Kabul is an incredible city with over 4,000 years of history. While it continues to see intermittent turbulence and unrest, it is a city with a lot to explore, and getting around by car is the best way to do so.
Renting a Car in Kabul
On arrival at the Kabul International Airport, visitors can rent a car from the most popular company in the city, Afghan Logistics Camp & Tours. They have late-model and new Toyota cars, minivans, SUVs, buses, and trucks available for hire. Travellers can opt to simply rent the vehicle or include a driver for an additional fee. Hiring a driver is highly recommended.
In order to rent a car in Kabul, drivers need to have an international driver's permit, which should be acquired in the visitor's home country.
Driving in Kabul
As a foreigner driving in Kabul, both the driver and passengers must always carry their passports and visas to show at checkpoints around the city. Unfortunately, it is not recommended for women to drive in Kabul. It garners unwanted attention and may not be safe for anyone in the vehicle.
Most of the roads in the city are unpaved and have many potholes. Drive slowly and always stay alert to the road and the cars around the vehicle. In the city centre, there are deep drains along both sides of the roads to be aware of.
Kabul is a city of over 3 million people, and as a result, there is traffic at almost all hours of the day. In addition to the car traffic, look out for the throngs of pedestrians and the boulders that have made their way onto the road.
It is very important to note that there are no street names, building numbers, or addresses of any kind in Kabul. Driving directions are often given based on major landmarks.
What to Do in Kabul
With such a long history, Kabul is a city packed with cultural and historic sites worth exploring. Bagh-e Babur, the Gardens of Babur, are stunning grounds surrounding the tomb of the first Mughal Emperor, Babur. Visitors can enjoy a picnic, swim in the pool, visit a small mosque, or explore the museum to learn about the Emperor.
The Darul Aman Palace is perhaps one of the most famous places to explore near Kabul. It's only a 10-kilometre drive from the centre of Kabul. Across the road is the National Museum of Afganistan, where visitors can learn more about the history and culture of the country.
For a truly local experience, head to the city centre markets. The Bird Market, Char Chata Bazaar, and the main open air market, Pul-e Khishti Bazaar, have just about everything imaginable. Visitors can shop for prepared food, fresh vegetables, clothing, jewelry, shoes, and many different types of birds.
Kabul is certainly a place where travellers should exercise extra caution and stay in tourist-approved zones when possible, but it is a city with so much rich history and beauty to enjoy.