Young Pioneer Tours

Dangers and annoyances – corruption and crime in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is very much a country of contradictions, it is one of the most dangerous countries on earth, yet the people are some of the most friendliest. There is though without doubt a lot of corruption here and there are a lot of things that tourists need to be wary of when traveling to the country. 

You can read about if it is safe to travel to Papua New Guinea here

Corruption in the airports of Papua New Guinea 

This is the main airport of Papua New Guinea and one you are unlikely to be able to avoid. Therefore this will mark probably the first and last port of call when you travel to the country. We have personally witnessed two scams at this airport, both domestic and internationally.

Money going missing from bags at Port Moresby Airport 

So, these people were not part of our group and if cours you should not put large amounts of money in checked bags, BUT despite having small bags we saw two people “encouraged” to check their bags. Long story short one lost 500 Euro, the other about $100. It definitely looks like people are working together on tis scam.

Another airport scam that has come to light is that of people staying under 24 hours but leaving the airport, now while this is technically not allowed, having to pat a $150  bribe to an immigration officer in the toilet is probably not allowed either…..

There are other annoyances too, such as open packs of cigarettes being confiscated, other uses simply being made up, or the guys checking your bags simply asking for you to give them a gift of something nice they have seen in your bag.

Having stuff taken from hotels in Papua New Guinea 

This obviously depends on where you stay as it is unlikely to occur in the POM Hilton, but it is a thing in other places. From our experience at least it tends to be small things, as in the kind of stuff that you would not repeat to the police, such as chargers for phones and adaptors. 

In this instance they seem to be following the old Russian trick of hiding it within the room and then it “turning up” when you ask about it. Not a huge problem and one which can be fixed with a stern talking to the manager, or getting your YPT guide to fix it.

Petty crime in Papua New Guinea

While most famous for its violent crime, this is largely avoided by tourists and in our case at least by our excellent local guides who mitigated danger.  This though should not lead to a false sense of security at all, there is still a lot of petty crime.

On our trips at least we like to visit local markets and the like. Foreigners do not always do this, so crowds often appear and people get pick pocketed. Good rule of thumb is not to go rogue here, and not to have things of value n your pockets.

Also respect your local guides, if they are wary about a place, or do not want you to go somewhere it is usually for a good reason! 

Corruption and Crime in Papua New Guinea – Bribes

Bribery is such a thing here that even in the banks you will see signs saying not to give money if asked for “gifts”, or “lunch money”.  And just being here you will see bribes being paid whether you are the one doing it, or not.

While unlikely to happen if you are asked a very firm no is usually enough, while showing your ID and not allowing yourself to be intimidated. Again this is something that should not happen if you are on a tour, but who knows, we certainly saw it at Lae Airport. 

Should you worry about violent crime in Papua New Guinea?

While you should not roam the streets of Port Moresby, nor go backpacking around PNG, generally speaking you should be safe when visiting the country, at least in our opinion.

You can read about what FCDO thinks here.

That being said violent crime, political instability and sexual attacks on women are a thing. Yes people are very friendly, but also do not let this put you into a false sense of security either. As stated before always listen to your local guides, they are the ones that live this night and day.

So while there si corruption and crime in Papua New Guinea and you should not visit alone, a group tour here truly is a rewarding thing – you can check out our next tour there here

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