Lae is Papua New Guinea's second city, after the capital Port Moresby and its main economic hub as most of the production from the country's Highlands area is exported through the city, transported along the Highlands Highway. With no road connections between Port Moresby and much of the rest of the mainland, Lae's port is also the main way by which food from the Highlands (potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbages, etc) reaches the capital. Coastal shipping from Lae also offers a cheaper transport option for those who cannot afford to fly to Port Moresby. Known as the "gateway to the Highlands", this does Lae a disservice as it has much to offer in its own right.
In the 1920s, Lae was the busiest airport in the world - it was there that aviators in the gold mining industry first proved that it was commercially feasible to ship cargo (and not just people) by air. Lae was the last known stop of aviator Amelia Earhart on her attempted around-the-world air journey in 1937. She did not reach Howland Island, her next planned refueling stop.
During World War II, Lae was a major base for Japanese troops.
It is possible to get a berth on a coastal freighter from Port Moresby.
Star Shipping (ex Rabaul Shipping) departs Lae to Rabaul on Mondays. It takes 4 days with a few stopovers. Price 300/220/190 kina (regular/student/child). They also go to Wasu (150/110/95), Waligai (120/90/70) and Finschhafen (Buki) (50/40/30).
Lutheran Shipping also have departures from Lae.
It might be possible to travel in banana boats all the way to West New Britain and Popondetta (300+ kina, one day).
Lae Botanic Gardens. Right in the heart of Lae city the gardens give a good appreciation of some of PNG's vegetation and attract a wide range of birds.
Lae War Cemetery. Contains 2,818 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 444 of them unidentified.
Morobe Show. This is held on the "weekend closest to the full moon in October". It is both an agricultural and industrial show as well as a cultural event that attracts many tourists, with emphasis on the culture of Morobe province. 
The Rainforest Habitat. This is a self-funding display on 10 hectares at the Lae University of Technology and has a large collection of animals and birds, including 5 of the 30 species of Bird of Paradise found in Papua New Guinea. The Habitat has many birds on display in a 3,000 square metre rainforest enclosure. There's also a large saltwater crocodile that is usually fed in Monday and Friday at 1 pm but call in advance to confirm. For a full list of species on display, consult .
Game fishing, Lae Yacht Club, P.O. Box 1002, Lae., (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Marlin, Wahoo, Sailfish, Yellowfin and Spanish Mackerel are commonly caught. The Yacht Club can arrange boat charters.edit
Umboi Island. Once a week, a small ship leaves Lae for Umboi (stopping for cargo at Finschhafen). Many Papua New Guineans use the two small ships that make this tripe; few foreign tourists use the ships as they are spartan and used partially for cargo. Nevertheless, this is the only regular way to get to Umboi Island, the claimed home of the legendary "ropen", said to be a pterodactyl.
Salamaua. Two hours south of Lae by boat, this was a popular weekend destination for the colonials in the pre-WWII era. They used to fly in to its small strip in their private planes. The area has some stunning beaches and good dives and quite a few Lae residents have weekend cottages there. Salamaua is just waiting for someone to build a hotel but for the time being you will either have to take a day trip or arrange for someone in the village to provide you with a bed.
Bulolo and Wau. A few hours drive to these pre-War Gold Rush towns, now major centers for the timber industry and starting point for several important treks.