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Is Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea Safe?

Port Moresby has a high crime rate, including violent crimes like armed robbery and carjackings. Avoid walking alone, especially at night. Tribal conflicts can escalate into civil unrest. Medical facilities are limited, so ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance. Natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis pose risks. Hire a trusted local guide and take precautions to mitigate safety concerns.

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Safety & Security

Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, presents some safety concerns for travelers. While the city has its charms, it's important to be aware of the potential risks.

  • Crime: Port Moresby has a high crime rate, including incidents of violent crime, armed robbery, and carjackings. Travelers should exercise caution, avoid isolated areas, and refrain from displaying valuables.

  • Civil Unrest: Political tensions and civil unrest can occur, sometimes leading to protests and demonstrations. It's advisable to monitor local news and avoid large gatherings or protests.

  • Scams: Tourists may encounter various scams, such as overcharging for goods or services, or being offered unsolicited tours or transportation. Exercise caution and rely on reputable sources for information.

  • Disputes: Disputes between locals and foreigners can sometimes escalate quickly. It's best to avoid confrontations and seek assistance from local authorities or your embassy if necessary.

  • Terrorism: While the risk of terrorism is generally low, it cannot be ruled out entirely. Remain vigilant, especially in crowded areas or during significant events.

Travelers are advised to exercise heightened caution, follow the advice of local authorities, and consider the risks carefully before visiting certain areas of Port Moresby.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. Insect-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever are prevalent, so using insect repellent and taking antimalarial medication is highly recommended. Waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid are also a concern, so it's crucial to drink only bottled or purified water and avoid raw or undercooked food.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, and consider additional vaccines like hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid, depending on your travel plans.
  • Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in Port Moresby are limited, and emergency services may not meet Western standards. Travelers should have comprehensive travel insurance and consider medical evacuation coverage.
  • Air Pollution: Air pollution levels in Port Moresby can be high, posing a risk for respiratory issues, especially for those with pre-existing conditions.
  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Malaria, dengue fever, and other insect-borne diseases are prevalent. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and consider antimalarial medication.
  • HIV/AIDS: Papua New Guinea has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Avoid risky behaviors and take necessary precautions.

Natural Disasters

Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, is situated in a region prone to natural disasters, which travelers should be aware of. The city lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire, making it susceptible to earthquakes and volcanic activity. While major seismic events are infrequent, tremors can occur without warning.

  • Earthquakes are a potential risk, with the region experiencing moderate quakes occasionally. Travelers should familiarize themselves with safety procedures in case of an earthquake.

  • Volcanic Eruptions are also a possibility, as Papua New Guinea has several active volcanoes. While none are in the immediate vicinity of Port Moresby, ash clouds from distant eruptions can disrupt air travel.

  • Tropical Cyclones pose a threat during the wet season, typically from November to April. These storms can bring destructive winds, heavy rainfall, and flooding.

  • Flooding is a common occurrence during the rainy season, particularly in low-lying areas of the city. Travelers should exercise caution and heed local warnings.

Visitors are advised to stay updated on weather conditions, follow instructions from local authorities, and have contingency plans in case of natural disasters.


Transportation in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, can be challenging for travelers. While public transportation options like buses and taxis are available, their safety and reliability are often questionable.

  • Road Safety is a significant concern due to poorly maintained roads, reckless driving, and a lack of traffic enforcement. Exercise caution when traveling by road, especially at night.

  • Public Buses are an affordable option, but they can be overcrowded, unreliable, and potentially unsafe, especially in certain areas of the city.

  • Taxis are widely available, but it's advisable to use reputable companies or have your accommodation arrange one for you. Avoid hailing taxis on the street, as they may not be licensed or insured.

  • Rental Cars can provide more flexibility and control, but driving in Port Moresby requires extreme caution due to the poor road conditions and aggressive driving habits of some locals.

  • Walking is generally not recommended, especially at night or in isolated areas, due to the risk of crime and harassment.

It's crucial to research transportation options thoroughly, seek local advice, and prioritize safety when navigating Port Moresby.

Cultural Norms

Respecting the culture in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea is essential for travelers. This vibrant city is home to diverse indigenous groups, each with unique customs and traditions. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Dress Modestly: While in public areas, it's advisable to dress conservatively, covering shoulders and knees. This shows respect for local cultural norms.

  • Greetings: Handshakes are common, but avoid prolonged eye contact, especially with elders or members of the opposite sex. Greet elders first and use appropriate titles.

  • Photography: Always ask for permission before taking photographs of locals, especially in villages or during cultural events.

  • Respect Traditions: Many Papua New Guineans follow traditional beliefs and customs. Observe and respect local practices, especially during ceremonies or rituals.

  • Language Barriers: English is widely spoken, but learning a few phrases in Tok Pisin or Hiri Motu can go a long way in building rapport with locals.

  • Gifts and Haggling: Bringing small gifts when visiting villages is appreciated. However, haggling over prices is generally discouraged.

By embracing and respecting the rich cultural tapestry of Port Moresby, travelers can have a more enriching and meaningful experience while fostering positive cross-cultural connections.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, are limited and may not meet the standards expected in many Western countries. The availability and reliability of emergency services can vary significantly depending on the location within the city.

  • Medical Facilities: There are a few private hospitals and clinics that provide medical care, but their resources and capabilities are often limited. Public hospitals are generally understaffed and may lack adequate supplies and equipment.

  • Ambulance Services: Ambulance services are available, but response times can be slow, especially in remote areas or during periods of heavy traffic. Private ambulance services may offer better response times but can be expensive.

  • Fire and Rescue Services: The fire department in Port Moresby has limited resources and may face challenges in responding to emergencies, particularly in areas with poor infrastructure or difficult terrain.

  • Police and Security: The police force in Port Moresby is understaffed and underfunded, which can affect their ability to respond promptly to emergencies or provide adequate security. Travelers should exercise caution and avoid high-risk areas, especially at night.

It is advisable for travelers to have comprehensive travel insurance and to research the nearest reputable medical facilities before their trip. Additionally, travelers should familiarize themselves with the contact information for their embassy or consulate in case they require assistance during an emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Port Moresby safe for tourists?

Port Moresby has a high crime rate, including violent crimes against tourists. Travelers should exercise extreme caution, avoid isolated areas, and only use trusted transportation. It's advisable to travel with a guide and stay in secure accommodations.

Is Port Moresby safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers face increased risks in Port Moresby due to the high crime rate and cultural attitudes. They should avoid walking alone, especially at night, and take extra precautions. Harassment and assault are potential concerns.

Is Port Moresby safe for families?

Port Moresby is generally not recommended for families with children due to the high crime rate and lack of family-friendly amenities. Parents should exercise extreme caution and closely supervise children at all times if visiting.

Is Port Moresby LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are legal in Papua New Guinea, but the LGBTQ+ community faces discrimination and stigma. Public displays of affection should be avoided, and travelers should exercise caution and discretion.

Do you need a visa to go to Port Moresby?

Most visitors require a visa to enter Papua New Guinea, including tourists from the United States, Canada, and the European Union. A valid passport is mandatory, and visa requirements should be checked well in advance.

Can you drink tap water in Port Moresby?

It is not safe to drink tap water in Port Moresby. Travelers should only consume bottled or purified water to avoid potential health risks from contamination.

What is the currency in Port Moresby?

The official currency in Port Moresby is the Papua New Guinean Kina (PGK). While credit cards are accepted in some establishments, cash is widely preferred, and travelers should carry sufficient local currency.

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