Travel to Palau – What to Know, What You Need

Palau has its own time zone (called Palau Time PWT), which is GMT +9:  When it’s Noon Sunday in Palau, it is:

11:00 A.M. Sunday in Manila
12:00 P.M. Sunday in Tokyo
1:00 P.M. Sunday in Sydney
5:00 P.M. Saturday in Honolulu
7:00 P.M. Saturday in Los Angeles

Palau’s two official languages are Palauan and English.  Two states in Palau recognize Sonsorol and Hatohobei also as official languages.  Given the Japanese influence in Palau’s past, many of the older residents may speak Japanese and it is also an official language of the State of Anguar.  Another common language spoken there is Tagalog.  Tagalog is not officially recognized.

Palau’s official currency is the U.S. dollar.  Major credit cards are taken at most businesses.  While banks offer generally offer a more extended foreign exchange services, many hotels, themselves, offer some limited forms of foreign exchange.  The banks are still insured by the FDIC.  There are limited numbers of businesses that handle Western Union money transfers.  Wire transfers are possible through the local banks.

Entry and Exit into Palau
Valid Passport
A valid passport with at least 6 months remaining is required for entry.  Palau  requires proof of return travel for entry.

Visas not required
No advanced visa is required since 30 day Tourist visa will be issued upon arrival.  This visa can be extended up to 2 times, each being 30 days of length at a cost of $50 per extension.  The extensions must be obtained at least 7 days prior to a visa’s expiration.  The U.S. and its protectorates (Guam, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the Northern Marianas) are issued visas valid for 1 year upon entry.

Departure and Green Tax
At the time of departure, a $35 U.S. dollar tax ($20 for the Departure Tax and $15 for the environmental Protected Area Network) is required.

Up to 1 carton of cigarettes (200 cigarettes) and one bottle of liquor (up to 2 liters) may be brought into Palau at entry, duty free.  Cats and dogs may be taken into the country with prior authorization.  Agricultural and farm items such as plants, seeds and meats and dairy products need authorization prior to entry.  Importation of weapons is strictly prohibited.  Photographic equipment is allowed as long as it is considered reasonable for personal use.  It is necessary to receive prior authorization for taking coral and turtle artifacts out of Palau.  Significant fines will be applied in violation for some of these issues.

Immunizations may be required depending on where visitors are arriving from.  Yellow fever and cholera are two diseases on Palau watch list.  The CDC recommends  vaccinations 4 to 6 weeks prior to travel for hepatitis A & B; typhoid; measles, mumps & rubella (MMR), diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT, revaccination every ten years); and, polio.

Air Service*
From the U.S. there are direct flights to Palau via Honolulu, Guam or Manilla by UAL (formerly Continental) seven days a week.  Fly Guam serves Palau twice a week.  From Asia, Palau can be reached through Japan, Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan.  China Airlines serves Palau through its Taipai, Taiwan four times a week.  Asiana Airlines’ hub in Incheon, South Korea provides service to Palau two times a week.  Delta and Japan Airlines provide service via Tokyo four and one times a week, respectively.

Internet service is available throughout Koror and most hotels.  Internet speeds are slow.  WiFi can be acquired through Palau National Communication Corporation’s (PNCC) prepaid WiFi cards.  Check to make sure WiFi is available in the areas desired.

Medical Care
Belau National Hospital has a modern recompression chamber and offers the most extensive care on the islands.  Two other local clinics also serve Palau’s medical needs.  If more significant medical care is needed, the two preferred options are Hawaii and Guam, respectively.

Seasonal Considerations – The Weather
The best dive season, common referred to as the ‘high season”, is from November through June.  Winds normally blow from the north east across the islands.  Most of the famous  dive sites lie on the protected, leeward (windless) side of the islands, generally insuring good scuba and snorkeling conditions most of the year. Since Palau lies outside the typhoon region, rarely getting a typhoon, weather, for the most part, is tropically consistent.  In July through August, the heart of the “low season”, the winds and rain will pick up.  The winds shift direction, coming up from the south west, blowing across the favored dive sites.

Palau Sports Association holds the Fishing Derby annually the first week of May.

Click here for Where is Palau.

* Air schedule was as of May 2012.