Located just south of the equator, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a land of striking natural beauty. One of earth’s mega-diverse regions, the country is home unique fauna and flora, more than 600 islands, and the largest area of intact rainforest outside of the Amazon.
Part of a great mountainous arc, which stretch from Asia through Indonesia and into the South Pacific, PNG is rich in tradition and complex in culture – boasting over 800 indigenous languages. While the country isn’t renowned as a tourist hotspot, thousands flock to PNG every year to experience tribal Highland culture, stunning coral reefs, and historic wartime sites – including the country's foremost attraction, the Kokoda Track.
PNG’s capital, Port Moresby is the South Pacific’s largest city. The sprawling administrative centre consumes the shores of the Gulf of Papua – reaching from Fairfax Harbour into the hills.
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Papua New Guinea boosts exciting and rich food experiences. Countless international cooking styles are represented at hundreds of Port Moresby eateries, while traditional dishes can be enjoyed at a number of inner city markets and in outlying villages.
Cuisine from all over the world – including Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern – can be found in downtown Port Moresby. Fast food chains, in particular fried chicken takeaways, and Kai bars (fast-food stands) have risen in popularity, due to convenience and their family-oriented style. Most resorts feature a good blend of international fare and traditional Papua New Guinean specialities.
Villagers produce most of their own food, while many townspeople plant gardens and rely on open-air markets for produce and meats. Food is caught or harvested daily and cooked using traditional recipes and techniques over open fires or in ceremonial earth ovens. Rice tends to be incorporated into almost every meal, and is the staple of thousands of local recipes. Seafood – in particular tuna, wahoo, giant trevally, giant clam, crayfish, mud crab, octopus and squid – also features prominently in local meals, as well as vegetables (specifically root vegetables).
Papua New Guinea is famous for its coconuts. Coconut flesh and cream is often used in recipes, while fresh coconut juice is served and drunk from the nut.
Port Moresby has a variety of shopping opportunities. Downtown and hotel stores sell souvenirs and duty-free items, while markets showcase a wide range of local handicrafts.
Travel books and guides along with souvenirs can be found predominately in hotel shops and at the airport. .
Port Moresby is a Mecca of Papua New Guinean tribal and folk art. Many shops sell tribal and folk art, however the biggest collection can be found at PNG Art – a renowned emporium that attracts buyers from galleries around the world. PNG Art also displays a number of Papua New Guinean handicrafts, many of which are handmade and produced in local villages.
Handicrafts – in the form of bilums (woven string bags) horims (penis sheaths, still commonly worn in rural villages) story boards (intricately carved depictions of village life), elaborate multi-coloured headdresses, fierce masks, shields, spears, fertility symbols, baskets, shell jewellery and pig-tooth necklaces – make for great souvenirs.
The best places to pick up handicrafts are markets and outlets. Tabari Place Handicraft Market has a good selection of breast plates, jewellery, bilums and hats. While Ela Beach Craft International School hosts a market on the last Saturday of every month, where unique goods – including carvings, weavings, baskets and paintings along with shells and other local crafts – are sold.