Shopping in Afghanistan
...Where to Find Stuff in Afghanistan.
For years, Electric Street Bazaar was THE place to get stuff.
But now, you want to know where to send your helper or guard, or to go yourself to maximize your time. Bazaars are always changing in Kabul particularly, so I'll try hard to keep this page updated. If you need bazaar info on other cities, let me know.
- Pots and Pans - I'd try the upstairs of Chelses, Karimi's, Finest in Wazir and Finest in Sharenau - they have an incredibly variety of items.
- Kabul City Center also has several shops filled with housewares
- Bosch: Go to Sumak Khumar, main floor of Kabul City Center, for Bosch and other high-end appliances.
- LG Store is just down a few doors on "Toilet Street" for more modest prices on LG goods.
- Siemens and Panasonic are down towards Chelses Supermarket
Auto parts, Solar Goods, Water pumps, Curtain Hardware
- Go to Ko-e-Marquaz, away from Kabul City Center, past Safi Airways Office, and straight through the Chowk.
- There is also a solar/inverter/battery store in Karte Se, near Pul-e-Surkh
Clothes - Afghan, Pakistani, Iranian, Indian
- Kot-e-Sanghi Bazaar has best prices, but also try
- Crystal Light store, just around the corner from the Kabul City Center as you head towards Chelses. This has fabulous Indian cotton clothing.
- Also try the Roshan City Center. However, I hate traffic, so I always go to Kot-e-Sanghi, where I buy my chapans, chadars, and other Afghan clothes.
- The two main second hand bazaars - not as good for clothing anymore. But there is a little known Pashtun Bazaar, right off of the General Street of Mondai. It is located down a little Kocha (small lane), right after the blue glass building as you head towards the stadium from Karte Se. Look right, and you'll see a sign with pictures of clothes on it. It's a cemented bazaar, somewhat contained, where you can shop for fabulous leather shoes/boots, rollerblades, etc. There are more and more second hand clothing shops there, where you'll find many great boys and men's clothing.
There are some new furniture stores popping up around Kabul. For locally made, custom furniture, go to VFF. The show room is down on the left as you head towards Taimani from de-Afghanan/Ministry of Education. It's upstairs, and they have a terrific variety of styles.
You pick the upholstery, or bring them a custom purchase. It is foam furniture, but still comfortable. They have a real warranty on their work, and will come out for the year after to your home and fix and cracks. If you cannot get to the showroom, head over to the factory - it's located right down a small lane from the Karte Char post office. Just ask someone on the street if you need help.
Go to the appliance stores or to Electric Street for kerosene/diesel or electric. If you are doing small propane heaters, send your guard out to Dest-e-barchi, and he'll get better prices there than you will on electric street.
If you need a sawdust heater or a local wood heater, ask your guard to go get it - he'll get a better price than you will.
- Chicken Street is by far the best place with the widest variety in one spot.
- Also try Zardosi's, located on the right side on the first street perpendicular across from the Kabul City Center (Safi Landmark entrance side). Zardosi's is expensive.
- There is a small bazaar right across from the Indian Embassy which has fabulous handicrafts, and probably has good prices right now - the street is so blocked off because of the Indian Embassy bombing so there is much less pedestrian traffic there.
- Turquoise Mountain must be named, but their prices are stunningly expensive compared to what you can get from smaller "mom and pop" stores on Chicken Street and Flower Street who have no administrative overhead.
- Kot-e-Sanghi Bazaar has some nice handicrafts for low prices. I recently picked up hand beaded cell phone purses for $1/each.
- What's your favorite bazaar for souvenirs? Let me know and I'll add it here.
Toilets and Paint/paint supplies
Most neighborhoods now have local plumbing and paint supply stores. There was a time when you could only get these items on...you guessed it...Toilet Street. So named because of the shop after shop of glorious pink, white, and other color toilets sitting out for foreigners to buy.
From Kabul City Center/Safi Landmark Hotel entrance, go right to hit most of the paint stores. Go left to see most of the toilet/plumbing stores. There are also marble shops on this street with a good selection, although marble is also available now all over the city for very low prices.
Why would you come down here for paint? They have the largest selection of colors and tools for specialty colors. Pick up the color cards, and then you can often ask your painter to mix to your specifications. Just remember, in Afghanistan, painting your house will almost never result in the look and quality you want - but enjoy the cultural experience.
Well, the time to buy was back in June or so, when wood was at its lowest price. It is sold by the kilo weight in Afghanistan - so buy when it has been nice and dry for several weeks.
Weights: 80 ser = 1 Khawar. 1 ser is 7 kilos. 7-8 wheel barrows full, nicely rounded, is approximately 1 khawar. The current price is around $75/khawar.
We normally purchase about 8-10 khawar for the winter for our house - using it in the fireplace and in two wood heaters (bukharis) - 8 for heating and 2 for the pizza oven for the year. We also give 1 khawar of wood to our Afghan workers, and help them by selling them one additional khawar at the May/June price we paid. Two khawar of balut wood should be enough to heat an Afghan home for the entire winter.
Where do you get it?
There are wood bazaars all over the city - we send our guard out to gather several prices, and report back to us. We double check his prices by asking other friends what prices their guards are getting, and then we compare and dicker. It costs at least 500 Afs to rent the truck to haul the wood and pay the workers.
Make sure you include the purchase of 1-2 khawar of kindling wood, called "Chob-e-roghani." We use a cleaned-out dishsoap bottle, which we fill with kerosene, squirt kerosene on the kindling, and once the fire is going, put in the balut.
I desperately need a tea break, but there's much more to write. I'm sure there's something you're looking for not listed here. Let me know what it is and I can either tell you myself or find out!
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