Earth : Oceania : Papua New Guinea : Central and North (Papua New Guinea) : Port Moresby
Port Moresby is the capital and largest city of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The city is on the shores of the Gulf of Papua. Its population is around 300,000 and growing quickly. The indigenous people of the area are the Motu-Koitabu. Moresby, as it is commonly known, got its name from Captain John Moresby who arrived in 1873 as the first European visitor.
The city is quite spread out. The original colonial settlement was by the sea and this is still the port area, as well as the main business and banking district. On the hills above are upmarket residences. The area is served by the Crowne Plaza hotel. Closer to the airport, separated from the original town by hills, is Waigani, a 1970s development built to house the Government offices of the newly Independent (September 16, 1975) country of Papua New Guinea. Nearby are the housing areas of Boroko and Gordons, which also contain most of the large stores.
Port Moresby is the main point of entry into Papua New Guinea for air-traffic and most of the boat-traffic. The national airline is Air Niugini. This flies to and from Australian cities in codeshare with Qantas, but also to Fiji, Solomon Islands, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. Virgin Australia flies to Brisbane on behalf of the other local airline, Airlines PNG.
Airfares from Australia are quite cheap, especially if you book online and seek one of the special fares. From other countries fares are fairly expensive and it may be cheaper to fly to Cairns and pick up a flight to Port Moresby from there.
The custom inspection at Port Moresby International Airport (Jackson Airport) can be crappy, where the custom officer tends to be finding various excuses to charge you or confiscate your personal items unless you give them some money. Often, they insist you to present invoices upon your arrival on your new personal effects such as electronic items, personal laptop and even your personal clothes to charge you 10% GST or else, your items will be hold. This tactic is getting more and more popular. In fact, according to PNG Custom website, personal effects are duty-free. There are cases where tourist's passport is hold without legal reason by custom officer, just to grab some money from tourist.
Custom inspection can be quite discriminating on Asian, especially.
For a tourist, the attractions in Moresby can be spread out. There is little 'attraction' in the central business district and walking around will not get you very far. It is nice to walk along Ela Beach and around market areas but otherwise you will be reliant on motorised transport. There is the odd push-bike around the place - though finding one for hire may be a challenge.
The locals rely on mini-buses (known as Public Motor Vehicles) that service all parts of the city. Whilst cheap, some drivers do not mind over-loading their vans. All PMVs have their route number and destination printed on - it is easy to ask locals where the buses go, they'll be happy to help and warn you.
Car rental agencies are available close to Jacksons International airport but driving in Port Moresby might not be what most people are used to. In some areas of POM the locals throw stones at the car, usually just for amusement but in some cases they manage to crack your windshield. There are cases of people standing in the middle of a stretch of road they have mended and demanding compensation from people driving by, and as soon as you get outside of the city the roads deteriorate to muddy trails that only a 4x4 with an experienced driver should attempt. If you want to see the sights near Moresby such as Crystal Rapids near Sogeri or the start of the Kokoda, a 4x4 is highly recommended.
There are numerous taxis (some 'teksis' too) around Moresby and calling one from your hotel will bring one promptly. You can try your luck hailing one but if you want to feel safe arrange a friend or your hotel to call one.
Scuba Diving A number of reefs and wrecks are within close proximity to Port Moresby and diving can be arranged through day vessels or on nearby Loloata Island (which has its own dive shop). There are a variety of sites and depths for all experience levels.
There are basically four stores to buy groceries if you are a foreigner in Port Moresby: Andersons Foodland, now called SVS Harbour City, Stop and Shop in Hohola, and Boroko Foodworld in Boroko and Gordons. Andersons is located right next to the Royal Papua Yacht club and usually suffices. Otherwise there is Foodworld which is larger and located over the hill in Boroko. An even larger and newer Boroko Foodworld is further east in Gordons. Just recently Port Moresby has opened its first shopping mall called Vision City in Waigani. There is a large hypermarket called RH selling anything from household furniture to baked beans. Their supply is abundant and the quality is good and prices are competitive. What one should bear in mind though is that everything imported might not always be there. Often if you see something you like you have to buy a lot of it because there is no telling when the next shipment is coming. This doesn't apply to basic foodstuffs but rather to things that might not be in high demand such as herring. RH has basically closed this gap.
The drink of choice in Port Moresby as in the rest of Papua New Guinea is South Pacific lager: "SP beer". However, once that cultural experience is done, you will probably prefer to move on to the more refined 'SP Export' lager, or 'Niugini Ice' beer. To buy alcohol you have to go to one of the characteristic yellow and green coloured shops that are usually integrated into the supermarkets. You don't want to go to the ones that aren't. They have a relatively limited selection of wines, mostly Australian or New Zealand brands. The prices are higher than you would expect because of the taxation of alcohol. The locals tend to get quite rowdy when they drink (as everywhere else) so it's best to avoid anyone that seems to be under the influence. Typically most expats drink at hotel bars or sports club bars, which have a more relaxed atmosphere.
One should be aware that hotels are generally quite expensive in Papua New Guinea.
Port Moresby is well-known for its crime. Car jackings, muggings and worse are common. There is a great deal of concern about the level of crime and civil disorder and about the ability and willingness of the police to cope. Police officers have been found to be complicit in major crime. Police brutality against minor offenders, complainants and witnesses has been the subject of criticism from the international group Human Rights Watch.
It is possible to minimise the chances of becoming a victim of crime by being aware of your surroundings, avoiding places where large groups are gathered and avoiding places where offences are prevalent. The Waigani area, particularly the area around the traffic lights and the Port Moresby Golf Club, has experienced numbers of car jackings.
It is always wise to seek the advice of a person familiar with Port Moresby before venturing into unknown areas.
Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) are still common throughout all of Papua New Guinea. However, you are extremely unlikely to run into one.
Embassies & Consulates
With relatively few attractions, Moresby is usually just a stopping off point for tourists heading to other parts of PNG. For major locations see Papua New Guinea. Possible day trips from Port Moresby include: