Planning a trip to Tonga can pose a number of challenges that range from not finding the information you are looking for online to having to understand cultural practices that can and will impact your travel plans. Traveling to destinations, such as Tonga, that are much less traveled than other places has both its pros and cons. Planning falling in the con department, but don’t let that deter you. With a little perseverance and awesome reward of a beautiful country, the hard work always pays off. The following tips for planning a trip to Tonga will give you a head start in making it to this beautiful country.
Get a Tonga Travel Book
As much as I love using the internet to plan my trips, there is a lot of conflicting and outdated information about Tonga. And to a degree, even the guidebooks are somewhat dated. This adds a layer of complication into planning, but we took this as a good sign that we were truly going to a place that not many travelers like to venture. I used our guidebook to help us narrow down things we wanted to do and also helped me to focus my online search for planning our trip to Tonga.
Understand Tongan Traditions
It is a Tongan law that no one works on Sunday. This will impact your plans for Tonga because everything shuts down except for hospitals, some hotel restaurants, and a couple tour operators that will take visitors to an island off Tongatapu to snorkel for the day. Everything includes airports. You won’t be able to fly in, out or around Tonga on Sunday so plan to attend Sunday service with all the islanders, which is a must-experience for the singing alone, and if you are lucky you might be invited to Sunday Feast. If you aren’t going to Sunday Feast be sure to have some snacks handy.
Be Patient When Planning A Trip to Tonga
When I was planning our trip to Tonga I had to email a handful of accommodations to inquire about availability and reserve our room. In some cases, I didn’t hear back from places for a month. I was freaking out a little bit on the inside because we were going during high season and was panicked places were full. The Internet is expensive in Tonga and Tongans are not as high-strung as pretty much anyone else in the world so don’t expect speedy communications all the time.
Plan for the Unplanned
Planning a trip to Tonga takes a fair amount of work. But just like any trip, there is always the potential for something unexpected to happen. We ended up having to spend an extra day on Tongatapu because of horrible weather preventing our plane from taking off. We had to scramble for a place to stay that night and ended up staying in a very basic room with shared bathroom. Fortunately, no one else was staying in the building that night because to add insult to injury I had a horrible case of traveler’s diarrhea that night. When it rains, it pours both literally and figuratively. I’ll let that sinking for a second. And while the delay was annoying, I was comforted by the fact that we had traveler’s insurance. Make sure you have a backup plan, even if it’s relying on your traveler’s insurance.
Be Felxible When Planning A Trip to Tonga
While I managed to book two of the three place we stayed at via online payment methods, one place did not have online payment as an option.
I had 3 payment choices:
- Money transfer
- Calling to give my credit card info
- Sending my credit card information over email.
Option 1 was not appealing because I wanted to avoid exchange rate and other fees, plus I wanted my credit card points. Option 2 was the option I tried first, but for some reason, Skype didn’t want to co-operate. So I was left with the least desirable and most shady option. EMAILING my credit card info. It’s like breaking an internet 101 rule. I was able to send it over in a way where not all the details of my credit card lived in 1 email. I also figured that if this was actually a scam then I have protection on my card to back me up. Fortunately, it was a legit transaction and we escaped unscathed.
Read our Ultimate Tonga Travel Guide
Our Tonga travel guide covers a wide range of useful information that you will find helpful when planning your trip to Tonga. It compiles helpful links scattered across the internet and provides information that is relevant as of 2017.
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Daina - Founder of headedanywhere.com
Daina is the sunset and ocean obsessed photographer and writer behind underwater and adventure photography blog, Headed Anywhere, featuring photography tips and hacks to simplify your busy life.
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