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Things to know before you go in Papua New Guinea

  • Papua New Guinea
  • Papua New Guinea's Vacations
  • Pacific coral reef


In Pidgin English, one of the most widely spoken languages, this phrase means 'I don't understand. Understanding the way of life and customs in P.N.G. has often baffled visitors from around the world.

Papua New Guineans may not readily smile at you or initiate a friendly conversation, but a quick 'Mornin tru' (good morning) or 'apinun' (good afternoon) will elicit a wide smile and can lead to some interesting conversations. As in any other country, respecting local quirks and traditions is all part of the cultural experience.

Tree KangarooIn PNG your patience may sometimes be tested to the extreme with unexpected delays or primitive facilities, but this is simply part of the country's makeup and, many would believe its charm.

Security, the worry of many travellers to PNG, is rarely a problem and mostly exaggerated. Theft or petty pilfering does occur, but it is not always viewed this way by the local people. You are simply advised to take the same precautions you would as a tourist anywhere else in the world.


The three most widely used languages are English, and mostly conversational Tok Pidgin and Hiri Motu. However, it is estimated that over 800 languages are still spoken throughout the country, which represents a third of all the languages in the world!


P.N.G. experiences a tropical and pleasant climate with two distinct climates – the highlands and coastal/lowland areas. Coastal and lowland areas such as the Sepik are hot and humid with temperatures ranging from 24 to 35° Celsius (75-95 Fahrenheit). The Highland regions are cooler with temperatures ranging from 12 to 28° Celsius (54-82 Fahrenheit), with much less humidity – a very comfortable and constant temperature. In general, the days are fine and sunny with cloud buildups in the afternoon over the mountain ranges and rainfall in the evenings.


One Kina (K1) is divided into 100 toea, both of which are the names of traditional shell money. Denominations of notes come in K2, K5, K10, K20 and K50. Traveller's cheques and international credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and restaurants in Port Moresby, but not generally in small towns or stores.


The unit of currency in PNG is the Kina, pronounced "kee-nah", and sub-units of 100 are called Toea, pronounced "toy-ya".

International credit cards are accepted at most major hotels. American Express, Mastercard and Visa credit cards are accepted at the Wilderness Lodges, AMBUA LODGE, KARAWARI LODGE, MALOLO PLANTATION LODGE, RONDON RIDGE and the MV SEPIK SPIRIT. It should be noted that at the Wilderness Lodges, Mastercard and Visa attract a 5% administration fee.

Kina cash can be acquired at the Foreign Exchange counters at most international ports of departure to P.N.G. It is strongly recommended you acquire your Kina cash prior to departing for PNG. As it has been known for Foreign Exchange counters at airports to run out of Kina, so it is recommended that you order Kina from your local Foreign Exchange or from your local bank well in advance of departure. When ordering Kina, it is highly recommended that you get mainly small denominations, such as K2, K5 and K10. Small denominations are preferred by villagers should you choose to make purchases in a village.

There is a bank at the Port Moresby international airport, but if you are arriving in PNG outside of normal banking hours it may not be open. In addition, the Bank at Port Moresby airport generally gives out large notes. If your connection time in Port Moresby to your next domestic flight is short, you may not have time for banking.

There are also banks in most major centres in P.N.G., 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.

Banks in PNG do not accept traveller's cheques or most foreign currencies. American and Australian Dollars are the best foreign cash to bring to PNG, but please note that only Kina is accepted when purchasing art and crafts in villages.


Banking hours are from 9 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday.


Lightweight casual clothing is appropriate all year round, while flip-flops, sneakers and sandshoes are not permitted in some bars and restaurants. In the Highlands good walking shoes are essential, plus a sweater or jacket for the cool evenings. Women should always dress modestly, and skimpy clothing is not advisable away from resorts.


Government and most business offices are open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday.


Tipping is not customary or expected. Major hotels include a service charge in the bill.


The electrical voltage system in PNG is metric or 240 volts, AC 50hzs. PNG uses the same electrical plug outlets as Australia.


On Air Niugini's International and domestic flights, allowance is restricted to 20 kg and 16 kg respectively. Other regional airlines may restrict baggage to 10 kg, with minimum baggage.


The only health requirement is a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever or cholera if arriving from or travelling 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 travellers 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 neighbouring Asian countries, it is possible you will get some kind of diarrhea at some stage of your trip. This is normal for travellers whose bodies are adapting to strange food and water. In most cases, the problem is short-term, not severe and is easily treated.


Government-owned general hospitals, private doctors and pharmacies are generally available in all major centres of the country. Services at both public and private medical facilities are not to the same standard as those found in western countries. It is recommended you bring a personal first aid kit including ample supplies of medication, and pack this in your carry-on handbag.


Meat, fish, vegetables and tropical fruits are served Australian style. There is no national cuisine such as can be found in Thailand, Indonesia, Greece, etc. At the Wilderness Lodges, apart from vegetarian meals, special meal requests are not available as the meals are set menus.


In some parts of PNG, liquor restrictions apply. In Mt. Hagen for example, liquor is not allowed to be brought into the province, and bags are often checked on arrival flights. Hotels do serve guests beer, wine and spirits. At Karawari Lodge beer and wine are stocked, but no spirits. At Ambua Lodge no beer or spirits are stocked but a good selection of wine is available.


PNG is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and is at the same time as Brisbane, Australia.


ISD and STD dialling are available throughout most of the country. Telex and facsimile services are widely available, except in very remote areas.


Nationals of most western countries may obtain visas upon arrival, provided onward air tickets are carried. The duration of stay on a tourist visa is a maximum of 60 days and can be purchased for K100. Visa requirements are current at the time of print. For further information, contact the nearest Papua New Guinean High Commission, Consulate or Australian High Commission.


All travellers to PNG are strongly recommended to acquire Travellers Insurance for trip cancellation and delays, for baggage loss and damage, and for illness, accident and medical evacuation. Government-owned general hospitals, church-affiliated hospitals, private doctors and pharmacies are available in all major centres of the country. Services at both public and private medical facilities in PNG are not to the same standard as those found in western European countries, the USA, Canada, Japan, or Australia.

Medical aid posts are found in remote areas such as the Karawari and Sepik River, although services are limited to very basic first aid and medication. We recommend you bring a personal first aid kit including an ample supply of medication and pack this in your carry-on baggage. It is recommended you bring a personal first aid kit including ample supplies of medication, and pack this in your carry-on handbag.


Currently K30, payable on departure at the duty-free shop located on Level 1 of the International Terminal in Port Moresby.


PNG's unique handicrafts and native works of art are highly prized in Australia, Europe and North America. Pottery, masks, decorative weapons, shields, jewelry and woodcarvings can be found in city or hotel craft stores, rural missions and local villages. The bilum, an expandable and colourful string bag, is a popular locally made memento for any visitor to PNG. For those interested in arts and crafts, PNG Art in Port Moresby houses the largest showroom of artifacts, featuring a wide variety of art forms truly unique to various regions of this diverse nation.

PNG Art is included in half and full-day tours of Port Moresby, but for those not booked on a tour, it is very easy to locate. PNG Art is happy to arrange the export of your purchases worldwide. Other major shops in the country include the Eastern Highland Cultural Centre, in Kainantu and the Madang Cultural Centre. Throughout the country, there are also quaint artifacts markets outside many of the popular hotels and guest houses. In Port Moresby, and most of the major towns, street sellers often display their goods in front of stores, so keep an eye out for them.


  • Duffel bag (preferable waterproof)
  • Comfortable but solid walking shoes
  • Long pants, 3 or 4 lightweight
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts, 3 or 4
  • Sweater
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Cotton socks, 6 pairs
  • Toilette kit
  • Plastic water bottle
  • Sunblock lotion
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Small daypack
  • Sandals or sneakers
  • Shorts, 2 or 3
  • T-shirts, 3 or 4
  • Bathing suit
  • Cotton underwear
  • Hat or cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera and plenty of films
  • Book or reading material
  • Notebook
  • Any medications you may be taking must be kept in hand luggage

Note: laundry facilities are not available on the adventure modules or on board the MV Sepik Spirit.


Papua New Guinea Travel Information

At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Papua New Guinea. 

Learn about the history and culture of Papua New Guinea, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Papua New Guinea's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, and 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Papua New Guinea for yourself. Start exploring...book one of our Papua New Guinea tours today!


Extend Your Stay

Consider an additional stopover to your Papua New Guinea tours at one of Goway's other South Pacific destinations. You can choose from our selection of Australian vacations, New Zealand vacation packagesTahiti vacation packages, stay at one of our Fiji resorts or perhaps take a Cook Island vacation. This can be done stopping over en route to or from New Zealand.



Goway's DOWNUNDER wizards offer many ways to explore, experience and enjoy amazing Papua New Guinea. There are different lodges for different regions, a stay in a Sepik riverboat as well as a luxury small vessel cruising in the region. We can also arrange adventure treks and diving experiences. Let us custom-design what will be your most amazing globetrotting journey.


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