Taxi Tips for Tonga!
Taxis are a pretty universal transport method, but the way they work differs slightly from country to country. Wise up to the way that taxis work in Tonga, from identifying official taxis to when you can’t use them, in this list of things to know about taxis in Tonga!
For more taxi advice, be sure to check out The Guide to Taxis in Tonga.
1. Registered Taxis Have a “T” at the Beginning of their Number Plate
Registered taxis in Tonga can be identified by the “T” at the beginning of their registration plate. Some taxis will be easier to spot with a classic “taxi” sign on the roof of the vehicle. Either way, look out for the “T” if looking for an official taxi service.
2. Ask for the Going Rate for Your Trip
Most taxi drivers in Tonga don’t use meters. With this in mind, it’s best to ask the rate for your trip before accepting a ride. This way, you know what you’re getting yourself in for and whether you can afford the fare. There are some fares that should always be the same between taxis, especially for the airport runs, which is around TOP$30-$50 between Nuku’alofa and the airport and around TOP$25 for Neiafu and the airport. See more typical fares in Taxi Prices in Tonga: The Costs You Need to Know.
3. Guesthouses Might Book You an “Unofficial” Taxi
Guesthouses are the most frequent type of budget accommodation in Tonga, often run by locals. When asking for them to book you a taxi, don’t be surprised if one of their family members with a car shows up. In this case, they’ll just charge you a fixed rate for the trip. This is also a way that you can get around on a Sunday at some guest houses, because otherwise…
4. Taxis Don’t Operate on a Sunday
Sunday is a day of rest in Tonga where it is against the law for businesses, except for a very select few tourism businesses, to operate. That also includes “official” taxis, who won’t be able to pick you up on a Sunday.
5. Taxi Ranks Can Be Found in Tongatapu and Vava’u
The islands with the largest road networks are Tongatapu and the main island of Vava’u. In Tongatapu, you’ll find taxis at Fua’amotu Airport and outside Talamahu Market in Nuku’alofa. In Vava’u, taxis will also be at the airport, as well as outside of the Tonga Post Office, opposite the ANZ bank, in Neiafu. Learn more about transport in Tongatapu here and more about transport in Vava’u here.
6. Taxi Drivers Can Be Hired on an Hourly Basis in Vava’u
With limited tours to see the sights on land in Vava’u, taxi drivers fill the gap in the market offering tours/a driver hire service. These usually have a starting rate with an hourly rate after that, which should be asked of the driver, as rates are various. Learn more in Hiring a Driver in Tonga.
7. Ask at the Information Centre or Mariner’s Cafe for the Latest Taxis in Ha’apai
Lifuka Island in Ha’apai has taxi services… Sometimes! These usually couple up as driving tours, so taxi services aren’t always available. With that, locals who offer taxi services come and go all of the time, so it’s best to ask for taxi services once you arrive on the island. Reliable places to ask are at the Visitor Information Centre, as well as at the Mariner’s Cafe in Pangai. Learn more about transport in Ha’apai here.
8. Taxis in Tonga are Pretty Old
Some might say that Tonga is where cars go to die, and after seeing the taxis, you will probably think that’s true. To some, old vehicles might not be a big deal. Just don’t set your expectations for luxury.
9. You Won’t Find Tonga on Uber
Uber and taxis go hand-in-hand when comparing your options. However, as you might have realised when trying to do online searches for Tonga resulting in very little information (except for TongaPocketGuide.com, of course), Tonga is pretty old-school. Needless to say, you won’t find Uber here.
10. The Taxi Driver Can Be a Good First Source of Information When You Arrive
In relation to the above point, Tonga is much more of a face-to-face country, where most information about what to do, car rentals, where to stay, etc. can be figured out by talking to people once you get here. Strike up a conversation with your taxi driver on your run from the airport to get some extra advice about your stay on the island.