Asia Pacific Travel: Papua New Guinea Travel Guide

Exotic. Vibrant. Beguiling.

TWO WAYS TO EXPERIENCE LUXURY Papua New Guinea TOURS

Group Trips
Custom Trips

For Papua New Guinea, we recommend traveling with a small group of like-minded fellow travelers on a perfectly crafted Papua New Guinea luxury tour.  See other possibilities at Custom Trips to Papua New Guinea.

Questions? Ready to start planning your trip?

CONTACT A Papua New Guinea TRAVEL EXPERT

Highlights

If this is your first Papua New Guinea travel experience, there are some iconic sights and destinations located throughout the country that are simply a must-see for first-time travel to Papua New Guinea, which include Port Moresby, Mt. Hagen, Tari, the Sepik River, and Madang.

PORT MORESBY

The capital of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, sprawls along the dusty hills of New Guinea's southern coast overlooking the Coral Sea. Serving as the hub for all international and domestic air travel to Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby will be your first contact with this island nation.

Connecting directly to your next destination is probably the preferred arrangement, but if you need to overnight in Port Moresby, comfortable lodging and some interesting tours can be arranged including the national museum and the PNG arts warehouse.

TARO

The area around Tari is made up of lush, high valleys wedged between towering limestone peaks.

The area around Tari is made up of lush, high valleys wedged between towering limestone peaks. The dramatic Tari Basin is home to the Huli Wigmen, with their fabulously colorful face painting and ornate human hair "wigs." Witness the traditional Huli way of life, including manhood cults of young warriors which culminate in the making of the famous triangular-shaped human hair wig, face painting and other male body adornment.

There are also opportunities to visit local shamanistic practitioners during your Papua New Guinea tour. The surrounding countryside boasts thundering waterfalls and lush mountain scenery. Tari's forests are a haven for many species of the magnificent bird of paradise and multiple species of orchids, as well as myriad other birds, mammals and marsupials.

THE SEPIK RIVER

The Sepik River region is quite possibly the most fascinating area of Papua New Guinea. A tangle of massive river channels, lakes and mountains, the Sepik is also home to some of Papua New Guinea's most significant cultural and artistic achievements.

The Sepik River region is quite possibly the most fascinating area of Papua New Guinea. A tangle of massive river channels, lakes and mountains, the Sepik is also home to some of Papua New Guinea's most significant cultural and artistic achievements. The Sepik River is often compared to the Congo or the Amazon, but in terms of contacting exotic human settlements it even more amazing.

Artistic development amongst the river-side cultures has flourished. Carvings, family and village totems, and ornate haus tambaran (spirit houses) are famous in this region. When touring Papua New Guinea and its Sepik River region, opportunities abound to view and collect some of the world's finest primitive art. We offer cruises to the middle, and lower reaches of the Sepik River on the luxurious Sepik Spirit.  If time is limited or cruises aren't available, an option to explore the region is to stay at the eco-style Karawri Resort. This property is located on the banks of the Karawari River, a major tributary of the Sepik in the middle Sepik Region and offers access to authentic villages and mystical spirit houses.

MADANG

A fertile, volcanic coastline province backed by some of the most rugged mountains in Papua New Guinea, Madang has often been described as the "prettiest town in the Pacific." Madang has it all for those people looking for the quintessential South Pacific getaway both above and below the water.

A fertile, volcanic coastline province backed by some of the most rugged mountains in Papua New Guinea, Madang has often been described as the "prettiest town in the Pacific." Madang has it all for those people looking for the quintessential South Pacific getaway both above and below the water. Here you'll find hiking, birdwatching, beachcombing, snorkeling and sea kayaking.

MT. HAGEN

Located in the wide expanse of the Wahgi Valley, Mt. Hagen is the provincial capital for the Western Highlands. Convenient air service from all corners of Papua New Guinea make it the gateway to the Highlands. Mt.

Located in the wide expanse of the Wahgi Valley, Mt. Hagen is the provincial capital for the Western Highlands. Convenient air service from all corners of Papua New Guinea make it the gateway to the Highlands. Mt. Hagen was the first Highlands settlement to have contact with Westerners in the 1930s and has since grown into an important coffee and tea producing area.

The Mt. Hagen produce market is one of the biggest in Papua New Guinea. It is a crowded, colorful meeting place which attracts people from all over the province. It is not unusual to see locals in traditional dress. Excursions to the traditional Chimbu Players and the Asaro Mudmen villages during your tour of Papua New Guinea can be arranged from Mt. Hagen. These wildly exotic tribes are but two of hundreds of distinct tribes that inhabit PNG, each with their own distinct language, unintelligible to tribes that may lie a mere valley away. This is what makes Papua New Guinea so unusual in the world: nowhere else is ther such a density of unique, small tribal bands living so closely to each other.

You may choose to visit Mt. Hagen during the annual August Highlands Cultural Show, also known as the Mt. Hagen Sing-Sing. Sing-sings are where different and often antagonistic tribes come together to sing and dance in their distinct, elaborate traditional costumes, and compete for prestige against other tribes. Participants take exceptional pride in representing their tribe's unique garb and rituals. A sing-sing is an unparalled pageant, a psychedelic smorgasbord of ritualized ancient theater paraded to vocal accompaniment. The chanting of each tribe is alternately haunting, happy or warlike, and ranges from dizzying whoops to subtle, wind-like murmurs. Far from being a staged event for tourists, sing-sing competitions have a long tradition, and jealous losers have in the past been known to wage actual war on the winning tribe. Accommodations fill up quickly, so if you wish to attend the show, please book your Papua New Guinea travel about one year in advance.

Adventures

Have more time, second trip to Papua New Guinea, or looking for something specific? Here are some additional highlights when creating your custom Papua New Guinea travel plan.

GOROKA

At an altitude of 5,200 feet, Goroka's climate is perpetually spring-like-warm days and cool, crisp nights-producing fruits and vegetables of exceptional quality.

At an altitude of 5,200 feet, Goroka's climate is perpetually spring-like-warm days and cool, crisp nights-producing fruits and vegetables of exceptional quality. Spend a day at the McCarthy Museum, exhibiting some of the finest displays of pottery, weapons and musical instruments in Papua New Guinea.

Or take a brief tour to the Asaro Mudmen village with their wild mud dance masks. You may want to plan your trip to take in the world famous Goroka Sing-Sing, held annually in September. If you are interested in attending the show, book your Papua New Guinea travel one year in advance to avoid disappointment.

TUMBUNA

This remote village is home to a supremely authentic and untouristed sing-sing. "Tumbuna" means "ancestors" in Tok Pisin (the lingua franca of Papua New Guinea). This sing-sing celebrates "Taim Bilong Tumbuna" (the time that belonged to the indigenous people, i.e. pre-European contact).

For an extraordinary Papua New Guinea travel experience, witness this very obscure, supremely colorful village sing-sing, whereby different groups, dazzling in their wildly flamboyant costumes, plumage and make-up, compete for prestige in a splash of color and a chorus of song.  The tribes present at this sing-sing are barely post-Stone Age. They cultivate yam and taro, search for the edible fruits and animals in the forest, and live in symbiosis with their livestock (women suckle young piglets).

BENSBACH

This area is a vast, seasonally flooded plain, lightly populated with people, but crowded with bird and animal life. It is located in the remote western province near the Indonesian border. The Bensbach Lodge, built of local materials, is intimate and comfortable.

This area is a vast, seasonally flooded plain, lightly populated with people, but crowded with bird and animal life. It is located in the remote western province near the Indonesian border. The Bensbach Lodge, built of local materials, is intimate and comfortable. It has established a reputation for spectacular wildlife viewing and fishing.

Many animals and birds are fearless because they have had little contact with people. Wallabies, crocodiles, rusa deer and wild pigs are prolific and the birdlife is incredible. It is also one of the premier sites in the world for sport fishing with the prize being the barramundi. Due to its extremely remote location, Bensbach is only available for groups of four or more traveling in Papua New Guinea.

NEW BRITAIN/NEW IRELAND

The largest of Papua New Guinea's subsidiary islands, both offer opportunities to visit coastal villages, coconut and rubber plantations, geothermal volcanic sites, historic WWII sites and finally some of the premier snorkeling sites to be found anywhere in the world.

KEGSUGL/MT. WILHELM

There are excellent natural and cultural activities available from Kegsugl for the adventurous. Explore the rainforest, grasslands and villages of this highly fertile Highlands area, and meet the colorful and friendly Simbu people. It is possible to trek up Mt. Wilhelm from here.

TROBRIAND AND D'ENTRECASTEAUX ISLANDS

These culturally distinct islands have a very Polynesian feel, with cultural elements found nowhere else on Earth. Studied by anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in the late 1930s, his books on the islands remain classics of cultural anthropology.

Known for their intricate wood carvings, exuberant sing-sings, yam worshipping cults, matrilineal passing of wealth and their unfettered sexual practices, these islands remain some of the most undisturbed and exotic of the islands of the Pacific. The area is accessible only via private cruise charter aboard the luxurious Kalibobo Spirit; generally cost prohibitive for individuals or couples  but perfect for extended friends and family groups.

ALOTAU

Spend a lovely day on your Papua New Guinea tour cruising and snorkeling in renowned Milne Bay. The city also hosts the annual Alotau War Canoe and Kundu Festival each November. This is a small and friendly cultural show, allowing attendees to interact with the performers.

The Canoe & Kundu Festival is a celebration of the culture and tradition of war that was traditionally conducted via canoe between tribes that inhabited this coastal area.

LAE

Annually in October, Lae comes alive with the Morobe Cultural Show and Sing-Sing. While less famous and less visited than sing-sings in Mt. Hagen and Goroka, The Morobe Show is one of the largest and oldest festivals in Papua New Guinea.

Annually in October, Lae comes alive with the Morobe Cultural Show and Sing-Sing. While less famous and less visited than sing-sings in Mt. Hagen and Goroka, The Morobe Show is one of the largest and oldest festivals in Papua New Guinea. Originally a purely agricultural show, it is now the largest Papua New Guinea festival, maintaining its agricultural focus, but with a large cultural component.

The agricultural component of the show allows visitors to learn about the modern Papua New Guinea economy and to learn about how various agricultural products are grown and processed. The Morobe Show has perhaps the greatest variety of sing-sing groups of any of Papua New Guinea's cultural festivals with in excess of 80 sing-sing groups, representing 13 of Papua New Guinea's 19 provinces. The tribes-wildly flamboyant in their traditional, colorful costumes-assemble for a spirited competition of dancing, singing, and other tribal arts and customs. Competitions are held in many categories, and sought-after cash prizes, ribbons and prestige go to the winners in the baby beef, yam and orchid classifications, among many others. There is also the Miss Morobe beauty pageant, where aspiring women from throughout Papua New Guinea compete in traditional dress-the understanding of the traditional value of their costume is one of the key elements on which they are judged. There are also archery competitions, rodeo style events and handicraft stalls.

Questions? Ready to start planning your trip?

CONTACT A Papua New Guinea TRAVEL EXPERT

DON’T FORGET TO PIN IT!

We want to make it easy for you to keep track of the regions you want to visit! When you find a region from one of our many Asia destinations, simply hit the pin button on bottom right corner and we’ll save it to your Must See page!

GOT IT!
popup-online-catalog
Start your adventure