Frequently asked questions about Papua New Guinea and the tour.
Q. Do I need a visa to enter Papua New Guinea?
A. Yes, you do indeed need a visa for PNG. This process has recently changed and Canadians, Americans and the nationals of some other countries are eligible to receive a visa-upon-arrival in Port Moresby. This visa is free of charge.
If you are unsure whether or not you qualify for a visa upon arrival, here is the list of the countries which do not qualify for a visa-upon-arrival. The visa-upon-arrival is free of charge. Passports must be valid a minimum of six months from date of intended travel.
Here’s a link about how to apply for a visa to Papua New Guinea if you need to apply in advance.
Q. I’m spending a night in Australia on my way to Papua New Guinea. Do I need a visa to enter Australia?
A. Yes, you do need a visa to enter Australia. Most U.S. and Canadian passport-holders, traveling to Australia as a tourist for fewer than 90 days, can obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). If you don’t qualify for an ETA, information on acquiring a Visitor Visa can be found here.
Q. Do I need insurance for this tour?
A. We highly recommend evacuation insurance for this and all international WanderTours. We recommend Insure My Trip. They have a wide range of options, good customer service, an easy to navigate website and they offer numerous affordable options including travel, medical and evacuation insurance.
Q. Do you recommend any special vaccinations for this trip?
A. As for shots, there’s nothing you need specifically for PNG. However, you’ll want to consult with a travel doctor for medical advice.
You will want mosquito repellent and to talk to your doc about taking malarial prophylaxes, if you’re so inclined.
Q. What’s the best protection against mosquitoes?
A. You might consider wearing clothes that are impregnated with permethrin. Several companies including ExOfficio have such clothing. You might also consider using a non-DEET repellent such as Avon’s Skin-so-Soft with Bug Guard or Herbal Armor. I personally tested a few of these alternatives and wrote this review of mosquito repellents.
Q. Do we need to bring mosquito nets?
A. While there will be mosquito nets available in the Sepik area, the quality may not be the best and you’re better off bringing your own. There are a variety of styles available and from our research, the best option is to have one that hangs in such a way so as to not touch your skin – in other words one that you can hang from four corners rather than just the top. Your net doesn’t need to be huge – a single person one will work fine.
Q. What size mosquito net should I buy? Single bed, double bed?
A. You only need a mosquito net big enough to cover yourself, with some room on either side so it doesn’t touch your skin. A single one works fine. It can be small and shouldn’t take up too much space in your luggage.
Q. I see the packing list suggests we bring a bed sheet with us. Is this necessary?
A. While there will be sheets on the beds during the homestay, we’ve found that some people prefer to sleep in their own sheets. If you prefer your own sheet we recommend a silk travel sheet such as are found in this link.
Q. Do you suggest we bring gifts for the locals?
A. This can be a bit tricky. Most Papua New Guineans take gift giving very seriously. If you give them a gift, they will feel indebted to return the favor, but they may not be able to.
Having said that, those who have had more exposure to the outside world, likely will appreciate small gifts. Appropriate items include small mirrors (so they can put on their own tribal makeup) and soap.
Q. I read in your notes that you always survive with a carry on only. This I can’t do because of before and after commitments. I hope I won’t be the only one with checked luggage.
A. While I think you will be more comfortable moving around with fewer bags, there will probably be others with more than just a carry-on. Also note that airlines such as Qantas have a weight limit for carry-on bags so even if you have a small bag, you may be required to check it due to its weight.
Q. What is the checked baggage allowance on flights within PNG?
A. Our internal PNG flights are with Air Niugini and economy class passengers are permitted a checked bag weighing up to 16kg or 35 lb per person. Carry-on is limited to 5kg or 11lb per person.
Q. How should I dress based on the weather?
A. PNG is a hot country. It will also likely be very muggy. Pack for warm weather but consider being conservative about your clothing. Tank tops and shorts aren’t appropriate but short sleeve shirts, capris and light pants are fine.
The mountain areas can get quite cool, especially at night. You may find that a fleece jacket will come in handy.
Bring a rain jacket, sun hat and be prepared to cover up your camera equipment with plastic or some other covering that will protect it from the rain. We provide you with a full packing list once you register for our tour.
Q. Can I use my cell phone in PNG?
A. It’s unlikely. PNG is on its own cellular network and often times it doesn’t work for the locals!
If you have a smart phone and you can find wifi (which is rare) you can use Skype or Viber to text or email.
It’s probably best to let your friends and family know that they won’t hear from you via phone and then try to check in with them via email when you have access.
Q. Does PNG have internet service/WiFi throughout the country?
A. Internet service is as spotty as their cell phone service. Major hotels in the bigger cities (i.e. Port Moresby and Wewak) will likely have internet service but outside of those areas, don’t count on it. AND even when the hotel has WiFi and/or internet service, it doesn’t always work.
Q. What do you use to write and journal while you’re traveling abroad?
A. A journal is great because you don’t have to plug it in. But you might consider carrying a small netbook or tablet with a keyboard.
Q. Are travelers checks viable in PNG? Are ATM’s available? Do vendors usually take credit cards or do small vendors not have the equipment?
A. Travelers checks and ATM cards can be used at the airport and in banks, and you might be able to find shops that will accept these. However, your best bet is to exchange money (cash) at the airport in Port Moresby upon arrival and carry cash. Once outside of Port Moresby, it will be quite difficult to change money – as in waiting hours at a bank to get a travelers check changed!
Having said that, you may want to carry at least some travelers checks in case you can’t access your bank account with a debit or credit card, and also have some cash on hand in U.S. dollars.
Q. Can I pay for items in US dollars?
A. You might be able to but it’s far more common to be quoted prices in kina.
Q. How much money should I bring with me?
A. We get this question a lot, and it really does depend on your spending habits. PNG is on the expensive side with regard to meals, but most meals are included in the tour. Souvenirs are reasonably priced but you might find yourself wanting to bring home more than you expected (local artists are everywhere, and all those masks, wooden bowls and drums are very tempting). Bring a little more cash than you think you’ll need because access to ATM’s is limited. Just be sure to keep that cash in a safe place – i.e. on your body, under your clothes.
Q. How should I best carry my money?
A. PNG is not the safest country on the planet, plain and simple. You’ll want to be extremely careful about how you carry your money, passport and other valuables. A bag such as one from PacSafe is a great option because many of their items are slashproof, which means someone can’t slash the handle or front of the bag to grab your items. You’ll want to consider something like this for your camera gear as well.
Otherwise, tucking items into your bra, underwear and socks wouldn’t hurt (though you’ll want to keep items in plastic bags to prevent them from getting wet from your sweat).
Q. Would you recommend taking a rain coat? Something more than one of those flimsy “emergency” ponchos?
A. It would be helpful to have a rain jacket that is a bit heavier than one of those thin ponchos, but because it will be quite warm, the poncho will do in a pinch. During the day, even in the mountains it can be warm (and very humid) when the sun is out, so nothing too heavy.
Q. Should we bring our own toilet paper? Do they have the “squatty potties”?
A. Most hotels will have western-style toilets and provide toilet paper. However, you will be visiting some places with very basic facilities and it might be best to carry some of those travel toilet paper rolls. You can always pick up additional TP at hotels along the way.
Q. I will be spending time in Australia on my way home, and I understand that they have extremely strict import regulations on PNG cultural heritage goods such as masks. Will they take away my purchases?
A. Upon arrival in Australia, ask for your purchases to be held in quarantine for the duration of your stay. You will be charged a nominal fee for this service.
Q. Will I be able to ship my purchases home?
A. It may be possible to ship items home but it’s not an easy (or cheap) process. There are only one or two shops in Port Moresby that have the ability to package and ship items for you and if you choose to ship via DHL, it’s going to eat into quite a bit of your time to get things packaged up and shipped. Again, it will also be quite costly.
Q. Can I bring my laptop?
A. Of course, you will have power at most of the hotels. Power outages may happen but not frequently.
Q. What sort of power adaptor do I need?
A. PNG uses the same sort of adaptor as Australia. Consider buying one from a local travel store and chatting with a salesperson to make sure you’ve got the right one but it should look like that >>>>
Q. Are there hair dryers at the hotels?
A. Sometimes but don’t count on it. As mentioned above, there will be power at all hotels. Just remember that no one‘s going to be looking their finest, so if you don’t have to have the hair dryer, consider leaving it at home 🙂
Q. Do I need any dressy clothes?
Q. What kind of shoes should I bring?
A. You might consider bringing a sturdy pair of old shoes that you can walk around in during the festival that you don’t mind leaving behind. Chances are good that these will get very muddy and you may not want to bring them home. Consider a pair of sturdy sandals such as these from Teva.
Q. Can I wear something like Crocs?
A. These are not recommended as they have no grip on the bottoms and will be very slippery in the mud.
Q. Is tipping appropriate?
A. Actually this is one country where we do not recommend that you tip, even your guides. It’s not a practice in the country and it can actually create jealousy amongst the local guides if one gets a tipped and another does not.
Q. Will you be sending an updated itinerary with our overnight accommodations so we can leave it with folks at home?
A. You’ll receive the hotel information 1 or 2 weeks before departure but it is subject to change.
Q. What’s the emergency contact info that I can give my family?
A. You will be given a cell phone number for someone in-country from our local tour operator as well as a list of hotels. All of this will be provide shortly before your departure.