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Rules in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea: Customs and Rules


Traveling to a new country is an exciting adventure, but it’s important to remember that each destination has its own set of rules and cultural norms. Understanding and respecting these customs is not only a mark of courtesy but also ensures a smoother travel experience. In this article, we will explore some key elements of the rules and cultural norms in Papua New Guinea, providing you with valuable insights to help you navigate this beautiful country with ease.

Key Elements

Element 1: Greetings and Etiquette

Papua New Guinea is a culturally diverse country with over 800 languages spoken. When meeting locals, it is customary to offer a warm greeting, such as a handshake or a nod of the head. However, it is important to note that some communities have their own unique customs. For example, in the Highlands region, it is customary to exchange handmade necklaces called “bilas” as a sign of respect. Taking the time to learn and respect these greetings will go a long way in building positive relationships with the locals.

Element 2: Dress Code

While Papua New Guinea is a relatively conservative country, the dress code varies depending on the region and occasion. In urban areas, such as Port Moresby, modest attire is generally expected. Women are advised to avoid wearing revealing clothing, and men are encouraged to wear long pants and collared shirts. In more traditional communities, particularly in rural areas, it is advisable to dress even more conservatively, covering shoulders and knees. By respecting the local dress code, you show appreciation for their culture and avoid any unintended offense.

Element 3: Cultural Sensitivity

Papua New Guinea has a rich cultural heritage, and it is important to be mindful and respectful of the diverse practices and beliefs you may encounter. For instance, many tribes have sacred sites that are off-limits to outsiders. It is essential to seek permission and guidance from local authorities or community leaders before entering these areas. Additionally, avoiding topics related to religion, politics, and social issues can help maintain harmony and prevent any miscommunications.

Element 4: Traditional Customs and Taboos

Papua New Guinea is home to many ancient customs, some of which may seem unusual to outsiders. For example, in some regions, it is customary to spit as a gesture of good luck or to ward off evil spirits. While these practices may initially confuse or surprise visitors, it is important to refrain from judgment and respect these cultural traditions. Being open-minded and willing to learn about these customs will not only enrich your travel experience, but also foster positive interactions with the local communities.

Element 5: Environmental Responsibility

Papua New Guinea is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, and it is crucial to preserve and protect these pristine environments. When exploring the country’s lush rainforests or diving in its vibrant coral reefs, be sure to follow designated trails, reefs, and protected areas. Respect the local flora and fauna by not disturbing or removing any plants or animals. Minimizing waste, practicing responsible diving techniques, and leaving no trace behind will help maintain the ecological balance and ensure future generations can enjoy these natural wonders.

Tips for Traveling

Now that we have covered some key elements of the rules and cultural norms in Papua New Guinea, let’s delve into some practical tips to enhance your travel experience:

  1. Research and Plan Ahead: Before your trip, familiarize yourself with the specific customs and rules of the region you are visiting. This will help you set realistic expectations and avoid any unintentional missteps.

  2. Respect Local Customs: When interacting with locals, show respect by following their cultural practices. Take the time to learn basic phrases in the local language, and always seek permission before taking photos of people or their belongings.

  3. Be Mindful of Photography: While Papua New Guinea is a photographer’s paradise, it is important to be considerate when taking photos, especially of sacred objects or people. Always ask for permission and be sensitive to any requests to refrain from photography.

  4. Stay Informed on Safety: Papua New Guinea has certain areas that may be unsafe due to crime or civil unrest. Stay updated with travel advisories, seek local advice, and consider hiring a reputable guide or joining an organized tour to ensure your safety.

  5. Pack Accordingly: Apart from dressing respectfully, make sure to pack appropriate gear for the activities you plan to undertake. Sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and comfortable walking shoes are essential items to have on hand.

  6. Observe Local Laws: Familiarize yourself with the laws of Papua New Guinea, including those related to drugs, firearms, and wildlife conservation. Always abide by the country’s regulations to avoid any legal issues.


While this article aims to provide valuable insights into the rules and cultural norms of Papua New Guinea, it is important to obtain professional advice and cross-reference information with official sources. Laws and customs can evolve, and it is always best to stay informed and updated to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience.