A practical currency and money guide to travel, living and doing business in Tonga and the Tongan paanga (TOP).
What's in this Tonga currency guide:
The official currency of Tonga (country code: TO) is the Tongan paanga, with symbol T$ and currency code TOP.
The Tongan pa'anga (TOP) is the official currency of the Kingdom of Tonga, which is a sovereign state in the Pacific Ocean. Here are a few things to know about the Tongan pa'anga:
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga (Pule′ Fakatu′i ′o Tonga), is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprised of 169 islands, 36 of them inhabited. Resolutely sidestepping flashy resorts and packaged cruise-ship schtick, Tonga is unpolished, gritty and unfailingly authentic. Life here ticks along at its own informal pace: church-life is all pervasive, chickens and pigs have right-of-way, and there's nothing that can't wait until tomorrow. Once you've shifted down into 'Tonga time', you'll find these islands awash with gorgeous beaches, low-key resorts, myriad snorkelling, diving, yachting and kayaking opportunities, hiking trails, rugged coastlines and affable locals.
The currency in Tonga is “Pa’anga”. ATMs are available in the capital city Nuku'alofa and in the main towns of ‘Eua island and the Ha'apai island group. There are several ATMs in Nuku'alofa city and one in the general public area of the Fua'amotu International Airport (The one at the Airport can however occasionally run out of cash). All these ATMs are currently operated by Westpac and ANZ Bank. Most larger tourist service providers and Supermarkets accept local bank cards as well as Visa and Mastercards and occasionally AMEX and Diners Club.
Most visits to Tonga are trouble free. The crime rate is relatively low. However, like most place, petty crime and theft do take place. Tongan society is very conservative and highly religious. You will be expected to respect local customs and culture, however the country is nicknamed the "Friendly Islands" which should give you a broad hint at the demeanor of the people. The pace is can best be described as "relaxed". Generally casual, however evening dining may require shoes and something slightly more formal than beachwear.
Tonga is a popular destination for scuba divers and beach fanatics. However skimpy beachwear is frowned on outside the resorts, on local beaches or in towns. It is respectable to wear modest clothes in towns and rural areas. Tonga strictly observes the Sabbath.
Visitors from most countries including New Zealand, UK, USA and Australia may enter Tonga without a visa for a period no longer than 31 days. Visitors from some countries do require a visa however and it is always best to make those enquiries from your travel agent or contact the Tongan Immigration Department.
Flying is by far the easiest, fastest and most comfortable way to get around Tonga. Real Tonga operates most of the domestic flights in Tonga. Fiji Airways also flies between Nuku'alofa and Vava'u, often as a code-share flight with Real Tonga.
No doubt, Real Tonga plays a vital role in flying people between the isles of the Kingdom. But when it comes to concrete departure times, forget about it. Real Tonga's flight schedules are a movable feast, changing even within 24 hours of your next flight. They do try and email and phone your accommodation (if you've told them where you'll be) to let you know, but otherwise beware. Re-confirm your booking as close as possible to your departure time, then arrive at the airport early.
Tonga's privately owned buses have a handy interprative 'B' at the start of their licence plates. They run on Tongatapu, and in a more limited capacity on Vava’u and its causeway-linked islands. Fares range from T$0.70 to T$2 depending on distances travelled. Don’t expect to get where you’re going in a hurry...but riding a local bus is a cultural experience in itself.
The Nuku'alofa Visitor Information Centre lists ferry schedules, which must be rechecked prior to intended travel. Subsequent to the tragic sinking of the Princess Ashika in 2009 with the loss of 74 lives, all Tongan ferries and aircraft have come under intense scrutiny, and safety standards have risen dramatically.
Here we list some key points for expats and businesses to consider when managing financial dealings in Tonga:
Understand Tongan paanga currency exchange rates: Exchange rates can have a big impact on your finances, so it is important to keep an eye on the TOP exchange rate and consider using a currency exchange service or a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees to get the best exchange rate.
Use a local Tongan paanga bank account: A local TOP bank account can make it easier for you to manage your finances and pay bills while you are in Tonga. It may also be more convenient to use a local TOP bank account to make purchases and withdraw cash.
Research local laws and regulations: It is important to understand the local laws and regulations that apply to financial transactions in Tonga. This can help you avoid legal issues and ensure that you are complying with local requirements.
Consider the tax implications: It is important to understand the tax implications of living or doing business in Tonga. This can help you plan your finances and ensure that you are paying the correct amount of tax.
Seek financial advice: If you are unsure of how to manage your finances in Tonga, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a financial professional who is familiar with the local financial system. This can help you make informed decisions and avoid financial pitfalls.
The exchange rate of Tongan paanga (TOP), or the amount of TOP that can be exchanged for a foreign currency, can fluctuate rapidly based on a number of factors, including economic conditions, interest rates, and political events. Below you can check the latest TOP/USD rate plus recent trend, chart, and historic rates.
09 May 2023
22 Feb 2023
23 May 2022
24 May 2018
25 May 2013
28 May 2003
The below comparison table makes it easy to find the best exchange rates and lowest fees when you want to make an International Money Transfer to Tonga or planning a trip or maybe living there, so will need to exchange and spend Tongan paanga.
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It is important to note that the exchange rate of the Tongan paanga can change rapidly and that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance. It is advisable to carefully consider the risks and factors that may affect TOP exchange rates before making any financial decisions.