The kina has risen in value against major currencies thanks to the massive investment pouring in to the country for oil and LNG projects.
ATMs are fairly common in cities, and those at the following banks allow you to withdraw cash against your Visa or MasterCard on the Cirrus, Maestro and Plus networks. If the machines are broken, head inside and you should be able to get a cash advance against your credit card over the counter.
Bank South Pacific (www.bsp.com.pg)
- PNG’s currency is the kina (kee-nah), which is divided into 100 toea (toy-ah). Both are the names of traditional shell money and this connection to traditional forms of wealth is emphasised on the notes – the K20 note features an illustration of that most valuable of village animals, the pig.
- You don’t need to go too far off the track before you’re fully reliant on cash. In remote areas, having enough small bills is important. People are cash poor and won’t have change for K50.
- Traditional currencies, such as shell money and leaf money, are still occasionally used. You’ll see women in the Trobriand Islands carrying doba (leaf money), which is dried banana leaves with patterns incised on them.
Credit cards are only accepted in top-end hotels and by a few restaurants and shops in the larger cities and towns. Visa and MasterCard are the favourites, with Amex, JCB and Diners Club not so widely accepted. Credit card payments often incur an additional charge.
Travellers cheques are accepted at banks throughout PNG, though commission rates vary from bank to bank and also from branch to branch. The biggest drawback with using travellers cheques is that you’ll most likely be forced to join insanely long queues that snake through the bank and, on occasion, clean out the door.