Travelling in Tonga: Car Rental Vs. Taxi
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 for each. That way, you’ll be able to work out whether you should rent a car or use a taxi in Tonga.
Rent Car or Get a Taxi: in Brief
Rent a Car in Tonga if…
… you want to do independent sightseeing, are staying out of town and prefer to travel at your own pace.
Travel by Taxi in Tonga if…
… you are only doing short trips and going to and from the airport.
Renting a Car in Tonga
In Tongatapu, there are around 10 car rental companies to choose from, offering a wide range of vehicles to explore the island on its well-connected road network. In Vava’u, there are less than five car rental companies available with small fleets and typically older cars. Both provide the ultimate freedom to explore the main islands, but for some travellers, it might feel unnecessary to hire a car. Work it out for your own needs with the cost, pro and con list below. Plus, check out The Guide to Renting a Car in Tonga.
The Cost of Car Rental in Tonga
- Small car/day – TOP$50-$70
- Medium car/day – TOP$100-$140
- Premium car/day – TOP$150-$250
- Fuel/litre – TOP$2.60-$2.80
- Airport drop-off – TOP$25-$35
- Security deposit – TOP$300-$600
Find out more in How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car in Tonga?
The Pros of Renting a Car in Tonga
- Freedom to travel Tonga at your own pace
- 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
- You have to drive yourself, which some find stressful on foreign roads
- Can be more expensive if only doing a small amount of travel
- Some visitors may need to take the time to get a Visitor’s Driving Licence
- Time is taken to go through the car rental process at the beginning and end of your trip.
Catching a Taxi in Tonga
Taxis wait enthusiastically outside of the airports in Tongatapu and Vava’u. Taxi ranks can also be found in Nuku’alofa and Neiafu, while accommodations will also be able to call you a taxi when you need it. The latest phone number for taxis are also available at information centres and accommodation, so check out The Best SIM Card in Tonga For Travellers, should you be making a few calls yourself in Tonga.
Taxis work the same way as elsewhere in the world, taking you from A to B. However, most taxis don’t use meters, so asking for the going rate before you agree to a ride is good practice.
In Tonga, taxis are useful for making short trips. Find out more about them in The Guide to Taxis in Tonga. Plus, check out the typical fares, as well as the pros and cons below.
The Cost of Taxis in Tonga
- Fua’amotu Airport – Nuku’alofa: Around TOP$30-$50
- Around Nuku’alofa: Around TOP$5-$8
- Lupepauʻu Airport – Neiafu: Around TOP$25
- Neiafu – Talihau: Around TOP$40
- Neiafu – ‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens: Around TOP$20
- Neiafu – Mt Talau – Around TOP$5-$10
Find out more in the Taxi Prices in Tonga: The Costs You Need to Know
The Pros of Getting a Taxi in Tonga
- You don’t have to worry about driving on foreign roads
- If only doing a few small trips, the overall cost tends to be cheaper than hiring a car
- Can get a taxi to/from the airport with ease
- Hiring a driver for the day is sometimes available at cost-effective rates – see Hiring a Driver in Tonga
The Cons of Getting a Taxi in Tonga
- Most taxi services run from A to B, making it unsuitable for sightseeing for the day
- You need to wait around for taxis to be available to pick you up or have taxi phone numbers on hand
- Taxis are prohibited from operating on a Sunday
- More expensive if using every day for several trips.
Other Transport Options
If both car rental and taxis don’t suit your budget or travel style, consider alternative transport options, for instance:
- Local buses – See How to Travel Around Tonga By Bus
- Airport/accommodation transfers – See Tonga Airports: Your Airport Transfer Options
- Bicycle hire – See Where to Rent Bikes in Tonga
- Scooter hire – See The Guide to Renting a Scooter in Tonga