11 Tips You Need for Travelling to Papua New Guinea 

There’s not much information online about travelling to Papua New Guinea is there? I mean, compared to most of the rest of the world.

Papua New Guinea is one of the most untouched countries by British tourists, but after spending almost two weeks there in September 2017, I really can’t see why (apart from the cost of getting there!). I enjoyed a chilled 10 days visiting the villages, staying at some amazing lodges and sampling the legendary scuba diving. And it wasn’t scary at all.

Here are my top tips for travelling to Papua New Guinea, just in case you fancied a trip over there yourself.

11 Tips for Travelling to Papua New Guinea

Travelling to Papua New Guinea

1. Planes are always late

Or at least the 4 I took were. They’d come in at anything from 30 minutes to 90, and there was never any information up. It’s usually due to weather or supply and demand – just buy yourself an airport snack and sit back, relax and hope that one even turns up. 

2. People were very serious

Especially up in the Highlands. There was no laughing and joking, not even with each other. Sometimes I found this quite unnerving. I’m not sure if people were just trying to work me out – from what was said I don’t think many 30+ solo travellers visited those parts. 

3. Food was generally basic

Travelling to Papua New Guinea

I ate a lot of bread in my first week in Papua New Guinea. Sometimes the food was actually inedible, especially the packed lunches when we had day trips (see above). You might want to take a few little snacks with you as there was no food to buy at the first two lodges I stayed at either. I was so hungry I went and asked for some bread or something, just to last till dinner, and got a dry biscuit.

The food at Walindi Lodge was amazing though – and they even had crisps and ice creams to buy although I never felt the need with the delicious meals there.

4. I never felt in danger

I didn’t ever feel in danger in Papua New Guinea, apart from the stupid actions of fellow tourists, but I was always with a guide. The only times I was ever on my own was getting in and out of the airports.

I asked a few people if solo travel was advised in PNG and the general consensus was that it was ok, if you know where’s safe to go, that week. There can be different tribal flare ups depending on recent events and so the best thing to do, if you want to travel Papua New Guinea solo, would be to book to go to somewhere like Walindi Resort for 3-4 nights and then speak to Johnathan, the land guide. He knows everything. He’ll be able to tell you where is safe and where to avoid.


My Advice on Arriving into Papua New Guinea

First Timers Guide to Papua New Guinea

23 Fascinating Facts About Papua New Guinea

To say that Papua New Guinea is dangerous is a huge and offensive generalisation. Certain parts are, with certain tribe wars and when tourists do certain things, but there are plenty of safe places to explore in Papua New Guinea alone or in a group.

5. Tipping was complicated

Tips for travelling to Papua New Guinea

It’s said that tipping isn’t expected, because they don’t want Papua New Guinea to turn into that kind of culture, but if I didn’t tip I felt bad, and they were obviously annoyed – at least in my mind.

If I did tip it was snaffled out of my hand as quick as possible. I can only hope the guide shared with the driver. Tip separately if you’re worried about that. 

Always tip if you go to the villages – it’s the only way the villagers can make any money, and they are providing you with a service with the entertainment. One day I went on a day trip with a bunch of American and German tourists and not one of them gave any money to the villagers, they were too busy getting in their faces with their huge cameras. Have to say, it was disgusting. 

6. Drinking can be a dodgy subject

Travelling to Papua New Guinea

I was told that many Papua New Guinea people don’t take their drink very well. As I travelled round I noticed the bill boards warning against indulgence, and when we landed in Tari on the charter plane we were avoiding the usual landing destination because tensions between the nearby tribes were high, and we had beers in the luggage hold.

I really wanted to ask more about this but got the impression it was none of my business…

7. I kinda understood Pidgin

It’s always amazed me while I’ve been travelling around, just how much you can understand and grasp without speaking the actual language of the country. I mean, when you have the context of the situation you could kind of, almost work it all out.

Listen intently to the Pidgin English being spoken around you and you might just pick a little bit up, or just speak English – that works too.

8. Trek respectfully

travelling in Papua New Guinea

Everywhere belongs to someone in Papua New Guinea – the land is divided up between the natives and generally isn’t sold on or developed without prior agreement of the tribe elders. If you’re trekking you’ll always be trekking on someone else’s land so just check with your hotel staff before you go off a wandering.

READ MORE: The Best Hotels in PNG for YOU

Watch my YouTube video to see what to expect from PNG!

Check out my channel at VickyFlipFlop

9. Bank cards come out after the money

In England the bank card comes first, you collect your money, and off you trot. In Papua New Guinea it’s the other way round.

I got stung for this at Bangkok Airport once too – there they pulled the cash point apart to get it out as it’d been sucked back in. In Papua New Guinea the ATM security guard just shouted “Hey, sister!” at me as I was getting back in our Land Rover, and thankfully I got it back. Just watch yourself.

Travelling to Papua New Guinea
Travelling to Papua New Guinea

While we’re on ATMs: I asked my guide if there was an ATM nearby and with his positive reply I assumed it’d be 20 minutes max. We drove for an hour back into Mount Hagen so I could use it. Felt bad.

Make sure you get enough money out for tips and beers while you’re in the city so you don’t have to ask for the same unnecessary road trip.

10. Roads are terrible in the Highlands

Travelling to Papua New Guinea

Honestly, you need a sports bra and nerves of steel to manage Papua New Guinea’s Highland roads, and it’s not just when you’re creeping up the hills, but when you’re on the flat ground too. It takes longer than the km would have you guess here, thanks to needing to weave in and out of the stones, other cars, pot holes and people.

11. The airport facilities

Travelling to Papua New Guinea

We started with flights, let’s end with airports. In Hoskins it was a hut, genuinely, look see above. I really enjoyed this airport experience – everyone was chatting away and I was sat next to a Port Moresby lawyer who was in town to defend his client. Of course he had lots of stories about the Papua New Guinea judicial system which I lapped up at the time but have totally forgotten now.

Port Morseby Domestic Airport just has a little cafe on each side before and after customs. Port Morseby International had considerably better facilities although service was so slow, honestly thought I was going to miss my flight it took that long at check in. But, as I said before, all flights were late which worked out well for me.

My 10 days in Papua New Guinea

Coming into PNG I was shattered – I’d been travelling for so long and just felt like I stank. A train, a bus, a plane, another plane, and then another plane, and I desperately needed sleep and a shower.

The sight of the looming mountains from the plane window though. I felt like I was entering a magical world just waiting for me to explore.

The plane touched down into Mount Hagen Airport and I was taken along the ridiculously bumpy roads up the mountain to Rondon Ridge Lodge. I slept, I ate, I was surprised by the cold and I admired the incredible views from the high point.

I spent the next day visiting the villages. In the little video you can see my guide’s son and friends ensuring their tribal dance stays for years to come. I saw the famous Mud Men. I visited the women of the Sili Muli Women – who are actually singing about how they may not be beautiful, but they can be yours for a good price. So sad because it’s real. Next up, the Skeleton Boys of Mount Hagen – lovely guys.

The plane touched down into Mount Hagen Airport and I was taken along the ridiculously bumpy roads up the mountain to Rondon Ridge Lodge. I slept, I ate, I was surprised by the cold and I admired the incredible views from the high point.

The next day I flew in that tiny charter plane to the stunning Ambua Lodge, those views. I hiked to the waterfall and went birdwatching to try and spot at least one of the many species of birds of paradise in Papua New Guinea. I visited the Tari women and saw just how hard they worked, and got a fascinating insight into how they were treated too. Being a woman in Papua New Guinea is hard. One of the women was a medicine lady and you can see her demonstrating a spell there.

I went to visit the Huli Men who put on a ‘Sing Sing’ for us, singing and dancing and looking pretty happy about doing it – although some of them seemed totally exhausted by the high energy performance too.

10 days in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea

My video quickly switches to the Wigmen – a fascinating group of guys that I plan to write a lot more about but everything they do, and eat, is with the sole purpose to grow their hair. Their wigs perform the basis of all their traditions.

After Tari I went to the Walindi Lodge on a different island near Kimbe. I spent most of my time here either underwater or on it, and absolutely loved it. I saw sharks, nemo fish, tuna, barracuda, sea horses, star fish and had an excellent viewpoint for the beautiful coastline. We were also treated to a pod of dolphins swimming along with us which just made for the most incredible experience.

And you just can’t beat the feeling of jumping off a boat, can you?

This is where you can go on a trip down the Hot River – a natural spring as hot as a relaxing bath. One of the best things about going was the journey through the thousands and thousands of palm trees in the nearby plantation.

Just let me know if you have any questions about travelling to Papua New Guinea
it’s definitely an interesting place!


  1. Hello Vicky,
    Great to read an article from a tourist perspective. My name is Sheena. I am originally from Papua New Guinea and will be glad to answer and assist any tourist planning on visiting Papua New Guinea and need a tour guide, I reside in the capital city Port Moresby. My email address is [email protected]

  2. For some reason this is reading like it’s coming from a very colonialist perspective. I wonder how the indigenous ppl felt about the person who wrote this visiting.

  3. I was looking at flights from Australia to PNG but I think what drew me mainly was the fact it is a bit under the radar as a travel destination. You’re right, there isn’t much information on it as you don’t hear about people travelling here often. It’s super intriguing. Would you recommend it for solo travel for a female, or would it be slightly difficult?

    Great post, thanks!


    1. Hi Tamara, I wouldn’t recommend it for a first time female solo traveller. Or even a novice. But if you’ve been to a few different countries by yourself, can readily accept there’s a different way of doing things, and are confident when everyone’s staring at you then yes, go! PNG is a beautiful and fascinating country!

  4. Hi Vicky!

    Thanks for the post, it is teally interesting. 🙂

    I’m planning on going to PNG this year and, as you said, it is really difficult to find any information about the country.

    Could you please tell me a bit more about your itinerary in there, where did you find your guide, if it was only for you, etc..? Some info that could help me to do my trip a bit easier 🙂 It would be really useful for me!

    Thanks in advance!


    1. Hello Gonzalo, great that you’re visiting PNG! All the advice I have is on this blog I’m afraid. If you take a look through my posts you’ll see all my top tips. I travelled on a press trip so it was a little different. If you get in touch with PNG tourism I’m sure they’ll be happy to help. Make sure to sign up to their mailing list and have a chat on social media.

      Sorry I can’t be more help but everything I know is within this blog.



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