Afghanistan - tips
|In short||A magnificent and very beautiful country with equally beautiful people. Extremely friendly and hospitable, regardless if you are a Muslim or not. Together with Iran and Syria the most friendly places I have ever been traveling.|
|Highlights||Herat! Anywhere in the centre is a
bustling market, and the old mud-walled city is just as fascinating as Yazd in Iran. In
Afghanistan itself, Herat is rated the most beautiful city in the country.
Outside, Minar-e-Jam is highly recommended, not because of the minaret itsel, but because of the scenery on the way. Given the time, you can continue to Kabul, spending another five days on the project and take a look at the sadly Taliban-eroded Bamyan-Buddhas).
|Places to avoid||The Kandahar and Helmand regions of the south. The Taliban are far from dead and a lot of fighting still takes place in the southern half of the country. Anywhere, don't go outside cities without checking the present situation. It changes rapidly, and the recent Mohammad affair certainly hasn't improved the situation for foreigners - and certainly not Danes. Afhganistan is a volatile country where the local warlords tend to listen more to themselves than the government in Kabul.|
|Seasons||Avoid the icy winters and the blazingly hot summers. April-May and September-October are likely to be the best.|
|Do's and don'ts||Lots. Afghanistan is a strict Muslim
country, so all the general "rules" of Islam have to be obeyed. Dress modestly,
don't drink alcohol (you can't get it anyway!) and leave the shoes outside houses and
mosques. Be particularly modest during the Ramadan which, in 2006, will be in October.
Segregation in between the sexes is enormous and women are, in many ways, treated as a completely different species. Despite its virtues, Afghanistan is not a good place for woman travelers - particularly not single ones. Not that you get raped or harassed, but you will just be the center of attention in a not too pleasant way. Bring a male companion (a "husband"), and wear a full dress and and cover your head in order to minimize the problems.
Traditionally, all contact between people is done between the men, however, for some funny reason, a lot of NGO's still continue to send women workers to Afghanistan, believing that Western ideals also apply in Afghanistan. At the best, this attitude is very naive.
|Visa||Most nationals need one, but they are easy and fairly cheap to get. I got mine in Mashhad in Iran within 24 hours, for 30 USD. Not bad.|
|Value for money||Excellent. Probably the best anywhere in Asia - which means anywhere in the world. In the towns, 10 USD all included is very good, and in countryside, you can live for 2 USD/day!|
|Others||There is no more any black market. Still, it's easy (and legal) to change US dollars on the street, only at a quicker pace than in the banks. In April 2003, the rate was 52 Afghanis for each dollar.|