A quick guide to the fascinating town of Mount Hagen

mount hagen

In the Highlands Region of Papua New Guinea, sitting at an elevation of approximately 5,500 feet above sea level, lies the capital of the Western Highlands Province – Mount Hagen.

The cool weather and natural environment offer an uncomplicated, laidback atmosphere for all visitors to this small township. Visitors will find locals very curious but altogether friendly and welcoming.

Hailed as the food basket of Papua New Guinea, Mount Hagen is known for its superior fresh food produce – from pineapples, watermelon, strawberries, peanuts, sweet potatoes and more. These fruit and vegetable delights can be found at the busy Hagen Market in the heart of town.

In fact, gardening is a trait inherent to many Western Highlanders and a UNESCO World Heritage site is found in the province, known as the Kuk Early Agricultural Site. Gardening tools were found at Kuk dating back more than 10,000 years, positioning Papua New Guinea as the home of some of the world’s first gardeners.

There are several eateries that offer a fusion of modern and traditional cuisine. Plus, no meal can be experienced in Mount Hagen without sampling the delicious Hagen ‘kaukau’ or sweet potato.

Beyond the limits of Mount Hagen town and onwards into the greater Western Highlands territory is where the real unfettered adventure begins. There is an abundance of bird watching, hiking and cultural experiences to explore, such as nature hikes at the beautiful Rondon Ridge boutique lodge, cultural experiences at Paiya village and bird watching at the Kumul Lodge.

Visitors come from all over the world to experience the annual Hagen Show in mid-August. The range of cultural performances at this exciting festival is always a wonderful spectacle, and you can discover local arts and crafts, as well as participate in the ‘singsings’ (cultural dances).

Tourism in the Western Highlands is small but well established. There are daily commercial flights into Mount Hagen from Port Moresby via the national airlines Air Niugini and PNG Air. There are also several well-known accommodation providers and tour operators operating in Mount Hagen, including Trans Niuigni Tours, Paiya Tours, Rondon Ridge Lodge, Highlander Hotel, McRoyal Hotel, Kiminiga Hotel and more.

Climb up Mount Giluwe

Take a guided trek up to the ancient volcanic summit of Miunt Giluwe. Experience the extraordinary scenery of one of the world’s famous ‘volcanic seven summits’ found right here in the Papua New Guinea Highlands.

Visit Hagen Market

Sample some fresh local produce sold daily at Mount Hagen’s famous market – from fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and organic spices.

Dance at the Hagen Show

Join the many tribes showcasing different colourful traditional dress at the annual Hagen Show. Become a part of the celebration – don the tribal face paints and dance along with the performers. This is a great chance to see all cultures from Papua New Guinea in one location.

Discover the Kuk Heritage Site

Explore the history of this archaeological site and its contribution to agriculture in the Western Highlands and the rest of Papua New Guinea.  

Where to sleep

Check out these highly recommended places to stay in Mount Hagen.

  • Rondon Ridge – high-end eco-friendly boutique lodge with well-designed cozy rooms overlooking the town. Owned by Trans Niugini Tours. Visit pngtours.com.
  • The Highlander Hotel – comfortable and well-provisioned rooms with affordable daily buffets at the on-site restaurant. Visit coralseahotels.com.pg/highlander-hotel/
  • McRoyal Hotel – a stone’s throw from the airport, this is a popular hotel for many visitors, known for its spacious rooms and well-stocked bar and restaurant. Visit mcroyalhotelpng.com/

Where to eat

Mount Hagen is a haven for food lovers, and there are many great places to sample the local cuisine – from informal roadside food markets to hotel restaurants. Highly recommended is the popular café Kofi Kai which is a great place to sample some of the best tasting coffee and fruit juices in PNG. 

Where to have a drink

Unwind with a cold beer while gazing at the spectacular emerald mountains of the Highlands. Mount Hagen’s hotel bars offer both a quiet respite or opportunity for interesting conversations. The best place for a drink whether you prefer a beer or a cocktail is at the Highlander Hotel. You can mingle at the Sports Bar, enjoy your beer with a hearty meal at the restaurant, or relax by the pool.

For more information, visit papuanewguinea.travel  

If you enjoyed this piece on Papua New Guinea, check out our top tips for travelling this amazing pacific island.

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