After delaying my trip to PNG for about one month, I finally made it to Port Moresby via Cairns in Australia. This was my 141st UN country. My trip was delayed drastically since I had originally planned on flying from Bali to Port Moresby directly, but the flight was around $700 USD so I made a pit stop in Brisbane. Once I got to Brisbane, I had to see the Gold Coast and ended up going to Perth, since my friend Nelson invited me for two weeks. I had a great time in Australia and ended up going to Cairns afterwards as well for five days. Hence, my trip to PNG was severely delayed. Well, Australia was a nice country and it was great being in the first world (clean, polite, fresh air, decent internet, good quality of food, etc).
I arrived at PM Airport via Air Nuigini, the national airline of PNG. I was picked up by Dominic from Lapwing Travelodge. I had booked this hotel online before my arrival and it was roughly $105 USD per night. This was one of the more reasonable hotels at that price and I got this information from a German guy (he was traveling alone and he was deaf – pretty amazing!) that I met while traveling East Timor. It took literally five minutes by car to get to the hotel and the room was clean and well organized. I checked into my room, which was a standard two or three star level in any other country, but $105 USD was a bit too expensive for my taste. The thing about PNG was that everything was overpriced for the value. I’m giving everyone a heads up notice on that.
Since there were free transfers to the nearby shopping mall and into town, I wanted Dominic to take me there, but for some reason, there were some major miscommunication with Dixie, the front desk guy and Dominic had left for another chore. I was stuck in the room for a few hours, since I was not allowed to go out alone or walk around the neighborhood. It was that dangerous in PM. I ended up taking a nap and watched Australian TV. Once Dominic returned, he took me to the nearby shopping mall. This was the largest and most prestigious shopping mall in PM, but that did not mean anything. I did not find any international brand stores, only local designs, local chain restaurants, a few Chinese outlets at the food court and an overpriced megamall (I did not understand why it was called a megamall, when prices were not even that great!).
I ended up having dinner at the food court and the prices were pretty steep compared to Western prices. I had a wonton noodle soup for around 25 Kina ($8 USD), which was decent, but nothing to brag home about. I saw some Filipinos and Chinese at the food court, but Caucasians were hard to find. I think I saw two only the entire day. After dinner, I got picked up by Dominic again and we headed straight back to the lodge.
Once I got to the room, I had to make an executive decision alone. Well, it ended up being an easy one. I had to get out of PM, since there was not much to do and a lot of people that I chatted with told me to go to the other islands. I immediately booked a flight the next morning for Rabaul/Kokopo area.
About Lapwig Travelodge
It’s more like a motel close to the airport. They have free pickup and drop off to the airport (5 minutes by car) and to the biggest shopping mall in Port Moresby nearby. My room was 330 Kina and it was very clean and well organized. Everything was overpriced in PNG, but $105 USD per night equivalent was not so bad after all. There could be cheaper options, but don’t expect the same kind of quality. Breakfast was NOT included and you had to pay additional at around 20 or 30 Kina. They had lunch and dinner available for 50 Kina each, but since the mall was close by, I went to the mall for dinner. I did not try the food at the hotel. The staff members were very friendly and were always willing to help. The front desk guy Dixie was always fast in answering emails. As for technology, the wifi was fast and worked well. I was extremely surprised. They had cable television and Aussie channels only.
The city center was around 10 to 15 minutes by car and a taxi will cost roughly 50 Kina ($16 USD). If you are looking for four or five star facilities, there were international chains that cost around $160 to $200 USD per night. If budget is an issue, it may be better off squatting at an AirBnB or look for a couchsurfing host. There were only a handful of couchsurfing hosts.
I visited in January 2017.
You may like my other two posts on PNG.