Travel, Currency and Money saving tips for Tonga
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.
What currency is used in Tonga?
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.
Travel tips for Tonga.
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.
How to get around in Tonga?
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.
Sending money to Tonga
When searching around for information on how to get a good exchange rate when sending money to Tonga you need to start with finding out the latest Tongan Paanga exchange rate for foreign-transfers, which can be very different to the wholesale rate.
Then compare your bank's exchange rates to several licensed FX providers exchange rate and fees to see how much
you can save - we make that calculation easy in the below table.
Get a better deal for foreign transfers to Tonga
When sending money to Tonga it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers.
To get a better deal you should follow these 4 simple steps :
- Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
- You specify the local or Tongan Paanga amount you want to transfer
- Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
- Once your funds are received by the provider the converted TOP amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in Tonga.
Use the above Send to Tongan Paanga calculator to compare the exchange rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more -
end result is more Tongan Paanga deposited into the recipient bank account and less margins and fees kept by the banks!