Tonga, The Friendly Islands
Keeping in Touch
Language – Tongan and English are the main languages.
Telephone – there are no area codes in Tonga. The national area code in +676.
Digicel and Tonga Communications Corporation (TCC) are the local communication specialists:
Digicel +676 876 1000
TCC +676 20048
Internet – there are internet cafes throughout Tonga and many accommodation facilities have internet access available.
Mail – all mail is collected from the post office as there are no deliveries. Airmail to Europe takes around 10 days. There are post office branches on Ha’apai and Vava’u. The main post office is located in the centre of Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu. Business hours are Monday to Friday 8:30am-4:00pm. You can buy postcards from the Visitor Information Centre, various locations throughout towns and post office.
Phone Providers: Tongatapu
Digicel Tonga Ltd.
Phone: +676 876 1000
Phone: +676 24913
Email: [email protected]
Tongtapu - Highlights
- Nuku’alofa – Capital of Tonga
- Island Resorts – Ride on a ferry to Pangaimotu, Fafa or ‘Atata Islands for the day or stay overnight
- Flying Fox Reserve – located in Kolovai in the western district
- Drop in for lunch at one of the resorts on the Western side of the island
- Mapu ‘a Vaea – Blowholes in the coral reef on the South-western side of the Islands
- Hufangalupe – Natural land bridge on the South-eastern side of the Island
- Ha’amonga ‘a Maui – Trilithon
- Nukuleka – possibly the site of the first human settlement in Tonga
- Langi – Tombs of past Tongan kings
- Mu’a – second largest town on Tongatapu. Site of the ancient burial mounds and the Paepae’o Tele’a Tombs
- Choose from a wide range of water based adventures: kayaking, snorkelling, diving, or swimming with the whales
- Tongans know how to feast, make sure you experience a cultural dinner show while here
A great way to get around Tonga and also experience some of the places of historical, ecological and cultural interest is to boon an organised tour. Various tour companies on all the major groups operate sightseeing tours using minibuses or 4X4 vehicles. In Vava’u, Ha’apai and Tongatapu you can also organise boat tours to the outer islands of their group.
There are many taxis throughout Tonga, with the majority based in Tongatapu. Taxis are often unmarked and are identified by the letter T at the beginning of the number plate. Taxis are not metered and it is important to always agree on the fare before departure. An acceptable fare from the Fua’amotu International Airport to downtown Nuku’alofa would be TOP$40 and short trips around the capital TOP$5 - $6. Taxis can also be hired for half or full day for sightseeing.
Rental cars are another popular way to get around Tonga and there are a number of companies operating fleets in Tonga. A Tongan visitor driver’s licence can be obtained from the Ministry of Transport in Nuku’alofa and is required for all drivers in Tonga. Tongans drive on the left hand side of the road and the speed limit are between 40km/h and 70k/h. Most petrol stations are open Monday to Saturday until 11pm.
Just sit back, relax and enjoy, knowing everything will be done for you by a professional skipper and crew on board a yacht designed for ocean sailing. Enjoy the peaceful sailing, set foot on uninhabited islands, go swimming or snorkelling in crystal clear water, catch your own fish for dinner, watch whales in season and sample the delicious creations of international and Polynesian cuisine.
Credit - Stuart Chape
Most of the island groups are serviced by inter-island ferries; these are mainly used by the Tongan people as an affordable means of transport. Visitors are also welcome to travel on the ferries; visit www.tongaholiday.com for ferry departures and timetables. Tickets are generally sold on board.
One again, like the ferries, the bus services are mainly used by locals and there are no scheduled timetables. Buses run between 8am and 5pm and can be waved down. Local knowledge about how to use the service is a real advantage and locals and drivers are only too happy to help.
Life in Tonga
Seasons – Tonga’s climate is warm, tropical and welcoming. Temperatures are warm all year round and can get hot in the summer but seldom reach above 35C (95F). Trade winds from the east/southeast bring year-long cooling breezes in the late afternoon and early evening. Tropical rains fall from December through February, coinciding with the warmest summer months. However, there are no significant differences in temperatures between summer and winter. In general, the winter temperatures (April to September) are only slightly cooler than summer temperatures (November to February)
The Kingdom of Tonga sits just east of the international dateline: while it may be Saturday afternoon at the beach in Rarotonga, it’s already time for Sunday prayers in Tonga.
And so it’s said that Tonga is ‘the place where time begins’. Others call it the place where time stands still.
Currency and Banking Information
The national currency is the Pa’anga or Tongan dollar (Pa’anga (TOP) = 100 seniti). Notes are in denominations of TOP 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, and 2. Coins are in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5 seniti.
There is limited use of credit cards in Tonga but traveller’s cheques are accepted at banks and at some hotels and tourist shops. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller’s cheques in Australian Dollars or Pounds Sterling. Foreign currency exchange is available at banks and major hotels.
There are four commercial banks: BSP Bank, ANZ and MBF Bank with ATMs spread across Tonga. Recently opened is the Bank of China in Tongatapu. There is one development bank: Tonga Development Bank (TDB) and a central bank in Tonga: National Reserve Bank of Tonga (NRBT).
Most banks are open Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 4:00pm.
Please note all businesses close on a Sunday and there are no flights or public transport. Resorts are open for guests on Sundays.
Banks - Tongatapu
Phone: (676) 20-500
Bank of China
Phone: (676) 27422
PO Box 924
Phone: (676) 20800
A few words in Tongan – Master a few of these phrases and see the delight of the Tongan people as you make the effort to speak their language.
Hello – Malo e lelei
Good morning - Malo e lelei ki he pongipongi ni
Good evening - Malo e lelei ki he efiafi ni
How are you? - Fefe hake?
Fine, thank you- Sai pe, Malo
Yes – ‘Io
No – ‘Ikai
Please – Faka molemole
Thank you (very much) – Malo (‘aupito)
Welcome - Talitali fiefia
Excuse me - Kataki
Goodbye (to someone who is leaving) – ‘Alu a
Goodbye (to saying who is staying) – Nofo a
At the airport...
Duty Free – you can import the following into Tonga (traveller’s ages 18 years and over) without incurring any customs duty:
- 250 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco
- 2.25L of spirits or 4.5L of wine or 4.5L of beer
Imports – you cannot import weapons, indecent goods, illicit drugs and endangered species and you must declare all meat and animal products, plants and plant products and equipment which may have come into contact with soil such as tents, or farm clothing.
Passports and Visas – to enter Tonga, a valid passport for a minimum of six months is required by all nationalities. Visas for Tonga are not required by nationals for stays of up to 30 days, providing they hold a return ticket and are visiting for tourist purposes.
Visa Note: All nationalities are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Tonga. A visitor’s visa if required will cost around TOP $130. You can apply to the Consulate (or consular section at the Embassy/High Commission) and allow five+ working days for visa processing. Most travel agents are able to provide information on visa requirements.
Extension of Stay: if you wish to extend your stay, you should contact the Immigration Department in Nuku’alofa.