi "Hippie Trail" which passed through Kabul in the 1960s-70s.

The 1970s-80s brought a turn for the worst. The city hosted two coups, in 1973 & 1978. The second coup was carried out by the Marxist PDPA, which a year later invited the Soviet Union military to maintain their power over the country. From 1979-1989, the Soviet Union maintained headquarters for military and government in Kabul. After the Soviets left, the government collapsed in 1992 and left local warlords to fight over the city leaving tens of thousands dead and (according to the UN) 90% of the city's buildings destroyed. By 1994, the city was without electricity or water. In 1996, the political movement known as the Taliban captured the city, publicly hanging the former (pre-1992) president and imposing notoriously strict Islamic rule over the country.

Kabul City Center, the country's first modern shopping center, is one of the many modern projects in Kabul resulting from post-invasion foreign investment.

A United States led military force invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, bombing strategic installations throughout the city to rout out the governing Taliban, who quickly fled the city. The city was named the capital of the Afghan Transitional Authority and subsequently the capital of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The city saw many suicide bombings between 2002-2007, but they have become rare since 2008. In late 2008, control of the city's security was passed from the NATO ISAF force to Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army. Since 2001, billions of dollars in aid and foreign investment have been used to improve the city. Most of the major roads have been paved and improved, government building have been extensively renovated, new hotels and shopping malls have opened, the zoo and many museums have reopened, and utilities have been extensively reconstructed.

Climate

Kabul's climate is greatly influenced by its location in a valley at 1800m (5900ft). Summers (June-Sept) are hot and dry, averaging from the high 20s to the mid-30s (80-95F) with next to no precipitation. Autumn (Oct & Nov) is temperate and sees very little precipitation. Winters (Dec-Mar) are cold and the time of year which sees the most precipitation (mostly snow, but also ice, freezing rain, and sleet on warmer days). January is the coldest month, averaging 4/-7 (39/19F). Spring (late Mar-early June) is temperate with lots of rain tapering off by early May.

Keep in mind that the city lies in a valley and some villages on the edge of the city are a few hundred meters higher and thus cooler in the summer and colder and snowier in the winters. Many roads leading to/from the city are regularly blocked by high snowfall in winter(although the city's importance to the US presence means they will be cleared relatively quickly), the most notorious is the highway north towards Konduz.

Orientation

Map of Kabul, from early 1980's.

The city of Kabul is divided into 18 sectors, with each sectors consisting of a handful of adjacent neighborhoods.

Get in

By plane

Kabul International Airport (IATA: KBL), +93 9251-61001, is a short drive east of the city center. The new international terminal is now fully open, whilst the old terminal is now used for domestic flights. The airport is a hub for Ariana Afghan Airways, Kam Air, Safi Airways, & Pamir Airways. Airport facilities include banks, restaurants, post office and car parking (all very basic).

Arrival

Foreigners will need to get a foreigner registration card - 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 (a major hassle - best to make sure you have those photos).

When arriving taxis are available to the city center (Afs 400), but it is safer to meet someone whom you know. Alternatively, Afghan Logistics (+93-777 443311, see below in Get Around) and the other taxi firms offer an airport pick-up for about $25.

Departure

The Foreigner Registration card is often taken off you when you exit Afghanistan, and a big fine / bribe may be required if you haven't got it when you fly out, though sometimes arguing that no one was at the desk to issue the Foreigner Registration card will work. The registration card is free. Some people feel it necessary to 'tip' everyone at the airport when flying out, but tip one guy for putting your bag through the x-ray scanner and everyone will be on you for their share. A polite 'no thank you' usually suffices.

When flying out you will probably end up in Car Park C - and will have to get the shuttle bus to the terminal building. When flying out expect long queues and multiple ticket / passport / baggage checks, although things are now much better with the new terminal, principally because there is much more space.

International

Passengers boarding plane at Kabul Airport.

International carriers and destinations include include:

  • Ariana Afghan Airlines [1] – to Ankara, Baku, Delhi, Dubai, Dushanbe, Frankfurt, Islamabad, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jeddah, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Riyadh, Sharjah, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, & Ürümqi.
  • Safi Airways [2] – flies to Dubai, Frankfurt, & Kuwait City.
  • Kam Air [3] – to Almaty, Delhi, Dubai, Dushanbe, Islamabad, Mashhad, Peshawar, & Urumqi.
  • Pamir Airways [4] – to Delhi & Dubai.
  • Air India [5] to Delhi.
  • Pakistan International Airways [6] – to Islamabad & Peshawar.
  • Fly Dubai [7] – to Dubai

Domestic

While Kabul International Airport is not bad for a third world country, expect very basic conditions at other Afghan airports. As of November 2009:

By car

  • 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, however since 2008 the security on this road has deteriorated considerably.
  • From Bamiyan it is advisable to take the longer northern route, as the southern route (through Wardak province) is of questionable safety.

By bus

Private operators serve most destinations in fairly comfortable Mercedes buses. Safety can be a problem, with frequent accidents.

Get around

Maps of Kabul are available from Afghanistan Information Management Services [8] who can print out custom wall maps of the city. Open Street Map is the only online street level map presently available for Kabul.

By bus

There is the Millie Bus which operates many routes around Kabul, but it is faster and more comfortable to use taxis. Some buses are relatively new, but many are old as one might expect in a 3rd world country.

By taxi

Taxis are plentiful and to hire the whole car should cost around 30 to 50 Afg depending on destination and bargaining skills. Some drivers have learned basic English, but such drivers may try to charge a slightly higher price and are most likely to be found loitering near Westerner-friendly locations (airport, major hotels). While the city is fairly safe, it isn't a bad idea to be proactive and avoid catching a taxi near any sensitive location (embassy, military facilities, 5-star hotels). It is customary for women to always sit in the back seat. After dark local yellow taxis become a rarity, so keep a few taxi numbers in your phone as a backup.

By private taxi

  • Afghan Logistics & Tours [9] 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.

By car

There are only a couple places to rent a car in Kabul, one of which is:

  • Afghan Logistics & Tours [10] 700 277 408, 700 288 668, 700 479 435, 799 391 462. Rents late-model Toyota cars, SUVs, trucks, & minivans along with a driver who doubles as a mechanic (very important on Afghanistan's harsh roads).

By foot

Downtown Kabul is relatively compact and walkable - a good option in the spring and fall - summers bring intolerable heat and dust, whilst winters bring snow and mud. Pavements are few, and you need to keep your wits about you when crossing roads. If you are nervous about your safety walking around areas such as Wazar Akbar Khan and Taimani (to a restaurant etc.) is fine day or night - central Kabul at night is walkable but be sure you know where you are going, and how to get back to your guesthouse. Be wary walking around traditional residential areas (eg near the city wall) - conservative Afghans are suspicious of anyone snooping around their house, and children may start throwing stones / setting their dog on you.

See

Inside the Afghan National Museum in 2005.
  • Afghan National Museum, (several miles from the city center, across from Darulaman Palace). 10am-4pm weekdays, 10am-1pm Fridays. 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, but still impressive, displays of early Buddhist and Islamic artifacts. free, donations welcome.
  • Bagh-e Babur (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). A park and market for women only. It was designed as a place where women could sell their own products and merchandise directly, which cannot be done in areas where men do business, because women in Afghanistan are not supposed to deal directly with men who are not relatives. This park was created as an outlet for these women to sell their goods with respect to their culture. The park is also a nice place for female travellers to enjoy the outdoors.


The destroyed and abandoned Darul Aman Palace
  • Darul Aman Palace. Originally built as King Amanullah's Palace in the 1920s, 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. Afs 200 or so bakshesh to look around inside the ruins.
  • Bagh-e Bala. Built in the late 19th century, it served as a summer palace for Amir Abdur Rahman. Today, much of the original interior has been preserved, and the area around the palace has become a large park.
  • 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.
  • Daoud Kahn memorial, Up the hill behind Darul Aman Palace. On June 28, 2008, the body of President Daoud and those of his family were found in two separate mass graves in the Pul-e-Charkhi area, District 12 of Kabul city. There is now a small memorial to the deceased on a small hill, offering nice views over southern Kabul.


Lake Qargha at the outskirts of Kabul City.
  • Lake Qargha. described as Kabul's lake district, only 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.
  • British Cemetery.. Where foreigners are buried in Kabul. There are also Memorial plaques commemorating those ISAF forces killed during the last few years.
  • Afghan National Gallery, Asamayi Watt (34°31'2.94N, 69°10'15.97E). 8am-ish to 4pm-ish, closed Fridays, and you may struggle to be allowed in on Thursday afternoons. A beautiful gallery in a charming old Kabul house that has been carefully restored. The collection used to have some 820 paintings and portraits but 50% have been looted or destroyed; the director said the Taliban destroyed 210 portraits. Most of the collection is of European and Afghan landscapes and portraits of famous Afghan writers and kings and a portrait of the French writer Victor Hugo. Well worth making the effort to see. The Sultani Gallery is attached, but the opening hours are a mystery. Afs 250.

Do

  • 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).
  • Kabul Golf Club, Qargha Road, +93 79 22 63 27, [11]. 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.
  • Ariana Cinema, Pashtunistan Square. Primarily shows Bollywood or trashy action flicks, and the occasional American blockbuster.
  • Olympic Stadium. Home of the Afghan cricket team. Notorious as the location 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.
  • Amani High School sports field. Open to the public on Tuesday afternoons and Fridays - football (soccer) with local Afghan guys, frisbee (with a collection of expats) and a 400 metre running track in comparatively green and pleasant surroundings. Free.
  • Swim. There are a few swimming pools in the city. The nicest is probably at the Serena, but is a steep $30 to use. UNICA club's swimming pool ($5) is very popular, esp. on Fridays, when there is probably as much catwalking as swimming going on. Internationals (aka Maple Leaf) has a large and often empty pool ($7) but it is in a plastic shed rather than outdoors. L'atmosphere also has a pool, again popular on Fridays. Except in private or foreigner-only places, women should not wear anything skimpy (especially bikinis).

Buy

Shah M Books, setting for The Bookseller of Kabul

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.

Money

A few ATMs that accept international cards are scattered around the city, and most dispense both Afghanis and dollars. 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 [12] is in Wazir Akbar Khan.
  • Afghanistan International Bank (AIB) [13] 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 [14] has many branches in the city.
  • Azizi Bank [15] has many branches in the city.
  • Western Union [16] 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.

Eat

The thousands of foreigners in the city since the fall of the Taliban has gradually turned Kabul into something of a restaurant mecca. Restaurants can crudely be split into 'places for locals' and 'places for expats' - with the latter having higher security, higher prices but not necessarily higher quality. Restaurants that are UN approved are particularly expensive. If you are looking for a place with a good mix of Afghans and expat diners the (dry) Lebanese, Turkish and Iranian restaurants are the ones to head towards.

Restaurants open and close with surprising frequency, so it is a good idea to check whether a place is still operating before heading out.

Budget

The Cafe inside Kabul City Center.
A street food stall in Old Kabul.
  • 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.

Mid-range

The vast numbers of foreigners in Kabul has lead to the city being perhaps the best place to eat in the region, and in the mid-range bracket there are dozens of good places to eat for $15-$25 per person for an evening meal.

  • 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 (). 10AM-10PM. UN Security Clearance. Great Indian and Asian Cuisine. English Menu, English Speaking Staff. Phone Orders - Carry Out and Delivery Available.
  • Le Divan Restaurant (frm L'Atmosphere), 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 (), [17]. 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
  • Cafe du Pelican, Daraluman Road (on the west side of the road, look for an orange gaurd box and landcruisers parked outside). closes at 5pm. Closed between 11 July & September 2009. Newly opened and run by a french couple - good french cafe food, and a bakery also.
  • Chief Burger, Shahre Naw (In front of Park Cinema). 8-midnight. This restaurant provides fast food; Burger, Pizzas etc...</drink> * Delhi Darbar, Cinema Zainab Rd, Share-e Naw (between the park and Flower St), +93 799 324 899, [18]. 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, [19]. 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. http://www.goldenkeykabul.com
  • The Grill Restaurant, Street 15, Wazir Akbar Khan (on junction near British embassy). Lebanese food in pleasing garden surroundings and a mixed clientèle
  • Hong Kong Restaurant, Wazir Akbar Khan (near Pakistani embassy). Good Chinese food.
  • Istanbul Restaurant, Macroian2, Matba block 104, +93 70-200116, +93 799-356282. 8AM–9PM. Excellent Turkish cuisine, English menu. Baklava to die for. The joy of this place is that it is clean and pleasant and frequented by middle class Afghans - a great place to sample good food and a slice of local Kabul life. 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, [20].
  • 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.

Splurge

  • Zadar Raven Restaurant, Shar-E-Naw, Kabul (Located off Butcher Street (Koche Qasabi), take first left lane. Zadar Raven Restaurant (and Guest House!) is the 6th building on the right.), .+93 0779.057.640. 1830-2230. Zadar Raven Restaurant serves the best grilled meat, seafood, steak and pizza. Word has it that Vietnamese spring rolls and coffee will soon be served in the rose garden around back on Friday's/Saturday's between 1000-1500. Restaurant is closed on Monday's. Tel.+93 0779.057.640 & E-mail: ZadarRaven@RavenRaeResources.com USD 5-25.
  • Café Zarnegar, Froshgah Street (in the Kabul Serena Hotel), +93 79 9654 000, [21]. 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, [22]. 6-10PM daily. Specializes in South-east Asian food, in a luxurious atmosphere. $15-20.
  • Gandamack Lodge, Sherpur Square, next to the UNHCR, [23]. 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.

Drink

Despite being illegal, alcohol is pretty easy to find in Kabul's expat restaurants - buying your own supply involves befriending someone working at an embassy or military base, or dipping into the murky world of expat black-marketeering. Beer and spirits are available at UNICA, but the selection is slim.

Sleep

Kabul is not a cheap place to stay - principally due to the costs of running a generator and providing security. The hotels are good if you are just passing through, however for long term stays opting for a guest house is more popular. There are several in Wazir Akbar Khan and Shar-i-Naw - often in huge Pakistani style mansions.


Budget

  • Mustafa Hotel [24]. 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.

Mid-range

  • Zadar Raven Guest House, Shar-E-Naw, Kabul (Off Butcher Street (Koche Qasabi), take first left lane. Zadar Raven Guest House is the 6th house on the Right and next to 4-storied yellow Canpro Villa), +93 (0)779.057.640. The low-profiled Zadar Raven Guest House provides inclusive accommodation whereby breakfast/dinner, fast-speed WiFI internet, laundry, daily room cleaning and other amenities are provided. The rose garden in the back also provides a great place to chill while away from work. $75/night.
  • Ajmal Wali International (Guest House), St 13 Wazer Akbar Khan House #367 (near the Bebe Mahro Park), +93 700285843. Nice, quite, and relaxing place. $ 45.
  • 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. Single, double and triple rooms from $55/night including breakfast. Dinner buffet is $6. The current state of the hotel is unknown.... this was the site of the 2005 internet cafe suicide bombing, and was again targeted and heavily damaged in the bombing of 26th February 2010.
  • 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.
  • Petra Guest House, House 1036, Lane 4 left, Street 15, Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul. Ph: +93 788411482. Better than average guesthouse popular with UN staff. Little garden with water feature and peacocks!

Splurge

  • Canpro Villa, House 23 Koche Qasabi Street (Off Butcher Street (Koche Qasabi), take first left lane, Canpro Villa is 5th and yellow building on right. E-mail: afgops@canproglobal.com), +93 (0)077.340.2979 / +93 (0)078.731.2979, [25]. Canpro Villa offers holistic comfortable, modern and stylish living accommodation in a cozy environment most suitable for long-termed expatriate residents of Kabul. Canpro Villa offers rooms with full amenities including a fitness center, meals at the next door Zadar Raven Restaurant and wireless and LAN internet connection. The four-storied villa also offers fully outfitted office spaces for a small-sized organization as well a hall to host seminars and workshops. USD 145/night.
Kabul Serena Hotel
  • Kabul Serena Hotel [26]. Undoubtedly the best hotel in the city, a clean and modern 5-star hotel with 3 great restaurants. Rooms from $250/night. The hotel was attacked in January 2008, when a large explosion killed at least 7 people.... the Taliban claimed responsibility. The hotel has since multiplied its security.
  • Golden Star Hotel [27]. A clean and modern 4-star hotel, with restaurant, conference hall, a small gym, and high speed internet in each room. US$80 a night.
  • Heetal Plaza Hotel, Street 14, Wazir Akbar Khan, +93 799 167 824, [28]. A nice, quiet, relaxing and cozy place. The restaurant is awful however. Single rooms from Af 5000/$110.
A night view at the Kabul InterContinental Hotel in 2005.
  • Intercontinental Hotel, Bagh-e Bala Rd, +93 20 220 1321, [29]. A great 5-star hotel with nice restaurants and a swimming pool. Single room from $90/night.
  • Safi Landmark Hotel & Suites, Shar-e Naw Park (top 6 floors of the Kabul City Center shopping mall), +93 20 220 3131, [30]. Large conference hall, restaurant and gym area, apartments also available. Single room from $80/night. Damaged in the bombing on 26th February 2010.

Contact

Internet

  • 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.

Kabul Coffee House and Flower Street Cafe both have wireless internet for customers.

Cell phones

  • 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.

Stay safe

Travel Warning WARNING: While Kabul is fairly safe, sudden changes can occur in the security situation. Consult your country's embassy in Kabul and monitor US Dept. of State & UK FCO travel warnings throughout the planning an duration of your trip/stay..

Kabul is generally considered one of the safer parts of the country, and while bombings and kidnappings have waned considerably, they do remain a threat. That said, there are tens of thousands of expats and visitors to the city and considering that only a small handful have been victims of such attacks, you should be vigilant but not afraid. Avoid walking after dark, don't loiter in hotel lobbies, and (for long stays and expats), vary your routes and timings daily. Riots happen occasionally and are often accompanied by looting -- stay well away from them as authorities will respond with lethal force.

Cope

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. Tolo TV is perhaps the most popular TV station.

Embassies

  • Ca-flag.png Canada, Street No. 15, House No. 256 Wazir Akbar Khan Kabul, Afghanistan, (011 93 (0) 799) 742-800 (), [31].
  • Gm-flag.png Germany, Wazir Akbar Khan, Mena 6/P.O. box 83 Kabul, (020) - 2101512 or + 93 (0) 799-883 173 (emergencies) (fax: + 49 (0) 30 5000 - 7518), [32]. Sundays to Thursdays- from 09:00 to 12:00 and Thursdays 14:30-15:30.
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom, 15th Street, Roundabout Wazir Akbar Khan PO Box 334, +93 (0) 700 102 000 (), [33].
  • Us-flag.png United States, Great Massoud (Airport) Road, +93-(0)700-10-8001, for after-hours emergencies call +93-(0)700-201-908 (fax: +93-(0)700-108-564), [34]. 8:00-16:30 Sunday-Thursday.

Get out

Most expats take any opportunity they can to leave Kabul. Istalif in a side valley of the Shamali Plain makes for an excellent overnight or day trip destination. A day trip to the north (Shamali Plain, Salang Pass, Panjshir Valley and Jabal os Saraj), Qargha Reservoir to the west of Kabul etc.

You can fly to Dubai, Dushanbe or Delhi for the weekend also.





This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!

Variants

Actions

Destination Docents

In other languages

other sites