5 reasons to travel to Papua New Guinea
by Lola Méndez
We can’t help but daydream about the bucket list destinations such as the Melanesia Island nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Few North Americans have seen this majestic place themselves. 2018 saw 94,627 tourists with only 9% from North America. If you’re looking for a million different journeys, PNG is the place to go once it’s safe to travel overseas again. Here are five reasons to travel to Papua New Guinea.
1. Unparalleled cultural diversity
PNG is home to 1,000 distinct tribal groups making it one of the most culturally diverse countries on Earth. Tribal culture remains intact and each community is unique. Visitors have the chance to learn about the rich cultural heritage through community-based tourism. Don’t miss the chance to attend a sing-sing. These colorful cultural shows bring groups together to showcase traditional songs, dance, and dress and are held frequently throughout the year.
2. Breathtakingly beautiful nature
Adventure travelers will love to explore PNG’s lush landscapes and underwater world. The dense forest covers mountains down to the coastline’s volcanic fjords in the Oro Peninsula. There are endless opportunities to witness rare wildlife including the world’s largest butterfly, Queen Alexandra. The island’s incredible biodiversity includes many spectacular birds. Thirty-eight of the known 43 species of bird of paradise can be seen in the country with their spectacular plumage. Travelers who don’t have room in their itinerary to trek into the jungle can visit Port Moresby Nature Park to get a glimpse of rescued wildlife such as birds of paradise, hornbills, and tree kangaroos.
Snorkelers and divers will find some of the world’s healthiest coral as they visit many sunken WWII ships while hammerhead sharks and manta rays swim by. Vibrant neon reef walls of hard and soft corals are homes to thousands of fish from tiny technicolored nudibranchs to beloved clownfish.
3. Impactful tourism
The country is experiencing under tourism and is unspoiled and uncrowded. PNG receives very few tourists a year and is mostly untouched by modern ways of living even though there have been foreign expeditions for nearly a century. It’s one of the world’s last frontiers.
PNG offers mindful travelers the opportunity to impact local people directly through tourism spending. Villagers collaborate with resorts such as Rondon Ridge, Tufi Diver Resort, and Karawari Lodge to create immersive cultural tours that allow them to share their way of life with visitors and provide income for their community. The resorts work with the villages to help their economy, as opposed to disrupting it, by creating employment opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have. Travelers spent a total of $205.9 million in 2018, an average of $4,773 for North American travelers.
4. Visa on Arrival
For many nationalities, tourist visas are available on arrival for 30 or 60 days for no fee at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby. Your passport must be valid for six months from the date of departure from PNG back home and have at least one blank page. You must have an exit flight to enter the country. There aren’t any required vaccinations and the country is rabies-free.
5. Widely-spoken English
As a result of Australia colonizing PNG, English is widely spoken. This benefits travelers who are English speakers as it makes it easier to get around and engage in conversation. There are also at least 852 different dialects spoken in the country.