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Papua New Guinea

If you’re travelling to Papua New Guinea, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

We advise against all travel to the mountainous area in central Bougainville around the old Panguna mine.

Latest Alert

Zika

There is currently an outbreak of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in locations including Thailand. Infection with Zika virus has been increasingly linked with a serious birth condition called microcephaly where the baby is born with an abnormally small head and/or brain damage.

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and plan to travel to areas affected by the Zika Virus, you are advised to discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider and to consider postponing your travel to affected areas. Irish Citizens are advised to follow the guidance of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre

Emergency Assistance

Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in Papua New Guinea, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Canberra.

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Papua New Guinea before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you’re in Papua New Guinea, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Other EU embassies

You can contact the Embassies and Consulates of other EU countries represented in Papua New Guinea for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates   
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and security

Demonstrations

Avoid protests and other large public gatherings in Port Moresby and other major towns as they can turn violent. Always keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media for information about potential conflicts or the security or political situation of specific areas and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.

Highland Provinces

Inter-tribal disturbances can happen without warning in the Highland Provinces, in particular the Southern Highlands and Enga Provinces. Be extremely careful, as law enforcement in these areas is weak.

Bougainville Province

Bougainville Province (including Bougainville Island) has recently emerged from a period of separatist conflict. You must give notice of your intention to visit the island to the Bougainville Provincial Administration (Tel: +675 973 9798), and you must contact the Administration again when you arrive. Don’t enter the mountainous area in central Bougainville around the old Panguna mine as it is a ‘No Go Zone’. Foreigners who have entered the Zone without authorisation from the Papua New Guinean government have been questioned by the authorities and had their passports confiscated on departure from the Zone.

Landmines

There is still unexploded ordnance in Papua New Guinea, particularly along the Kokoda Trail and at Milne Bay and Rabual. Always check with your local contact or tour operator before travelling to these regions and don’t stray off main routes.

Crime

Crime is common in Papua New Guinea, especially personal crime. It tends to be opportunistic and can happen anywhere and at any time. However, it’s especially prevalent in areas such as Lae, Mt Hagen and other parts of the Highland provinces and the capital city Port Moresby is particularly dangerous. We advise you to be extremely careful and take sensible precautions: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
  • Avoid walking after dark in Port Moresby and other urban areas. If you have to travel at night, do so by car
  • Violence and use of 'bush knives' (machetes) and guns often accompany assault and robberies. Car-jacking, assaults, bag-snatching and other robberies, including in shops and restaurants, are common

HIV and AIDS

HIV and AIDs are increasingly common in Papua New Guinea, so we strongly encourage victims of violence, particularly victims of sexual assault, to seek immediate medical assistance.

Lost or stolen passports

Always keep your travel documents secure at all times. If your passport is lost or stolen, getting a replacement can take some time, given the distance between Papua New Guinea and the nearest Irish Embassy in Canberra. Getting a replacement passport will be easier if you can provide a copy of the lost or stolen one, so keep photocopies of your passport. You’ll also need a birth certificate for all applications to replace a lost or stolen passport so we recommend you bring a Garda-certified copy of your birth certificate as well.

Reporting a crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Papua New Guinea, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Canberra, in Australia if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Papua New Guinea, you should be extremely careful. Roads are generally poor, particularly outside towns and cities and standards of driving are erratic. If you want to drive, bring your full Irish driver’s licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance

Car jacking

Car jacking is a risk of travelling in Papua New Guinea. Always keep your car doors locked and windows closed, particularly if you’re travelling at night or through urban areas.

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Public buses (PMVs)

We recommend that you avoid using public buses known locally as PMVs. There have been incidents of armed hold-ups of PMVs and of passengers being attacked and robbed of their personal belongings. Many PMVs are considered to be un-roadworthy.

Taxis

Taxis are available in some major centres, but they can be badly maintained, and you should check about their reliability with your hotel or guesthouse. If you use a taxi, make sure that you agree a fare before getting into the vehicle, even if there’s a meter.

Kokoda Track

If you intend to walk a trail or track in Papua New Guinea, particularly on the Kokoda Track, we strongly advise you to travel with guides from a reputable tour company and pay the relevant fees before you set out. You can get details through the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority or the Kokoda Track Authority. Although community leaders have assured tourists of their safety and well-being while walking the Kokoda Track, there have been serious attacks and robberies at both ends of the Track and you should be cautious.

Flying

Flying in Papua New Guinea carries an increased level of risk due to the poor condition of airfields, remote locations, difficult terrain, extreme weather and poor maintenance of aircraft.

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Citizenship

The government of Papua New Guinea does not recognise dual-national citizenship once a person is over 18 years of age. If you’re travelling there as a Papua New Guinea citizen, your Irish citizenship won’t be recognised. This means we may be hindered in giving you consular assistance should you need it.

Local customs

Standards of dress and behaviour in Papua New Guinea are quite conservative so even though the climate is hot, dress conservatively when in public. Adultery is also an offence and those convicted may be liable for compensation payments. Public displays of affection may cause offence so we advise discretion and caution at all times.

LGBT

Homosexual acts are unlawful - and punishment if convicted can include imprisonment.

Forbidden products

The sale and possession of pornographic material is a criminal offence in Papua New Guinea.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. 

Photography

Always get permission before taking photographs of people or important cultural or spiritual sites.

Natural disasters and climate

Earthquakes

Papua New Guinea is in an active seismic zone and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions happen regularly, particularly around Rabaul, Bougainville, West New Britain and the Manam Islands. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Tsunami

Depending on the severity and conditions of the seismic activity in the region, there may be a threat of tsunamis. If you’re travelling to coastal areas, be alert for tsunami warnings that may be issued by the authorities.

Wet season

During the wet season in Papua New Guinea (November to May) weather can damage infrastructure (roads, airstrips), cause flooding and landslides and contribute to the spread of infectious disease. Take care if you’re travelling during this time; talk to your tour guides or follow the local media to see whether your travel may be affected.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

If you are unsure of what the entry requirements for Papua New Guinea are, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Papua New Guinea Embassy or Consulate.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see what vaccinations you need for Papua New Guinea. Be aware that if you have a compromised immune system you may be at greater risk of falling ill or contracting disease while travelling in this country.

Cholera

Cholera is endemic in Papua New Guinea so you need to take precautions; only drink ‘safe’ chlorinated or boiled water and avoid ice-cubes or uncooked food. Maintain high personal hygiene standards such as washing your hands frequently.

Mosquito-borne diseases

Mosquito-borne diseases are present in Papua New Guinea and you should get up-to-date medical advice about immunisations and prophylaxis before travelling. When you arrive, avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.

Other diseases

Food and water-borne diseases are also common, as is tuberculosis. Swimming in Papua New Guinea may expose you to water-borne parasites, particularly if you’re swimming in rivers. Stings from marine animals are also a risk and can be fatal.