Tonga Budget Itinerary: 3 Days / Weekend©
Tonga Budget Itinerary: 3 Days / Weekend

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 3 Days / Weekend


3-Day Budget and Backpacking Itinerary for Tonga

Three days? Are you crazy? Can we invite you to look at the 14-day budget itinerary instead, or at least the 5-day itinerary? But we get it; sometimes you only have the time for a long weekend getaway, which is still enough time to see the main sights of Tonga’s “main island”, Tongatapu.

You can explore some of the oldest historic sites in the South Pacific, delve into breathtaking limestone caves and, of course, get some beach time or whale swimming in there too! We’ll go over our suggestions for a quick budget trip in this Tonga budget and backpacking itinerary for three days.

While you’re here, don’t forget to open The Backpacking & Budget Travel Guide to Tonga; your bible to planning a trip to Tonga on the cheap!

Overview: Tonga Budget and Backpacking Weekend (3-Day) Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arrival in Tonga
  • Day 2 – Explore Tongatapu
  • Day 3 – Explore Nuku’alofa + Departure.

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 3 Days / Weekend©

How to Get Around Tonga in Three Days

Unless you plan to do some whale swimming, snorkelling or an island day trip, there’s not much reason to travel over water in Tonga for just three days. It’s best to just explore the land to see the largest array of sights. While we give tips for transport in the itinerary below, here’s a quick overview of how to get around on a budget.

Road Transport in Tonga

Upon arrival to Tongatapu, taxis and accommodations typically offer airport transfers or car rental companies can deliver vehicles to the airport. Check out The Cheapest Airport Transfers in Tonga for more on the subject.

For travelling around Tongatapu, car hire offers the most flexibility and convenience yet is reasonably priced in Tonga. Get advice on car hire from What You Need to Hire a Car in Tonga. Alternatively, this itinerary is doable with some taxis in the mix (see The Complete Guide to Taxis in Tonga) and guided tours such as the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Tonga.

Learn more about all of your transport options in the 10 Ways to Get to (& Around) Tongatapu.

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 3 Days / Weekend©

Day 1 – Arrival in Tonga

Travel time: 30 mins airport transfer.

Welcome to Tonga! It just so happens that you’ll be landing on the “main island” of Tonga, Tongatapu, where you’ll find the largest array of free natural attractions to explore. It’s ideal for a three-day budget holiday!

After going through the arrival procedures at Fua’amotu International Airport, get an airport transfer to your first destination on this budget itinerary; Nuku’alofa!

You might have time to do a bit of city exploration on the first day, seeing the Royal Palace and browsing the Talamahu Market. Otherwise, scout out The Cheap Eats in Nuku’alofa for some real Tongan cuisine!

Budget Accommodation in Nuku’alofa

Check out our top recommendations in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Nuku’alofa.

Dining Recommendations

Pick up some fresh local ingredients from the Talamahu Market and spruce up something at your self-catering accommodation. Otherwise, try authentic Tongan cuisine like lu and ‘ota ika at Mum’s Cafe (Cnr Fatafehi and Laifone Road). If you’re not feeling quite that adventurous, Three Men’s Fastfood (Taufau’ahau Village) have affordable burgers/paninis, and pizzas at their Vuna Road Bus Station branch.

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 3 Days(c)

Day 2 – Explore Tongatapu

Travel time: 1-3 hours drive for sightseeing (see The Driving Times & Distances in Tonga).

You only need a day to explore the sights of Tongatapu! Luckily, most of them are free to visit and only a small selection have a small fee. You could hire a car to see the sights following A Self-Guided Day Trip of Tongatapu or you may find it’s less hassle to jump on an island tour for a few more pa’anga (it’s usually cheaper if you can get a group of you together, though). Check out island tours in The 5 Best Guided Tours of Tongatapu.

Free/Cheap Things to Do on Tongatapu

  • Check out the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon
  • Explore and swim in ‘Anahulu Cave
  • Get awesome views from the Hufangalpue Landbridge and Lookout
  • Watch the Flying Foxes in Kolovai
  • Go beach-hopping around Tongatapu
  • Watch the Fishing Pigs in Navutoka
  • Take a look at the Three-Headed Coconut Tree
  • See the amazing displays of the Mapu ‘a Vaea Blowholes
  • See the unbelievable Tsunami Rock

… And there’s a lot more where that came from! For more details on each activity, see the 20 Free & Cheap Things To Do on Tongatapu.

Dining Recommendations

While out sightseeing, stop by Ofeina Restaurant (Veitongo) which serves up Tongan dishes like lu sipisipi soyanaketi moakelevi ika and more for an ultra-cheap price! If you want to “treat yourself”, Garden Cafe (Vaini) is also highly recommended.

Back in Nuku’alofa, dine on delicious curry and dahl at Chand’s Curry House (Taufa’ahau Road) or get your Mexican fix from Inglewood LA Snacks (Wellington Road). See The Top Cheap Eats in Tonga to see more options.

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 3 Days(c)

Day 3 – Explore Nuku’alofa + Departure Day

Travel time: 30 mins airport transfer.

Have a bite to eat in the city before making your way to the airport, using the recommendations in our 20 Best Restaurants in Nuku’alofa. Trust us, it will be better than eating at the airport cafe. Plus, you’ll likely have time to do one or two of the free/cheap experiences listed below!

Free/Cheap Things to Do in Nuku’alofa

  • Snap a pic of the Royal Palace
  • Check out the Royal Tombs
  • See amazing arts and crafts at the Talamahu Market
  • Discover ancient history at the Tonga National Museum
  • Browse the Langafonua Handicrafts Centre
  • Learn about the Tongan culture at Ancient Tonga or Tina’s Workshop
  • See the sights by bike
  • Have a picnic at Popua Park.

Learn more about each activity in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Nuku’alofa.


Taxis and accommodation transfers are available to transport you from Nuku’alofa to Fua’amotu International Airport.

Remember to arrive at the airport a couple of hours before your scheduled departure so that you have enough time to check in, go through security and browse the small selection of retail offerings. For anything else you need to know about leaving Tonga, it’s all listed in our guide, Leaving Tonga: Departure Tips & Checklist.

And it’s “Nofo ā” (goodbye) to Tonga!

Alternative Tonga Three-Day Itineraries

Is this three-day budget and backpacking itinerary for Tonga not quite speaking to you? How about checking out our alternative itineraries for three days/a long weekend:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed from this Tonga budget and backpacking itinerary, you’re likely to find it in The Backpacking & Budget Travel Guide to Tonga.


Laura (Lola) 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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