The following female packing list for Papua New Guinea was submitted by Stephanie Brune. See all packing list posts here.
I was given the opportunity to join a small group to go to Papua New Guinea for three weeks. As an avid traveler, I jumped at the chance. During this trip I experienced some of the many different climates PNG has to offer including the Sepik river.
When planning a trip to PNG I would recommend trying to go around the same time as one of the cultural festivals. The two most popular ones are the Mt. Hagen Cultural Show (mid/late August) and the Goroka Cultural Show (mid-September). We timed our trip to include the Mt. Hagen Cultural Show which was a great way to end the trip.
Most of my packing revolved around the 6-day/5-night trip on the Sepik. The Sepik is a river that runs horizontally across the upper half of PNG. The Sepik is about 700 miles long and is home to over 400 different tribes. It is known for its unparalleled artwork and history of cannibalism. I highly recommend including a trip down the river as part of your PNG trip.
Most trips are only 2 or 3 nights which is much more doable; ours was an exception. During this part of the trip the dress is more conservative as it is home to a more primitive culture. Out of respect for the villages, there is no showing of the inner thigh for females and refrain from any skimpy tops (even if it’s incredibly humid and hot).
>>Read more about packing for conservative countries.
- Backpack – Something that you can use a daypack later in the trip. I used this for my Sepik portion of the trip.
- International carry-on roller – Make sure that it meets international standards in order to take it as a carry-on.
>>Check out the best 22 inch suitcases here.
- Packable extra bags – Bring things like this backpack or duffle bags that fold into themselves. I found a cheap one at IKEA a while ago.
- 3-4 dresses – below the knees and lightweight
- 2-3 tank tops – shoulders are fine to show, just stay away from spaghetti strap
- 1 over-shirt – to keep off sun and bugs
- 1 lightweight travel/hiking pants – mine is from Columbia
- 1 pair of shorts Bermuda length – need to cover inner thigh on Sepik
- 5-7 pairs of underwear – bring as many as days on the Sepik
- 1 swimsuit (one piece) – no bikinis out of respect for the locals
- lightweight skirt or shorts that cover thighs to go into the water with to bathe
- 1 sarong – I brought two, one was more of a shall
- 2 sports bras & 1 regular – wore the sports bras during Sepik and traveling and the regular at hotels
- 1 pair of flip flops – I recommend cheap rubber or plastics ones that can get muddy and wet
- 1 pair of sandals – I brought Chacos
- 1 pair of walking/running shoes – I brought mine but never wore them. If you prefer closed-toed shoes bring them if not, then don’t bother
- Socks – see above
Highlands: The highlands are much cooler by comparison to the rest of the country. Highs are around 70F/23C.
- Raincoat – along with cooler atmosphere, the highlands have periodical rain showers
- Hoodie/Sweater – I wore a thin hoodie almost every day in the Highlands. It was perfect for the cooler mornings and evenings
- 1 pair of leggings – for traveling and wearing in the evenings
- Money neck pouch – while many prefer the money belt or zip thigh pockets, I recommend having your valuables around your neck as the safest.
- Medication – Check with your healthcare provider and talk to a travel nurse for all necessary vaccinations and medication needed for the trip. Also bring along any personal medications you might need during the trip as it is hard to come by any in PNG.
- Gifts – If you are planning on visiting any villages during your trip, it is not required but highly encouraged to bring gifts to give to the different villages. Some things that are suggested are reading glasses, clothes, pain medication and solar lights. If you are going to spend time on the Sepik, sandpaper and chisels for the wood carvers.
- Water bottle – The tap water is not suitable to drink anywhere in PNG unless a specific hotel as told you otherwise. I highly recommend bring a reusable water bottle for the trip as you may be able to refill more often the buying water bottles there. You are also allowed to bring water on any domestic flight in PNG. (This is also true in Australia.)
- Sunscreen – No matter what time of year you visit, the sun is always intense since the country is close to the equator. I brought solid sunscreen since it saved space for my liquid bag since I traveled most of the time with carry-ons.
- Bug Spray – If you are traveling in the Sepik I highly, highly recommend bringing 100% Deet. This is the only thing we found that worked. If you are traveling just to Port Moresby and/or the Highlands in winter, then 100% is not necessary for the trip.
- Sunglasses – Ones you don’t care too much about.
- Hat – Something that covers your face as well as back of the neck is preferred.
- Lip balm – Look for one with SPF.
- Adapter – If you have anything you want to charge on the trip, bring an adapter.
- Headlamp – Definitely helpful for the Sepik but found other uses throughout the trip because of occasional power outages.
- Camera(s) – I brought my GoPro Hero 4+ and Nikon Coolpix 840 (favorite light travel camera). Bring extra batteries!
>>Check out our guide to photography gear for travel.
- Portable Power Bank – I ordered one specifically for this trip for the Sepik portion and ended up not using since I left my phone at the bottom of my bag the entire time. But if your camera has rechargeable batteries this is very useful.
- Visa – PNG has different requirements for different countries. Remember to go on their website to figure out what you need to get or bring prior to the trip.
- International credit/debit cards – We found VISA to be the most acceptable. Also look for cards that let you withdraw cash with little to no fees as your best bet is cash. (Pro-tip: You get a better exchange rate if you withdraw from bank ATMs.)
- Journal – You’ll definitely want to record your travels and encounters during the trip.
Safe travels everyone!
Book a Viator Tour for Your Trip to Papua New Guinea
Get a better understanding and appreciation of what life is like for the majority of the people of Papua New Guinea.
Alongside a private guide, drive along the East Cape to visit local villages, the skull cave, the Milne Bay War Memorial, and more.
About the author: Stephanie is a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz who tries to travel with any spare time she has throughout the school year. She has traveled to 5 continents and hopes to make it to all 7 someday. You can check out her blog Stephanie Brune or follow her @stephaniebrune.
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