To travel to Afghanistan, it is necessary for all the foreign visitors to obtain visa beforehand. Travel to Afghanistan can be realized by plane as well as by car or bus via routes connecting the country with its neighbours.
VISA TO AFGHANISTAN
Afghan law requires citizens of all foreign nations to obtain visa for entering Afghanistan. Only those foreign visitors who were either born themselves in Afghanistan or have Afghan parents are exempt from this rule. In most cases, visa needs to be obtain beforehand, with the exceptions being the business visitors, staff of foreign airlines, journalists and transiting passengers. Any foreign citizen entering Afghanistan must have a passport valid at least six months after his departure from the country.
TRAVEL TO AFGHANISTAN BY PLANE
There are several national carriers which operate flights to and from Afghanistan. Ariana Afghan Airlines is considered number one airline company in the country. It operates daily flights from Dubai as well as periodic flights from number of other cities in the region of Middle East. You can also fly to Afghanistan with Ariana Afghan Airlines from Turkey (Istanbul and Ankara), India (Delhi), Saudi Arabia (Jeddah) and Kuwait (Kuwait City). Europe is connected to Afghanistan via only one direct flight to Moscow as well as a seasonal route to Frankfurt in Germany.
Other, much more reliable and higher quality option is Safi Airways, which is an internationally certified Afghan airline. Just like Ariana, Safi offers flights to and from Dubai and Delhi. Kam Air is yet another Afghan airline with very similar routes as Safi Airways, and besides their flights to Dubai, it also operates flight to nearby Iran where it flies several times a week to Tehran and Mashhad.
Number of other airlines have a set-up connection between Afghanistan and the Middle Eastern countries. From United Arab Emirates, it is possible to board the Emirates Airlines flights from Dubai, with yet cheaper option being the flights operated by Fly Dubai. Both airlines have daily flights to Afghanistan. From Sharjah, one can fly to Afghanistan on Air Arabia, which operates flights five times a week.
Both Indian and Pakistani airlines operate flights to Kabul through their Air India and Pakistan International Airlines, respectively. I tis possible to fly to Afghanistan from Indian Delhi and Pakistani cities of Islamabad and Peshawar. The connection between Afghanistan and Kuwait is realized by Gryphon Airlines. Turkish Airlines have a daily connection to Istanbul from different Afghan airports.
There are several international airports in Afghanistan. The main entry point to the country is Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where a new terminal has been built in the last decade. It operates the international flights, while another, much older terminal is used for domestic flights. Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi International Airport is situated in the north Afghanistan city of Mazari Sharif. This is the airport from which flights to Moscow are operated. International airport in Kandahar has flights to Saudi Arabia as well as India. Finally, Bagram Airfield operated flights of Gryphon Airlines to both Dubai and Kuwait City.
TRAVEL TO AFGHANISTAN BY ROAD
Neighbouring countries, namely Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, Turkmenistan and Iran have all road connections to Afghanistan. It is therefore possible to enter the country via its border crossings.
ENTERING FROM PAKISTAN
The main border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan is called Torkham Gate. Torkham gate is normally very busy and slow, due to thorough border controls on Afghani side. This crossing is situated in the Khyber Pass, and it connects Pakistani city of Peshawar with Afghani Jalalabad. There is a direct bus connection between the two cities. This border crossing is not however recommended for the tourists as there is a high risk of kidnapping and robbery. It continues to be closed and re-open to the foreigners, so it is not a reliable one.
Another border crossing between these two countries is Chaman-Spin Bodak. While it was just reopened in the last days, it is not passable for the foreigners. There are number of other border crossings to Pakistan, they are not open to foreigners, however.
ENTERING FROM IRAN
Iran’s main road connection to Afghanistan is through the Iranian city of Mashhad and Afghan city of Herat. The border crossing Islam Qala – Taybad is open to foreigners with operation in daylight hours. Buses run between Mashhad and Afghani city of Heart, as well as shared taxis between the two cities. The ride takes about six hours.
Another possibility is to use a border crossing Milak-Zaranj, which is also officially open to tourists. However, the road is in a very bad condition here, so the foreigners are discouraged to use it.
ENTERING FROM CHINA
The only way to enter Afghanistan from China is through Wakhir pass. This pass is at altitude of almost 5000 metres therefore it is very rarely used, and it is not open to foreigners.
ENTERING FROM UZBEKISTAN
Termez – Hairatan is the main border crossing here. It is located about one hour away from Mazari Sharif. Due to the potential difficulties on the Uzbek border, it is recommended to arrival at the border before lunch time. There is a one kilometre walk between the two border points. Taxis are available on each side of the border.
ENTERING FROM TURKMENISTAN
There are two possibilities for foreigners to enter Afghanistan from Turkmenistan. Torghundi – Serkhetabat is the main border, not far from Herat. Another, less-travelled is the dirt road leading through Imam Nazar – Aaqina border crossing. Both these borders should be crossed in daylight hours. Taxi service might not be available at the Imam Nazar – Aaqina crossing.
ENTERING FROM TAJIKISTAN
Quite a few border crossings are open between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, even if some of those are not passable for foreigners. Many of these crossings are over the Panj river. One of them is Panji Poyon – Shir Khan Bandar, which is ideal when travelling to Afghanistan from Dushanbe. However, due to lack of security in Kunduz, it is advisable to use other crossings instead, for example Khorog-Shegnan crossing. This one is safe only after the snow melts in June, however.
Kokul-Ai Khanoum crossing has no bridge over the river, only a ferry. The fee for crossing each way is 10 U.S. dollars.