How to Drive in Tonga(c)
How to Drive in Tonga

How to Drive in Tonga


What You Need to Know About Driving in Tonga

With many landscapes to admire, historical sites to discover and amazing natural attractions, a road trip in Tonga has so much to offer! But like anywhere in the world, you can’t just expect to just come to Tonga, hire a car and be on your way. There are road rules that you need to make yourself familiar with and you may need to get yourself a Visitor’s Driving Licence. We’ll go through all of those details and more in this guide to how to drive in Tonga.

Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga

Is Tonga a safe country to drive in? Mostly yes, but you do need to approach driving with some caution and follow the rules of the road in Tonga. Some tips include:

  • Drive on the left side of the road
  • Watch out for pigs, chickens and dogs on the roads
  • Don’t park under a coconut tree
  • Stick to the speed limit – no more than 70km/h outside of urban areas
  • Take extra care on gravel or dirt roads
  • Inspect rental vehicles before agreeing to hire
  • Give way to vehicles turning right
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Wear your seatbelt
  • Lock your car and hide your valuables

For more details on each safety tip, see 10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga. Plus, check out Is it Safe to Drive in Tonga?

How to Drive in Tonga(c)

Drive on the Right Licence

To legally drive in Tonga, you need to either have a full valid driving licence from a visitor visa-exempt country or a Visitor’s Driving Licence. The latter can be purchased from the Ministry of Infrastructure in Nuku’alofa (Tongatapu) or from the Police Station in Neiafu (Vava’u).

To get a Visitor’s Driving Licence, you need to be over 18 years old and present your full valid driving licence. You will also need to present an International Driving Permit along with your driving licence if your licence is not written in English. You will also need to pay around TOP$40.

Learn more about the licences needed in Can You Drive in Tonga With an Overseas Licence?

Follow the complete process of getting your Visitor’s Driving Licence in Tonga in How to Get a Tonga Visitor’s Driving Licence.

How to Drive in Tonga(c)

Car Rental in Tonga

Car rental is available on the islands of Tongatapu and Vava’u. Although the driving age in Tonga is 18 years old, most car rental companies require drivers to be at least 21 years old.

There is a mixed range of car rental experiences in Tonga. Some car rental companies are very professional, with all the usual car rental paperwork you’re used to, while others are sometimes just a “dude with a car”. The latter is usually best avoided, as you often don’t know what you’re getting yourself in for.

Insurance add-ons are only sometimes an option. In many cases, drivers are usually charged for any damage caused to the vehicle, so go through the pre-rental inspection thoroughly.

For more car rental advice, head to the Things to Know About Car Rental in Tonga.

How to Drive in Tonga(c)

Gas Stations in Tonga

Tonga’s gas stations are located in the country’s largest towns, like Nuku’alofa and Neiafu. With the islands being so small, you’re hardly too far away from one of these gas stations.

Almost all gas stations in Tonga are full-service gas stations, i.e. a gas station attendant fills up your vehicle with fuel for you. Tell the attendant how much money you would like to fuel up by, then pay inside at the counter. Only one gas station in Tonga is self-serviced.

Petrol per litre cost approximately TOP$2.60-2.80.

How to Drive in Tonga(c)

Road Rules in Tonga

While most road rules in Tonga are similar to other countries, there are a few differences in road rules that many visitors are surprised by or find different from home. We’ll go through some of the most important road rules for visitors here:

  • Drive on the left side of the road
  • The speed limit in urban areas/villages is 50km/h
  • The speed limit outside of urban areas is 70km/h
  • At roundabouts, give way to vehicles approaching from the right
  • Give way to vehicles turning right
  • You can park on the side of the road only on the leftmost side
  • You can’t park on footpaths, bus stops, in front of an access road, within 6m/20ft of a pedestrian crossing, or within 30ft of an intersection
  • You can’t overtake within 10m/30ft of an intersection
  • You can’t overtake if a vehicle has stopped/slowed down to give way
  • Observe road signage

For more information on the road rules in practice, see Is it Easy to Drive in Tonga?

More on How to Drive in Tonga

That’s it for our guide on how to drive in Tonga. Be sure to bookmark our Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga for even more transport tips.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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