Learn How to Make Your Own Souvenirs in Tonga!
How can you not be impressed by the handicrafts of Tonga? Each piece is handmade and unique, as traditional crafting has been part of the Tongan culture for centuries. When visiting Tonga, how can you experience Tongan handicrafts beyond just browsing them at a local market? Well, you could learn how to Tongan handicrafts yourself…
There are a select few places across The Kingdom where it’s possible to take handicraft classes with locals to learn how to make your own souvenir, whether it’s a piece of painted tapa cloth or a woven practical item that you can use for years to come. Check out some of the best places to learn how to make Tongan handicrafts in the guide below.
For more cultural experiences in Tonga, see How to Have a Real Tonga Cultural Experience.
5 Places to Buy Amazing Handicrafts in Tonga
Before we jump into how you can make your own Tongan handicrafts, here are a few places where you can check out the masterpieces…
- Talamahu Market, Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu
- Langafonua Gallery & Handicrafts Centre, Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu
- ‘Utukalongalu Market, Neiafu, Vava’u
- Leonati Arts, Neiafu, Vava’u
- Pangai Market, Pangai, Ha’apai
This cultural centre in Nuku’alofa is a wonderful go-to not only for learning Tongan handicrafts but for a whole range of interactive activities surrounding the Tongan culture.
Ancient Tonga, located in Fangaloto in Nuku’alofa (transfers available), offers two main tours for visitors, a half culture tour lasting one hour and a full culture tour lasting 2h30mins. The full culture tour is an interactive experience where you’ll get to do a bit of the following:
- Prepare and eat traditional Tongan food for an umu
- Learn about the vegetation of Tonga and its practical uses
- Beat the bark for a traditional tapa cloth
- Learn about making traditional Tongan mats
- Dress up and learn about the different Tongan mats, dresses and koloa
- Taste and learn about kava
- Learn about traditional medicinal and beauty products.
For those who want to dive deeper into the handicrafts aspect of the Tongan culture, Ancient Tonga also offers dedicated ngatu (tapa cloth) and weaving classes.
Depending on your chosen accommodation, there’s plenty of opportunities to learn some Tongan handicrafts on the island of ‘Eua. The island is just a short flight or a half-day ferry journey from Tongatapu. Learn more about the island in The Complete Guide to ‘Eua.
This resort on the western coast of ‘Eua offers a wide range of activities for guests, which includes organising weaving classes with the local women. Learn traditional Tongan weaving techniques to make your own souvenir. Kava drinking with locals can also be organised.
This budget accommodation nestled between some of ‘Eua’s small villages and the ‘Eua National Park offers several in-house activities, including crafting classes with some of the local villagers and/or accommodation’s staff.
Weaving and/or tapa-making classes with the locals of Tufavai village can be booked through the ‘Eua Island website or the local visitor information centre. The activities cost a small fee which goes back into the village.
Check out more things to do in the 10 Must-Dos in ‘Eua.
Langi Langi Guesthouse
For those travelling to the Ha’apai island group in the centre of Tonga, you can be one of the guests of the Langi Langi Guesthouse (also known as the Fonongava’inga Guesthouse) and have the chance to get a unique insight into the Tongan culture.
Your host, Langi Langi, is part of the WID Handicraft Centre and is very skilled in traditional handicrafts. She is happy to share this skill with guests for a small fee – definitely the cheapest on this list. You’ll learn to make your own unique souvenir during your stay.
Find this guest house in the main town of Ha’apai, Pangai, on Lifuka Island. Learn more in the 5 Best Guesthouses in Ha’apai.
More About Tongan Handicrafts and Culture
- The Guide to the Tongan Culture for Travellers
- Tonga Etiquette: Respecting the Local Customs
- 10 Best Ways to Experience the Tongan Culture
That’s it for the guide on where to learn Tongan handicrafts. Inspire yourself with more experiences with the 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga: The Ultimate List. Plus, get even more tips in The Complete Travel Guide to Tonga.