The name Papua New Guinea (PNG) is so funny to say (at least, to me it is). The country itself is also fun. The PNG National Museum can be seen in Port Moresby, the capital of PNG. Rabaul is famous for volcanoes and scuba diving. Lastly, you have Alotau with many war memories. You will not be bored in Papua New Guinea.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Papua New Guinea. Let's get started.
Telecom Providers in Papua New Guinea (PNG)
Papua New Guinea has 3 telecom Providers: Digicel PNG, Bmobile – Vodafone PNG, and Telikom PNG. Digicel PNG and Bmobile – Vodafone PNG have 2G and 3G networks. Telikom PNG and Digicel PNG have 4G/LTE networks. Telikom also has a 3G network. In short, Digicel PNG is the only operator with 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting Papua New Guinea? If you want to buy a SIM card in Papua New Guinea, I would recommend going with Digicel because they have the best network and coverage throughout the country. Telikom PNG should be considered when staying in the larger cities to enjoy lower rates compared to Digicel.
Unlike most countries in Oceania, you have to show your passport when buying a SIM card in Papua New Guinea. Besides, you have to mention the address you are staying at in Papua New Guinea, get pictures of you taken, and tell your occupation.
With that said, let’s see what the operators have to offer to us.
Digicel PNG, just Digicel, is the largest operator in Papua New Guinea. They also have the best coverage and speeds, although speeds can drop when there is a lot of network congestion.
Digicel SIM cards can be bought in Digicel stores, and top-up vouchers are sold from 3 PGK ($0.90) to 100 PGK in various stores throughout Papua New Guinea.
Digicel sells 7 types of data packs ranging from 60 MB to 13 GB. The price for each pack depends on how long you want to use the data. For example, the 60 MB pack will cost you 3 PGK if you want it to be valid for 1 day but 6 PGK if you want the pack to be valid for 7 days. Below are the data pack prices when the validity is 1 day:
- 3 PGK: 60 MB
- 12 PGK: 400 MB
- 25 PGK: 1.2 GB
- 40 PGK: 2.5 GB
- 85 PGK: 6 GB
The following Digicel data packs are available with a validity of 3 days:
- 4.5 PGK: 60 MB
- 8 PGK: 150 MB
- 15 PGK: 400 MB
- 35 PGK: 1.2 GB
- 57 PGK: 2.5 GB
If you want your Digicel data pack to last for 7 days, then you have to pay the following:
- 6 PGK: 60 MB
- 10 PGK: 150 MB
- 20 PGK: 400 MB
- 42 PGK: 1.2 GB
- 135 PGK: 6 GB
Finally, you can have your Digicel data pack last for 30 days:
- 35 PGK: 400 MB
- 68 PGK: 1.2 GB
- 110 PGK: 2.5 GB
- 230 PGK: 6 GB
- 450 PGK: 13 GB
Besides these plans, you can also get Digicel social plans, which come with unlimited Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter:
- 3 PGK: 24 hours
- 20 PGK: 7 days
- 70 PGK: 30 days
Night owls can enjoy the following Digicel data packs to be used from 12 AM until 5 AM (one time):
- 4 PGK: 500 MB
- 6 PGK: 1.2 GB
Bmobile – Vodafone PNG
Bmobile – Vodafone PNG, just Bmobile – Vodafone, is the second-largest operator in Papua New Guinea. Bmobile teamed up with Vodafone in 2014 to become the company they are now, which they did in the Solomon Islands as well.
Remember, Bmobile – Vodafone does not have a 4G/LTE network, so do not expect extremely fast speeds with them. Additionally, their coverage is not as extensive as the one of Digicel.
Bmobile – Vodafone SIM cards are sold for 5 PGK and come with 1 PGK in credit. Recharge cards are sold from 3 PGK to 100 PGK in many stores throughout the country.
Unlike Digicel, Bmobile – Vodafone’s data pack structure is simple:
- 4 PGK: 50 MB for 24 hours
- 5 PGK: 70 MB for 3 days
- 10 PGK: 150 MB for 7 days
- 20 PGK: 350 MB for 14 days
- 30 PGK: 650 MB for 14 days
- 80 PGK: 1.5 GB for 30 days
- 225 PGK: 5 GB for 30 days
- 375 PGK: 10 GB for 30 days
Telikom PNG is the smallest operator in Papua New Guinea. It is a state-owned company that has a monopoly on the landline market. They do not have a 2G network, but they do have a 4G/LTE network, unlike Bmobile – Vodafone. Telikom PNG 4G/LTE coverage can be found in the populated areas, including Port Moresby, Madang, and Kerema.
Do note that the coverage of Telikom PNG is limited. If you do not plan on exploring the country and will be staying in the bigger cities, like Port Moresby, then Telikom PNG will be the most affordable option out there. However, as their coverage is so limited, they are not recommended for those who plan on traveling through the country or plan on visiting rural Papua New Guinea.
A Telikom PNG SIM card will cost you 20 PGK, and you would need to visit a Telikom PNG office to get one. The following data packages can be bought:
- 2 PGK: 60 MB for 3 days
- 3 PGK: 100 MB for 5 days
- 5 PGK: 200 MB for 7 days
- 9 PGK: 400 MB for 14 days
- 15 PGK: 600 MB for 14 days
- 25 PGK: 1 GB for 14 days
- 40 PGK: 2 GB for 30 days
- 60 PGK: 3 GB for 30 days
- 90 PGK: 5 GB for 30 days
- 125 PGK: 7 GB for 30 days
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Papua New Guinea
So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in Papua New Guinea. However, that is not the only way to be online in Papua New Guinea I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.
Roaming in Papua New Guinea with Your Provider
Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is FSM Telecom from Micronesia, then you would be roaming with FSM Telecom in Papua New Guinea.
You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.
Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in Papua New Guinea, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in Papua New Guinea, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.
Using Free WIFI connections in Papua New Guinea
This does not require a lot of explanation, but using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to connect to the internet because you do not have to pay anything. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.
First, you need to find hotspots in Papua New Guinea. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.
In the case of Papua New Guinea, you can find some hotspots in the capital, but not many outside of it.
Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. They are a prime target for hackers to steal your data and use it for illicit purposes. That is I use, and would recommend you to start using, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to a public hotspot. What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your subscription now or learn more about NordVPN.
Using a Pocket WIFI (Mobile Hotspot) in Papua New Guinea
Pocket WIFI is a portable, battery-powered wireless router that allows you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.
Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
I often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.
I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.
Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in Papua New Guinea
International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.
All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in Papua New Guinea. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, and Surfroam.
International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Some countries in Oceania require you to register before you can use a SIM card, which can be a hassle for some. Additionally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some travelers, which is why an international SIM card can be handy. You order it before you depart and can use it in various destinations.
My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple ones, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Papua New Guinea
Getting a SIM card from Digicel would do you well when considering a Papuan SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.
You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.
Visiting other countries in Oceania? Check out my Oceanian SIM card buying guide covering the other Oceanian destinations, such as American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
What is next?
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!
Book Your Flight for Papua New Guinea
It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to Papua New Guinea. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Papua New Guinea drop.
Book Your Accommodation for Papua New Guinea
I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in Papua New Guinea. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Papuan hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Papua New Guinea
You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in Papua New Guinea, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.
Get a Travel Debit Card
Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to the local currency for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.
Enjoy your trip!