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East Timor travel guide - Travel S helper

East Timor

travel guide

East Timor is a sovereign state in Maritime Southeast Asia. It is formally known as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. It consists of the eastern half of the island of Timor; the neighboring islands of Atauro and Jaco; and Oecusse, a self-governing exclave on the island’s northern coast bordered by Indonesian West Timor. The nation has an area of about 15,410 kilometers square (5,400 sq mi).

East Timor was colonized by Portugal in the 16th century and referred to as Portuguese Timor until November 1975, when the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN) proclaimed independence. It was attacked and conquered by Indonesia nine days later and was designated Indonesia’s 27th province the following year. The Indonesian occupation of East Timor was marked by a bloody war between separatist organizations (particularly FRETILIN) and the Indonesian military that lasted decades.

Indonesia ceded sovereignty of the region in 1999, after the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination. On 20 May 2002, East Timor became the twenty-first century’s first new sovereign state, joining the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. East Timor declared its desire to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2011 by seeking to become the organization’s eleventh member. It is one of Southeast Asia’s only two mainly Christian countries, the other being the Philippines.

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East Timor - Info Card




United States dollar (USD)

Time zone

UTC+9 (Timor-Leste Time)


15,007 km2 (5,794 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language

Portuguese, Tetum

East Timor | Introduction

East Timor, the eastern half of the island of Timor, is a former Portuguese colony that proclaimed independence from Portugal on November 28, 1975. Indonesian troops attacked and seized the former colony nine days later, with the tacit consent of the United States and Australia. The colony has been incorporated as the province of Timor Timur by July 1976.

Over the following two decades, Indonesia integrated the colony, with Indonesians filling many important positions of power rather than East Timorese. An estimated 100,000-250,000 people are said to have died during a pacification operation during this period.

On August 30, 1999, the United Nations oversaw a popular referendum in which the people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. Following the announcement of the results, gangs of independence opponents, backed by the Indonesian military, terrorized the populace in a civil war that destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure. A United Nations peacekeeping force headed by Australian troops was brought in to rebuild the country and re-establish civil society.

East Timor was internationally recognized as an independent state on May 20, 2002, under the official name of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste.


Timor is the biggest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands in Southeast Asia. It is part of Maritime Southeast Asia. The Ombai Strait, Wetar Strait, and the larger Banda Sea are located to the north of the island. The Timor Sea divides East Timor from Australia to the south, while the Indonesian Province of East Nusa Tenggara is to the west.

Much of the nation is mountainous, with the highest peak at 2,963 meters being Tatamailau (also known as Mount Ramelau) (9,721 ft). The climate is tropical, which means it’s hot and humid most of the time. Its seasons are distinguished by different wet and dry periods. Dili is the capital, biggest city, and major port, while Baucau, in the east, is the second-largest city. East Timor is located between the latitudes of 8° and 10° South and the longitudes of 124° and 128° East.

The Paitchau Range and the Lake Ira Lalaro area comprise East Timor’s easternmost region, which includes the county’s first conservation area, the Nino Konis Santana National Park. It is home to the country’s only surviving tropical dry wooded region. It is sparsely inhabited and home to a variety of unusual plant and animal species. The northern shore is distinguished by a variety of coral reef systems that have been identified as vulnerable.


East Timor’s climate is hot and humid (tropical). The rainy season lasts from November to May, with temperatures averaging 30oC all year, but temperatures are much lower in higher altitude regions.

The dry season lasts about 6 months, from June to October.

The rainy season in East Timor may cause road degradation, making travel to distant district regions difficult.


East Timor had a population of 1,167,242 according to the 2015 census.

The name Maubere, which was formerly used by the Portuguese to refer to native East Timorese and was often used as a synonym for the illiterate and ignorant, was adopted as a term of pride by FReTiLIn. East Timorese are divided into many ethnic groups, the majority of them of Malayo-Polynesian or Melanesian/Papuan ancestry. The Tetum (100,000), primarily on the north coast and around Dili; the Mambai (80,000) in the central mountains; the Tukudede (63,170), in the area around Maubara and Liquiçá; the Galoli (50,000), between the tribes of Mambae and Makasae; the Kemak (50,000) in north-central Timor island; and the Baikeno (20,000) in the area around Pante Macassar

The major tribes of mainly Papuan ancestry include the Bunak (50,000), who live in Timor’s central core; the Fataluku (30,000), who are near the island’s eastern tip at Lospalos; and the Makasae, who live near the island’s eastern end. As a consequence of interracial marriage, which was widespread during the Portuguese period, there is a community of individuals of mixed East Timorese and Portuguese ancestry, known as mestiços in Portuguese. A tiny Chinese minority exists, the most of whom are Hakka. In the mid-1970s, many Chinese departed.


According to the 2010 census, 96.9 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, 2.2 percent is Protestant or Evangelical, 0.3 percent is Muslim, and 0.5 percent practice another or no religion.

The number of churches has increased from 100 in 1974 to over 800 in 1994, with church membership increasing significantly under Indonesian rule because Pancasila, Indonesia’s official philosophy, demands all people to believe in one God and rejects traditional faiths. In rural regions, Roman Catholicism coexists with indigenous customs.

While Section 45 Comma 1 of the East Timor Constitution enshrines the values of religious freedom and separation of church and state, it also recognizes “the involvement of the Catholic Church in the struggle of national liberation” in its preamble, which has no legal force. When it gained independence, it joined the Philippines as Asia’s only two mainly Roman Catholic nations, but neighboring areas of eastern Indonesia, such as West Timor and Flores, also had Roman Catholic majorities.

East Timor is divided into three dioceses by the Roman Catholic Church: the Diocese of Dli, the Diocese of Baucau, and the Diocese of Maliana.


The official languages are Tetum (understood by almost all East Timorese) and Portuguese (understood by a minority of people, but the number is growing), but the constitution states that Indonesian, which is widely spoken by adults, and English, which has a reasonable number of speakers in Dili but not many in the rest of the country, are working languages. There are also approximately 37 indigenous languages, with Tetum, Galole, Mambae, and Kemak being the most widely spoken.

A person who is fluent in Indonesian will have no trouble getting about, while those who speak English or Portuguese will be OK in Dili but will have difficulty in rural regions.

Internet & Communications


Timor Telecom has a monopoly on landline and mobile phone services in East Timor and charges accordingly; international calls into East Timor may cost up to US$3/minute. Calls outside the nation are much cheaper, with average rates of 40 cents per minute to Australia, Indonesia, Portugal, and the United States.

On arrival, it is suggested that you purchase a local pre-paid phone for US$10 (which includes the phone, charger, sim card, and US$3 credit) at any Timor-Telecom shop (there is one in Landmark Plaza on way into town from the airport). Prepaid SIM cards in the country may be purchased for about US$3. Please keep in mind that, although international phones operate in East Timor, global roaming costs are extremely high, therefore purchasing a modest phone package, even for a short stay, is recommended.

The National Numbering Plan (NNP) was modified on July 31, 2012, and all mobile phone numbers now need an extra ‘7’ to be added to the front of the number, making a total of eight digits. Land lines have not changed.

Emergency numbers

  • UNPOL Emergency (Police Emergency):  112 or 7723 0635
  • SOS Emergency Medivac:  +61 2 93722468
  • Dili National Hospital:  3311008
  • Bombeiros Fire Rescue:  3312210 ext 203 / 3324019
  • Timor Ambulance:  7723 6662, 3311044
  • Dili National Ambulance, Emergency:  3310541


East Timor’s internet access is sluggish and restricted. Timor Telecom also has a monopoly in this area and attempts to ban voice-over-IP providers such as Skype.

Internet cafés may be found in Dili, Baucau, and a few other smaller towns; search for Timor Telecom shops.


East Timor has a market economy that was formerly based on the export of a few commodities such as coffee, marble, oil, and sandalwood. East Timor’s GDP increased by approximately 10% in 2011 and a similar amount in 2012.

Timor currently has income from offshore oil and gas deposits, but only a small portion of it has gone toward developing communities, which depend on subsistence farming. Nearly half of the population is impoverished.

The Timor-Leste Petroleum Fund was created in 2005 and has grown to a value of US$8.7 billion by 2011. The International Monetary Fund has designated East Timor as the world’s “most oil-dependent economy.” The Petroleum Fund covers almost all of the government’s yearly budget, which has grown from $70 million in 2004 to $1.3 billion in 2011, with a $1.8 billion plan for 2012.

The economy is reliant on government expenditure and, to a lesser degree, foreign donor aid. Human capital limitations, infrastructural weakness, an inadequate legal system, and an ineffective regulatory environment have all slowed private sector growth. Coffee is the second biggest export after petroleum, generating about $10 million per year. Starbucks is a significant buyer of East Timorese coffee.

In 2012, the nation gathered 9,000 tonnes of coffee, 108 tonnes of cinnamon, and 161 tonnes of cocoa, placing it as the 40th largest producer of coffee, 6th largest producer of cinnamon, and 50th largest producer of cocoa in the world.

According to 2010 census statistics, 87.7 percent of urban (321,043 people) and 18.9 percent of rural (821,459 people) homes have electricity, for a total of 38.2 percent.

Agriculture employs 80 percent of the working population. In 2009, about 67,000 families in East Timor cultivated coffee, with a significant percentage of them being impoverished. Currently, gross margins are about $120 per hectare, with labor-day returns of around $3.70. As of 2009, there were 11,000 households producing mungbeans, the most of them were subsistence farmers.

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 report, the nation was rated 169th worldwide and worst in the East Asia and Pacific region. The nation performed especially badly in the areas of “registering property,” “enforcing contracts,” and “resolving insolvency,” placing last in all three.

In terms of telecommunications infrastructure, East Timor is the second-to-last Asian nation in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI), behind only Myanmar in Southeast Asia. NRI is a metric used to assess the degree of development of a country’s information and communication technology. In the 2014 NRI rating, East Timor was placed 141st overall, down from 134th in 2013.

Oceanic Exploration Corporation was given concessions by the Portuguese colonial government to explore petroleum and natural gas resources in the seas southeast of Timor. The Indonesian invasion in 1976, however, put a stop to this. The Timor Gap Treaty of 1989 split the resources between Indonesia and Australia. When East Timor gained independence, it inherited no fixed maritime borders. A temporary agreement (the Timor Sea Treaty, signed on 20 May 2002, when East Timor gained independence) established a Joint Petroleum Development Region (JPDA) and allocated 90 percent of income from existing projects in that area to East Timor and 10 percent to Australia.

A 2005 agreement between the governments of East Timor and Australia mandated that both countries set aside their maritime boundary dispute and that East Timor would receive 50 percent of the revenue from the Greater Sunrise development (estimated at A$26 billion, or about US$20 billion over the project’s lifetime). East Timor filed a lawsuit at The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013 to withdraw from a gas deal agreed with Australia, alleging the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) of tapping the East Timorese cabinet chamber in Dili in 2004.

In East Timor, there are no patent laws. A Timor Railway System has been proposed, but owing to a lack of money and competence, the present administration has yet to push for it.

Entry Requirements For East Timor

Visa & Passport

Visitors from any nation may easily acquire a 30-day tourist and business visa upon arrival in East Timor at Dili Airport or Dili Seaport by filling out a short form and paying US$30 in cash. However, “visa on arrival” is not accessible at the land border, where most visitors, with the exception of Indonesian and Portuguese citizens, must have acquired a visa or “visa application authorization” in advance. Timor-Leste reached an agreement with the EU in May 2015 that enables Schengen passport holders to enter Timor-Leste without a visa at any entry point, including land borders.

It should be noted that there is a little known government regulation that requires you to have at least two vacant pages in your passport upon entering (the visa on arrival stamp takes up one whole page). It is generally not an issue at immigration if you have one whole blank page; but, airlines have been known to refuse individuals who have less than two blank pages.

Check out the Immigration Department of East Timor, specifically the link to the Tourist Visa page, for information on visa requirements and how to apply for a “visa application authorisation” (which can be obtained via email before you travel) or how to apply for a visa at an Embassy or Consulate if you want to enter through a land border crossing.

Aside from Tourist and Business Visas, there are also Transit Visas, Work Visas, Study Visas, Cultural, Scientific, Sport, and Media Visas, and Residence Visas.

The following are the East Timor Immigration Department’s tourist visa requirements:

  • Show that you intend to pay a real visit (as tourist or business trip).
  • Demonstrate enough finances for the planned stay (access to US$100 upon arrival and US$50 per day).
  • Showcase your lodging accommodations.
  • Hold a return ticket or demonstrate your capacity to finance your own departure.

Applicants must also be judged to be of good character and in good health before being given a visa and/or allowed to visit East Timor.

All foreigners entering East Timor on a temporary visa must have a valid national passport with an expiration date no less than 6 months from the date of entrance into East Timor and at least one blank page available for Visa stamp.

When requested for on arrival, the visa is issued for a stay of up to 30 days and is only valid for one entrance. Extension after arrival — US$35 for each 30-day extension, or US$70 for a 60-day extension. Extending a tourist visa beyond 30 days requires the completion of a Termo de Responsabilidade by a sponsor, an East Timorese citizen or work permit holder, confirming your behavior and conformity with East Timorese regulations for the length of your stay.

Those who apply in advance for a tourist visa at an Embassy or Consulate, or who apply directly to the Immigration Department through email for a “visa application authorization,” may seek a visa allowing up to 90 days stay, with single or multiple entrance.

Visitors are recommended to have the required amount in US Dollars cash on hand for payment of visa costs upon arrival at the border.

Visitors must carry US$30 in cash to pay for their visa since there are no ATMs or credit card machines within the airport or at border checkpoints. There is currently an ANZ ATM at Dili Airport, as well as many ATMs around Dili where foreigners may withdraw money using Visa, MasterCard, and other credit cards.

Portuguese passport holders do not need a visa for entrance into the country for a short period of time (max 90 days).

Destinations in East Timor

Regions in East Timor

  • The North Coast
    The North Coast, which is home to the majority of East Timorese, is rich in cultural and historical treasures. The diving spots on the island of Atauro are well-known.
  • South Coast
    The South Coast spans the length of the continent, with coffee farms, hiking, and breathtaking beauty at every turn.
  • Oecussi
    The hilly exclave of Oecussi is really off the main road, with obvious remnants of the Indonesian occupation and pleasant inhabitants who seldom encounter visitors.

Cities in East Timor

  • Dili
  • Baucau
  • Ermera
  • Gleno
  • Liquica
  • Lospalos
  • Maliana
  • Suai

How To Travel To East Timor

By plane

Dili’s primary international airport is Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport (IATA: DIL), previously known as Comoro Airport.

Major international airlines that fly straight to Dili include:

  • Airnorth from Darwin, Australia
  • Air Timor from Singapore. Chartered ‘Silkair: Singapore’ flights.
  • Sriwijaya Air from Jakarta and Bali(Denpasar), Indonesia

When flying out of Dili, you must pay a US$10 airport departure tax, which must be paid in cash at the airport desk next to passport control.

By land

The major land border crossing with Indonesia is at Mota’ain (or Motain), which is located 115 kilometers west of Dili. Batugade, the closest East Timorese town, is 3 to 4 kilometers distant. The closest significant Indonesian town is Atambua in West Timor. Land border crossings are also available on the south coast at Salele (near Suai) and into Oecussi at Bobometo (Napan on the Indonesian side) and Wini on the north-east coast of Oecussi.

Most passport holders are unable to cross the border at Wini as of July 2016: when visited in July 2016, it seemed that only Indonesian and East Timorese passport holders could cross the border at this point.

As previously stated, most travelers, with the exception of Indonesian and Portuguese citizens, cannot get a visa on arrival at the land border. UPDATE: As of August 2015, the new visa waiver regulation for Schengen Agreement passport holders means that such visitors may enter Timor-Leste without a visa at any entry point – passengers have reported no issues at the Batugade border post. See the Immigration Department’s Tourist Visa website [www] for information on how to apply for a “visa application authorisation” (which may be acquired by email before to travel) or how to apply for a visa at an Embassy or Consulate if you wish to enter via a land border crossing.

You should be able to get visas at the East Timorese Consulates in both Bali and Kupang.

  • Consulate General Denpasar,  +62 8133 855 8950, Mr. Manuel Serrano, Consul General,  +62 812 831 9741, ([[email protected]]), Mr. Paulo Ximenes, Second Secretary
  • Consulate Kupang, Office Address: Jl. Eltari II,  Kupang, NTT, Indonesia, + 62 8133 9367 558, +62 8133 9137 755, Mr. Caetano Guterres, Consul General, ([[email protected]])   Mobile:+62 813 392 434 13, Mr. Manuel Matos, Staff of Consulate, +62 813 539 435 34

The identical issue occurs in the other way. Although many countries may get Indonesian visas on arrival when flying into Bali or other Indonesian airports, they cannot obtain them when going by road from East Timor to West Timor and must obtain visas in advance.

However, individuals traveling in the other way must acquire Indonesian visas ahead of time since there is no VoA (Visa on Arrival) service at the border. It is possible to get a visa at the Indonesian Embassy in Dili; a 30-day tourist visa costs US$45 and takes three working days to process. B-211 Standard Index Tourist visas for 60 days seem to be granted on a case-by-case basis, and getting one is not assured.

For citizens of qualifying countries, Indonesian VoAs and Visa Waiver entry are available at El Tari Airport and Tenau Harbour in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. There are currently no regular flights between Dili and Kupung.

By bus

In West Timor, Indonesia, there is a daily direct bus service between Dili and Kupang. The trip takes 12 hours. There are many land transport minibus services that can accommodate individuals or groups traveling from Dili to Kupang (West Timor) and back. Timor Travel, Paradise Travel, and Leste Oeste Travel are just a few of the minibus firms that provide low-cost transportation to a variety of locations along the Dili-Kupang route.

Take a bus to the border from Dili (US$3, three hours). After getting off the bus, travel through East Timorese customs and immigration, walk over the border into Indonesia, go through Indonesian immigration, and board another bus to Atambua or Kupang.

Regular mikrolets (vans) or ojeks (motorcycle taxis) operate from Atambua to the border at Mota’ain.

By boat

East Timor is not served by any regular international passenger ships.

Regular barge services for cars and commodities operate between Darwin, Australia, and Surabaya and Bali, Indonesia.

Dili harbour is often visited by recreational boats.

How To Travel Around East Timor

By bus

Buses, mainly of the tiny type seen on isolated Indonesian islands, connect most of the country’s major towns, including Dili, Baucau, Maliana, Los Palos, and Suai. From these towns to surrounding villages, Indonesian-style bemos (vans) and mikrolets (minibuses) – relics of its 24-year reign – operate.

Most departures occur extremely early in the morning, and drivers have a habit of keliling (Indonesian for “going round”), in which they spend a significant amount of time scouring the streets and scouting for passengers before actually leaving.

For trips of more over 100 kilometers, fares are about US$2 to US$3. Dili-Baucau (123 km) costs $2, whereas Dili-Mota’ain (115 km) costs $3.

By car

Taxis are one of the most convenient modes of transportation in and around Dili. Fares are not too expensive ($1-3), and there are many of them.

In Dili, you may rent a four-wheel drive car for around $85 per day. However, be prepared for an adventure – in addition to the difficult roads, there are no traffic signs to deal with. It is conceivable that you may get so preoccupied with driving that you will lose out on the beautiful landscape around you. The majority of reliable vehicle rental businesses provide 24-hour roadside assistance across the nation. However, if you are in a distant area, your assistance from Dili will take some time to come.

While in Dili, you must adhere to a speed restriction of 40 kilometers per hour. On wide highways, you may rev up to 50-60 kph. Tourists from the west may find the traveling sluggish, but that is the fastest pace possible on Dili roads.

Make sure you have a valid driver’s license or permit with you. This may come from your home nation or be granted in East Timor. The kind of vehicle you are permitted to drive should be included on your driver’s license. Drive cautiously and keep in mind that there is no provision for third-party motor insurance here.

By boat

Ferries link the Oekusi (Oecussi) Enclave, Ataru (Ataro) Island, and Dili. A boat trip to Jaku (Jaco) Island will be an unforgettable experience. An additional bonus is that the fisherman will prepare fish for you if you want it.

By plane

Although airports are located at Baucau, Suai, and Oecussi, there is currently no regular domestic air service inside East Timor. Small MAF aircraft, which are usually used for medical evacuations, may be hired to travel to these locations.

By motorcycle

In Dili, Tiger Fuel hires bikes for $25-35 per day. Motorcycles/scooters are a great method to explore the nation since you can go anywhere you want, whenever you want, and have a very little responsibility in terms of a bike to park overnight. Bungee cords, which can be bought at Star Moto in Baucau, may be used to secure your baggage to the bike.

Things To See in East Timor

Carnival de Timor is an annual event that takes place in Dili in the middle of April (sometimes in May, depending on rain season). Carnival de Timor, founded in 2010 by the Ministry of Tourism, is all about fun, music, and diversity. This yearly event features both contemporary and traditional costumes, East Timorese and foreign minorities, and even embassies. The procession begins at a landmark and ends at the Palacio do Governo, where it is welcomed by musicians and an award for the best-dressed group. With live music and other carnival attractions, the audience danced late into the night.

Tourists are an uncommon breed in East Timor. Traveling from town to hamlet, you’re certain to hear choruses of “malay” (the East Timorese term for stranger) and people eager to engage you in discussion. One might spend days just savoring the sensation of being a very welcome stranger.

East Timor is situated near the southernmost tip of the Indonesian archipelago, north of Darwin, Australia, and at the foot of the Coral Triangle, which has the greatest variety of coral and reef fish species on the planet.

East Timor has a rich cultural history that has been woven from tens of thousands of years of human occupancy, the Portuguese and Indonesian colonial eras, and the depths of a society that has cultural traditions as the thread that holds society together.

East Timor is ideally positioned for community-based ecotourism, which is part of the country’s tourist strategy plan. The Nino Konis National Park (located in the country’s east) is a well-protected region that is believed to be one of the world’s few remaining zones of tropical lowland rainforest with a rich coastline environment. Bird-watching, diving, hiking, and pre-historic archeological sites are all available in the national park.

Divers, snorkelers, and green tourism lovers go to Tutuala’s Atauro and Jaco Islands. Both locations provide eco-lodge amenities, with assistance from regional NGOs. Local divers and fisherman in Atauro are a must-see sight, since they fish with just traditional goggles and spear weapons. Atauro is also widely renowned for its unique wooden sculptures and is a great location to purchase a range of handicrafts.

For more ambitious visitors, East Timor offers world-class hiking around Mount Tatamailau (3000 meters above sea level), Ainaro, Mt. Matebian (Baucau), and Mt. Kablaki (in Same district), to mention a few.

While hiking East Timor, you may keep yourself entertained by searching for some of the 260 species of birds on offer (the whole continent of Australia has around 650 resident species), 32 of which are endemic and 8 of which are unique to Timor and found nowhere else in the world.

The Timor Bush Warbler, for example, was just recently recognized as a separate species, and it is probable that the elusive montane species may be found in East Timor’s highlands. The Bush Warbler is one of several endemic species that will pique the interest of adventurous birdwatchers visiting TL.

Portuguese castles, cathedrals, and other monuments may be found all throughout the country. East Timor’s resistance tourist sites worth seeing include Xanana Gusmao’s (current East Timor Prime Minister) hiding spot, Balibo (renowned for the death of 5 journalists by Indonesian troops), Santa Cruz (known for a massacre in 1991), Japanese caverns in Baucau, and many more.

Since the colonial era, coffee has been East Timor’s primary export product. To visit East Timor, you must try the coffee produced in various areas, including Ermera, Maubisse, Manufahi, and Liquisa. Traveling to the coffee estates takes you over winding mountain roads till you reach over 1,000m above sea level height, cold temperature (as low as 15C), and cheerful farmers who are eager to welcome you into their homes. Another option is to contact one of the coffee groups and request a field visit to one of their cooperative farmer member’s coffee plantation. CCT/NCBA, ELSAA Cafe, Timor Global, Timor Corp, Peace Winds], PARC-IC, and Alter Trade Timor are among them.

Timor’s coffee is now widely recognized around the globe, particularly among organic coffee consumers. It is currently offered as the ‘Arabia Timor’ brand at Starbucks Seattle. Several groups in the United States, Japan, and South Korea are marketing East Timorese coffee as Fair Trade Coffee. One Japanese coffee specialist hailed Timor’s coffee as “one of the world’s surviving indigenous species today.” Horiguchi-san (2005) defines formalized formalized formalized formalized formalised formalised formalised formalised formalised formal

East Timor also manufactures woven fabrics, items for export, and one-of-a-kind souvenirs. High-end and costly tais (East Timorese traditional hand-woven textile) are created with natural dyes, while more affordable textiles utilize chemical dye. There are 13 areas in the country that create different designs and colors from one another. Dili has tais marketplaces; nevertheless, for antique collections, one needs go to the districts.

Things To Do in East Timor

East Timor boasts some of the finest scuba diving in the world, which is a significant attraction for visitors, with East Timor beach diving being well-known in the diving community globally. Pristine beaches and coral reefs contrast sharply with one of the world’s poorest populations.

Dili has several excellent close-up dives. Pertamina Pier is just 5 minutes from the town center. One of the finest dives in East Timor for invertebrates, octopus, and schooling Barracudas.

Dili Rock is located 10 minutes west of Dili (east & west). This is one of Timor’s most popular diving destinations since it serves as the primary training location. Dili East, known for its easy access and excellent conditions, also provides excellent chances to view Leaf Scorpion fish, Angler fish, and Ghost pipe fish.

As you go farther west towards Liquica, you will come across diving spots such as Bubble beach (famous for its magnificent bubble fields and stunning deep dive), the gravel pit, and Devil ray point.

Divers east of Dili may enjoy some of the finest beach diving in the world. Divers may safely enter spectacular wall dives thanks to easy access along the shore. Some of the great dives that can be done within an hour of Dili are Secret Garden, K41, Bob’s Rock, and Lone Tree. The diving begins around 40 minutes east of Dili and goes for 200 kilometers to Com.

The diversity of dives along this stretch of road is limitless, although K41 and Shark Point are among the local divers’ favorites.

Without a doubt, Atauro Island is the most pristine diving location in East Timor. There is a wide range of dives available around the island for divers of all skill levels. The visibility is usually great, and the variety of fish life and coral is absolutely astounding.

Dili is home to two major diving companies: Freeflow Diving [www] and Dive Timor-Lorosae [www].

Food & Drinks in East Timor

Food in East Timor

East Timorese, like Indonesians, eat rice and spices as a main cuisine. Despite the difficulty in getting supplies from outside owing to political instability, many Dili eateries offer Western food. The large number of foreigners living and working in East Timor ensures that these eateries have a devoted customer base.

In addition to native East Timorese food, the East Timorese palate has a liking for many foreign cuisines. East Timor’s cuisine has been influenced by Portuguese, Indonesian, Chinese, Italian, Western, Japanese, and Thai influences.

Rice is East Timor’s main meal. Taro, cassava, sweet potatoes, and maize are common food crops. Vegetables that are popular include beans, cabbage, cowpeas, onions, and spinach. People also raise chickens, goats, and pigs. Fish is an essential component of the diet and may be used to enhance any meal. Spices are used liberally in most traditional East Timorese dishes. The most frequent fruits grown here are mangoes, watermelons, papayas, bananas, and coconuts. Carbohydrates such as sago or other grains are the primary course for many East Timorese meals.

National specialties

Fried fish is a popular meal, and prawns are regarded as a delicacy. Curries are a popular meal, with chicken curry topping the list as the most popular. Many East Timorese like genuine Indonesian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese cuisine.

National drinks

East Timor’s coffee is produced organically, and the caffeine content is very high. Those who want anything other than coffee may choose for beer, which is readily accessible in East Timor’s bars and restaurants.


Bills given at East Timorese restaurants do not include a service fee. If you want to tip, keep in mind that even a 10% tip is a lot of money to a local. In any event, the service is usually so poor that you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip.

Discover the flavors of East Timor cuisine

Traditional Asian curries with aromatic spice pastes and fried accompaniments are available in restaurants in East Timor and local food outlets across this new country. Native East Timorese restaurants specialize on fresh grilled fish and superb curries, as well as the opportunity to fully enjoy local food and friendliness. Local cuisine also lends itself to Papuan influences, therefore yam and sweet potato will be on the menu when you visit rural food booths.

Drinks in East Timor

Dili’s nightlife is dominated by a plethora of beachside bars and nightclubs. Food and beverages are available, and the bars/nightclubs remain open till late. Nautilaus, Diya, Ocean View Hotel, and Gion Japanese Restaurant are some of the best inner-city eateries. The recently refurbished Atlantic Bar and Grill in the Meti Aut neighborhood offers some of the finest service and quality in Timor. Another option is the Caz Bar, where kayaks may be rented late at night and a barbecue offers fried fish and other beachside fare including sizzling garlic prawns, hamburgers, and a wide selection of cool beer.

Money & Shopping in East Timor

East Timor’s legal tender currency is the US dollar, and all transactions are conducted in dollars. Dili has a number of banks and ATMs (all of which accept USD banknotes), including one at the Timor Plaza retail center. Fees may be very expensive; for example, the ANZ ATM charges $7 for each cash withdrawal. Since East Timor introduced its own centavo-denominated coins, US coins are no longer commonly recognized. US bank notes issued before to 2006 are not accepted, as they are in many other areas of Indonesia.

What to buy

Aromatic coffee beans and colorful hand-woven fabric known as Tais should be on your buying list while visiting East Timor. Excellent coffee is available at all convenience shops and even some roadside vendors. Just like Scottish clans have distinct patterns for their tartans, East Timorese families have distinct patterns and colors for their Tais.

Roasted coffee beans will make an excellent present. It should be noted that certain nations have stringent restrictions regarding the importation of any food item.


East Timorese coffee is organically farmed and delicious. The Portuguese were the first to bring coffee to East Timor. The native method of preparing coffee is to roast the coffee beans until they are dark and have a strong fragrance. East Timorese coffee has a great flavor due to its low acidity levels.

Caffeine levels are very high in certain coffee types, such as robusta. A late-night cup of coffee may keep you up for hours, which may put you in a bind, since East Timor has no nightlife alternatives outside of Dili.

If you want to purchase coffee, go to a traditional market rather than Dili’s grocery shops, where the stock is often pre-ground and extremely stale.


Tais vary in design and color depending on where they are from, and they belong to a separate family. You should go to the Tais market in Dili to purchase Tais and native silver jewelry. Tais are also available from street sellers. Handicrafts from the area

Other objects of appeal include ethnic woodcarvings, batik textiles, and embroidered fabrics with regional designs. The ethnic woodcarvings offered here are similar to those seen in Africa.


There is a market in every major town on the island. You may not find the wide range of stores that you are used to in East Timor. These marketplaces, on the other hand, meet a wide range of local requirements. On a regular basis, the markets allow residents to connect and engage with others. A stroll around an East Timorese market will teach you about the region’s unique products. Tourists draw a lot of attention, so expect to be looked at. Expect to be overcharged as well, as many visitors before you have happily paid excessive rates.

Dili Waterfront

There are many fruit vendors along the shore. These booths, which are mainly operated by women, sell wonderful local fruits. The papayas, mangoes, and bananas are particularly enticing; make an effort to sample any unknown local variety.

Traditions & Customs in East Timor

East Timor was ravaged by the Indonesian occupation, which may have killed up to 200,000 East Timorese (or one in every five persons in East Timor). During the Portuguese colonial era, many East Timorese were compelled to forsake their native animist beliefs in favor of Roman Catholicism. Speaking favorably of Suharto’s Orde Baru or the notion of East Timor being a part of Indonesia may not go over well with the East Timorese.

Many East Timorese feel sympathetic, if not openly nostalgic, about the time of Portuguese control over East Timor, when the Portuguese colonial authority mostly left them to their own devices. As with talking politics elsewhere, if you aren’t confident a conversation about sensitive subjects will go well, don’t bring it up.

Culture Of East Timor

East Timor’s culture is influenced by a variety of civilizations, including Portuguese, Roman Catholic, and Indonesian, as well as Timor’s indigenous Austronesian and Melanesian cultures. Austronesian tales have had a significant impact on East Timorese culture. According to East Timorese origin myth, an elderly crocodile turned into Timor as a debt payback to a young boy who had treated the crocodile while it was ill. As a consequence, the island is shaped like a crocodile, and the boy’s descendants are the island’s native East Timorese. The term “leaving the crocodile” alludes to East Timorese exile from their island.


There is also a significant poetic tradition in the nation. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmo, for example, is a well-known poet.

Architecturally, there are Portuguese-style structures as well as indigenous totem homes from the eastern area. In Tetum, they are known as uma lulik (“holy homes”), while in Fataluku, they are known as lee teinu (“legged houses”). Crafts and the weaving of traditional scarves (tais) are also popular.

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia has a large collection of Timorese audiovisual content. These assets have been recognized in a document named The NFSA Timor-Leste Collection Profile, which includes catalogue entries and essays on 795 NFSA-held moving picture, recorded sound, and documentation works that have captured East Timor’s history and culture from the early twentieth century. The NFSA is collaborating with the government of East Timor to guarantee that all of this information is accessible and used by the people of that nation.

Beatriz’s War, the first East Timorese feature film, was released in 2013. East Timor was the subject of the Australian and South Korean films Balibo and A Barefoot Dream in 2009 and 2010.


East Timor’s cuisine includes regionally popular dishes such as pig, fish, basil, tamarind, beans, maize, rice, root vegetables, and tropical fruit. East Timorese cuisine is influenced by Southeast Asian cuisines as well as Portuguese dishes due to the country’s colonization by Portugal. Due to the centuries-long Portuguese influence on the island, flavors and ingredients from other former Portuguese colonies may be found.


East Timor has joined the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the International Badminton Federation (IBF), the Union Cycliste Internationale, the International Weightlifting Federation, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), and FIFA. East Timorese athletes took part in the 2003 Southeast Asian Games, which were held in 2003. East Timor earned a bronze medal in the 2003 ASEAN Paralympic Games.

East Timorese athletes competed in athletics, weightlifting, and boxing at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. East Timor won three medals at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games in Arnis. East Timor took part in the inaugural Lusophony Games, and in October 2008, the country scored its first international points in a FIFA football match, drawing 2–2 with Cambodia. East Timor took part in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Thomas Americo was the first East Timorese boxer to compete for a global boxing championship. He was assassinated in 1999, just as the Indonesian occupation of East Timor came to an end.

Stay Safe & Healthy in East Timor

Stay Safe in East Timor

East Timor is still experiencing occasional ethnic and political tensions, with the potential for bloodshed. This is not intended for outsiders or visitors, but please follow the rules below. Even when this isn’t a problem, keep in mind that you’re in an impoverished nation where crimes like violence and theft are common: East Timor still has a significant foreign presence, including a United Nations mission as well as international police and military personnel (mostly conducting capacity building and training for national security forces).

Foreigners or tourists have been the target of violence in East Timor; visitors should be cautious and take the same measures as they would in any underdeveloped nation. Remember that you are in an impoverished nation where crimes such as assault and theft do occur. The way to avoiding such crime is to use common sense and limit your exposure to potential opportunity crimes such as:

  • Avoid big crowds (demonstrations have had the potential to escalate with little or no warning in the past).
  • If you are leaving your vehicle alone, remove any apparent valuables.
  • Women should avoid using cabs alone at night.
  • Women should avoid strolling alone in calm neighborhoods at night.

Stay Healthy in East Timor

There are hospitals in major cities and clinics in many sub-districts across the country, but medical treatment is inadequate for dealing with long-term or complicated medical problems. In the event of complicated surgery, injuries, or serious disease, medical evacuation is often the only choice. Travelers are strongly urged not to visit East Timor without some kind of medical insurance that covers medivac by air ambulance, whether this is through your travel agency or an employer if you are going for professional reasons.



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Dili is East Timor’s capital, biggest city, main port, and commercial center. Dili is located on East Timor’s northern shore, sandwiched between the central highlands...