Papua New Guinea travel guide
Travelling to Papua New Guinea is a worthwhile challenge. Its tourist infrastructure is not very well developed, and there are few resources for researching your trip, so this may be like stepping into alien territory. But this is precisely the beauty of the country; it allows for discovery, adventure, and exploration. It is refreshing to find a place largely untainted by homogenised branding, where every experience is indigenous and authentic.
The country maintains its centuries-old natural beauty and array of cultures as a result. A land mass nine times smaller than Australia here contains the same number of mammal species and even more birds and frogs. In terms of nature, it is a parralel dimension to Australia – both started with a similar landscape but while Australia became flat and dry, Papua New Guinea became a mountainous rainforest country. These highlands provide an insight into Papua New Guinean tribes, which have stamped the area with historic wartime sites as well as a stunning example of conservation.
Despite its remote and underdeveloped image, there are some urban attractions to be found in the capital of Port Moresby. There is the opportunity to visit parliamentary buildings, botanical gardens and craft markets in the city, as well as the chance to encounter nature in a more controlled environment, through wildlife parks and scuba diving activities.
Papua New Guinea has two distinct climates, making it an ideal place to visit at any time of the year. The lowland and coastal areas are hot with temperatures averaging 25-35c, and high humidity. The highlands are cooler, with temperatures between 12-28c. The country does have wet and dry seasons, though this can be unpredictable.
For the latest weather info use the Pampo weather forecast tool.
Everyone travelling to Papua New Guinea needs a visa. 60 day visas are available on arrival for most western citizens, at either Port Moresby for 25 kina. To avoid complications, it may be safer to get a visa before travelling, at a Papua New Guinea embassy.
Food in Papua New Guinea is not terribly spicy. The cuisine itself is generally quite starchy, and most meals are prepared in an Australian-style. A myriad of tropical fruit is on offer (coconuts, guavas, mangoes, pineapples, starfruit etc), and bananas are one of their staple foods.
A typical way of cooking is using a mumu, or underground oven, to cook meat and vegetables. It is also common to find food wrapped in leaves and cooked on an open fire.
For big feasts, a whole pig is usually cooked, with seafood and chickens (often kept) used to supplement the diet on a day to day basis.
Unu bona boroma is a national dish worth trying. It is boiled and sliced breadruit in a bacon, onion and chicken stock sauce.
Papua New Guinea brews its own beer. The local brew is SP (short for South Pacific) lager, and is owned by Heineken. Wines are available, but these are generally imported.
Water quality is variable, even in upscale hotels, so it is generally safer to stick to bottled water. Always ensure that the seal is not broken when purchasing a bottle.
Papua New Guinea produces some of the world's best coffee, often the sorts that are exported to the West to be used in high street cafes. Experience the drink in its original environment, without worrying as much about whether the purchase is fair trade.
Papua New Guinea's currency is the kina (K), which is divided into 100 toea. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 toea and K1. Banknotes are available in denominations of K2, 5, 10, 20, and 50.
Cards and travellers cheques are generally only accepted in hotels and major restaurants, and it is recommended that money in small denominations is used to buy items. For the up to date currency conversion please use the Pampo exchange rates calculator.
There are two main airports in Papua New Guinea
Jacksons International Airport (POM)
Wewak International Airport (WWK)
The country can also be accessed by several sea routes.
Meal in a good restaurant – 35.00 - 50.00 kina
Beer – 7.00 - 18.00 kina
Coffee – 8.00 - 12.00 kina
Meal in a cheap restaurant – 15.00 - 20.00 kina
The Sepik River running 1,126 kilometres from source to sea is one of the world's largest waterways
Over 75% of the population still resides in a traditional dwelling
Papua New Guinea has more orchid species than any country in the world
Some parts of the country remained undiscovered until as late as 1933
The Hercules moth is the largest moth in the world and lives in Papua New Guinea