Afghanistan was the seat of powerful empires for many centuries. Today, it is on the news for all the wrong reasons.
The Afghan culture is the amalgamation of many ethnicities. Set in a beautiful terrain, crowned by rugged mountains and rolling plains, Afghanistan has much to offer its tourists.
A war-ravaged country, Afghanistan is a risky place to travel to. Civilian casualties are on the rise, but attacks on tourists are rare. You should be sure to purchase
travel insurance or
travel medical insurance
before you depart in case of any unexpected accidents, illnesses, or injuries.
Things to Do for Travelers in Afghanistan
Always follow the advice meted out by your travel guide. Stick to groups, maintain a high level of vigilance, and do not venture out alone.
Considered one of the oldest cities in the world, Balkh is between the Hindu Kush mountains and the Amu Darya River. The Arabs dubbed Balkh as the mother of cities. Balkh is also the birthplace of the founder of the world's oldest monotheistic religion.
The city was on the Silk Route and enjoyed prominence until the invasion by Genghis Khan. Today, this city is no more than a large village. Do visit Mazar-e-Sharif, which houses the shrine of Sharif Ali. It attracts pilgrims every spring to celebrate the Persian New Year.
This is also an ancient city that has several sites for exploring. Visit the tomb of Jami, the Herat Citadel, or the Friday Mosque. The mosque dates back to 1200 AD, coming to completion after a century of construction. A few parts of the mosque complex still retain their original decor.
It's worth checking out the Herat citadel, which offers panoramic views of the city. While in Herat, also check out the sanctums of the famous Sufi poets Jami and Khwaja Abdullah Ansari. They are not very far away from each other; you can drive to these locations.
The historic capital of Afghanistan, Kabul has been the site of intense conflict in recent years. There are many places of interest in Kabul. Unwind at the Paghman Gardens amidst its greenery with the backdrop of the gurgling Kabul river. Babur's tomb is another major point of interest. Locally known as Bagh-e-Babur, it is a popular picnic spot for locals. Do visit the treasure trove of Kabul's history—the National Gallery of Afghanistan and National Museum of Afghanistan.
This town used to be a major tourist attraction for its tall, 6th-century Buddha statues. The twin Buddhas lie in ruin today but continue to draw tourists.
There are good walking trails here, and caves with fresco paintings are open for exploration. Some caves have residents, so it's best to admire them from afar.
The Wakhan Corridor is a vibrant ribbon of land separating three countries and extending into China. A great location to go trekking on yaks, this corridor used to be part of the Silk Route.
The Wakhan Kyrgyz ethnic people are the only people living in this corridor. Given the remote location, it takes an arduous journey to reach this piece of natural heaven. The border town of Ishkashim is a common way in. Other border areas remain closed to tourists.
Travel Risks for International Travelers in Afghanistan
Afghanistan isn't a developed country, so you must be cautious at all times. But, there's no reason why a vacation here can't be a fulfilling experience.
Weather: Summer in Afghanistan is scorching, so the best time to visit is between April and May. This is the best time to visit the Wakhan Valley, which becomes inaccessible in winter. Since the country has four distinct seasons, September and October are also a suitable time to visit Afghanistan.
Conflict: Tourism remains open, but a word of caution: Do not travel solo. Opting for a tourism package that has adequate security measures in place would be beneficial. Be careful in high-risk areas, and heed the advice given before setting out to travel.
Health: It's important to stay updated on your routine vaccines. Carry mosquito-repellants and anti-allergens in your medicine kit.
Language: Dari and Pashto are the official languages of Afghanistan. A part of the population speaks English in Afghanistan, but a lot of them speak basic Urdu or Hindi. It will be easier to communicate if you know any of these languages.
Dining: Practice safe travel habits, and only eat fresh food. Save yourself the hospital visit and avoid adventurous eating here.
Afghanistan Travel Medical Insurance for International Travelers – FAQs
A foreign country with unfamiliar cuisine is a great reason for an upset stomach. Proper healthcare is available in urban areas, but most rural locations do not have proper medical facilities.
Do I need travel medical insurance for Afghanistan?
It is not a legal requirement, but it is always wise to have medical insurance before traveling. It will support you and save you a good amount of money when you are at your most vulnerable.
Why buy travel medical insurance for Afghanistan?
It is impossible to predict health emergencies, especially in a country like Afghanistan. Sporadic violence, although rarely affecting tourists, does occur. Buy Afghanistan travel medical insurance to secure a safety net for your health. The medical insurance plan should provide coverage for most health issues related to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan Trip Cancellation Insurance for International Travelers – FAQs
Cancelling a trip is unfortunate, and it is best to prepare for the worst in advance. Afghanistan trip cancellation insurance can help you recover some of your finances if you have to cancel for a reason listed in the policy.
Why buy trip cancellation insurance for Afghanistan?
Trip cancellation insurance can reimburse you for any prepaid, non-refundable expenses you might have put down in preparation for your trip, like airfare, lodging, tours, etc. You are eligible for benefits if you cancel for a reason explicitly mentioned in your policy’s certificate wording. Be sure to read the fine print before purchase so you know what is (and isn’t) covered.
What all is covered under trip cancellation insurance for Afghanistan?
Most standard travel insurance plans include trip cancellation benefits for the most common reasons to call off a trip—you or one of your travel companions falling ill, flight cancellations, a work-related emergency, and so on. Again, be sure to check your policy.
Before You Travel to Afghanistan...
We wish you a safe and enjoyable trip to Afghanistan. Make sure you have your passport with your visa and important documents within close reach.
Be cautious with your belongings, and take extra precautions to ensure safety during travel.
And, most importantly, buy Afghanistan travel insurance just in case the worst should happen. Enter some basic information about your travel plans, compare a wide variety of options, and select the plan that best matches the needs of your itinerary, your destination, and your budget.