Papua New Guinea Key Facts
462, 840 km²
7, 059, 653
Papua New Guinea Location
For Papua New Guinea travel insurance, select Pacific Region
International Calling Codes
27% Roman Catholic
19.5% Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea
11.5% United Church
10% Seventh-day Adventist Church
Papua New Guinea kina
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In Papua New Guinea they drive on the left side of the road
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to visit Papua New Guinea depends on where you want to go, as the different parts of the country have monsoon season at different times. Generally speaking though, the best time to go is from April to October.
Airports (1 international, 2 paved, 557 unpaved), boats, public motor vehicle.
World Heritage Sites
- Kuk Early Agricultural Site
Average Annual Temperature
Average Annual Rainfall
Papua New Guinea has a typically tropical climate. The northwest of the country has monsoon season between the months of December and March, and the south east between the months of May and October. There is a slight variation in temperature, but the average throughout the year is 27 degrees.
- January 1 - New Year's Day
- April 3 - Good Friday
- March/April - Easter Saturday
- March/April - Easter Sunday
- March/April - Easter Monday
- June 8 - Queen's Birthday
- July 23 - National Remembrance Day
- August 26 - National Day of Repentance
- September 16 - Independence Day
- December 25 - Christmas Day
- December 26 - Boxing Day
Why Visit Papua New Guinea?
Papua New Guinea is still raw, undiluted, and quite frankly, wild. Most travellers choose to come here due to its isolation, ruggedness, and to enjoy real exploration.
Things To Do In Papua New Guinea
- Visit the Botanical Gardens in Moresby.
- Trek up Mt Wilhelm.
- Scuba dive in Madang.
- Go white water rafting on the sepik river.
- Spend a few days in an indigenous village.
Travel Tips For Papua New Guinea
- Airplane is the mode of transport, be careful about smaller providers as they have a bit of a sketchy safety record.
- Head to the villages and avoid cities!
Papua New Guinea's Food
Food in Papua New Guinea is usually simple and based on local staples. Staples of the cuisines are rice, which you will probably enjoy with every meal in one way shape or form, sago, and sweet potato (kau kau). One cooking technique stands out as compared to western cuisine and that is the use of earth ovens, called Mumu, which make for tender meat and smoky aromas. You will also find a lot of tropical fruits around the islands such as avocados, mangoes and papayas. Other famous dishes from Papua include kokoda fish, which is fish cooked in a lime and coconut sauce, and dia, which is sago with banana cooked in coconut milk.
Papua New Guinea Travel Safety and Warnings
Papua New Guinea is probably not the safest location on the planet. While the country seems stable for now, there are problems with criminal gangs, which tend to be most active in bigger cities. The islands are also home to enormous saltwater crocodiles that occasionally eat humans. Many of the most popular trekking routes are close to active volcanoes, so if you decide to go trekking get some local insight first. Travel insurance for Papua New Guinea is a must, think about including medical coverage as Papua New Guinea's hospitals are not a place to visit. Malaria is also prevalent, so ensure you have anti malarial medication with you. Due to the presence of dengue fever, it is recommended to bring mosquito repellent. Papua New Guinea is also home to ringworm, and certain areas have had problems with cholera.It is generally advised to ONLY drink bottled water!
About Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is perhaps not the first destination that comes to mind when you think about going on holidays. However, Papua New Guinea has a lot to offer, not the least of which being the possibility of discovering a new animal/insect species and naming it after yourself! Papua New Guinea offers some of the least developed, most rugged and unspoilt landscapes on the planet, and if you are up for the challenge of travelling through this chain of islands, it can be a most rewarding destination to visit. Get your explorer's hat ready, make sure you have travel insurance for Papua New Guinea, and begin your adventure!
Papua New Guinea consists of over 600 islands with people speaking more than 800 languages. It’s one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth! Additionally, most of the population does not live near urban centers, as it would be in western countries, but rather live in their customary societies. Finally, only 70,000 people visit Papua New Guinea every year. All this means is that this country truly is an undiscovered wonder, a place where the word 'explore' is not just used as a euphemism but where it is a reality.
Arriving in Papua means arriving in the capital city of Port Moresby. To explore Moresby get a cab and drive rather than walk, as the main attractions are quite far from each other. The Port Moresby Nature Park is a very nice place to visit, and if this is your first time on Papua New Guinea, a must! The park contains some great specimen of the local wildlife, including tree kangaroos, various birds of paradise, and cassowaries. If you want to check out the local craft scene, the Ela Beach Craft Market has a nice selection of handmade items. If you happen to be in Moresby around mid-September, do make sure to catch the Hiri Moale Festival, which is a spectacular historical festival involving up to 100 traditional canoes.
Unfortunately, Moresby is not the safest city on the planet and there have been problems with local gangs, so make sure you keep safe. If you came to go trekking, the famous Kokoda Trail starts in the Moresby area. It was famously used first by gold miners and then gained infamy as a WWII site. There are several different routes you can explore with lengths between 80 -100kms and all lead north to the cities of Gona or Buna. This trek is particularly famous with Australians, and you will meet many fellow Australians on the way, who have come to pay homage to their ancestors. The trail is a grueling and intense trek, so make sure you check if your travel insurance will automatically cover you for walking the Kokoda trail, or if you need to pay an additional premium to be covered.
If you travel inland you will find your way to the Highlands of Papua. They are home to distinct tribal regions, each with different cultures and customs, and all of them fascinating. While sometimes not open to foreigners, if you do come across welcoming villages do stay for a few days. It’s truly the best way to learn about the culture, customs and their way of life. Villages are also a lot safer than big cities, and usually there will be one family that 'adopts' you for the duration of your stay.
The Highlands are also where you will find the highest mountain of Oceania - Mount Wilhelm. The views of the south and north coast from the peak are stunning, and even the trek up has its joys. Do plan to spend at least 3-4 days on the walk up and hire a local guide to ensure you do not get lost - this is Papua New Guinea - no one will come looking for you!
The north coast offers a very different experience from the Highlands and again you will find different cultures and different ways of life. You will also find a tourist resort or two, which should come as a welcome surprise by now. The area around Madang offers fun scuba diving, and for wreck divers the chance to see Japanese fighter planes. There is also an active volcano to hike around. Going a bit further west you will find the Sepik River, which is probably one of the best kayaking destinations in the world.
Make sure you check Smartraveller for official travel advice for the cities that you’re planning on travelling to. Your travel insurance may not provide cover should you travel to areas with a ‘Do Not Travel’ or ‘Reconsider Your Need To Travel’ warning on Smartraveller.
Visiting Papua New Guinea can be challenging due to a lack of infrastructure. The tap water is not safe for consumption, so you should make sure only to drink bottled water. It is a malaria and dengue prone area, so it is also recommended that you bring antimalarials as well as a good helping of mosquito repellent. If it’s an adventure you’re looking for, Papua New Guinea should be on your list!
For more information on Papua New Guinea, visit the Papua New Guinea Tourism website.
Photo Credit: Anselmo Lastra via Visual hunt CC BY