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
Foreign tourists in Kabul, c. 1940

The tourism industry of Afghanistan, developed with government help in the early 1970s, is gradually reviving after the decades of war. A valid passport with visa is required for entrance into Afghanistan. In 1999, the United Nations estimated the daily cost of staying in Kabul at $70 USD.

Afghan embassies issue between 15,000 and 20,000 tourist visas annually.[1][2]

Afghanistan has four international airports, including the Hamid Karzai International Airport, Mazar-e Sharif International Airport, Kandahar International Airport and Herat International Airport. It also has several smaller airports throughout the country. Guest houses and hotels are found in every major Afghan city. Some of the major hotels in Kabul are the Serena Hotel, the Hotel Inter-Continental Kabul, and the Safi Landmark Hotel.

Most visited places in Afghanistan[edit]

Band-e Amir National Park[edit]

The Band-e Amir National Park is located in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan. There are several modern hotels in Bamyan, which is the capital of the province.[3] The site of Buddhas of Bamyan is also located in this province. Some people visit Bamyan in the winter for skiing trips.[4]


The front gate of Arg (Presidential Palace of Afghanistan)

Tourists can visit many parks and other places in Kabul. 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.

Abdul Rahman Mosque[edit]

The Abdul Rahman Mosque, which was built recently, is one of the largest mosques in Kabul. It is adjacent to the Zarnegar Park in the Wazir Akbar Khan section of the city, not far from the Serena Hotel.


The Presidential Palace of Afghanistan is also located in the Wazir Akbar Khan section of the city. It is locally called Arg.

Chihil Sutun[edit]

Bagh-e Babur[edit]

The Gardens of Babur is a historic park in Kabul. It is the resting-place of the first Mughal emperor Babur. The gardens are thought to have been developed around 1528 AD (935 AH) when Babur gave orders for the construction of an avenue garden in Kabul, described in some detail in his memoirs, the Baburnama. Lonely Planet describes the park as "the loveliest spot in Kabul".[5]

Bagh-e Bala Palace[edit]

Darul Aman Palace[edit]

The Darul Aman Palace sits directly across from the Afghan Parliament in the southeastern section of the city. As of 2019, the palace is still under renovation. Tourists may visit the inside of the palace once the renovation is fully completed.

Habibullah Zazai Park[edit]

Habibullah Zazai Park is the largest recently established amusement park in Kabul. [1] It sits on a hillside and provides large walking space with great views of the city. Another such park is called the City Park, which is much smaller.

Kabul Zoo[edit]

Kabul Zoo has around 280 animals, which includes 45 species of birds and mammals and 36 species of fish.[6] Among the animals there are two lions and a khanzir (pig), which is extremely rare in Afghanistan.[7] As many as 5,000 people visit the zoo during the weekends.[8]

National Museum of Afghanistan[edit]

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,[9] 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.[10] Since 2007, a number of international organizations have helped to recover over 8,000 artifacts, the most recent being a limestone sculpture from Germany.[11] Approximately 843 artifacts were returned by the United Kingdom in 2012, including the famous 1st Century Bagram Ivories.[12]


Paghman has been used historically as a summer retreat and a hunting ground. It is located northwest of Kabul.


Qargha is a large reservoir and next to it is a picnic area. It is located on the way to Paghman.

Other places[edit]

The shrine of Baba Wali next to the Arghandab River in Kandahar, Afghanistan
Herat Citadel in Herat, Afghanistan

The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BC; mature period 2600–1900 BC) extending from what today is northwest Pakistan to northwest India and northeast Afghanistan.[13] An Indus Valley site has been found on the Oxus River at Shortugai in northern Afghanistan.[14] Apart from Shortughai tourists can visit Mundigak in southern Afghanistan which is another notable site.

Below are some notable tourist sites away from Kabul, in other cities:

Security and cultural issues[edit]

Afghanistan is a totally Islamic country. In Islam, a tourist or a traveler is called a musafir. Such person is generally treated as a diplomat and must be protected under Afghan culture at all costs, even if he or she is disobedient to the law of Afghanistan or to the Afghan culture. Every mosque is a place of ultimate protection against common criminals. Although Afghans in general are very friendly to tourists, their country is not very safe because foreign tourists have been kidnapped and sometimes killed.[15] Finding an honest and reliable tour guide is the key to safety in Afghanistan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Despite Taliban Threat, Afghanistan Manages to Entice Some Tourists
  2. ^ Navid Ahmad Barakzai, ed. (September 27, 2016). "20,000 foreign tourists visit Afghanistan annually". Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN). Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  3. ^ Bamyan's interesting hotels in the Bamyan TV special report on YouTube, Nov. 22, 2018, Bamyam TV.
  4. ^ Afghan youth started ski camps in Bamiyan on YouTube, Jan. 14, 2019, VOA Dari.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Kumar, Ruchi (October 12, 2016). "Beasts of a Nation: Rebuilding the Kabul Zoo in a Time of War". Pacific Standard. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  7. ^ "Afghanistan's only pig quarantined in flu fear". Reuters. 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  8. ^ "Kabul Zoo Visitors Grow, say Officials". TOLOnews. June 26, 2016. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  9. ^ Girardet, Edward; Jonathan Walter, eds. (1998). Afghanistan. Geneva: CROSSLINES Communications, Ltd. p. 291.
  10. ^ News, Alastair Lawson BBC. "Afghan gold: How the country's heritage was saved". BBC News. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  11. ^ (31 January 2012) Germany returns Afghan sculpture
  12. ^ (19 July 2012) Looted art returned to Afghanistan,
  13. ^ The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society. p.1
  14. ^ Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark (1998). Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. pp.96
  15. ^ Foreign Nationals Kidnapped and Killed in Kabul. TOLOnews. August 2, 2018. Retrieved 2019-03-26.

External links[edit]