Cultural Tips for Travel in Afghanistan

One of the most interesting elements of international travel is experiencing the cross-cultural dynamic created when travelers enter a world very different from their own.  Hospitality is one of the most important values in Afghan society, and the general population is quite forgiving of outsider?s social errors.  We provide these cultural tips in the hope that barriers between cultures will be broken down and bridges built for greater understanding. 


  • Ask permission before taking someone's picture; be especially careful not to photograph women.
  • Men dont generally shake hands with women; instead you can greet by placing your hand lightly over your heart. 
  • Blowing your nose in public is considered rude
  • Shoes are usually taken off before entering a home or mosque
  • The right hand is considered clean and the left hand dirty, therefore food is eaten with the right hand. 
  • Meals are usually eaten while sitting on cushions on the floor and a tablecloth is places on the floor for food.  Stepping on the tablecloth is like standing on the table in the West.
  • As a guest you may be seated at the place of honor, which is the furthest place for the door
  • It is offensive to point the bottom of ones feet at another person
  • Men and women do not swim in the same location; instead a designated area is usually assigned for women only
  • Upon entering a room, greet everyone present
  • Say goodbye to everyone before leaving
  • In public, physical contact between men and women is frowned upon
  • Outside of the large cities (Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat) society is even more conservative
  • You may be invited for tea; your tour guide will help you know if this was just a formality or a sincere invitation