Dangers & Annoyances
The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office and US State Department both currently advise against travel to Afghanistan. The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate and there's every reason to believe that things will remain unpredictable for some time to come. Due to the continuing instability affecting Afghanistan, we were unable to do on-the-ground research, and relied on friends and contacts residing in the country.
If you must travel to Afghanistan, it's imperative that you get the most up-to-date safety advice available. Check on security before setting out – the political situation can change quickly and without warning.
Bloody attacks inside Kabul (including the targeting of hotels) have become a favoured Taliban tactic, and the road to the Pakistan border at Torkham is not considered safe for travel. All points south of the capital remain firmly out of bounds, and the only secure way of reaching Herat is by air. Bamiyan remains an oasis of calm, as does Mazar-e Sharif, but the north is increasingly unstable, including Kunduz and parts of Badakhshan. Only the Wakhan Corridor, isolated by its remoteness, can be considered truly calm, but is best accessed via Tajikistan.
Always remember that Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, and land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs) claim dozens of victims a month. It's common to see murals on buildings identifying different types of land mine and UXO.
Afghanistan has a conservative culture where attitudes to women are bound up with the protection of honour, and society generally seeks to minimise contact between unrelated men and women.
Foreign women may be treated as an 'honorary male' by local Afghan men, although it's best to wait for them to offer a hand to shake rather than offering your own. If you're traveling with a man, Afghan men will talk to him rather than you.
It's not compulsory for women to wear a headscarf, but you'll attract a lot of attention if you don't. It's culturally appropriate to wear long shirts that hide the shape of the body; bare arms should be also avoided by both sexes.