Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a Visa?
Yes, all tourists require a 60 day tourist visa which can be obtained free of charge on arrival in Port Moresby for citizens of most countries. You will need to show travel documents, sufficient funds for your stay in the country and airline tickets with confirmed outbound flights before expiry date of your visa. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after leaving PNG.
Citizens of Australia, several Asian, Eastern European and African countries need to apply for their entry visa prior to travel to Papua New Guinea. Please check with your nearest PNG Consulate or the Australian Consulate (in some countries Australia looks after PNG affairs) for further detail. Should you require a visa prior to travel to PNG and you don’t have one, you will be denied boarding for your flight to Papua New Guinea, so make sure you follow instructions!
What currency will I need?
Papua New Guinea’s unit of currency is the Kina which is divided into 100 toea. There are K100, K50, K20, K10, K5 and K2 notes and a K1 coin, as well as 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 toea.
Daily exchange rates are listed in banks, newspapers and hotels. You can exchange your money at the exchange desk at Jackson’s Airport, or in banks, which are open from 9.00am to 3.00pm Monday – Thursdays and 9.00 – 4.00pm on Fridays. We also exchange US$, A$, Euros and Yen at Lissenung Island Resort. We use the middle course, which is a better exchange rate than the banks and exchange desks use, we don’t charge horrendous fees, plus you can just exchange money as you need it. Which isn’t much, as we accept Visa, Master and AMEX credit cards.
What is the climate like?
There are two distint climates: The coastal regions being hot and humid at 24 – 23° C (approx. 77 – 95° F), whereas in the Highlands, it’s cooler with less humidity and temperatures ranging from 12 – 28° C (approx. 54 – 82° F). The rain season changes from province to province, but in New Ireland, it’s officially from end of December till end of March. Remember the close proximity to the Equator and use lots of sunscreen, even on overcast days.
What is the population of PNG and what language do they speak?
The population estimate in July 2011 is 6,187,591, with an estimated 800 traditional localised languages. Melanesian Pidgin and Hiri Motu are the two most widely used, although English is the official language in education, businesses and government circles.
How safe is PNG?
The country has attracted long-term negative media coverage which is to a large extent unjustified. You need to take reasonable care and apply common sense as crime is a factor wherever you travel these days. Port Moresby, Mount Hagen and other areas of the Highlands are sometimes subject to tribal fighting, so you need to apply common sense and maybe avoid certain areas, don’t walk around alone etc. However, PNG values the tourist and you will be most unlikely to experience anything other than friendliness and hospitality, especially here in New Ireland.
Will my mobile work in PNG?
PNG has mobile phone coverage through Digicel in all major cities and suburban areas and many overseas mobile phone providers will pick up a signal here. However, both local and international phone calls through Digicel are much cheaper than your roaming fees or even local landline calls, so if you are planning on making regular phone calls to your family and friends overseas, it’s worth buying a Digicel mobile phone or even just a Digicel SIM card. You can pick up a basic phone for around K 60.00 at the international and domestic airports in Port Moresby on your arrival. Phone cards are available from K 5.00 – K 100.00 value.
Are there any health issues and what are they?
Malaria is a risk throughout PNG and should discuss preventative measures with your doctor. Make sure you tell him/her that you will be diving as some malaria prophylaxis can have some not so fun side effects under pressure. We’ve heard from guests that some doctors don’t prescribe prophylaxis anymore due to the side effects and the availability of an alternative treatment that works very well and with hardly any side effects. The WHO has more on this here.
Wearing light-weight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants as well as slapping on some mosquito repellent will keep the mozzies at bay, especially at dawn and dusk. All our rooms are fitted with fly screens on the windows and mosquito nets over the beds and if you keep your doors closed at dusk and dawn, your room should stay mozzie-free.
You may also want to make sure that your tetanus shots are up to date and if you are planning on visiting really remote areas, have Hep A, Hep B and Typhoid immunisations. Again, more on that subject can be found on the MD Travel Health website.
Last but most certainly not least, make sure that you have travel insurance!
What’s there to see and do? Papua New Guinea is full or interesting attractions, magnificent natural scenery and diverse cultural heritage. It offers a range of holiday activities from diving & snorkelling, trekking remote jungle tracks, cruising the mighty Sepik River, surfing the waves of New Ireland, fishing around the fjords of Tufi or the deep oceans in New Ireland. Papua New Guinea diving in particular is among the best in the world, with the reefs here part of the Coral Triangle, which boosts the highest marine biodiversity in the world. Only around 10,000 divers visit the entire country in any given year, ensuring that diving and snorkelling is exclusive, uncrowded and unspoilt.
What can I buy there?
PNG art and handicrafts are world-renowned and the art is extremely varied, reflecting the great diversity of cultures in PNG. You need to declare them on arrival back home, but as long as they don’t have any little critters living in borer holes, customs will just inspect them and you’ll be on your merry way soon. We can also arrange shipping from PNG to your home, but this is usually a more expensive excercise than the purchase of the item in the first place.
Remember, no feathers or fur, but if your taste runs to the more exotic, gold jewellery from PNG is quite spectacular. For a little taste of PNG once you are home, take along some of the famous PNG coffee, which is even sold at Starbucks!
Is tipping expected?
Tipping is not expected, but of course will ensure continued great service. You might like to check with your hotel manager or tour operator owner about how to tip. At Lissenung, we ask our guests to give any tips to us as we will then evenly distribute it amongst all staff members, not just the ones that are in the public eye all the time. The gardeners and room fairies work just as hard as the dive guides and boat drivers!
If you are visiting a local village, you can leave gifts of exercise books, pens etc. with the village chief who will again distribute them fairly among the kids.