The many interesting faces of Port Moresby

Let’s face it; Port Moresby is not the ideal holiday destination for someone looking for a tropical paradise.

The city is located in an area called the National Capital District or NCD, on the southern coast of the country, surrounded by part of Fairfax Harbour.

In contrast to the outer-lying provinces, NCD is usually dry, dusty and brown during the winter months and wet, humid and overgrown during summer.

But don’t give up just yet; every place has its own wonders, right?

 Just a few more nights may give you a different impression; despite its less attractive appearance, Port Moresby in fact opens the door to the land of the unexpected.

Port Moresby is now a cosmopolitan city, embracing 20th century technology and development, while trying to retain the traditional values of its varied population.

If you’re curious of the transition of a developing country, or you have only a few days to spare and want to see it all at the same time, Port Moresby may not be a bad choice after all.

  1. Cultural shows

Culture is very important to Papua New Guineans and is displayed at every available opportunity. With urban drift bringing people from almost every tribal group to the city, as well as attracting a large population of foreigners, Port Moresby has a variety to offer.

Culture – dance, attire, food, practices, whatever it may be, tends to shine when it can – whether at the opening of a new building, welcoming visitors or dignitaries, school cultural shows or just any event.

This side of PNG, which most people come to experience, can never be missed, even in a fast developing city like Port Moresby. You can be sure that at least something is happening every other weekend.

A common pattern developed over the years are provincial days, especially during the months of July, August, September, October and November. Some provinces set aside a day to feature their various cultures. The peak of the year for such is during PNG’s Independence Day – September 16, when the capital city erupts into a colour frenzy of black, red, gold and white mixed with traditional touches.

One can never miss the opportunity to spot a glimpse of PNG all at the same time, when visiting the big city.

  1. Art and craft markets

Papua New Guinea is home to many unique arts and crafts and renowned for its art and craftsmanship. From the traditional bilum, to hand baskets and meri blouses, there are elements of modern fashion and traditional dress that appeals to fashionistas and anthropologists alike. These skills are still passed down through generations and are as alive even in the capital city as in each village.

There are many opportunities for art and craft shopping to take home a souvenir while in Port Moresby.  

Apart from souvenir shops in respective hotels and the airport, here are a list of craft markets you can visit - please note their occurrence dates and do call the contacts provided to confirm:
* Nature's Gifts at the Port Moresby Nature Park: +675 326-0482
* Laguna Craft Market at the
Laguna Hotel: +675 323-9333 (first Saturday of every month)
* Moresby Arts Theatre Craft Market: +675 325-3503 (second Saturday of every month)
* Ela Beach Craft Market: +675 325-2838 (last Saturday of every month)
* Annie's Pottery: +675 7682-8586

* Port Moresby Grammar School Craft Market: +675 323 6577(second Saturday of month)

  1. A stop at Vision City Megamall

This is your answer.

Although not mega when compared to other developed neighbours like Australia, it is the largest shopping mall in the Pacific region and the largest shopping complex in Port Moresby.  

This 3-storey structure houses a number of shops under one roof to meet your needs at one stop.

For more luxurious fashion lovers, Vision City is recognised for the largest collection of fashion brands under one roof anywhere in PNG.

It boasts about every major fashion brand in the world, comprising of high and mid-fashion retail outlets that pay homage to haute couture and some of the finest designer brands in PNG.

Apart from fashion apparels, Vision City offers shoes and footwear, bag and luggage, jewellery and watches, sporting goods, health, beauty and wellness, home, furnishing, appliances.

Also, dining forms an integral part of the overall shopping experience. Fine dining restaurants and world class food courts are laced strategically throughout the mall as well as outdoors promenade.

Vision City Megamall has the largest and most extensive food and beverage offers in a mall across the region.

There are over 15 outlets from fine dining to casual eateries offering a wide range of flavours, ambience and price to suit all guests. The malls promenade is lined with an array of themed cafés and restaurants, each offering an al-fresco dining experience with outdoor view.

The mega-mall also houses the Paradise Cinemas, one of the only two cinemas in Port Moresby and PNG as a whole. As good as cinemas in any small town in Australia, Paradise Cinema’s play the best and the latest films in a very modern, clean and comfortable environment.

Other fun places for kids include T3 Game Zone, Hamamas Ples and Movie World and services include travel and leisure services, banking and financial services, medical services, and more.

  1. The Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery

Switching from the modern PNG to the cultural aspect again, one can explore the depth and diversity of Papua New Guinea in the National Museum and Art Gallery in Port Moresby the National Capital District.  
The Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery is the “spiritual house” for the rich natural, cultural and contemporary heritage of this country.
The museum is owned by the people of Papua New Guinea and to date has well over 30,000 anthropological collections, more than 25,000 archaeological collections, more than 18,000 natural science collections, more than 20,000 war relics and more than 7000 contemporary art collections.
It consists of three premises, including the main museum located at Waigani in Port Moresby, the Modern History Museum (sometimes known as War Museum) at Gordon’s in Port Moresby and the J.K. McCarthy Museum at Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province.

The main Papua New Guinea museum at Waigani consists of five display galleries which are the Masterpiece Gallery, the Independence Gallery, the Sir Allan Mann Gallery (for temporary exhibits), Life and Land (natural history and prehistory) Gallery and the Sir Michael Somare (new acquisitions) Gallery.
In addition, there is a central courtyard with live animals and birds, a theatrette, amphitheatre, amenities area, souvenir shop, four large storage rooms, conservation laboratory, photographic laboratory, carpentry workshop, graphic rooms and editing equipment rooms.
The museum is open to the general public from Monday to Friday (8.30am to 3.30pm) and Sunday (1.00pm to 3.00pm). It is closed to the public on Saturdays, except for organised visits.

The Modern History premises at Ahuia Street, Gordon’s, in the National Capital District, consist of office space, two storage rooms, a display room and a library.
The collection includes aircraft, vehicles and war artefacts from pre-independence and post-independence periods of Papua New Guinea history.

  1. Parliament House:

Papua New Guineans smile about it and visitors want to see it.

This is a must visit.

The Parliament House is the pride icon of Port Moresby and PNG, exemplifying the striking harmony of modern architecture and traditional design.

Built in the style of a Maprik Haus Tambaran (house of spirits), this impressive building was opened in 1984.

Parliament House is an interesting place whether parliament is sitting is on or not.

Extraordinary architecture, the main entrance to the parliament is just amazing, inspired in local tribe designs.

There are open walkways, soaring roofline, art depicting tribal symbols and well-kept grounds. There are also nice tour opportunities for you to learn a bit about the parliament house and its history.

A small shop in the building has books and displays of Papua New Guinea’s fantastic butterflies. Open 9.00am to 12 noon and 1.00pm to 3.00pm. 

For tours please call the Sergeant-at-Arms Division: +675 327-7400

  1. Bomana War Cemetery

You most definitely have heard about the Second World War that raged through parts of Papua New Guinea in 1942.

The Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery is the final and permanent resting place of thousands of young Australian and Papua New Guinean soldiers.

This carefully tended WWII cemetery is a heart-wrenching reminder of the horrific campaigns in the region, thus, has stronger emotional significance to it.

The cemetery contains 3,824 Commonwealth burials of the WWII, 699 of them unidentified. There is also 1 Non war and 1 Dutch Foreign National burials here.

The PORT MORESBY MEMORIAL stands behind the cemetery and commemorates almost 750 men of the Australian Army (including Papua and New Guinea local forces), the Australian Merchant Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force who lost their lives in the operations in Papua and who have no known graves. Men of the Royal Australian Navy who died in the south-west Pacific region, and have no known grave but the sea, are commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial in England, along with many of their comrades of the Royal Navy and of other Commonwealth Naval Forces. Bougainville casualties who have no known graves are commemorated on a memorial at Suva, Fiji.

It lies approximately 19 kilometres north of Port Moresby on the road to Nine Mile, and is approached from the main road by a short side road called Pilgrims Way.

  Contact the Bomana War Cemetery for tours, phone: +675 328-1536

  1. Port Moresby Nature Park

This Park is located just beyond the University of Papua New Guinea on Waigani Drive, convenient for a quick stop of fresh air.

Port Moresby Nature Park is Papua New Guinea's leading botanical and native zoological parks and gardens, showcasing the best of the nation's flora and fauna in a safe and picturesque setting.

Over 150 animals are on display, including multiple species of tree kangaroos, cassowaries, birds of paradise, parrots, pigeons, reptiles, wallabies and more. The Nature Park is perfect for those that won't get the opportunity to explore all of PNG's vast regions.

The Park features Port Moresby city's only rainforest tract with many established gardens and native plant species, including orchids.

Facilities include a well-appointed and popular café and souvenir shop. Picnic areas are available, complete with large grounds, 'haus-wins' and barbecue areas.

  1. Adventure Park/ National Orchid Gardens

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Adventure Park provides a relaxing atmosphere.

This is perfect for a family time out and the children will leave satisfied.

For interested adults and curious children, the park hosts a beautiful array of the country's natural icons - from the Ragianna Bird of Paradise, spectacular tropical orchids, saltwater crocodiles, Victoria Crowned pigeons and so much more.
Perhaps you’ve already been in the jungles of PNG and may have heard the calls from the shy Bird of Paradise but have not yet seen these colourful creatures.

The park is home to the Bird of Paradise Sanctuary, which is in fact the largest collection of Birds of Paradise in PNG. You can walk into one large aviary and be surrounded by these birds flying in all directions. Many other smaller displays house some of PNG’s other birds including many parrots, the world’s largest pigeon, the intriguing Victoria Crown Pigeon as well as other native birds to the country.

Equally colourful is the display of native orchids found at the National Orchid Gardens at the Adventure Park. This is well worth visiting and described as a stunning treasure by one visitor review.  

A collection of over three thousand orchid species, unique to Papua New Guinea, makes it the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. The orchids flower all year round, with peak flowering season for most being between December and March. The gardens are well tended with very welcoming staff, keen to share their gems.

Furthermore, the grounds offer meandering pathways to other attractions like the Wildlife Sanctuary, water slides, picnic sites and man-made ponds filled with fish. Other attractions include swings, huts with BBQ facilities, paddle boats and many more activities.

A cafe overlooking the lakes offers a nice variety of refreshments for visitors.
Visit Adventure Park for some fun and recreation, just 15-20 minutes from the city of Port Moresby. 
Open: 9am - 5pm daily
Feeding times: Birds ~ 10am - 3pm daily; Tree Kangaroos ~ 11am - 3pm daily; Crocodiles ~ Saturday & Sunday at 3pm. 
For tours or hotel pickups, phone, +675 311-2471.

  1. Hotels

Port Moresby has many luxuries to offer, including the growing the number of hotels. Here’s five top picks according to

Airways Hotel: This stylish and award-winning luxury hotel is set in its own botanical gardens with stunning views over Bootless Bay to the mountains. Port Moresby’s Jackson’s International Airport is just a 2-minute drive away.

Holiday Inn Express: This is one of the top picks in Port Moresby. Featuring a free WiFi and a fitness centre, Holiday Inn Express Port Moresby is just a 10-minute drive to Port Moresby International Airport. Guests enjoy free breakfast and free airport transfers.

Holiday Inn Express Port Moresby is a 2-minute drive from local restaurants and shops and a 5-minute drive to Port Moresby Nature Park. Ela Beach is a 15-minute drive away.

Laguna Hotel: One of the bestsellers in Port Moresby! Just a 5-minute drive from the heart of Port Moresby, Laguna Hotel boasts a large lagoon-style outdoor swimming pool with a pool bar. Guests enjoy free buffet breakfast, free WiFi and free airport transfers.

Crowne Plaza Hotel Port Moresby: Within 20 minutes' drive of Jackson International Airport and the National Museum & Art Gallery. Offering an outdoor pool, a day spa, 2 restaurants and a cocktail bar, Crowne Plaza Port Moresby is 5 minutes' walk from Ela Beach. All accommodation features a flat-screen TV and views over the Coral Sea or harbour. Guests enjoy free airport transfers.

Its Rapala Restaurant offers a grill menu and a selection of fine wines. Pondo Tavern serves international cuisine and boasts a patio deck offering sea views.

Grand Papua Hotel: Get the celebrity treatment with world-class service.  Located in central Port Moresby, Grand Papua Hotel offers a day spa, 2 restaurants, 2 bars and a swimming pool. All accommodation boasts sea views from a private balcony. Guests also enjoy a fitness centre, a hot tub and a sauna.

The poolside terrace bar offers outdoor dining, cocktails and an exclusive hot tub. The Executive Club Lounge is a members-only bar offering a private entertainment area.

Lamana Hotel: Located in the heart of Port Moresby CBD, Lamana Hotel offers a free 24-hour shuttle bus. You can enjoy a workout at the fitness centre, or a game of tennis on the outdoor courts. The modern rooms include free WiFi and TV with cable channels.

Guests can enjoy local nightlife from the on-site nightclub and terrace bar, or relax with a drink and listen to live music at the Gold Club. The property features a casino and a snooker room.

Palazzo Restaurant offers a range of Italian, Indian and International meals, along with an extensive wine list. You can indulge in a treatment from the hair salon, or a soothing massage from Spa Pua. Lamana Hotel features a range of conference and business facilities and function services

  1. Fresh food Markets

Just like craft markets, there are pop-up fresh food markets available in the city or on the roadside, anywhere convenient.

While providing fresh greens and vegetables, some of these markets are known for providing ready served food, prepared the local way – over the fire.

The highly recommended for the best fresh fruit and vegetable market is the fresh food markets hosted by the Pacific Adventist University every Sunday morning.

Koki market, on the waterfront near the Koki shops, has been recommended for the best seafood. Another option is the Sunday markets along the highway. Port Moresby is surrounded by coastal villages, a 20 minutes’ drive outside the city, particularly along the Magi Highway, you will pass a number of such markets to choose from.

Yes, Port Moresby is a place of stark contrast. Ramshackle huts sit alongside glistening glass towers, dusty plains turn corners to expose a glittering harbour and fearsome frowns turn to welcome smiles. A good mixture of western and PNG will satisfy you for sure.

(Sources: Trip Adviser, lonely planet, Tourism Promotion Authority, Vision City, Davestravel corner. Picture: The highly-anticipated crocodile show at Adventure Park, 14-Mile, Port Moresby.)

Gloria Bauai