Afghanistan is a landlocked country squeezed in between Near East and Indoasia. It is located right at the heart of Asia, sharing its borders by Pakistan to the south and east, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north. There is a very short border it also shares with China to the far northeast, but it’s almost impossible to reach it.
Afghanistan has unfortunately had a tumultuous recent history and during the past 30 years it has been the site of major wars: from the Soviet invasion in 1979, through the warlordism of the Taliban to their removal in 2001 and the American and NATO invasion that ensued. The country has been in complete chaos in the past decades and traveling there is strongly recommended against. Apart from all of this, Afghanistan can’t really boast its economical status: it is considered poor in comparison to other nations of the world and is currently going through a rebuilding process.
Warnings & Dangers in Afghanistan
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
Afghanistan isn't a safe destination for travelers. You should know that many governments advise their citizens not to travel to the country as it is considered practically a war zone. Be very aware of your surroundings at all times. Both petty and violent crimes are normal here. Do not travel to Afghanistan unless it is of dire necessity.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : HIGH
About 79% of roads in Afghanistan are just dirt. Public transportation in Afghanistan generally works by loads of people, animals and produce just being packed into small spaces on the roofs of buses and trucks.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
As you would expect, petty theft and pickpocketing is widespread in Afghanistan. If you do leave your accommodation and have to walk the streets, make sure you don't flash your valuables. Dangling cameras, flashing money or credit cards or expensive jewelry is strongly recommended against.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : HIGH
Afghanistan is highly susceptible to common natural disasters like flooding, earthquakes, snow avalanches, landslides and droughts. This happens to Afghanistan because of its geographical location and decades of environmental degradation.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
Violent crime happens in Afghanistan during all times of day, so do not think that daylight makes you safe. You can expect muggings, burglaries and carjacking since this country is shaken by war and in extremely bad condition. The risk increases after dark, so avoid going anywhere after nightfall.
TERRORISM RISK : HIGH
Terrorists are very likely to try to and carry out attacks in Afghanistan. Taliban rebels are causing fear throughout the country while the Afghanistan government is still trying to fight them. Remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
Scams should be the least of your concerns when in Afghanistan. They do exist, though, so be wary of people trying to distract you in order to steal from you and of taxi drivers overcharging you for a ride. We advise you to be extremely careful when handling money and around ATMs
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : HIGH
Afghanistan is definitely not safe for solo female travelers. They are advised, if it is absolutely necessary that they leave their accommodation at night, to go out accompanied by someone. Be sure to avoid remote streets, both during day and night, and do not flash your belongings or handle money in public. Remain hidden from view.
So... How Safe Is Afghanistan Really?
You are strongly advised against visiting Afghanistan as it can be extremely dangerous. Afghanistan is technically a war zone and as such should be avoided at all costs. There is the overall sense of lawlessness as the Government has little control over large parts of the country. Terrorism is still hugely widespread and represents a horrific issue with Taliban rebels causing fear throughout the country and the Government trying to fight them.
Afghanistan is not safe for travel, and westerners as well as other tourists can easily be targeted and become victims of hostile acts, sometimes even in a random terrorist attack. However, there are areas that are now considered to be safe, but are still not recommended as tourist destinations. At all costs avoid areas of Wuristan, Kabul, and the Khyber Pass. This is where the remaining fighters of the former Taliban regime and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, as well as drug lords, gangs, bandits and tribal warriors are active. This also applies to other groups hostile to International Security Assistance Force military operations.
Be wary of the landmines and other unexploded devices that are widespread throughout the country and remain a problem to this day. Do not stray from the beaten paths and stick to the worn paths and do not touch anything that looks remotely suspicious. This has been a serious problem in Afghanistan for years, as some statistic say that around 600-700 people end up injured or killed every year in accidents due to landmines and unexploded devices.
- Visas - All countries need a visa in order to enter Afghanistan. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past the date of your applying for a visa. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Afghan afghani is the official currency in Afghanistan. There are some ATMs in the country but you should carry cash with you wherever you go.
- Weather - Afghanistan has clearly defined seasons: weather during summer is hot and winters can be extremely cold. Summer temperatures can go as high as 49 °C. Midwinter temperatures can go as low as -9 °C in the Hindu Kush.
- Airports - Hamid Karzai International Airport is the busiest airport in Afghanista. It is located 5 km from the city center of Kabul in Afghanistan.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Afghanistan, since it covers not only the costs medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.