Safety and Health

FAQs and useful tips

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Papua New Guinea has a reputation for being a volatile place to travel with a cumbersome law and justice system. Follow these tips to fully enjoy your experience in this land of a million different journeys.

 

DO I NEED TO PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE TO TRAVEL TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA?

Purchasing travel insurance that covers you for theft, loss, accidents and medical problems before you leave home is highly recommended. If you plan on doing any adventure activities such as scuba diving, bushwalking or travelling in remote areas, check that you are fully covered under your policy. Remember to bring your insurance policy details and emergency contact numbers with you.

DO I NEED ANY VACCINATIONS OR MEDICATIONS TO TRAVEL TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA?

Certification or vaccination against yellow fever or cholera is required for travellers over one year of age, coming from or through infected areas. Malaria is a serious health risk in Papua New Guinea. Visitors are strongly advised to consult their local doctor or tropical disease clinic to commence anti-malarial preparations before arrival in PNG. Use insect repellents during your stay, especially around dusk. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported Vaccine-Derived Polio Virus (Type 1) cases in parts of PNG. Ensure you’re vaccinated against polio. Water quality is within WHO standards in most towns; however, bottled water is available and in rural areas we advise you to boil water at all times.

Regulations and medical advice can change at short notice, so check with your doctor before you leave home. Dental, doctor and hospital services are available in all major centres. Another health risk is the HIV virus, which remains a global concern.

DO I NEED TO DECLARE ANY MEDICATIONS WHEN ARRIVING IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA?

Medicine brought into Papua New Guinea for personal use is subject to controls and must be declared on your arrival. We recommend you bring a prescription or letter from your doctor outlining your medical condition and the medicine you are carrying. If you need to obtain prescription medicine while you are here, a doctor in Papua New Guinea must write the prescription.

DOES PAPUA NEW GUINEA ENFORCE SMOKING BANS?

In Papua New Guinea, smoking is banned in enclosed public spaces to protect people from second hand tobacco smoke. This includes shopping centres, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and other public locations. Dedicated smoking areas can be found outside establishments for smokers. Tobacco products cannot be sold or supplied to children (under 18).

HOW CAN I CONTACT EMERGENCY SERVICES IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA?

Medivac Pacific Services provides emergency medical services:
Port Moresby Ph: +675 323 5626.
For 24-hour emergency Ph: +675 7683 5227 or +675 7683 1818.
Port Moresby only: Police 112, fire 110/002, St John Ambulance 111.

WHAT NATURAL DISASTERS SHOULD I BE AWARE OF IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA?

Situated as we are on the Ring of Fire, Papua New Guinea has active volcanos and is unpredictably prone to earthquakes and king tides or tsunamis. Before setting out on your trip, always gauge the disaster risk ratings by checking local radio, newspaper, and social media reports.

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF AGAINST THE SUN?

The sun in Papua New Guinea is very strong and can burn your skin in as little as 15 minutes, even on cloudy days. Protect yourself from excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays by wearing clothes that cover as much of your skin as possible; applying a high-level water resistant sunscreen (SPF30+ or higher) regularly throughout the day; and wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Take extra care between 11am and 3pm when UV radiation levels are generally highest. Protect yourself from heat exhaustion by sitting and resting in the shade and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

IS IT SAFE TO SWIM AT PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S BEACHES?

Most land, beaches, lagoons, bays and islands in Papua New Guinea, are owned by a village, family or individual. You should ask permission for access and a small entry fee may be payable. Be mindful that Papua New Guineans are a modest people and not used to seeing women swimming in bikinis. When swimming at our beaches be aware of currents and never swim alone, at night, under the influence of alcohol or directly after a meal. Always check water depth before diving in and never run and dive into the water from the beach.

HOW CAN I AVOID SHARKS AND CROCODILES?

Shark attacks in Papua New Guinea are rare. Avoid swimming alone, a long way offshore, at river mouths or along drop-offs to deeper water.

Crocodiles live in rivers and coastal estuaries in Papua New Guinea, often changing habitat via sea. When travelling near crocodile habitats, don’t swim in rivers, estuaries, deep pools or mangrove shores. Also seek expert local advice about crocodiles before camping, fishing, diving or boating.

DOES PAPUA NEW GUINEA HAVE ANY POISONOUS ANIMALS?

When bushwalking or hiking, you can avoid snake and spider bites by wearing protective footwear. If bitten, seek immediate medical attention. Snakebites are still a main contributor to mortality in Papua New Guinea due to delayed access or short supply of anti venom.

IS THERE MUCH CRIME IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA?

The PNG Tourism industry has taken a highly coordinated approach to safety and security, working with various law enforcement agencies to ensure your safety and security at all times. You’ll find most places are safe, secure and full of happy Papua New Guineans. But it does pay for all our visitors to be prepared and take precautions. We advise you to use common sense at all times. Try to avoid secluded areas, always stay with your possessions and don't walk alone at night.

SHOULD I TRAVEL WITH A GUIDE?

We advise exploring with a local guide when exploring for multiple reasons. They speak the tok ples (local language) and will know the places you can safely visit.

IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL IN REMOTE AREAS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA?

Exercise a high degree of caution when driving through Papua New Guinea’s remote and rugged areas, and undertake thorough preparation. Before embarking on a 4WD or offroad journey, ensure you have a roadworthy vehicle fitted with GPS and two spare tyres. You’ll also need maps, extra food, water, fuel and an emergency plan. Plan your route carefully and notify a third party of your expected arrival. If driving a conventional vehicle through remote areas, drive slowly on unsealed, dusty or narrow roads and always check road conditions before leaving major roads. Mobile phones have limited coverage in remote areas, so check your phone provider for coverage. Avoid driving in extreme heat conditions.

IS IT SAFE TO TREK OR HIKE IN THE WILDERNESS?

When planning a trek or bushwalk, consider the length and difficulty of the walk and check weather forecasts before setting off. If walking without a guide (not recommended), tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return. Wear protective footwear, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent and pack wet weather clothing and equipment, a topographic map and plenty of water. When walking, stay on the track and away from cliff edges. Avoid walking alone; it is best to arrange a party of three or more, especially in remote areas.

DOES PAPUA NEW GUINEA HAVE ANY SERVICES IF TRAVELLING WITH A DISABILITY?

Travelling with a disability will be a challenge but it shouldn’t stop you enjoying what Papua New Guinea has to offer. If you have a medical condition or require assistance, we recommend you speak to your doctor and travel agent about your specific requirements before travelling to determine if Papua New Guinea is the right destination for you.