The Survival Guide to Kabul©

Published internationally in July 2003 as Kabul: The Bradt Mini Guide.

First published in Kabul in September 2002 as a pamphlet.



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Print guide 2002


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Last updated May 1 2003


AWCC local GSM Mobile phones and top-up cards can be bought at the airport, central post office and Intercontinental Hotel. Handset and SIM card ready to go costs about $300. Quickest place to get more minutes on your phone is at the Intercon. It costs 56 cents a minute to call the US and Canada, 58 cents a minute to call Europe and 64 cents to call Pakistan. Local calls cost 10 cents a minute. A significant saving on the old Sat phone!


For international newspapers Hamid Iqbal Co Ltd, Street 14, Number 4, in Wazir Akbar Khan (tel: 070 27 7629), can deliver international publications to your door, eg: subscribe to Time (US$8 a month) and the International Herald Tribune (US$90 a month).


Flying to Kabul UNHAS flights are still the favoured route for most people flying from Dubai and Islamabad. UN Dubai flights now cost $400 one way for all agencies and are restricted to UN, international NGOs and diplomats. Domestic flights to Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Chaghcharan cost US$100. The shorter hops to Bamyian and Jalalabad cost US$50. Flights to Islamabad also cost US$100 (see Useful Contacts for emails and telephone numbers and for charter companies). Ariana Airlines is slowly expanding its schedule (Ariana Afghan Airlines). Destinations include Frankfurt, Dubai, Delhi and Islamabad. PIA flies from Islamabad to Kabul. Mahan flies to Tehran.


Some thoughts on Ariana from a December 2002 traveller: ARIANA was quite an experience, 3 hours delay in Dubai (as we were waiting we realized that there was a UNHAS flight flying the same morning – UNHAS had just changed their schedule - ARGH!).  Anyway, we were up for adventure with a big A, and then Ariana is obviously the right choice.  Actually, the flight was very pleasant - an Airbus offered by Air India (quite colorful seats).   Afghan crew and Russian pilot.  Security demonstrations were succinct - no mention of life-jackets - anyway who needs life-jackets once over land-locked Afghanistan? - The views from the plane were superb now that there is snow covering most of the mountains.  Smooth (yes!) landing at Kabul airport, with remixed Abba as background music, and then uncontrolled distribution of luggage which took approx. 1 1/2 hour. In conclusion, if you want a multi-cultural experience go for Ariana. If you have a strict schedule don't.


From an Afghan travel Agency in Germany: Creative Tourism and Management are based in the city of Düsseldorf in Germany. Their services are: booking of Ariana from FRANKFURT to KABUL and return at $722 (, DUBAI to KABUL and return (price on request) DELHI to KABUL and return (price on request). At the same time we can arrange for our customers in Kabul:  HOTEL, GUESTHOUSE, RENTAL CAR with driver, TRANSLATOR. We are a pure afghan company which means our employees speak PASHTO, DARI and of course ENGLISH and GERMAN. For Reservations please call: Tel: 0049 - (0) 211 – 1688870, Fax: 0049 - (0) 211 – 16888777, E-mail: Address: CTM GmbH, Immermannstr.21, 40210, Düsseldorf, Germany.


For all your electrical goods go down “Technology Street.” Turn left outside the Khyber Restaurant and the world of TVs and videos has come to Kabul in force.


On the radio in Kabul: 89.0 FM BBC World Service.


For traditional carpets check out the old building next door to the money market. Go across Kabul River on the Froshga pedestrian bridge.


To calculate the Islamic year, subtract 621 years from the western Gregorian calendar date. For example: 2003 – 621 = 1382.


The new currency: 2,400 staff being employed in this massive money-shredding mission. Newly minted Afghanis are now commonplace and legal tender throughout the capital and the notes are slowly coming on-line in the provinces as well. The new currency aimed at creating financial stability was launched on October 7th. The World Bank is assisting with the operation which involves shredding, drilling, and burning the old bank notes depending on the technology available in different parts of the country. Helicopters are being deployed to distribute the new notes to all the out-lying  and bazaars. The operation will take until December. The devaluation sees three noughts knocked off the usual denomination. Thus 10,000 Afghanis (20 cents) becomes 10 Afghanis; 100,000 Afghanis (US$2) becomes 100 etc. The new money will replace an estimated 15 trillion Afghanis in circulation, much of that printed illegally. NB: At the time of publication (November 2002) there were 50 Afs to the US$.


Citywide government curfew was lifted at the beginning of November 2002. It was at 10pm until the end of June. After the Loya Jirga, it moved to midnight.



كابل، افغانستان

The Survival Guide to Kabul©