Papua New Guinea

The island of New Guinea is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It is a country with amazing nature, rich vegetation, strange animals, high mountains and clean beaches on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Here live people different from other nations, but all of them are very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to New Guinea, the country is waiting for you!

Papua New Guinea on the map

Papua New Guinea on the map

Geographical location of the country

Papua New Guinea is located on the eastern half of the island of the same name. It is one of the largest islands in the world, second only to Greenland. The western half of the island belongs to Indonesia, and this is the only land border for Papua.

Very close to New Guinea is Australia. They are separated by only 160 kilometres of the shallow Torres Strait. Also close by is the republic of the Solomon Islands. The northern islands of this archipelago belong to New Guinea.

It would be a great misconception to think that this state consists only of the island of New Guinea and its surrounding islets and atolls. In fact, the country consists of more than 600 islands, among which there are large ones: New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville and others. These islands geographically belong to the Solomon and Admiralty archipelagos.

New Guinea is washed predominantly by the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Only in the furthest south-west, beyond the Torres Strait, does the Indian Ocean begin.

New Guinea is a huge island with an area of 785 thousand square kilometres, Papua occupies 462 thousand of them. Due to the huge size of the island, on it can be found a variety of landforms – from plains to high mountains. Most of the country is covered with ridges, many peaks reach a height of more than 4000 metres.

The island is located at the junction of two lithospheric plates and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. There are 18 active volcanoes.

The nature of Papua is very diverse and rich. There are animals and plants characteristic of both south-east Asia and Australia.

Safety for tourists

Papua is ranked 100th on the Global Peace Index, which takes into account the peacefulness of the environment, attitude towards tourists and many other factors, next to Belarus and Uzbekistan. And this is no accident. The street crime rate here is quite high. Most of the urban population lives below the poverty line and does not shy away from any means of earning money.

In many parts of the cities tourists are better not to go even in groups, and in the market it is advised to go with a guard. Although not everything is so bad and many people who have been here note that they have never encountered criminals.

Outside the cities the situation with crime is better, local natives are very friendly and welcoming, despite the nightmarish fame of cannibals. However, in recent decades, none of the tourists in this country have been eaten.

Public transport in Papua is also considered dangerous. It is entirely controlled by local criminal groups, pickpockets operate in buses. The condition of most cars on the island leaves much to be desired, so for travelling it is better to use transport provided by a tourist company.

The climate of the island is also very dangerous for tourists. High humidity and temperature contribute to the rapid multiplication of harmful bacteria, and even a small scratch may not heal for a long time. In the country you can not drink raw water, it is necessary to wash fruit, and other products should be subjected to heat treatment.

The epidemiological situation in Papua is complicated. There are a number of diseases carried by local mosquitoes or as a result of unsanitary conditions. Thus, there are cases of tropical fever, hepatitis and tetanus.

Natural hazards are also present. In the ocean, there are sharks and poisonous fish, sharp pieces of coral on the bottom and underwater currents. On land, there are poisonous snakes, crocodiles, casuar and howling wild dogs.

So, going to Papua, a tourist should be as careful as possible not to spoil his holiday, which can be just wonderful, because despite all the dangers, this country is amazing and unusual.


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For many years, Papuans were considered one of the most dangerous peoples in the world, as cases of cannibalism among them were known even in the middle of the last century. Numerous local tribes were constantly fighting among themselves, which made travelling through the country very dangerous and unpredictable. But now the world is rediscovering this nation, which is actually very sociable, cheerful and peace-loving.

The country has several public holidays, which are also weekends. Most of them are associated with memorable dates in the history of the young kingdom. These are the Days of Independence, Remembrance and Repentance. Religious Christian holidays are popular in the country: Christmas, Boxing Day, Easter. New Year is also celebrated in Papua.

There are a lot of festivals in the country, which familiarise tourists with aboriginal customs. They are necessarily accompanied by traditional dances and music. To attract tourists there are various competitions: fishermen, surfers, there is an international exhibition of orchids.

What fun there is on Papua

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New Guinea is a relatively young tourist region, so the corresponding infrastructure is poorly developed here. Nevertheless, tourists are attracted here by the unspoilt nature of amazing beauty and unusual traditions of the local population – Papuans. But there are also various beach entertainments here.

  1. Beach holidays. Picturesque beaches are rich in small islands that are part of Papua. Particularly popular are the beaches of Kokopo on New Britain and Panasia Island.
  2. Snorkelling. Snorkellers will find plenty to do off the coast of New Guinea. There are abundant underwater reefs, especially on the northern coast, near the town of Madang.
  3. Diving. The same reefs are an iconic spot for diving enthusiasts. The colourful inhabitants of the underwater world will give divers an unforgettable feeling of communion with the beautiful.
  4. Surfing. Papua is considered one of the best surfing destinations on the planet. The National Surfing Championships are held in February, attracting surfers from all over the world.
  5. Hiking, trekking. Here is one of the world’s most famous walking trails, the Kokoda Track, the site of fierce fighting between Japanese invaders and the combined forces of Australians and New Zealanders during the Second World War.
  6. Mountaineering and rock climbing. The island’s many mountains are of undoubted interest to lovers of the sport. Many peaks seem completely impregnable and rise to a height of more than 4 kilometres. The highest among them is Mount Wilhelm (4509 metres), where a popular route leads.
  7. Natural attractions. New Guinea has a lot of national parks and reserves, where amazing animals and birds live, and strange and unlike anything else plants grow. For example, it is here that the Garden of Eden is located, named so for its unearthly beauty.
  8. Archaeological monuments. History lovers will find it interesting to visit the ancient agricultural settlement of Kuka, where a distinctive agricultural culture developed 5 millennia ago.
  9. Ethno-tourism. It is impossible to visit this country and not get acquainted with the life and life of local aborigines – Papuans. This is a very colourful people, consisting of hundreds of tribes, speaking different languages, but with very similar traditions.
  10. Architectural sights. Any city of New Guinea is of great interest for lovers of exoticism. Here there are no ancient cathedrals and monuments, but the way of life of aborigines is so unusual that it attracts all lovers of the unusual. You can get acquainted with it in the National Museum in Port Moresby.

What’s important to know about Papua New Guinea

If you are planning to visit Papua, here are some of the most important things to know:


The official languages of the country are Tok Pisin, English and Hiri Motu. The majority of the population speaks Tok Pisin, a creole language of interethnic communication. About 2 per cent speak English fluently, and the same proportion speaks Hiri Motu.

However, there are over 800 languages spoken by small Aboriginal groups on the islands. Many of these languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers.


There are currently just under 9 million people living in the country. The majority of the population lives in rural areas, and many lead traditional, almost primitive communal lifestyles.

The indigenous people of New Guinea are Papuans. There are Melanesians, Micronesians and Polynesians living on the Pacific islands.

More facts about the Papuans, their character and local colour can be found in this article.


The national currency of the country is the kina, which consists of 100 toya.

The kina as a monetary unit was introduced in 1975 after the country gained independence. It replaced the Australian dollar.

Currently, banknotes of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 kina are circulating. Coins in 5, 10, 20, 50 toya and in 1, 2, 5 kina.

In the country you can pay with international credit cards, in many cities freely accept dollars. But in remote places only kina is in circulation, and tourists are advised to stock up on small coins.

For 1 kina now give about 3.65 American dollars.


Officially, most of the population is Christian, although many natives adhere to their own pagan religions. Approximately 65% of the population is Protestant, ranging from Lutheran and Evangelical to Baptist and Pentecostal. About 27 per cent are Catholic, and another 5 per cent follow other Christian denominations.

The country has very strict laws against witchcraft.


The climate of New Guinea is tropical humid, but due to the mountainous terrain of the island, temperature fluctuations can reach significant values. The island is located in the Southern Hemisphere, close to the equator, and average temperatures are +28 degrees Celsius in summer and +27 degrees Celsius in winter. However, in the central mountainous areas they are always 5–6 degrees lower. At night in the mountains can be real frost with a temperature of about +10 degrees Celsius.

The year in Papua is divided into two seasons – dry and wet. The greatest amount of precipitation falls in winter, from November to March. Some places can receive up to 5000 millimetres of rainfall. The dry season lasts from May to September. And the off-season is characterised by strong winds and brief but very powerful downpours.

Seawater temperature

The average temperature of seawater in New Guinea remains comfortable and suitable for swimming all year round.

  • Water temperatures in winter, December-January: +27 to +29 degrees Celsius. The highest water temperature is on the island of New Ireland, while the coldest is in Port Moresby.
  • Water temperature in spring, March-May: +27 to +28 degrees Celsius. The ocean warms up the most in April.
  • Water temperature in summer, June-July: from +23 to +26 degrees Celsius. The coldest water is in July.
  • Water temperature in autumn, September-November: from +25 degrees in early autumn to +28 degrees in November.

Natural disasters

New Guinea proves to be a turbulent region in terms of possible natural disasters. The island lies at the junction of the Australian and Pacific lithospheric plates, geologically an extension of the Australian mainland. The movement of the plates causes frequent earth tremors and contributes to the activation of numerous volcanoes. Thus, in September 2022 there was an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7, and it was not something extraordinary for the country. Such cataclysms here are not ordinary, but usual phenomenon.

Tropical cyclones and storms also cause a lot of anxiety to the inhabitants of Papua, although the paths of their usual distribution pass either north or south. But they do result in heavy rainfall that can cause short-term flooding and landslides.

Read about the most devastating disasters in Papua New Guinea’s history in this article.

Political structure

Papua New Guinea is a constitutional monarchy and a member of the British Commonwealth. The official head of state is the British King, but in fact power is in the hands of the Governor-General, who is appointed by the local Parliament.

Parliament exercises legislative power, it is unicameral and multi-party.

The country is divided into 4 regions and 22 provinces.

The capital of the country is the city of Port Moresby.

The largest cities

Port Moresby is the capital of the country and its largest city. It was founded in a convenient bay in 1873 by English navigator John Moresby. Now it is home to more than 300,000 people. It is the main sea and air gateway of the country, a city of contrasts.

Lae is the second most populous city in the country. It is located on the north-east coast and is home to just over 100,000 people. It also has a major airport, wonderful beaches and a huge 100-hectare Botanical Garden.

Madang is another city in the north-east, famous for its beaches and coral reefs. It is home to 30,000 people. This is the same place where Russian traveller Nikolai Miklukho-Maclay once landed and lived for several months among the Papuans.

Arawa is the largest town on the island of Bougainville, which may soon secede from Papua. It is home to 38,000 people. It is known for its marvellous sandy beaches.


The bird of paradise is one of the main symbols of the country, which is present both on the coat of arms of Papua and on its banknotes.

Casuar is another symbol, a representative of feathered birds. It is the world’s largest flightless bird and can be dangerous to humans due to its sharp talons.

Kundu – the local analogue of the drum, the national musical instrument of many tribes.

How to get to New Guinea

Getting to Papua is almost exclusively by aeroplane. This island nation is connected to the rest of the world by Jackson International Airport in Port Moresby. This is Papua’s main air gateway. Nearly 180,000 tourists, mostly from Sydney, Auckland and Southeast Asian countries, arrive in the country through this airport every year.

Through this airport air connection with other regions of New Guinea – the second major city of Lae, New Britain and New Ireland. Air transport is still the only way to visit the remote mountainous regions of the island, where roads have not yet been built. Therefore, there are more than 500 local tiny airports in the country.

For tourists, New Guinea is also accessible when travelling on cruise ships. These giants regularly call at Port Moresby, looking stunning against the background of low buildings and dull boats of fishermen. But this type of tourism is very expensive and does not give a full picture of the country.

How much money to take with you

Prices of holidays to Papua can fluctuate quite widely depending on the claims of the most tourists and their goals. Most often people go to the country to see exotic tribes and nature, so agencies offer combined tours. They include a visit to the capital, mountainous region, semi-wild tribes and different entertainment. Such tours cost about 2800-3500 dollars per person, but for 2 weeks. For less time to get acquainted with this unusual country is difficult. And this is without taking into account the flight. Due to the fact that for a European archipelago is on the other side of the globe, the cost of flight to Papua will start from 1200 dollars per person.

In the country itself, the following costs await tourists:

  • Food: meal prices are often included in the tour price, but there is always the temptation to try the local cuisine. The country is very poor and for street food it is enough to plan 10–15 dollars per person per day. Although for the locals this is a huge amount of money too. For example, a cup of cappuccino will cost $2.9 in Port Moresby.
  • Sightseeing: There are no special architectural sights here. Visiting ethnographic and natural sights is better to envisage at once, choosing the appropriate tour package. Then they will be included in the total cost.
  • Beach holidays. It is almost impossible to find a paid beach on New Guinea itself, there is no special tourist infrastructure on them – only sand and ocean. But on the islands of Bougainville and Solomon Islands there are no bad hotels with their own beaches.
  • Souvenirs: on this item of expenditure you can save a lot. There is no special shopping in Papua. Souvenirs are brought from here – ritual masks of Papuans, ceremonial weapons, bows, crocodile skin products, wicker baskets, tusk jewellery. Prices for these items vary, but rarely exceed $100.
  • Transport: it is advantageous to move around the cities by buses. The price of a trip from 0.5 dollars. In a taxi, you will be charged 4 dollars for landing and 1.5 dollars per kilometre. A visit to the islands belonging to the country will cost 100–200 dollars.

Thus, taking into account the reserve amount for unforeseen expenses, a holiday in Papua for two people will cost from 6000 to 7000 thousand dollars for 14 days including flight. And of course, the maximum holiday amount can be much higher.


If you have already visited this country, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words, what you liked most of all in the country, what moments remained in your memory forever, and what you would recommend to other tourists. We will be very grateful for your recommendations!

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