Handy tips and visitor information to making planning your vacation easy

Planning a vacation to Tonga. Then you need to read our helpful tips and useful visitor information to ensure you make the most of your upcoming holiday.

Visas & useful Visitor Information

Immigration
Upon entering Tonga a tourist stay of max. 30 days is typically granted. You require a valid passport, which is valid for at least three months on arrival, a valid return or onward ticket and sufficient funds to finance your stay. You can demonstrate this with cash, travelers checks or a credit card. There are no special requirements with respect to mandatory vaccinations for tourists. Upon arrival, an “Arrival Card” “be filled with personal data; This is already being distributed on board the aircraft.

On arrival in Tonga, the traveler is asked for an explanation on any brought food, plants and products of animal origin. To protect the pristine nature and agriculture Tonga has strict rules regarding the importation of food, animals and plants.

International Departure in New Caledonia
Check-in time for international flights from Tonga is 120 minutes before departure.

Airport taxes (Airport Departure Tax) is currently 25 top per person. Anyone who leaves the country must pay this amount in cash at the airport.

Electricity
The electricity in Tonga is 240V / 50Hz. The sockets are three pin, identical to those in use in Australia and New Zealand.

Entertainment & Night Life
Only in Nuku’Alofa and Neiafu you will find a limited scale nightlife (restaurants and bars).

On Sunday, almost everything is closed, only restaurants are open for tourists. Most tourists stay at night in their hotel to dine and socialize in the hotel bar. Some hotels offer on certain nights of the week, a traditional dance show. Outside Nuku’Alofa and Neiafu you will find no western nightlife.

Food & Drink
Tonga most hotels have only one restaurants. Only in Nuku’Alofa and Neiafu find several fast food restaurants, local “takeaways” and small restaurants (such as bistros, Pizarias and Asian restaurants). There are many excellent restaurants available here. Especially fish specialties are worth trying here. The dress code is usually informal “Casual”, although in upscale restaurants resorts sometimes evening dress is appreciated. Outside the larger cities and you are reliant on the outer islands in the restaurant of your accommodation.

Because the islands of Tonga are surrounded by the ocean, you will find on the menu an abundance of tuna and other large sea fish and shellfish. In traditional cuisine sweet potato and cassava is typically used (both the root and the leaves).

On Tongatapu, the restaurant at the Waterfront Hotel is one of the better ones. The Two Sisters and Seaview Restaurant are also recommended.

Internet
If you have your laptop or smartphone along on your trip, you can use it in certain places using a wifi connection (e.g. At airports, hotel lobbies, at Starbucks, etc.)

If you want to access the internet on the go, that you need to purchase a SIM card (or dongle) for the UMTS network. These are for sale in the shops of the major telecom providers (such as Telstra and Vodafone). Along the main routes and in most places the mobile reception is good.

Currency & costs

Currency
The currency in Tonga is the Tongan Pa’anga. There are banknotes of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 Pa’anga. There are coins of 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 seniti. On each island you will find banks with cash machines (ATMs). Because ATM machines (ATMs) are regularly affected by a fault, it is wise to pin cash regularly.

Tonga pay especially with cash. Little cafes, restaurants and hotels accept a currency other than the pa’anga. Pay by credit card (Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club) can sometimes causes problems. Foreign currency (USD, NZD, AUD and Euros) and travelers checks Thomas Cook and American Express can be exchanged at banks in Tongan Pa’anga, where you have to take into account exchange costs.

Tonga compared to Europe and the US a relatively cheap country. Costs for food, drink and accommodation are much lower than in most other island destinations in the Pacific. Yet Tonga is not dirt or cheap.

Tipping
In principle, tipping is not mandatory, but if you have received exceptional service then you can express your appreciation by giving a small tip. Service charges and taxes are generally included in the price.

When to go

Climate
Tonga has a pleasant sunny climate throughout the year, with temperatures between 22 and 30 degrees Celsius. The months of May through to November are the driest and coolest. The months of December through to April are slightly warmer. Especially on the east side of the mountainous islands fall into this period a lot of rain. The humidity is slightly higher than on the islands, but a continuous trade wind makes it generally enjoyable.

What to wear for the climate
When you plan your visit to the Tonga it is best to bring light summer clothing. When visiting a local village residents make sure not to show up in swimwear, but with shirt or t-shirt.

Consider a thin raincoat (for walks) and plastic sandals or reef shoes (for protection against coral). Bring a hat or cap to protect against the sun. The shops will otherwise provide virtually everything that you need to enjoy your holiday.

Festivals and Events
The Heilala Festival is the largest festival of Tonga. For two weeks the culture of Tonga is celebrated with song, dance, music, sports and especially lots of food. Artists show their work and held the election for Miss Tonga. Children take their schools participate in contests, singing competitions to rugby matches.

Getting there

Tongatapu International Airport is located 15km outside Nuku’Alofa – on the southeast side of the island. Both international flights and inter-island flights operated at this airport.

The following airlines conduct international flights:

Air New Zealand (Auckland [Nw.Zealand])
Air Pacific (Nadi [Fiji]), with connections to Los Angeles and Amsterdam (you need to take into account a total travel time of at least 24 hours)
Qantas (Melbourne and Sydney [Australia])
Virgin Australia (Melbourne and Sydney [Australia])

Also from the northern island of Vava’u group can be flown internationally. There is hence a direct flight to Suva in Fiji.

All other airports and airstrips only serve the domestic air traffic.

Getting around

The distances in Tonga are not too big. On Tongatapu and Vava’u public buses and minibuses are regularly avaliable. The bus services are driven by private companies. The buses are usually open aired (no windows, are often crowded and make many stops making a journey of 25 miles can take an hour. There are fixed stops but you can also wave down the bus with your arms. You pay the driver upon boarding.

In particular, the colored minivans are often packed and the most beloved places by the window. There you can stick your head for a little fresh air.

Health & safety

Health
The climate in Tonga is pleasant, therefore you usually do not need to take any special medical precautions. However, the best you can go to your family doctor for specific advice.

Tonga has almost no dangerous or poisonous animals. The most dangerous animal is probably the shark. Inside the reefs in the lagoon from time to time you will see small harmless reef sharks. The larger shark species – such as the hammer head, tiger shark and white shark – like deep water so you are only likely to encounter if you are scuba diving outside of the lagoon.

Remember that the coral is sharp. To prevent sores and possible infections, we recommend that you wear plastic sandals or reef shoes when you are walking or in shallow water over coral is swimming over the coral. If you have to cut the coral the risk of infection is very large, do not wait to long to use antibiotics.

Water in Tonga
Tap water is generally safe to drink on Fiji, but chlorinated. For safety, however, we advise you to boil your drinking water or buy bottled water.

Sunburn in Tonga
Tonga is located in the tropics, the air is not polluted and pure. This brings strong solar radiation unhindered on earth. Head covering and a sunscreen with a high protection factor is so highly recommended.

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Country Profile

Population
The population of Tonga is 105,323.

Religion
By population: Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, 37.3 percent; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), 16.8 percent; Free Church of Tonga, 15.6 percent; and Roman Catholic Church, 11.3 percent.

Language
Tongan is the official language of Tonga, although english is also widely spoken.