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102 KABUL •• Entertainment Deutscher Hof (Map p85 ; x079 9322 582; Street 3,

Qala-e Fatullah; h11am-11pm) Doubling up as

a German restaurant and catering college, the high walls here hide steins of Bavar- ian lager, and regular events like Kabul’s Oktoberfest.

Mustafa Hotel (Map p85 ; Charahi Sadarat; h6pm-

late) Made notorious by the company it’s kept in the past, you can almost count the journalists who haven’t written a piece on the Mustafa bar on one hand. At it’s best, it’s a funky mix of Rick’s Bar in Casablanca with the alien cantina in Star Wars, popu- lated by security contractors, backpackers and other unusual types.


There’s a chaikhana on just about every cor- ner in Kabul if all you’re after is a pot of tea – yours for 20Afg with a blaring Bollywood video thrown in for free. Our favourites are those along Jad-e Maiwand and Moham- med Jan Khan Wat, where you can grab a first-floor window seat and watch the world go by. Alternatively, the juice bars around Shahr-e Nau Park are great places to refuel with banana, carrot and mango juices and more, for less than 50Afg.

Chaila (Map p80 ; Karte Se; coffee from 50Afg, milkshakes

from 100Afg; h8:30am-6pm Sat-Tue, 8:30am-8pm Wed-

Thu, noon-6pm Fri) Ever popular with the large number of expats who live in west Kabul, Chaila is a joint Afghan-American enterprise. They serve brick-oven pizzas and quiche, as well as sandwiches and home-made ice cream, but they’re best known for their milk- shakes and superb coffee – the cappuccinos and espressos are simply fantastic. It’s all tastefully decorated, and they have wi-fi and cable TV to boot.

Cabul Coffee House (Map p85 ; x070 293124; Street

7, Qala-e Fatullah; juices/coffee from 100Afg; h8am-5pm)

With funky paintings on the wall and some mellow jazz on the stereo, this is a great ad- dition to the Kabul scene. As befits its name, the coffee is great, as are the juices. Grab a paper or something from the bookswap and chill out in the garden. The menu has sand- wiches (from 300Afg), burgers and the like.



Most live music in Kabul is played at wed- dings. Should you get an invitation, they can be brilliant affairs. Several of the cultural

centres (see p84 ) host concerts. The most

notable one is the Foundation for Culture & Civil

Society (FCCS; Map p93 ; x070 292322; www.afghanfccs .org; opposite National Archive, Salang Wat), which holds

regular open-air concerts of traditional Af- ghan music during the warmer months, and exhibitions by local artists.


Kabul’s sporting options tend to be ad hoc, with the most popular pursuits being kite- fighting ( p58 ) and pigeon-flying ( p90 ). On early Friday mornings impromptu gather- ings of men appear to gamble on partridge and dog fights.

Afghan Scene and What’s On in Kabul reg-

ularly contain adverts for gyms and expat sporting get-togethers. A slightly out-of- town alternative is a round at Kabul Golf Course ( p109 ).

Ghazi Stadium (Map p80 ; Mohammed Jan Khan Wat;

foreigner 250Afg) Kabul’s main stadium hosts football matches most Friday afternoons. In the winter months and at Nauroz there are occasional buzkashi matches.


The Goethe-Institute ( p84 ) has regular film showings, and the Maple Leaf Inn (p97) shows movies in its private theatre on Fri- days.

Aina Media Centre (Map p85 ; x070 224983; Shah Mahmud Wat) Weekly outdoor films showing during the summer months. Shahr-e Nau Cinema (Map p85 ; Shahr-e Nau Park) Afghanistan’s first cinema, almost exclusively Bollywood (and male audience).


Kabul’s shopping scene has seen some ups and downs, from the destruction of its cov- ered bazaar in 1842 and Jad-e Maiwand in the 1990s, to the glitzy glass mall of the new Kabul City Centre. In the 1960s there was even a branch of the British high street icon Marks & Spencer.

Chicken Street (Map p85 ; Shahr-e Nau) This

famed street has been a focus for Afghani- stan’s tourists since the days of the Hippy Trail. All kinds of handicrafts are available here, from jewellery to carpets, ‘antique’ muskets to lapis lazuli. Good times ebb and flow with the number of international workers in the city (in Taliban-era Kabul, shop owners once chased us down the

street, begging to open their shops for us), but starting prices are always high, so don’t be afraid to haggle.

Afghan Gallery (Map p80 ; x079 9712 442; afghan; Sarakh-e Kolola Pushta)

This gallery sells well-made handicrafts, including embroidery, pottery and jewel- lery. There is also a wide selection of carpets woven to traditional designs, knotted by a local women’s carpet cooperative.

Zardozi (Map p80 ; x070 287963; opposite Moulavi

Abdul Mateen Mosque, near old British Embassy, Karte Par-

wan) Formerly the DACAAR Sewing Centre, Zardozi is an income-generating project working with female refugees and traditional artisans. The showroom has some lovely em- broidery including clothes, and some mini- burqas just the right size to slip over a bottle of booze.

Tarsian & Blinkley (Map p85 ; x070 223286; www; Muslim St; hby appointment) Afghan

women’s fashion doesn’t begin and end with the burqa. Tarsian & Blinkley has chic women’s clothes immaculately cut and sewn by a team of over 50 Afghan women and run by an Afghan-American designer – a busi- ness venture that scooped it a Global Social Venture prize to boot.

PARSA (x070 288233;;

Paiko-e Naswar, Kart-e Ariana) A shop run by the NGO PARSA as an income-generating project for Afghan women, with plenty of tempting goodies, like scarves, purses covered with delicate needlework and other pocket-sized trinkets.

Nomad Carpet Gallery (Map p85 ; x079 9328 632; near Unica, Charahi Ansari) Chicken St doesn’t

have a monopoly on Kabul’s carpet market. Nomad has a wide selection of rugs, and has taken the innovative step of commissioning modern designs along with the traditional, to great effect.

Zarif & Royah (Map p85 ; x070 195677; www.zarif; Lane 3 off Butcher St, Shahr-e Nau; hcall ahead)

Kabul’s other fashion house (along with Tarsian & Blinkley), Zarif & Royah recently hosted Kabul’s first fashion show. Elegantly cut women’s clothes in traditional Afghan fabrics wouldn’t look out of place in Milan or Paris.

Afghan Handicrafts Centre (Map p85 ; Interior Min-

istry Rd) A government-run set of units and shops, selling everything from carpets to woodwork and jewellery. There’s less scope to haggle, but you can sometimes get to see craftsmen at their trade.

KABUL •• Getting There & Away 103


Kabul is the main gateway to Afghanistan, and has the country’s only international

airport (Map p80 ; x020 2300 016; Great Massoud

Rd). For more information on international flight connections, see p212 . For details of connections served by humanitarian flight services, see p212 .

Ariana has daily connections to Herat (3200Afg, one hour), as well as three times a week to Mazar-e Sharif (2500Afg, 30 min- utes), Faizabad (2500Afg, one hour) and Kandahar (2200Afg, 30 minutes). In theory there are also flights on at least a weekly basis to Shiberghan, Kunduz and Maimana, but Ariana couldn’t vouch for these when asked. Kam Air flies daily to Herat (3250Afg, one hour), and Mazar-e Sharif (2500Afg, 30 minutes). Services to Kandahar and Faiza- bad were being mooted as we went to press. As with all domestic flights in Afghanistan, schedules can be extremely flexible.



Air Arabia (Map p85 ; x079 9700 095; www.airarabia .com; Charahi Ansari) Ariana Afghan Airlines (Map p85 ; x020 2100 271, domestic flights 020 2301 339;; Street 10, Wazir Akbar Khan) Azerbaijan Airlines (Map p85 ; x070 296914; Charahi Ansari) ICRC Air Operations (International Committee of the Red Cross; x070 285948;; Charahi Haji Yaqub)

Indian Airlines (Map p85 ; x079 9308 303; www; Interior Ministry Rd) Inside Anaar travel agent. Iran Asseman Airlines (Map p85 ; x079 9324 006;; Street 10, Wazir Akbar Khan) Kam Air (Map p85 ; x020 2301 753; www.flykamair .com, Kabul Business Centre, Shahr-e Nau) Pactec (x070 282679/079 9300 837;; Street 15, Right Lane 1, House 12, Wazir Akbar Khan) PIA (Map p85 ; x020 2203500;; btwn Streets 10 & 15, Wazir Akbar Khan) UNHAS (United Nations Humanitarian Air Service; x070 284070/282559;; WFP Compound, btwn Charahi Zambak & Charahi Ariana, Shahr-e Nau) UNHAS uses the UNAMA terminal at Kabul airport for all its domestic flights plus the Islamabad and Dushanbe flights. Kabul-Dubai flights depart from the main international terminal.

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