City guide

Ev­ery­thing you need to know about Lae

Paradise - - Contents -

Don’t be put off by the negative things you might’ve heard about Lae … they may well not be true. Like any­where else in Pa­pua New Guinea, if you ex­er­cise com­mon sense, you’ll soon see that Lae is a thriv­ing town with a unique history and cul­ture – and, if you look close enough, a nat­u­ral beauty to ri­val any­where.


PMV buses are the cheap­est and most con­ve­nient way to get around, with the main stops lo­cated in Top Town, Main Mar­ket and Eriku. The city’s new ‘Meri Safe’ bus pro­gram of­fers safe trans­port op­tions for women.

For added se­cu­rity and com­fort, pri­vate trans­fers can be ar­ranged with Guard Dog (guard­dog­ or ESS (es­ se­cu­rity com­pa­nies, which of­fer trans­fers to and from Nadzab Air­port.

Lae is also the gate­way to the High­lands, and of­fers the only road ac­cess to Wau, Bu­lolo, Kainantu and Goroka, all breath­tak­ing jour­neys, al­beit on bumpy roads.


Take a stroll through the Lae Botan­i­cal Gar­dens (lae­b­otan­ic­gar­, once recog­nised as the most beau­ti­ful botan­i­cal gar­dens in the trop­ics, thus giv­ing Lae its nick­name of the ‘Gar­den City’. There are over 400 na­tive and ex­otic plant species on dis­play, as well as an RAAF C47 plane from World War 2.

For a look at pris­tine trop­i­cal gar­dens, a visit to the Lae War Me­mo­rial is a must. Man­aged by the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment,

it is a touch­ing trib­ute to the ser­vice­men who died in PNG dur­ing the war. Lae is also the last place Amer­i­can avi­a­tor Amelia Earhart was seen dur­ing her 1937 cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of the globe. A me­mo­rial on Markham Road pays trib­ute to her leg­end.


Sala­maua is a nar­row isth­mus an hour out­side of Lae. It’s a quiet sanc­tu­ary con­sist­ing of lo­cal vil­lages and hol­i­day houses. Ex­cel­lent snorkellin­g and div­ing can be found within the har­bour with banana boat trans­fers leav­ing daily from Voco Point (near the Lae Yacht Club).

Two hours from Lae by boat are the spec­tac­u­lar Tami Is­lands. A haven for an­glers and divers, Tami is abun­dant with lively corals and va­ri­eties of reef fish. A small guest­house is avail­able and pri­vate char­ters can be or­gan­ised ( On your way to Tami, try your hand at fish­ing the Huon Gulf where ev­ery­thing from large bill­fish to small pelag­ics are caught.


Held each Oc­to­ber, the Morobe Show show­cases the agri­cul­tural, in­dus­trial, com­mer­cial and cul­tural as­pects of the Morobe Prov­ince. At­tend on the Sun­day to watch the sing

sings, where nearly all of the coun­try’s 22 prov­inces are rep­re­sented through stun­ning cos­tumes, songs and dance.


The Lae In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel (laein­ter­ho­tel. com) is the city’s premier desti­na­tion for con­fer­enc­ing and func­tions, with fa­cil­i­ties ca­pa­ble of host­ing up to 800 peo­ple. Cross­roads Ho­tel at Nine Mile of­fers a more in­ti­mate space, with ex­cel­lent cater­ing and ac­cess to Nadzab Air­port (tel. +675 475 1111).


The Markham Val­ley, which tra­verses Morobe Prov­ince from east to west, is of­ten called the food bowl of PNG, and a visit to Lae’s main mar­ket is where you’ll find the re­gion’s fresh­est pro­duce.

A range of fresh fruit, veg­eta­bles and flow­ers, as well as lo­cal clothes and crafts, are on dis­play from Mon­day to Satur­day.

Lae’s main shop­ping dis­trict is lo­cated in

Top Town, where re­tail­ers such as Papindo, Big V, Food­mart and Lae Sports Store are lo­cated. The Brian Bell com­plex on Mon­toro Street is home to over 20 spe­cialty stores, in­clud­ing Trends Beauty.


For sweep­ing views and modern fa­cil­i­ties, look no fur­ther than the Morobe Ho­tel on Coro­na­tion Drive (hotel­ The ho­tel’s new Gar­den View restau­rant is the place to go for el­e­gant Chi­nese din­ing, while the cafe is a cosy spot for cof­fee.

Fur­ther up the road is Lae Trav­ellers Inn, a bud­get op­tion (tel. +675 479 0411) with com­fort­able rooms and a small restau­rant serv­ing Western and In­dian cui­sine.

For some­thing more elab­o­rate, the Lae In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel has a range of short and long-term accommodat­ion op­tions, with two restau­rants, a bar, swim­ming pool and gym.


Lae’s best Chi­nese Malaysian food can be found at Bunga Raya (tel. +675 472 7177) where you can slurp on de­li­cious laksa while de­vour­ing oodles of noodles. In the cen­tre of Top Town is Lae City Ho­tel (laecity­ho­, a con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion for lunch or din­ner with a mix of Western and Asian de­lights on of­fer. Go for the baby back ribs, where a gen­er­ous serv­ing of del­i­cate pork is dished up with chips and veg­gies.

The town’s fresh­est sal­ads and creami­est milk­shakes can be found at Chigi’s Cof­fee Shop ( in­side the Brian Bell Com­plex, an ex­cel­lent meet­ing spot for cof­fee or lunch.


The Lae Yacht Club (laey­acht­, or ‘yachtie’ as the lo­cals call it, is the town’s liveli­est joint. Quench your thirst with a cold SP beer as you over­look the sur­round­ing Huon Gulf, while lo­cals re­gale you with their tales of life in Lae. Or, for greener pas­tures, a drink at the Lae Golf Club (Bumbu Road) will have you gaz­ing at a lush 18-hole course, con­sid­ered one of the best in the re­gion.

Tran­quil wa­ters … Sala­maua Har­bour, an hour out­side Lae.

Show­time … a sing-sing group at the Morobe Show.

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