The Tongan unit of currency is the pa'anga, which is divided into 100 seniti. The banks use "TOP" for the pa'anga but I have abbreviated if as T$ in this book. Most Tongans refer to "dollars" and "cents" when doing business with visitors, meaning pa'angas and senitis.
Tongan coins bear the likeness of the late King Taufa'ahau Tupou on one side and such items as bananas, chickens, and pigs on the other.
How to Get to Local Currency
ANZ Bank, on Taufau'ahau Road, is open Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm and Saturday from 8:30 to 11:30am. Westpac Bank of Tonga, at the waterfront end of Taufa'ahau Road, Nuku'alofa's main street, is open Monday to Friday 9am to 3:30pm and Saturday 8:30 to 11:30am. Both banks have ATMs. ANZ also has an ATM at the airport. You may get a better rate for cash and traveler's checks at GlobalEX/Western Union, on Taufa'ahau Road. It's open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm and Saturday 8:30am to 12:30pm.
The Tongan Pa'anga, the U.S. & Canadian Dollars & the British Pound
At this writing, US$1/$C1 = approximately T$2.00 (or, the other way around, T$1 = US50¢), which is the exchange rate I used to calculate the dollar values given in this book. For British readers: At this writing, £1 = approximately T$4 (or, T$1 = 25p). Note: International exchange rates fluctuate depending on economic and political factors. Find the current rates at www.xe.com.
The major hotels, car-rental firms, travel agencies, and Royal Tongan Airlines accept American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, and Visa credit cards. Many restaurants and other businesses accept MasterCard or Visa, but most add 4% or 5% to your bill for doing so. Always ask first if you want to charge your purchases. Leave your Discover card at home.