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Papua New Guinea travel guide - Travel S helper

Papua New Guinea

travel guide

Papua New Guinea is an Oceanian nation that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its outlying islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Port Moresby, on the country’s southern coast, serves as its capital. The Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua comprise the western half of New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s most culturally varied nations, with 852 languages recorded, 12 of which have no known live speakers. The majority of the nearly 7 million-strong population lives in customary communities, which are as varied as the languages. It is also one of the most rural, with just 18% of its inhabitants living in cities. The nation is one of the least explored in the world, both culturally and geographically; numerous unknown kinds of flora and animals, as well as uncontacted people, are believed to reside in the interior.

The International Monetary Fund classifies Papua New Guinea as a developing economy. Strong development in the mining and resource sectors propelled Papua New Guinea to the world’s sixth fastest-growing economy in 2011, but growth was anticipated to decrease after large resource projects came online in 2015. Mining, on the other hand, remains a significant economic element, with discussions between the local and national governments about restarting mining activities in the previously closed-off Panguna mine. Almost 40% of the population lives a self-sustaining natural lifestyle with no access to global finance.

Locally, the bulk of the population still lives in strong customary communities, and – although social life is layered with traditional religious cosmologies and contemporary activities, such as traditional basic education – customary subsistence agriculture is essential. These groups and clans are officially recognized under the country’s constitutional structure. The Papua New Guinea Constitution states a desire for “traditional villages and communities to survive as viable components of Papua New Guinean society,” as well as for active measures to be made to ensure their continued significance to local and national community life.

On a national level, after being governed by three foreign countries since 1884, Papua New Guinea regained sovereignty in 1975, after almost 60 years of Australian administration. It became a distinct Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, and it joined the Commonwealth of Nations as an independent member.

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Papua New Guinea - Info Card




Algerian dinar (DZD)

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2,381,741 km2 (919,595 sq mi)

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Official language


Papua New Guinea | Introduction

Geography Of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is the world’s 54th largest country, covering 462,840 km2 (178,704 sq mi). It is located between latitudes 0° and 12° S and longitudes 140° and 160° E, including all of its islands.

The country’s terrain is varied and, in parts, very rough. The New Guinea Highlands stretch the length of the island of New Guinea, creating a populated highlands area mainly covered in tropical rainforest, and the long Papuan Peninsula, known as the ‘Bird’s Tail. Dense rainforests may be found in the lowland and coastal regions, as well as extremely extensive wetland areas around the Sepik and Fly rivers. This topography has made it difficult for the nation to build transportation infrastructure. Some places can only be reached by foot or by aircraft. Mount Wilhelm, at 4,509 metres, is the highest point (14,793 ft). Papua New Guinea is bordered by coral reefs, which are being closely monitored in the interest of preservation.

The nation is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, near the meeting point of multiple tectonic plates. There are many active volcanoes in the area, and eruptions are common. Earthquakes are quite frequent, and they are occasionally followed by tsunamis.

The country’s mainland is the eastern half of New Guinea island, which also contains the country’s biggest cities, including Port Moresby (capital) and Lae; other significant islands within Papua New Guinea are New Ireland, New Britain, Manus, and Bougainville.

Snowfall occurs in the most elevated areas of the mainland of Papua New Guinea, making it one of the few places near the equator to experience it.

Climate In Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has a tropical climate and is located just south of the equator. Temperatures in the highlands, on the other hand, are noticeably cooler. The (very) wet season lasts from about December to March. The months of June through September are ideal for hiking.

Demographics Of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s most diverse countries. There are hundreds of indigenous ethnic groups in Papua New Guinea, the majority of them being Papuans, whose ancestors arrived in the New Guinea area tens of thousands of years ago. The region’s other indigenous peoples are Austronesians, whose ancestors arrived fewer than four thousand years ago.

Chinese, Europeans, Australians, Indonesians, Filipinos, Polynesians, and Micronesians are among those who have moved here from various areas of the globe (the last four belonging to the Austronesian family). In 1975, there were about 40,000 expatriates in Papua New Guinea, the majority of them were from Australia and China.

Religion In Papua New Guinea

The courts and government practice support the constitutional right to free expression, opinion, and belief, and no legislation to restrict such rights has been enacted. According to the 2011 census, 95.6 percent of residents identified as members of a Christian church, 1.4 percent were not Christian, and 3.1 percent did not respond to this census question. Those who said they had no religion accounted for about 0% of the total. Many people blend their Christian religion with local religious traditions.

Protestants make up the majority of Christians in Papua New Guinea, accounting for approximately 70% of the overall population. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, several Pentecostal groups, the United Church of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, the Evangelical Alliance Papua New Guinea, and the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea are the most prominent. Aside from Protestants, there is a significant Roman Catholic minority, accounting for about 25% of the population.

The Bahai Faith has a significant following among non-Christians. In addition, there are about 4,000 Muslims in the nation. The majority are Sunnis, with a minor proportion being Ahmadis. Throughout the nation, non-traditional Christian churches and non-Christian religious organizations are active. According to the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches, Muslim and Confucian missionaries are active, and international missionary activity in general is high.

Animism is common in traditional faiths. Some also practice Veneration of the Dead, but generalization is dangerous given the great variety of Melanesian cultures. The belief in masalai, or bad spirits, who are blamed for “poisoning” humans, bringing disaster and death, is widespread among traditional tribes, as is the practice of puripuri (sorcery).

Language In Papua New Guinea

With over 800 languages, it was impossible to get everyone to communicate with one another. Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu grew up in this region, and when the Anglophones married the Hulis and their children learnt the one language they had in common, Tok Pisin became a creole. Tok Pisin may seem phonetically to be English (“Yu dring; yu draiv; yu dai” meaning “You drink; you drive; you die”), but it is not; it contains more personal pronouns than English and its own syntax.

Tok Pisin is widely spoken across the nation, and short, cheap guidebooks on learning Tok Pisin can be found in many book shops.

Hiri Motu is spoken in Port Moresby and other areas of Papua, although since it is the capital, Tok Pisin speakers are more likely to be found in the airport, banks, or government. When addressing locals, try to speak English first; using Tok Pisin or another language may give the impression that you assume they don’t know English.

Because the natives talk so quietly, you may have difficulty hearing what they are saying at times. Some local tribes consider it impolite to stare someone in the eyes and talk loudly.

Economy Of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is blessed with abundant natural resources, including mineral and renewable resources such as forests, marine (containing a significant percentage of the world’s main tuna stocks), and agricultural in certain areas. The rugged terrain, which includes high mountain ranges and valleys, swamps, and islands, as well as the high cost of developing infrastructure, combined with other factors (including serious law and order problems in some centers and the customary land title system), makes it difficult for outside developers. Years of inadequate investment in education, health, ICT, and access to financing have hampered local developers. Agriculture, both for subsistence and commercial crops, employs 85 percent of the people and accounts for 30 percent of GDP. Mineral resources, such as gold, oil, and copper, contribute for 72% of total export profits. Oil palm production has increased significantly in recent years (mostly from estates and with considerable outgrower output), and palm oil is now the primary agricultural export. Coffee is the primary export crop among participating households (produced mostly in the Highlands regions), followed by cocoa and coconut oil/copra from the coastal areas, both primarily produced by smallholders, and tea produced on estates and rubber. In the Papuan fold and thrust belt, the Iagifu/Hedinia Field was found in 1986.

Following the 1997 agreement that ended Bougainville’s secessionist unrest, former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta attempted to restore integrity to state institutions, stabilize the kina, restore stability to the national budget, privatize public enterprises where appropriate, and ensure ongoing peace on Bougainville. The Morauta administration was quite successful in getting international help, especially from the IMF and the World Bank in obtaining development assistance loans. Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has significant difficulties, including restoring investor confidence, continuing attempts to privatize government assets, and retaining the support of members of Parliament.

Because to prolonged economic and social stagnation, the United Nations Development Programme Policy recommended for Papua New Guinea’s classification as a developing country to be demoted to least-developed country in March 2006. The International Monetary Fund, on the other hand, concluded in late 2008 that “a combination of conservative fiscal and monetary policies, as well as strong global prices for mineral commodity exports, have supported Papua New Guinea’s recent robust economic development and macroeconomic stability.” By 2012, PNG has had a decade of solid economic development, with annual growth rates of more than 6% since 2007, even throughout the Global Financial Crisis years of 2008/9. According to the Asian Development Bank, PNG’s real GDP growth rate in 2011 was 8.9 percent, and 9.2 percent in 2012.

This economic growth has been primarily attributed to strong commodity prices, particularly mineral but also agricultural, with the high demand for mineral products largely sustained even during the crisis by buoyant Asian markets, a thriving mining sector, and especially since 2009 by a buoyant outlook and the construction phase for natural gas exploration, production, and exportation in liquid form (exploration, production wells, pipelines, storage, liquefaction plants, port terminals, LNG tanker ships).

The first significant gas project is the PNG LNG project, headed by ExxonMobil, which is set to begin production in late 2014, primarily for export to China, Japan, South Korea, and other Asian nations. This ExxonMobil-led partnership comprises Oil Search, a PNG firm headquartered in Port Moresby, with a 29 percent stake.

A second major project is based on initial rights held by Total S.A., the French oil and gas major, and InterOil Corp. (IOC), which have partly combined their assets after Total agreed in December 2013 to purchase 61.3 percent of IOC’s Antelope and Elk gas field rights, with the plan to develop them beginning in 2016, including the construction of a liquefaction plant to allow export. Total S.A. has a separate joint operating agreement with the PNG firm Oil Search.

Royal Dutch Shell, an Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, said in 2011 that it is contemplating investing in gas exploration and production in Papua New Guinea.

More gas and mineral projects are being considered (including the massive Wafi-Golpu copper-gold mine), and significant exploration is taking place throughout the nation.

Economic ‘growth’ based on extractive industries has a negative impact on local populations. River tailings in the huge Fly River, underwater tailings from the new Ramu-Nickel-Cobalt mine, which began exports in late 2012 (after a delay due to landowner-led legal challenges), and planned submarine mining in the Bismarck Sea have all sparked controversy (by Nautilus Minerals). Other paths to sustainable development should be explored, according to one significant initiative carried out by the PNG Department of Community Development.

The PNG government’s long-term Vision 2050 and shorter-term policy documents, such as the 2013 Budget and the 2014 Responsible Sustainable Development Strategy, emphasize the need for a more diverse economy based on sustainable industries and avoiding the effects of Dutch Disease from major resource extraction projects undermining other industries, as has happened in many other countries. Measures have been taken to mitigate these effects, including the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund, in part to stabilize revenue and expenditure flows, but much will depend on the willingness to make real reforms to effectively use revenue, combat rampant corruption, and empower households and businesses to access markets and services, as well as develop a more buoyant economy with lower unemployment.

Every five years, the Institute of National Affairs, a PNG independent policy think tank, publishes a report on the business and investment environment of Papua New Guinea based on a survey of large and small, local and foreign companies, highlighting law and order issues and corruption as the most significant impediments, followed by poor transportation, power, and communications infrastructure.

Entry Requirements For Papua New Guinea

Visa & Passport for Papua New Guinea

Everyone requires a visa to visit Papua New Guinea, however all EU/EFTA nationals may get a 60-day visa on arrival and to citizens of Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Peru, Philippines, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Vatican City.Other nationals must acquire advance visas from the closest PNG diplomatic office.

How To Travel To Papua New Guinea

Get In - By plane

The country’s international airport is Jackson International Airport in Port Moresby.

  • Air Niugini serves Cairns, Sydney, and Brisbane in Australia; Honiara in the Solomon Islands; Manila in the Philippines; Tokyo (Narita) in Japan; and Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong.
  • Papua New Guinea Airlines travels to and from Cairns and Brisbane.
  • Pacific Blue operates four weekly flights from Port Moresby to Brisbane.
  • QANTASLINK operates daily flights to and from Cairns.

Get In - By boat

Madang, Lae, and Port Moresby on the mainland, Kieta on Bougainville, and Rabaul and Kimbe in New Britain are among the ports. They are, however, just internal ferries. There are no international ferries available.

There are other cruises like the Coral Princess and Aurora Expeditions.

Get In - By land

The sole land border is with Papua (Irian Jaya), Indonesia, and crossing it requires some planning but isn’t as tough as it might be. There is a consulate in Jayapura, Indonesia, where you may apply for a tourist visa. The consulate is in Mendi, about a 10-minute green PMV (public motor vehicle) ride from Jayapura’s capital. 2,000 Indonesian rupiah is the cost (IDR).

There are several methods for crossing the border depending on your Indonesian visa. If you have a visa on arrival, such as one obtained at the Jakarta Airport, you may only cross the border by boat or by stamping out at customs in Jayapura and immediately traveling to the border 30 kilometers away. Western travelers trying the latter can expect to pay a few fees and go through some minor bureaucratic hoops before departing.

Hamedi offers boat rentals. With any other kind of visa, you may hire a vehicle or an ojek and cross the border by land. If hiring a car for the crossing, expect to spend about IDR300,000 from Jayapura town, and expect to pay around IDR500,000 to return from the border to Jayapura.

How To Travel Around Papua New Guinea

Get Around - By car

When it comes to travel, Papua New Guinea is a weird country. Because of the country’s tropical climate, harsh terrain, and lack of government capability, there are relatively few paved roadways.

There are no major highways connecting Port Moresby to anyplace else, with the exception of a short stretch of road connecting it to the local hinterland and a route that will allow you to follow the coast southeast for a few hours.

On the north coast, a shaky roadway connects Madang and Wewak only in principle.

The Highlands Highway, which starts in Lae (the country’s major port) and continues up into the highlands via Goroka to Mt. Hagen, with a branch heading down to the coast to Madang, is a notable exception. The road splits just outside Mt. Hagen, with the southern line continuing through the Southern Highlands to Tari and the northern line continuing through Enga province to Porgera.

Get Around - By public motor vehicles (PMV)

The most frequent mode of transportation is via PMV/bus with locals.

A excellent roadway connects Lae, Madang, Goroka, Tari, and Mount Hagen. As a newbie, it is usually best to seek assistance from locals (e.g., hotel-staff). Most communities have a number of beginning locations. A journey from Lae to Madang costs around PGK20, while a trip to Mt. Hagen costs about PGK30.

Get Around - By plane

Papua New Guinea has traditionally been one of the world’s aviation hotspots, and the country still offers some of the most magnificent flying in the world. Lae was the busiest airport in the world in the 1920s, and it was there that aviators in the gold mining business first demonstrated that it was economically viable to transport goods (rather than simply passengers) by air. In fact, Lae was the starting point for Amelia Earhart’s last flight.

Air travel is still the most frequent mode of transportation between large metropolitan areas; in fact, almost every significant town is constructed around an airfield. In fact, the former airstrip is Mt. Hagen’s major thoroughfare! Traveling from the coast into the Highlands is very beautiful (don’t take your gaze away from the window for a second!) and pilots from Australia, New Zealand, America, and other nations work here just for the thrill of flying. However, if you dislike tiny aircraft (or even smaller helicopters), traveling to more distant areas here may not be the greatest choice for you.

Get Around - By boat

Local transportation in the archipelagos is provided by the ubiquitous banana boat, a 30-40 ft fibreglass hull with an outboard engine.

In addition, two or three shipping lines offer tickets for customers who wish to hop from one city to the next. These boats only operate twice or three times each week and provide higher and lower class seating. Upper will get you a bunk to sleep on, while lower will earn you a hard seat.

A ferry runs twice a week between Madang and Wewak.

Once a week, a small ship departs from Lae, stopping at Finschhafen and Umboi Island. Sleeping on the open deck of a ship as it slowly creeps through the South Pacific night is about as romantic as it sounds, but be warned: it gets chilly on the open ocean no matter where you are, so bring some warm clothing or rent an inside cabin.

Destinations in Papua New Guinea

Regions in Papua New Guinea

The nation is split into nine regions:

  • Southern Papua New Guinea
    This area includes the Port Moresby National Capital District, as well as the Central and Northern provinces. The starting location for all Papua New Guinea trips.
  • Western Papua New Guinea
    The provinces of the West and the Gulf. Provinces that are fascinating yet seldom visited. A birdwatcher’s paradise
  • Madang-Morobe
    Madang features volcanic islands and excellent diving, while Morobe is the start of the Highlands Highway and an early gold rush location.
  • Highlands
    Enga Province, Chimbu Province, and the Southern, Western, and Eastern Highlands, as well as magnificent culture and unique tribal fights
  • Sepik
    The provinces of Sandaun (West Sepik) and East Sepik, as well as the Sepik River.
  • Milne Bay
    The eastern area is home to a plethora of interesting islands.
  • New Britain
    Many visible World War II ruins, both above and below water, may still be seen in New Britain.
  • New Ireland and Manus
    The site of the earliest human settlements in the nation. Fishing, diving, sailing, and surfing, as well as fascinating culture, are all available.
  • Bougainville
    A self-governing island territory, culturally and physically similar to the Solomon Islands.

Cities in Papua New Guinea

  • Port Moresby – the capital city, with its fascinating Zoological Gardens, Parliament Building, Museum, and overall Melanesian vibe.
  • Alotau is the laid-back capital of Milne Bay province, as well as the entrance to several interesting but isolated islands.
  • Goroka – a charming highland town with a nice temperature and the yearly Goroka Show, as well as the country’s coffee industry center.
  • Lae is the country’s second largest city, its major economic center, and the entrance to the highlands.
  • Madang is a lovely city with magnificent nighttime bat flights (it is forbidden to harm them) and much more amazing diving.
  • Mount Hagen – the Highlands’ ‘wild-west’ frontier town that will expose you to the cold, crisp Highlands weather and Highlands culture.
  • Rabaul is a city at the base of an active volcano that was evacuated and badly destroyed during a big eruption in 1994.
  • Vanimo is the border town for anyone traveling to or from the Indonesian state of Papua; it is also a renowned surfing destination.
  • Wewak — the gateway to the Sepik river, where you can experience Sepik culture, the river itself, and the elaborate carvings typical of the region

Other destinations in Papua New Guinea

  • Kokoda Track — an old route over the Owen Stanley Range that became particularly renowned for its role in World War II Louisiade Archipelago — a magnificent off-the-beaten-path island group with world-class diving and sailing.
  • Trobriand Islands – dubbed the “Islands of Love” by anthropologist Malinowski
  • Tufi is Papua New Guinea’s Fjordland, with breathtaking scenery, excellent diving, and tapa fabric produced from mulberry bark.

Accommodation & Hotels in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has a broad range of lodging options for visitors on a tight budget.

Hotels are very costly (at least USD100 per night, and often considerably more). Guesthouses are the most affordable choice in the towns, although they are still costly (about USD40/night). The cheapest alternative is to stay in rural guesthouses (around USD15/night), which is also where the fun is.

Port Moresby includes international hotels such as the Crown Plaza and Airways International, as well as mid-range hotels like Lamana and guesthouses. Depending on the size of the municipality, regional regions provide international and cheap hotels, while certain provinces have guest homes.

Things To See in Papua New Guinea

South New Guinea

The Kokoda Route is a 60-mile trail that starts in Port Moresby and leads up into the Owen Stanley Range. This route was originally used by gold miners in the 1890s and is best known as a World War II historical location where the Japanese attempted to reach Port Moresby via it. This trail, which involves many ups and downs between mountain ridges and streams, takes approximately five days to walk.

The Highlands

The Highland area is made up of several different tribal regions since it is made up of a continuous string of fertile valleys divided by mountains.

Mount Wilhelm, Papua New Guinea’s tallest peak, is located in the Eastern Highlands (14,880 feet). Wilhelm is a very simple climb, although three or four days are suggested to allow for sightseeing. From the summit, you can see both the north and south coastlines of New Guinea. The Wahgi River in this region is regarded as one of the world’s finest whitewater rafting locations.

The Northern Coast

Madang is suitable for all levels of scuba diving, and the coral reefs are home to a variety of unique kinds of colorful fish. There are also underwater wreckage of Japanese fighter aircraft, complete with armaments and cargo. Not far from Madang, hikers may climb still-active mountains.

Wewak is located farther west. It is the entrance to the Sepik River area, which has a unique culture that is different from the Highlands. Long canoe trips up the river and its tributaries are recommended to see the magnificent Haus Tambaran.

The Islands

New England. This island is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The trails in the region are ideal for day walks and jungle excursions. This area of the island also has hot thermal springs and bubbling mud holes. The Baining people of northern New Britain are well-known for their ephemeral art forms, probably best exemplified by their fire dance. For this ritual, a dramatic and wonderfully crafted mask is created from bark and then discarded as useless.

Bougainville. Off-the-beaten-path location in the country’s far east, with significant untapped tourist potential. The main draws are world-class diving, spectacular hikes, and World War II Japanese artifacts.

Trobriand Islands are a group of islands off the coast of France. The so-called “Islands of Love” are well-known for their distinctive culture.

Things To Do in Papua New Guinea

Scuba Diving

Scuba dive with one of the more than a dozen local scuba diving companies. A excellent place to start is the national Scuba Diving industry organization. Papua New Guinea offers some of the finest tropical reef diving on the planet.


With over 700 kinds of birds, including numerous birds of paradise, this is a birding Mecca. Bring a good set of binoculars and ask a volunteer in the villages to assist you locate the birds. It was an incredible experience!


Trekking through the highlands, coastal plains, and rolling foothills of the Kokoda and other routes is another major attraction here. Every year, hundreds of hikers visit the Kokoda Track.


Festivals, such as The Sing-Sing performances at the yearly Goroka and Mt. Hagen events, are the most popular activities for visitors here. There are typically more than fifty ensembles present during these performances. The festivals are competitive, and the winning ensemble is awarded with invitations to perform at many restaurants and hotels the following year. The beauty and vibrancy of New Guinea’s festivals appeals to visitors while also benefiting the residents financially.


Fishing is getting more popular. Black marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, yellow fin, skipjack, and dogtooth tuna, and giant trevally are among the species. Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish), Mackerel, and Wahoo are also popular. The black bass, which is regarded to be the hardest fighting fish in the world pound for pound, is a very difficult fish to catch.

Food & Drinks in Papua New Guinea

Spices are generally absent from the cuisine. A Mumu, a subterranean oven in which meat and vegetables such as Kaukau (sweet potatoes) are cooked, is a common method of cooking. Rice and another kind of carbohydrate are included in almost every meal.

There is typically a mix of this kind of cuisine with a more Westernised menu at the lodges where visitors stay.

There are local beer brands. Heineken owns the local beer, SP (short for South Pacific) Lager. Excessive alcohol intake, particularly of beer, is a serious societal issue. Beers and wines are often served warm owing to a lack of refrigeration in certain regions. Furthermore, although water quality varies from location to location (and in some instances from day to day), it is usually better to stick to bottled water, especially at higher-end hotels.

Money & Shopping in Papua New Guinea

There isn’t much shopping in the traditional sense. There are a few malls and supermarkets in the main cities. Otherwise, the majority of shopping is done at tiny markets that are conducted on an irregular basis. The artisan fair, which is hosted once a month in Port Moresby opposite Ela beach in the parking lot of the IEA TAFE College, is a must-see. Handicrafts from all around the nation may be purchased there. Although the costs are somewhat higher than in the villages, they are still quite affordable. Haggling is not a common practice; one may haggle a little, but doing so excessively may irritate the natives.

The kina (ISO 4217 code: PGK) is Papua New Guinea’s currency, and it is split into 100 toea.

Polymer banknotes in denominations of two, five, ten, twenty, fifty, and one hundred kina are in circulation.

ATMs are widely available in major cities (mainly Bank of the South Pacific, ANZ and Westpac – all should accept foreign cards). Other will charge hefty costs, while others may charge fees if you use a different bank, and some hotels may charge no fees (but are intended for guests only). Due to significant business expenses, money changers provide low rates (similar to money changers in Australia). Credit cards are widely accepted at bigger stores, hotels, and restaurants, but there have been instances of fraud on occasion. Small change is preferred by market vendors.

Culture Of Papua New Guinea

It is believed that Papua New Guinea has over a thousand cultural groupings. Many forms of cultural expression have developed as a result of this variety. Each tribe developed its own expressive forms in painting, dancing, weapons, clothing, singing, music, building, and other fields.

The majority of these cultural groups speak their own language. People usually reside in communities where subsistence farming is practiced. To supplement their meals, some people hunt and gather wild foods (such as yam roots). Those who become adept at hunting, farming, and fishing are held in high regard.

There is a history of wood carving on the Sepik river, typically in the shape of flora or animals symbolizing ancestral spirits.

Sea shells are no longer used as money in Papua New Guinea, as they were in certain areas – sea shells were demonetized in 1933. This practice is still alive and well in local traditions. In certain cultures, a man must deliver a specific number of golden-edged clam shells as a bride price in order to get a wife. In other parts of the world, the bride price is paid in shell money, pigs, cassowaries, or cash. Brides are typically the ones who pay a dowry in other parts of the world.

Highlanders participate in colorful native rites known as “sing songs.” They paint themselves and dress themselves like birds, trees, or mountain spirits, complete with feathers, pearls, and animal skins. At such a musical festival, a significant event, such as a famous war, is often recreated.


Sport is a significant element of Papua New Guinean culture, with rugby league being by far the most popular. Rugby league has been characterized as a substitute for tribal warfare in a country where communities are widely apart and many people live on a subsistence level to explain local passion for the game (a matter of life and death). By representing their nation or playing in a foreign professional league, several Papua New Guineans have become overnight superstars. Even Australian rugby league players who have competed in the annual State of Origin series, which is fervently celebrated in PNG every year, are among the most well-known individuals in the country.

State of Origin is a highlight of the year for most Papua New Guineans, yet the support is so intense that many people have died in violent confrontations in support of their side throughout the years. Every year, the Papua New Guinea national rugby league team plays the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII (a selection of NRL players) in Port Moresby.

Other prominent sports in Papua New Guinea include Australian rules football, association football, rugby union, basketball, and, in eastern Papua, cricket.

Port Moresby, the capital city, held the Pacific Games in 2015.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Papua New Guinea

Stay Safe in Papua New Guinea

In certain circles (mainly Australian ones), the country is regarded as a hazardous destination, owing to the operations of criminal gangs (called in Tok Pisin as raskols) in major towns, particularly Port Moresby and Lae.

This is usually due to increasing internal migration from subsistence farming in the highlands to the closest urban center, which causes unemployment.

In the Port Moresby and Lae regions, there is no history of significant settlement. As a result, they are colonial towns with a tribal mix that promotes instability. With longer periods of habitation and more stable tribal homogeneity, Madang, Wewak, Goroka, Mt. Hagen, and Tari are more safer.

The communities are quite secure since the residents will “adopt” you as one of their own.

If you must, the most essential thing to remember is to keep current on the law and order situation in the areas you want to travel.

The majority of hotels in Port Moresby are safe and located inside complexes, with guards monitoring the perimeter. However, real shooting in the capital is thankfully uncommon. Make enquiries with your hotel or accommodation provider if you intend on taking a tour of any city, as many will be able to either walk with you or drive you to anywhere you want to go, or simply around the local region if that is what you want to do.

Avoid going out after dark, but if you must, be very cautious.

Flying in tiny aircraft may be very dangerous. Almost no year passes without at least one deadly accident (the most recent in August 2009 when 12 people were killed). While the aircraft are generally well-kept and the pilots are technically competent, the issue is the steep terrain. Many of the smaller airfields are in steep valleys. When there is cloud cover, aircraft have a tough time locating them and sometimes crash into a mountain. However, the state airline, Air Niugini, which flies internationally and to the country’s main cities, has a spotless safety record in 32 years of existence.

Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) are widespread in Papua New Guinea and may reach lengths of 7 m or more (although individuals over 6 m are rare). They eat people on occasion. They are as at home in freshwater lakes and rivers as they are in coastal waters. Swimming should be avoided unless at higher altitudes and in hotel pools. Papua New Guinea and Australia have the world’s largest and healthiest populations of big saltwater crocodiles.

Many active volcanoes may be found in Papua New Guinea, and many of the most popular treks include going close to or climbing one or more of them.

Stay Healthy in Papua New Guinea

In certain areas, tap water is hazardous to drink.

Malaria is also a risk, but many communities, especially those near industry, are routinely treated for mosquitoes. Take the necessary measures to avoid mosquitos and mosquito-borne illnesses.

Malaria medicine is available at pharmacies and, in addition to preventing malaria, will keep your stomach happy.



South America


North America

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