Papua New Guinea


Overview

Papua New Guinea travel guide, including map of Papua New Guinea, top Papua New Guinea travel experiences, tips for travel in Papua New Guinea and tips on meeti

Papua New Guinea is the stuff of true travel legend – a distant, exotic, little-explored land laying just north of Australia in the Coral Sea, that will garner serious kudos at the water cooler.

Papua New Guinea and the nearby Solomon Islands are diving Mecca. WWII wrecks, manta rays, odd-looking multi-coloured fish and incredible reefs are among the underwater delights here.

Divers aren’t the only ones who will love remote Papua New Guinea. Nature-lovers come to spot forest-dwelling tree kangaroos, giant leatherback turtles and birds of paradise. Culture vultures love the local festivals where Highlanders dress in traditional regalia, powder and paint and dance for all they’re worth.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Diving Simply, world-class: find corals to rival Australia's Barrier Reef at spots such as Kimbe Bay while numerous wrecks lurk off Rabaul.
  2. Trekking As well as Kokoda, try the Black Cat Track around Morobe – a brutish coastal hike. Expeditions can be arranged to PNG's highest summit, Mt Wilhelm (4,509m).
  3. Surfing PNG has some of the world's best waves and reef breaks, with year-round action at locales such as Kavieng, on New Ireland, and Vanimo.
  4. Islands PNG has many islands, from New Britain (home to smoking Rabaul volcano) to the wilderness of Bougainville Island.
  5. Community tourism Mangalas is a lovely region of rainforest plateau in Oro Province. Stay with the Ese people and take safaris to find the world's largest butterfly, the Queen Alexandra's birdwing.
  6. Birdwatching Among PNG's 700 species are 38 varieties of birds of paradise, the world's smallest parrot and the only poisonous bird. Tari and Varirata National Park have lodges set up for birdwatchers.
  7. Culture With 820+ languages no other country boasts such unaltered human diversity. Cultural spectacles include the Huli Wigmen, the Skeleton Tribe, the Asaro Mudmen and the Baining hot coal dancers.

Wanderlust tips

Papua New Guinea is expensive. Get off the beaten track and stay in rural villages: it’s much cheaper. You can also save money by booking hotel rooms in advance from outside the country thus avoiding the 10% VAT that’s levied on higher-end accommodation.

 

Further Reading

Travel in Papua New Guinea: vital statistics

When to go to Papua New Guinea

June to September is the coolest, driest and best time to visit PNG (except in the Lae region, where it will be wet at this time). The heaviest rains fall between December and March; that’s also when the bugs come out.

 

Papua New Guinea international airport

Port Moresby (POM), 8km from the city.

 

Getting around in Papua New Guinea

Most visitors use the extensive, expensive internal flight network. Operators include Air Niugini, Airlines PNG and Travel Air. 

Chartering a vehicle is very expensive. Few foreigners use local transportation (called PMVs; usually open-sided trucks/minivans) but for those with high pain thresholds they offer a cheap way of getting around. Travel around the Sepik is by dugout or dinghy.

 

Papua New Guinea accommodation

Accommodation in Papua New Guinea is cripplingly expensive, especially when compared to nearby Indonesia. Resorts, top-end and mid-range hotels are the norm here.

At the budget end, there are a number of mission guesthouses (run by religious folk who frown upon drinking and smoking), community-run hostels and private guesthouses. Camping is a no-go. For an authentic experience, ask around about accommodation in village houses and stay with the locals.

Papua New Guinea food and drink

Vegetables characterise the countryside diet; sagodominates in the lowlands, kau kau (sweet potato) in the highlands. Dessert might be bananas, papaya and pineapple. Outside city restaurants, meat is rarely eaten, although chicken and pork may be offered to tourists; fish is abundant in the Sepik.

PNG produces coffee although guests tend to be offered Nescafé. Kulau (young coconut milk), drunk from the nut, is widespread. The local beer is SP.

Health and safety in Papua New Guinea

There's a real threat if robbery and theft in Port Moresby and other cities. If using an ATM in Port Moresby, do so in the airport.

Roads are bad, motor accidents common. Tribal fighting can flare in the highlands. The Kokoda Track should not be attempted alone. 

Malaria is a risk as is HIV, TB, typhoid and cholera. Seek medical advice pre travel.