Handicrafts and Shopping

Afghanistan offers the visitor a rich selection of handicrafts. Luxurious Afghan carpets, karakul coats, fur overcoats, embroidered material, caps, and hand-woven silk fabrics and antiques are some of the items that tempt the traveler to lighten his or her wallet. Afghanistan’s fruits and nuts are second to none in flavor. Gemstones are also a major commodity. However, travelers are urged to be cautious when purchasing items of questionable origin. Exportation of antiques requires authorization from the appropriate authorities. Purchase of artifacts belonging to the Kabul museum or heritage of Afghanistan is punishable by law and artifacts will be confiscated.

While there are many places for visitors to shop in Afghanistan, Kocha-e-Murgha, or “Chicken Street,” is the most famous and historic. Boutiques carry postcards, maps, ashtrays and boxes made of the famous Afghan blue stone-Lapis Lazuli, antique musical instruments, and hand-made Afghan carpets. The carpets’ designs, colors and materials—sometimes wool, silk or a mix, are unique and quite remarkable.

Grocery stores in Afghanistan stock an assortment snacks from around the world: fruit juice from Uzbekistan, jam form Pakistan, bottled water from Italy, cheese from Austria, and cereal from the United States. Since Chicken Street is the main tourist market in the capital, you will likely be asked a higher price, especially if you are not with a local guide. Remember that bargaining is part of the experience!

Other places in Kabul to shop include the Kabul City Center, Shahr-e-Naw Shopping Centers, Market-e-Jamhoryat, Afghan Super Store, Flower Street, and the new Kabul Mall(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/charisse/199482006/).

Istalif is a district in Koh Daman valley which is 54 km from Kabul. This district is known for its blue pottery, ceramics, cotton prayer rugs, and intricately carved wooden chests. People not only in Afghanistan but also around the world are familiar with the unique and dazzling products of this district. The products sold in Istalif bazaar are also available in Chicken Street and Flower Street of Shari Naw in Kabul City.