Papau New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (PNG) was one of the last inhabited places on Earth to be explored by other nations and it's still the land of the unexpected. Travelers to this wild and beautiful island nation are in store for plenty of surprises: a country of extraordinary natural beauty, wildlife and astonishing cultural diversity. With an incredible 750 separate languages still spoken, the country has tribal cultures as diverse as its flora and fauna. Scuba diving, trekking, beaches, river cruises and rafting, jungles, animal and bird watching, saltwater fishing, tribal cultures, cave exploration and orchids are the main attractions of PNG.
PNG is recommended only for flexible, seasoned travelers interested in excellent scuba diving or primitive cultures. We do not recommend the country to inexperienced travelers, those who require world-class hotels or anyone whose trip would be ruined by mosquitoes, heat, humidity, delays or schedule changes. Organized tours are highly recommended for all but the most adventurous visitors who have plenty of time.
Port Moresby, the capital of PNG is the main arrival point for visitors. It's where the national museum, prime minister's residence, Parliament House and several embassies are located.
The Highlands is the most densely populated and agriculturally productive region of PNG, has the most extensive road system in the country, the major towns of Mt Hagen, Mendi, Tari and Goroka and a culture that is equal parts traditional and modern. The Highlands were thought to be uninhabited until gold miners ventured up from the coast in the 1930s and discovered 100,000 people living Stone Age-style and unaware of the outside world. The countryside is dramatic with wide, fertile valleys, numerous rivers and craggy mountains.
Tari in the Southern Highlands is home to the Huli Wigmen. The men of this warrior tribe wear bright yellow and red ocher face paint and elaborate wigs made from human hair that are decorated with bird of paradise and cassowary feathers. The Huli and Dana wigmen have great reverence for the Bird of Paradise, imitating them in ceremonial dances and using their magnificent feathers for adornment. Clans in the Southern Highlands have a strong and intricate social system little affected by change. It is one of the few places where the traditional way of life can be seen in everyday living. Ceremonial rituals are strongly observed. Men and women can still be seen wearing traditional dress, tending their gardens and pigs and building their bush material huts.
Mt Hagen is the capital of the Western Highlands, a region of alpine grasslands and lowland forest and shrouded misty peaks. Mt Hagen has the reputation as the “wild frontier” of the Highlands, a center where the old and the new come together with not always harmonious results. Singsings are held regularly throughout the province. These are gatherings of clans in traditional costume where ritualistic dancing and singing is performed for ceremonial reasons. The Mt Hagen Show or Sing Sing, held annually in August is the most popular time to visit. Hundreds of different Highland tribes come together to compete with each other in spectacular displays of distinctive tribal head dresses of feathers and flowers and body paint and for dancing and singing performances. It is a wonderful opportunity to see a glimpse of the richness of traditional Highlands social structure.
Often compared to the Amazon River, the Sepik River is one of the world’s largest waterways. The river's amazing extent, along with the beautiful stilt houses along its shores, long canoes with their crocodile-head prows, fauna, flower-clogged lakes, misty dawns and striking sunsets, make for an unforgettable experience. The Middle and Lower Sepik villages are inaccessible by land and can be explored by small air-conditioned cruise vessels. The Sepik people are renowned for their wood carvings.
PNG offers some of the world’s most exciting dive sites. Lying in the middle of the coastal stretch of PNG is the town of Madang, often described as 'the prettiest in the Pacific'. Perched on a peninsula jutting into the sea, Madang is smattered with parks, ponds and waterways. Madang is the perfect base to explore the coral reefs of the Bismarck Sea which are home to many rare species of colorful fish and eels. Especially fascinating are the underwater wrecks of 34 Japanese fighter planes, with weapons and cargo intact. The Island of New Britain offers spectacular and unique diving of the wrecks of WWII ships, submarines and aircrafts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Weather & Climate like in Papua New Guinea?
The climate in Papua New Guinea is tropical and pleasant. You will experience two distinct types of climate in PNG. The first is in the lowland and coastal areas being hot and having a temperature range of 24-35 degrees C (75-95 F) with high humidity. The second is the highlands regions being cooler, having a temperature range of 12-28 degrees (54-82F) and with less humidity. In both areas, the days are generally fine, but often there are clouds in the afternoon resulting in rain late afternoon and evening.
Although there are said to be dry and wet seasons in various areas of PNG, it is often difficult to distinguish between these seasons. On the one hand, it can rain for several consecutive days during the dry season and on the other, there may occur lengthy dry spells during the wet season. Although it may be locally dry in the Sepik region, if it is raining heavily in the highlands, the river levels in the Sepik will rise. Weather in PNG is generally very localized and PNG does not experience frontal weather as in common in more temperate areas.
Do I need to have a Passport and Visa to enter Papua New Guinea?
All visitors to Papua New Guinea are required to have a valid passport, proof of onward passage and adequate financial means of supporting stay. A visa is required for all visitors to PNG, this can be obtained on arrival at Jackson’s airport, Port Moresby however, we recommend this is obtained in advance from the PNG Embassy in Washington DC. The fee for the visa is approx $10 if obtained in the US or 100 kina
Payable in local currency only if obtained in PNG on arrival. The visa is valid for a stay of up to 60 days, extensions are available if required.
What is the customs quarantine procedure like when entering Papua New Guinea?
There are strict laws prohibiting or restricting the entry of drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms, protected wildlife and associated products. If you are unsure about anything declare it to Customs upon arrival.
What is and how much is the Departure tax?
Visitors to PNG are required to pay approx US$20.00 departure tax. This tax is not included in the cost of your ticket
What languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea?
There is an estimate of 800 traditional languages in PNG. The official national language is English. The two most commonly used languages are Hiri Motu and Melanesian Pidgin.
What is the time difference between Papua New Guinea and the U.S.?
PNG is +15 EST/+18PST and currently does not operate daylight saving at this time
What currency is used in Papua New Guinea?
The unit of currency is the Kina, pronounced "kee-nah", and sub-units of 100 are called Toea, pronounced "toy-ya". Note denominations are available in K2, K5, K10, K20 and K50.
Travelers Checks and international credit cards are accepted at most major hotels. American Express, Diners Club, Master Cars and Visa credit cards are accepted at the Wilderness Lodges, and the MV Sepik Spirit.
Kina cash can be acquired at the banks of most international ports of departure to PNG such as Sydney and Cairns. It is strongly recommended you acquire your Kina cash at these banks prior to departing for PNG. Although there is a bank at the Port Moresby international airport, it keeps normal banking hours. Thus if you are arriving in PNG outside of normal banking hours or if your connection time in Port Moresby to your next domestic flight is short, it is highly recommended you obtain your Kina cash outside the country. There are also banks in most major centers in PNG, but tour schedules do not usually allow time for banking. Most hotels and the Wilderness Lodges have some cash but this is greatly limited and exchange rates are not as good as the banks. Banking hours in PNG are generally from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm Monday through to Friday.
What Taxes are currently in place in Papua New Guinea?
Any applicable taxes are included in the cost of your trip
When and how much should I tip in Papua New Guinea?
It is not expected nor the custom to tip in Papua New Guinea. However, if for example, you would particularly like to show your appreciation for a job well done at the Lodges, there is a general staff fund which acknowledges the `behind the scenes' efforts of all staff who contribute to the overall success of your visit. It is best to consult the Lodge or Hotel Manager before giving gifts or tips.
Please do not give gifts to individuals in villages. If you wish to do so, ask your driver/guide to help you contact the Headman and leave your gifts with him or alternatively with the Lodge Managers who in turn will distribute same evenly amongst the people. Your understanding of this will help prevent turning the people and in particular the children of PNG into annoying beggars who are often found in other spoiled countries.
What electric voltage does Papua New Guinea use?
The electrical voltage system in PNG is 240 volts, AC, 50hzs. Some hotels provide 110 volt outlets in guest rooms. PNG uses the same electrical plug outlets as Australia.
Do I need insurance when traveling to Papua New Guinea use?
Before your visit you should arrange sufficient medical and travel insurance. Ensure the policy is adequate to cover costs for ambulance or helicopter rescue, emergency surgery, or transportation home. We offer travel insurance policies – ask your Aspire Down Under consultant for more details.
Do I need to get any specfic vaccinations before entering Papua New Guinea?
The only health requirement is a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever or cholera if arriving from or traveling through infected areas prior to arrival in PNG. Visitors are advised to take malaria precautions, but only your doctor can recommend and prescribe the appropriate medication for you. As a precaution, most travelers keep their tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis, and polio inoculations current. Although the problem of diarrhea and dysentery does not seem to be nearly as severe in PNG as in some of the neighboring Asian countries, it is possible you will get some kind of diarrhea at some stage of your trip. This is normal for travelers whose bodies are adapting to strange food and water. In most cases the problem is short term, not severe and is easily treated.
Is all water safe to drink in Papua New Guinea?
In most major centers, the public water supply is treated and is comparable to World Organization standards; however we recommend boiling water before drinking or only using bottled water.
What precautions should I take to protect myself from the weather in Papua New Guinea?
Sun hat, insect repellent, flashlight (power is turned off at night at some lodges), sun screen lotion, rain jacket, extra pair comfortable walking shoes (the first pair may get wet or muddy at some point in your PNG travels), malaria medication prescribed by your physician is recommended.
What do I need to know about driving in Papua New Guinea?
Not recommended due to possible dangers and roads are very scarce.