Papua New Guinea Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Papua New Guinea
How safe is Papua New Guinea?
Threat level: High
Travellers to Papua New Guinea are advised to remain alert to both the high levels of crime that are found in the country and the wider international threat of terrorist attacks in general. This is most relevant to those travelling from such countries as the U.S and U.K, but applies to all.
In the capital Port Moresby, travellers should be aware that serious crime is particularly high in comparison to the rest of the country, the cities of Lae and Mt Hagen are not far behind in serious crime rates. Be extremely wary of shanty towns or squatter areas of towns and cities, as they are particularly dangerous and should be avoided if possible. Bladed weapons and firearms are often used in acts of crime and terrorism in Papua New Guinea and are widely available for those who seek to use them.
Car theft, property theft, sexual assaults, bag snatching and robberies are common place in all areas of the country and extra care should be taken in both rural and urban areas, it is highly recommended that individuals do not travel on their own. ATMs are attractive targets for criminals especially at night, so you should be cautious of your surroundings when withdrawing money, and avoid taking out large sums if at all possible. Walking after dark is strongly advised against in Port Moresby and other large cities.
In 2013, a group of western tourists that were on an organised trekking expedition through a remote part of the jungle were injured in a savage, unprovoked attack in which their guides were executed. The brutal attack happened on the popular Black Cat trail, is located in the province of Wau, Marobe. It is reported that the bandits were wielding machetes, knives and homemade spears. Those planning on trekking in rural areas should ensure they have certified guide with them at all times.
Violence between multiple ethnic or gang-type groups occur consistently, mostly in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea and in urban areas such as Lae and Port Moresby. These can sometimes escalate into outbreaks of tribal wars, often fought with the use of machetes or firearms, with the fighting occurring between the majority ethnic group Melanesiana and the minority groups Micronesians or Polynesians. When these conflicts escalate, it is often with little warning and can prove extremely devastating; previous incidents have seen the destruction of housing in public areas, affected services and high rates of injuries or deaths.
While it is unusual for foreigners to be targeted in this tribal violence, individuals and groups travelling from western countries should do their best to stay off settlement areas and avoid large crowds or gatherings, as this can often indicate an imminent escalation of violence. You should monitor the news and other local information sources for insight on any terror or security risks.
Papua New Guinea's International Relations
Papua New Guinea is a constitutional monarchy; its international relations lie heavily in its ties with Australia and other traditional allies. It further enjoys close relationships with its neighbouring countries including Papua. The country's involvement in global political issues is for the most part moderate and Papua New Guinea now has diplomatic relations with more than 50 countries.
Travelling around Papua New Guinea
There has been an increase in civil unrest in Lae and as such, you should remain on high alert when visiting the area. The levels of violence and crime - particularly at night time and in poorer areas - are continuing to grow.
Road conditions, particularly outside of the main city areas, are poor and road users often drive erratically and with little regard for regulations and fellow travellers. You should drive with extreme caution and ensure that your doors are locked and windows closed. It is recommended that you travel in convoy at all times if at all possible.
Papua New Guinea is subject to natural disasters on a seasonable basis, including flash flooding and tropical cyclones. It is advised that you monitor the latest weather reports and ensure that you are aware of what to do if you are caught in a flood or cyclone.
Emergency services in Papua New Guinea:
Emergency services operator: 112 (New service)
Police emergency: 000 (Port Moresby)
Police emergency: 4721833 (Lae)
Fire emergency: 3255188 (Port Moresby)
Fire emergency: 472 4333/472 4818 (Lae)
Medical emergency: 3256822 (Port Moresby)
Medical emergency: 4723966 (Lae)
Papua New Guinea Overview
Currency: Papua New Guinea Kina
Time now in Port Moresby:
Consular information for Papua New Guinea
U.S. Embassy Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea
Telephone: +675 321 1455
Telephone: +675 720 09439
British Embassy Port Moresby
Sec 411 Lot 1 & 2 ,
Papua New Guinea
Telephone: +675 303 7600
Visa requirements for Papua New Guinea
Most foreign visitors including British, American and other EU citizens will need a visa to enter Papua New Guinea. This can be arranged at the airport upon arrival to the country. However, it is recommended that you apply for one prior to travel. Tourist visas are typically issued for stays of up to 60 days long.
Your passport should have at least 6 months validity left and you may be asked to provide evidence of a return ticket or onwards travel.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Papua New Guinea are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers also get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
There is currently an outbreak of polio in Morobe, Madang, Port Moresby and Eastern Highlands provinces.
There is a moderate risk of Zika virus transmission, so take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
The medical facilities in Papua New Guinea are very basic and many are in poor condition. It is not unusual for hospitals to run out of supplies and experience frequent powercuts which affects all forms of treatment.
It is advised that you avoid seeking medical treatment unless absolutely necessary as anything beyond basic care will likely require medical evacuation to Australia. Ensure that you have adequate health and travel insurance as this can prove extremely costly.