Kabul, A Walking Tour

Jan Chipchase
Studio D
Published in
4 min readDec 13, 2016


Slip your security detail and enjoy this fine city on foot, or on two wheels.

1_ Gun & Sewing Machine Market

A delightful little entrance behind the Masjed e Olya Rotbe Andarabi mosque opens up to reveal a gun and sewing machine market, perfect gifts for her and him.

2_ Hire a trusted local guide; move with purpose; maintain good situational awareness; switch routes daily. Attune to when to linger and when to jaunt.

3_ Hawala Market

Where else in the world but the Kabul Hawala (money) market will you find people sitting on and surrounded by piles of cash with nary a security guard in sight

4_ With govt/military convoys, roadblocks and a lack of asphalt Kabul traffic is a bitch. In addition, when the military convoys go past their cell/IED jammers will cut your phone reception. Beat the traffic, go with 2 wheels. Motorbike + driver for $30/half day.

5_ Sufficiently close to the Iranian Embassy to bask in the shade of it’s security, the Gandamack Lodge was once, reputedly, the home to the 4th Mrs Bin Laden.

6_ Cinema Park

If Bollywood movies are your thing and you’re comfortable with young men jerking off in the dark, then this cinema is for you.

7_ Qargha Lake

Popular place to bring the family, kick-back and enjoy a meal. On the assumption that lightning doesn’t strike twice, this area is perfectly safe.

8_ The perfect city jaunt starts at the Ariana Cinema, down Nadir Pashton Road to the river, then along the gold & goods markets that line the Kabul River.

9_ Flower Street Cafe.

It’s not on Flower Street but it is a cafe, with a decent menu at that. WiFi.

10_ Take in Murad Khane, the old city including the extensive restoration of the neighbourhood by Turquoise Mountain Arts.

11_ Carpet Market

Chicken Street & Flower Street are useful landmarks if only to know where in the city to avoid. Visitors arrive with dreams, and leave broken and empty.

12_ Rumi

When you’ve tired of street kebab with ghora, Rumi restaurant serves up a delightful menu of Afghan cuisine. WiFi.

13_ There’s much more to Kabul and Afghanistan than the headlines. It takes a while to acclimatise, relax, but is well worth the effort.

14_ Skateistan

Kabul’s foremost/only skatepark, that provides education and mad-tricks to this city’s youth. Behind the Olympic Stadium. Exit through the gift shop.

15_ Kabul International Airport (KBL)

Five layers of security, money changers & chai. If your pickup “driver” is holding up a sign with your name on it, then I can guarantee it is not your driver.

This guide first appeared on Jauntful. I’m the Founder of Studio D, follow me on Instagram, stay notified of my new book, or get more like this from the Borderlands mailing list.



Jan Chipchase
Studio D

Founder, Studio D. Writing at the intersection of design, human behaviour & culture @janchip