Rent a Car or Use Taxis in Tonga?
Both transport options offer a way to get around Tonga when you want and where you want. But which is better; car rental or taxis? Both options are available on the main island of Tonga, Tongatapu, as well as in Vava’u. We go over the costs associated with car rental and taxis, as well as the pros and cons of each. That way, you’ll be able to work out whether you should rent a car or use a taxi in Tonga.
An Intro to Car Rental and Taxi Hire in Tonga
Before we get into which transport method is better, we’ll quickly introduce what each service is and how they work in Tonga.
Car rentals are available in Tongatapu and Vava’u. There are less than 10 car rental companies on each island yet they offer a wide range of vehicles to explore the islands on their well-connected road networks. Car rentals provide the ultimate freedom to explore the main islands, but for some travellers, it might feel unnecessary to hire a car. Hirers are responsible for making sure the vehicle is returned with a full tank of fuel and the vehicle is in the same state it was picked up. Plus, check out What You Need to Hire a Car in Tonga to learn everything you need to know about car rental.
Taxis are also only available in Tongatapu and Vava’u are predominantly used for driving from A to B and paying one flat fee for the trip. However, many taxi drivers are also available to be hired for the day, such as for sightseeing trips. Learn more about how they work in both How to Hire a Driver in Tonga and The Complete Guide to Taxis in Tonga.
Comparing the Cost of Car Rental and Taxis in Tonga
The biggest consideration for most of us is the price. Which is cheaper in Tonga, car rental or taxis? Check out the list of prices below to get an idea of transport costs via rental cars and taxis.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Car for a Day in Tonga?
Depending on the type of vehicle you hire, the base cost of car rental in Tonga can be anywhere between TOP$50-$300. For the sake of this comparison, we will compare the cost of our recommended vehicle type: a compact car or a budget SUV vehicle. Car rental for just one day in a compact car or budget SUV is approximately TOP$70-$120 per day.
Additional mandatory costs to take into consideration:
- Fuel tank top-up at the end of your trip – Our experience shows that this roughly comes to TOP$31-$33 if travelling approximately 100 km (60 mi), such as a loop around Tongatapu or Vava’u.
Total: Combining all the costs above, you can expect to pay TOP$100-$155 for your transportation in Tonga for one day in a compact car or a budget SUV. This does not include any additional services like vehicle delivery, credit card fees, etc.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Taxi for a Day in Tonga?
Individual taxi companies and drivers have their own rules when it comes to pricing for a full-day private driver + taxi hire. On Tongatapu, most will fall TOP$300 for a day of sightseeing, while in Vava’u, this can be anywhere between TOP$400 and $600 or can be TOP$80 an hour for shorter periods. There are no extra costs involved for the passengers except perhaps gratuities, which are not an expectation in Tonga but are at the discretion of the customer (see Tonga Tipping & Tax Guide for Travellers for more advice).
How Much Does a One-Way Trip in a Taxi Cost in Tonga?
On the other hand, short taxi trips in Tonga can be very reasonably priced, especially if you are travelling at more than one person. Taxi prices are at the discretion of taxi companies but the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development has recommended that the general pricing should be the first kilometre at TOP$3.50-$4.10 and each continuous kilometre is TOP$1.20-1.40. Although most taxi companies roughly stick to these fares, note that they don’t use meters so will usually estimate prices based on distance travelled. See the average price for popular routes in Taxi Fares in Tonga: How Much Does a Taxi Cost?
Which is Cheaper, Hiring a Car or Using a Taxi?
As you can see, renting a car for the day works out cheaper than hiring a taxi for the day in terms of cost. However, if you don’t plan on driving a rental car too often, for instance, you’re days will be mostly spent at the resort or swimming with whales, then simply paying the taxi fare for A-to-B trips will likely cost you less.
Car Rental in Tonga: The Pros and Cons
An easy way to see if car rental is right for your holiday is to simply weigh the pros and cons of renting a car in Tonga.
The Pros of Renting a Car in Tonga
- Ultimate freedom; go where you want when you want
- Privacy; it’s just you, your loved ones/friends and the road
- No waiting around for taxis
- Available to use on a Sunday
- Cost-effective if travelling a lot.
The Cons of Renting a Car in Tonga
- Driving can be stressful; Tonga has a few road hazards that you might not be used to
- Can be more expensive if only doing a small amount of travel
- Time is taken to go through the car rental process at the beginning and end of your trip.
For more information on hiring a car, head to What You Need to Hire a Car in Tonga.
Taxis in Tonga: The Pros and Cons
And on the taxi side of the argument, here are the pros and cons of using a taxi in Tonga.
The Pros of Getting a Taxi in Tonga
- Stress-free; someone else drives the foreign roads and navigates for you
- If only doing a few small trips, the overall cost tends to be cheaper than hiring a car
- Driver hire; some taxis can be hired for the day, providing stress-free sightseeing
- Get advice from a local; your driver may be willing to recommend places to eat and lesser-known attractions along the way.
The Cons of Getting a Taxi in Tonga
- Booking and waiting for taxis might take a bit more time than hopping straight into your rental car
- Taxis can’t be booked on a Sunday
- More expensive if used every day for several trips
- More expensive for sightseeing.
Other Transport Options
If both car rental and taxis don’t suit your budget or travel style, consider alternative transport options, for instance:
More About Whether to Rent a Car or Use a Taxi in Tonga
That’s it for our guide on whether to rent a car or use a taxi in Tonga. If you’re still unsure on what transport to use, maybe these guides will help:
- Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga
- The Guide to Public Transport in Tonga
- Tonga Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Tonga Cost?