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Dili Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

Dili

travel guide

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 that stretch the length of the country and the Ombai Strait. When East Timor gained independence in May 2002, this lovely, indolent little beach city was thrust into the position of national capital.

Dili is also the capital of the same-named district. The district include both the neighboring surroundings and Atauro Island.

POPULATION :  City: 222,323 /  Metro: 234,331
FOUNDED :   1520
TIME ZONE :
LANGUAGE :  Tetum (official), Portuguese (official), Indonesian, English
RELIGION :  Roman Catholic 98%, Muslim 1%, Protestant 1%
AREA :  48.268 km2 (18.636 sq mi)
ELEVATION :  11 m (36 ft)
COORDINATES :  8°34′S 125°34′E
SEX RATIO :  Male:
 Female:
ETHNIC :  Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian), Papuan, small Chinese minority
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Dili | Introduction

Tourism in Dili

During colonial times, Dili was the quintessential backwater, serving as the capital of a distant colony in a remote area of the globe. However, this tradition has left Dili with an unique Portuguese flavor, and it, along with Macau, is perhaps the farthest east where you can enjoy authentic Portuguese cuisine and architecture. Dili has now recovered admirably, however many burnt structures may still be seen.

THINGS TO DO:

  • There are beautiful beaches around Dili. The ones in the town center are popular with children, however they are polluted. Areia Branca, near Christo Rei, has the most accessible beaches, as well as a number of taverns and restaurants. The finest nearby beach is Jesus Backside Beach, which may be reached through a walking path halfway up the steps to Christo Rei, or by automobile by driving from Metiaut across the mountains and searching for a turn-off on the left (this is the remains of the road that used to go around the point).
  • A church just down and across the street from the Leader supermarket hosts an English language liturgy on Sunday mornings at 10.30 a.m. (and Tetum Masses at other times).
  • VCDs, DVDs, and Audio CDs may be purchased for a very low price. If you’re bringing a laptop, it’s a good idea to have applications installed.
  • Visit Ramelau – East Timor’s tallest peak. You may camp close before the summit and trek up for the sunrise (a couple of hours climb). It’s a popular activity, so ask around or inquire at the Hotel Dili – they can organise a fantastic 4WD excursion. NB: It gets quite cold at night.
  • Dive the area near Dili and Atauro Island. Dive Popular diving operators include Timor Lorosae, Freeflow, and Compass Charters. Dili is surrounded by a multitude of diving spots. K41 and Bob’s Rock are famous destinations near Manatuto to the east. Longer visits to Atauro Island or Jaco Island may be arranged by dive companies. Don’t miss up the opportunity to visit the world’s last unspoilt reef.

THINGS TO SEE:

  • Visit Cristo Rei, a statue of Jesus that rises on a cliff east of Dili. According to legend, when the largely Muslim Indonesians created the monument as a present to the primarily Christian East Timorese, they designed it so that Jesus faced Jakarta. The monument is around 20 meters tall and stands atop an earth globe. The path from Dili down the beach and up the stairs to the Jesus statue is popular with both exercisers and local fisherman, and it passes various niches depicting the stations of the crucifixion. The view over the harbor to Dili from the statue is breathtaking. Follow the main route east out of town from Dili. Taxi drivers will transport you there for $5, but you must pay extra to ensure that they wait while you browse around.
  • Cape Fatucama. Aka Backside Beach. The beach just behind the Jesus monument is a picturesque, inverted c-shaped shoreline with near-transparent seas that is much superior than Areia Branca. If you’re driving, take the road that crosses the ridge near Ramos-home Horta’s east towards Baucau and search for the turnoff on the left. Otherwise, go up the stairs towards Cristo Rei and then down other steps to the beach halfway up.
  • Resistance Museum, Rua Universidade (next to the university). 9AM-5PM except Sunday. Learn about the 25-year-long battle for East Timor’s independence and what the people went through. $1.
  • Dare War Memorial (10km inland along the road that goes from Palacio de Governo into the mountains).A monument to the Sparrow Force, an Australian regiment that battled the Japanese in Timor for many years, as well as an exhibition about the unit and the Timorese combat experience. Excellent views of Dili and a café available on weekends. Free.

Geography of Dili

Dili is located on Timor Island, the easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It is the administrative capital of the district of Dili, which covers the island of Atauro and various cities near to Dili city.

Internet, Comunication in Dili

INTERNET

There are a lot of commercial locations where you may connect to the internet, such as the business centers at many hotels. Globel Net includes Internet for $4.00 an hour and Skype, so bring your own headsets. Some hotels, such as Dili Beach Hotel & Bar and the Smokehouse Bar at the Backpackers, now provide free Wi-Fi to its clients. Data may be added by buying a sim card (about $10USD for 800mb). This is simple to accomplish in Timor Plaza locations because they can set it up for you.

PHONE

East Timor has extremely few landlines, with the majority concentrated in Dili. It’s a good idea to bring a mobile phone handset; however, make sure it’s unlocked in your home country first, since it may cost up to $30.00 to get it unlocked here, and then purchase a new sim-card from Timor Telecom (US$3). Local calls are reasonably priced, while SMS inside East Timor costs $0.20. Calls to Australia cost around 50 cents per minute, or 40 cents off peak (between 8pm and 8am and all day Sunday).

POST

Mail is not delivered to street addresses. You must utilize a post office box at the central post office if you wish to receive mail. Packages from Australia typically take around two weeks to arrive. It is critical that individuals put ‘through Darwin, Australia’ on their addresses; otherwise, messages will be routed via Jakarta, Singapore, or possibly Lisbon. Letters/packages have been known to take up to a year and a half to arrive, even to vanish entirely on occasion, however this is the exception rather than the norm.

Things to know about Dili

With a few exceptions, you can normally get everything you need in Dili, but certain goods are more costly. Among the items you may want to carry are the following:

  • Bring some US cash and Travellers Cheques. You will require US$30 upon arrival at the airport for your first visa. Additionally, it’s recommended checking with your bank to ensure that you may access funds from your account using your card in Dili.
  • If you use contact lenses, you must carry your own solution, since it is not available in East Timor. Additionally, bring a spare pair of glasses and/or a copy of your prescription from home in case you need a new pair.
  • Laptop – good for work and for watching DVDs at home. Most new products are available in Australia prior to their official release for about US$1.50. Ascertain that DVD software is installed. Additionally, you may use your own laptop at the majority of internet cafes. If you want to use your laptop at work, ensure that it has a network card. Additionally, it is a good idea to include a USB memory stick. Memory sticks are also available here for roughly US$50.
  • You can purchase clothing in Dili, however due to the fact that the majority of Timorese are far smaller than the typical Westerner, it might be difficult to locate the correct size. You’re better off bringing just what you need. Additionally, bed linens and towels are fairly costly. It’s a good idea to pack a set of linens, and don’t forget your bathing suit!
  • If you like coffee, bring a plunger or a stovetop espresso maker Because East Timor has excellent coffee.
  • Radio – at the moment East Timor can get Radio National and BBC World Service. Additionally, there are local FM radio stations such as Radio Rakembia.
  • Books – new ones are hard to find so if you are fussy bring some with you. You may also purchase them online and have them delivered to this location. If you’re not too particular about the books you read (in terms of substance or condition), Castaway, the Dili Club, and One More Bar all do book exchanges. Numerous foreigners are similarly charitable with their loan of items from their own collections.
  • A mosquito net is advantageous while venturing out into the regions.
  • Bring your own helmet if you want to ride a motorcycle (scooter); you may purchase them in East Timor, but they are fairly flimsy.

How To Travel To Dili

Get In - By plane

Dili’s Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport (DIL) lies 6 kilometers west of the city. Merpati and Sriwijaya, two Indonesian airlines, provide daily flights from Denpasar, Bali. Air North, an Australian regional airline, conducts at least one flight every day (except Sunday) from Darwin, Australia. There are additional direct flights from Singapore to Air Timor on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, utilizing Silkair planes. Fares are high since there is minimal competition. There are no domestic flights available at the moment.

Getting there/away: Taxi drivers charge at least US$10 for trips into Dili. Taxi drivers are less pushy and more honest than in the past. Just make sure you agree on a price of $10 or less before you leave. You may also go out to the main road, which connects Dili to Batugade on the Indonesian border, and catch a mikrolet (25 Centavos).

In April 2016, Dili saw the launch of a metered “Blue Taxi” service. They also service the airport, and early reviews are promising.

Remember to pay the $10 exit tax (currently collected at a desk opposite the check-in counters, near to the tais store) and fill out the departure card (which does not have to have the same number as your arrival card – if check-in personnel don’t give you one, obtain one from the poles in the center). After checking in, you may wait outside the terminal in the café or head to the Burger King next door. Because the airport is tiny and immigration and security are quick, it just takes 5-10 minutes to get to the departure gates, where there are several duty-free stores (one selling 2004-model digital cameras) but no food outlets.

Get In - By car

Dili is well connected by road from the Indonesian border at Mota’ain, near Batugade, which is about 115 kilometers west.

A relatively decent road connects Dili to Baucau, East Timor’s second biggest city, 123 kilometers west. The route continues east until it reaches Los Palos and Tutuala.

Southward, a road climbs the mountains that stretch the length of Timor, passing via the hill town of Maubisse on its route to the southern shore.

Cars may be rented via Rentlo, but not from Thrifty, which departed in early 2006, just before the problems started.

Get In - By bus

Buses go from Dili to all regions of the nation. Most depart extremely early in the morning and perform the “keliling” (scouting about town for new passengers) before leaving Dili.

West of Dili

Buses depart towards Batugade and Mota’ain, the Indonesian border. US$3. The trip takes roughly three hours. It is important to note that you cannot get an Indonesian visa at the border. If you need one in Dili, you may have to line up as early as 3 a.m. at the Indonesian consulate.

Maliana and Ermera are also served by buses.

East of Dili

Several buses depart for Baucau early in the morning from Rua Quinze de Outubro, which is located immediately south of the stadium near the Mercado Municipal roundabout. 2 dollars, 3 hours These buses are also available in Becora, a suburb to the east of Dili.

Get In - By car

Dili is no longer a port of call for Pelni ships from Indonesia. There are no frequent vessels to Australia either. (NOTE: If you want to go to Darwin by cargo ship as part of an overland round-the-world journey, there are only two shipping firms that operate to Australia [ANL and Swire] and they will NOT accept paying passengers under any circumstances. This is not due to a lack of insurance or security; rather, the boat owners (unrelated to the shipping) have stipulated that no passengers are permitted.

How To Get Around In Dili

During the day, a plethora of yellow cabs transport customers across the city for US$2-3 (although locals pay less). Further travels, such as to Areia Branca beach and Cape Fatucama, will be more expensive ($5 each way, with the possibility of having to arrange for the cab to wait for you). The price will rise as the evening approaches (about $5 for a modest ride). After dusk, the majority of cabs vanish. However, there are generally ones waiting outside expat pubs, and even for short excursions, they will charge at least $10. You may also contact a 24-hour emergency service (if you can find a current number for one). You may also ask your hotel to book a cab for a night out, or ask taxi drivers you meet whether they operate at night and acquire their phone number if they do. Any travel after dark will almost certainly cost at least $10. For cabs, try to have precise change.

In April 2016, a new Blue Taxi service began operations. According to early reviews, they are significantly cleaner and more trustworthy than yellow cabs, and they can be hired over the phone.

There have been allegations of taxi drivers seeking to extract excessive fees from unsuspecting clients. This danger has decreased at the airport, but there have been new instances of this being done to cruise ship passengers. Make sure you know and keep to a fair rate for where you wish to travel. Nowhere in the city should cost more than $5-$10.

Mikrolets (vans adapted to carry people) also run set routes, such as from near the Mercado Municipal to Comoro, Becora, and other Dili suburbs, and even farther afield. Each ride costs 25 cents. When you arrive at your location, just rap a coin against the metal to signify a stop request, then pay the driver after departing.

Prices In Dili

MARKET / SUPERMARKET

Milk 1 liter $ 3.60
Tomatoes 1 kg $ 2.30
Cheese 0.5 kg $ 8.00
Apples 1 kg $ 3.00
Oranges 1 kg $ 4.00
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $ 2.70
Bottle of Wine 1 bottle $ 15.00
Coca-Cola 2 liters $ 3.00
Bread 1 piece $ 1.90
Water 1.5 l $ 0.55

RESTAURANTS

Dinner (Low-range) for 2 $ 30.00
Dinner (Mid-range) for 2 $ 47.00
Dinner (High-range) for 2 $ 78.00
Mac Meal or similar 1 meal $ 7.00
Water 0.33 l $ 0.35
Cappuccino 1 cup $ 4.00
Beer (Imported) 0.33 l $ 3.00
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $ 2.50
Coca-Cola 0.33 l $ 2.00
Coctail drink 1 drink $ 6.00

ENTERTAINMENT

Cinema 2 tickets $ 14.00
Gym 1 month $ 60.00
Men’s Haircut 1 haircut $
Theatar 2 tickets $
Mobile (prepaid) 1 min. $ 0.10
Pack of Marlboro 1 pack $ 1.70

PERSONAL CARE

Antibiotics 1 pack $
Tampons 32 pieces $
Deodorant 50 ml. $ 3.00
Shampoo 400 ml. $ 4.00
Toilet paper 4 rolls $ 2.30
Toothpaste 1 tube $ 3.00

TRANSPORTATION

Gasoline 1 liter $ 1.45
Taxi Start $ 1.00
Taxi 1 km $
Local Transport 1 ticket $

Sights & Landmarks In Dili

  • Visit Cristo Rei, a statue of Jesus that rests on a cliff to the east of Dili. According to legend, when the largely Muslim Indonesians created the monument as a present to the primarily Christian East Timorese, they designed it so that Jesus was facing Jakarta. The monument is about 20 meters tall and stands atop an earth globe. The path from Dili along the beach and up the stairs to the Jesus monument is popular with both exercising internationals and local fisherman, and it passes various niches depicting the stations of the cross. The view over the harbor to Dili from the statue is stunning. Follow the main route east out of Dili. Taxi drivers will transport you there for $5, but you must pay an additional fee to ensure that they wait while you browse around.
  • Cape Fatucama. Aka Backside Beach. The beach just behind the Jesus monument is a picturesque, inverted c-shaped shoreline with near-transparent seas that is much superior than Areia Branca. If you’re driving, take the road that crosses the ridge near Ramos-home Horta’s east towards Baucau and search for the turnoff on the left. Otherwise, go up the stairs towards Cristo Rei and then down other steps to the beach halfway up.
  • Resistance Museum, Rua Universidade (next to the university). 9AM-5PM except Sunday. Learn about the 25-year-long battle for East Timor’s independence and what the people went through. $1.
  • Dare War Memorial (10km inland along the road that goes from Palacio de Governo into the mountains). A monument to the Sparrow Force, an Australian regiment that battled the Japanese in Timor for many years, as well as an exhibition about the unit and the Timorese combat experience. Excellent views of Dili and a café available on weekends. Free.

Things To Do In Dili

There are several nice beaches around Dili. The ones in the town center are popular with children, however they are polluted. Areia Branca, near Christo Rei, has the most accessible beaches, as well as a number of taverns and restaurants. The finest nearby beach is Jesus Backside Beach, which may be reached through a walking path halfway up the steps to Christo Rei, or by automobile by driving from Metiaut across the mountains and searching for a turn-off on the left (this is the remains of the road that used to go around the point).

A church just down and across the street from the Leader supermarket hosts an English language liturgy on Sunday mornings at 10.30 a.m. (and Tetum Masses at other times).

VCDs, DVDs, and Audio CDs may be purchased for a very low price. If you’re bringing a laptop, it’s a good idea to have applications installed.

Visit Ramelau, East Timor’s highest peak. You may camp close before the summit and trek up for the sunrise (a couple of hours climb). It’s a popular activity, so ask around or inquire at the Hotel Dili – they can organise a fantastic 4WD excursion. NB: It gets quite cold at night.

Dive the area near Dili and Atauro Island. Dive Popular diving operators include Timor Lorosae, Freeflow, and Compass Charters. Dili is surrounded by a multitude of diving spots. K41 and Bob’s Rock are famous destinations near Manatuto to the east. Longer visits to Atauro Island or Jaco Island may be arranged by dive companies. Don’t miss up the opportunity to visit the world’s last unspoilt reef.

Food & Restaurants In Dili

Dili has a diverse range of eateries, including native, Italian, Portuguese, and Australian cuisine. The seafood BBQ restaurants on the beach east of Dili are the most popular in the night.

Budget

Timorese and Indonesian warungs, where you choose your food from a window, are omnipresent, and a normal dinner costs $1.50-$3.00.

  • Restaurant Meloa, Bairo Pite (on the road running west from the cathedral, about 1km along on the north side of the road; currently a yellowy-green colour). 10AM-2PM. A well-known suburban lunch warung. Choose from lightly spiced egg, shoe-leather rendang, or Dili’s greatest fried chicken (people travel across town for it), then add a couple of veggie dishes and a bowl of koto (bean soup). $1.75.
  • Lili’s, Rua Belarmino Lobo. Excellent Indonesian warung. Prices have risen since their popularity. $3-$5.
  • Starco Cafe, Rue Presidente Nicolau Lobato. Excellent Indonesian warung. $4-$5.
  • Bebonuk beach BBQs. This is a series of similar BBQs that sets up on the beach every evening, providing superb chicken, pig, and fish skewers for approximately $1 apiece (they may attempt to overcharge foreigners), as well as katapas (rice cooked in coconut milk). It becomes pretty dirty, but it is without a doubt the finest bargain beach meal in Dili. $2-$4.
  • Sunrise Cafe, Rua Belarmino Lobo (Audian end). An wonderful Indonesian restaurant. A la carte menu featuring bakso and a bain marie that’s short on vegetables but heavy on meat and fowl. $2-$4.

Begin your self-catering adventure in the East Timor Government Building, Palacio Do Governo. Take the exit to the east, away from the airport. Dili Cold Store supermarket is approximately half way up the left hand road on your right.

The Comoro market, one of Dili’s two major marketplaces, may be found if you take the route towards the airport. It’s a little difficult to discover since it’s situated back from the road. It is roughly a 20-minute walk from the UN building — if you reach the Leader supermarket on the right, you have gone too far. The marketplaces are incredible. When you first arrive, they appear grimy, and the place is covered in dust in the dry season and very muddy in the wet, but if you go inside, you will find fruit, vegetables, coffee, and other items piled in small piles (this is the unit of measurement for purchases – around 10c for leafy vegetables and 50c for everything else). If you live with a Timorese family, it is lovely to travel there and bring home little delicacies such as eggs and condensed milk, bananas and potatoes, which are generally out of reach for most Timorese families (rice and green vegetables are the staple diet of East Timorese).

The Leader grocery sells a variety of western delights, such as chocolate.

Mid-range

After the UN mission departed, the famed R ‘n’ R café shuttered, as did numerous other historic eateries; nonetheless, increased income and an inflow of Europeans have resulted in a profusion of restaurants:

  • Castaway, Avenida de Portugal (western beach road). One of the most fashionable and dependable western eateries. Decent cuisine, good service, a good crowd, and great views of the lake. $6-$15.
  • Dili Beach Hotel, Avenida de Portugal (western beach road). Since the closure of One More Bar, this has been the uncontested king of sports bars. There are 8 TVs, free WiFi, and views of the lake. Fortunately, the cuisine is no longer the poisonous waste zone that it once was, but it’s still better to stick to pizza or dine at one of the other neighboring restaurants before coming here for the sports. $6-$15.
  • Royal Beach Hotel, Avenida de Portugal (western beach road).”Himalayan” restaurant (meaning Indians from Nepal) located in a duplicate of Dili Beach Hotel’s terrace, only exceedingly rickety, with unsafe steps, inadequate roof overhangs that don’t keep water out, and a restroom that floods. However, the meal was rather nice. $8-$15.
  • City Praia, Lecidere (almost next to Lita supermarket). Portuguese grill – skillfully grilled meat, hog, poultry, and seafood served with chips and salad. Pork belly for $6.50 is a steal; steak (“bife”) at $18 but is perhaps the finest in town. $6.50+.
  • Food-L-Do, Timor Plaza (next to the car park). With a vast menu of numerous other meals, this place is a contender for the finest coffee, pizza, spaghetti, and brunches in town. $5-$15.
  • Timor Plaza. There is a food court featuring western and Asian foods, however the costs are higher than elsewhere. Makanan, an Indian-Malay restaurant serving roti canai, martabak, and briyani, would be the best alternative (Il Gelato is in the same shop, with the best ice cream in Dili). There’s a Gloria Jean’s nearby, with dependable coffee but mediocre breakfasts. There are other cafés, a doughnut store, and a rooftop restaurant in Timor Plaza.
  • Burger King, Timor Plaza (next to the car park). Burgers that are typical of the western world at Western rates. Because the proprietor is Muslim, only turkey bacon is served here!
  • Queen Tundriee, Avenida dos Martires de Patria (almost opposite Tiger Fuel). It can’t determine how to spell tandoori (you’ll see tundriee, tundaree, tanduree, tondroori, and other variations), but they know how. Excellent tandoori chicken, samosas, and daals, as well as a variety of other meals, including delicious veggie dishes. $4-$8.
  • Mama’s Resto, Avenida dos Martires de Patria (opposite Wasabi).Manado restaurant has one of the greatest Indonesian offerings in town, featuring superb BBQ beef, hog, chicken, and sometimes dog. You do, however, pay a premium for quality. $4-$8.
  • Linivon, Bidau (Head 200m east from Rua Belarmino Lobo from the intersection with café La Esquina). Rendang has several awards. Because it is self-service, you may choose the finest items. It also provides a wide range of additional services. $4-$5.
  • New 88, Rua Audian. There is also a branch at Landmark and maybe others. According to many Chinese, this is the best Chinese cuisine in town, and it is a trustworthy spot to acquire duck, although it is quite pricey for Dili. $5-$10.
  • Ponto de Econtro, Metiaut (white wall with blue writing on the inland side of the road). From barbecues to soups, the Portuguese cuisine is inconsistent but typically delicious. Karaoke at 11 p.m. $7-$10.
  • Caz Bar, Areia Branca. On the beach, this is ideal for beverages or snacks (just find the plastic tables and chairs on the sand, or ask staff to get some for you; the main bar is across the road and under cover). A large menu of predominantly western foods that are reasonably priced for the location and quality. $5-$10.
  • Kathy’s Cafe, Areia Branca. It’s the other western spot on the Areia Branca and is part of the Beachside Hotel. Breakfasts on the beach were delicious. $8-$15.
  • Vittoria, Metiaut. The best fish restaurant in Dili – choose a whole fish of varying sizes and wait 30-40 minutes for it to be grilled. Sides are sometimes pricey. $6-$10.
  • Early Sun, Metiaut. Reliable beachside Chinese restaurant with a large variety of reasonably priced items. $6-$10.
  • Little Pattaya, Metiaut. Combination Thai/Lebanese restaurant. Not the best cuisine, but it has the most beautiful backdrop of the beachside restaurants and is ideal for large parties. $6-$12.
  • Tiger Fuel, Avenida dos Martires de Patria.. Avenida dos Martires de Patria. Pizza Hut-quality pizzas and, on occasion, other dishes such as kebabs. 24hrs.
  • Spicy Hut, Metiaut. There are never vehicles parked in front, but if you attempt to park there and then proceed to another restaurant, they will chase you away or slash your tires. Those who have gone inside describe fatty food and grumpy service.
  • O Beiro, Metiaut. Excellent seaside Portuguese BBQ place. $12.
  • Tito’s, Metiaut. On the seashore, an upscale Portuguese restaurant. $15.
  • Wasabi, Avenida dos Martires de Patria. Combination Japanese/Indonesian restaurant. $8-$15.
  • Gion, Timor Plaza, lower level next to the car park. The town’s best Japanese restaurant. But I’m still afraid about the sushi. $12+.
  • Wesa’e, Opposite the front of Timor Plaza/Leader Supermarket. Small western vegetarian cafe. $7-$9.
  • Arriba, Av. de Portugal (co-located with Osteria). This is an excellent chance to sample some of the world’s worst Mexican cuisine. Very boring, badly built, and rather pricey. Despite being the only Mexican choice in town, it does not seem to be that popular. $10.
  • Golden Star, Rua Audian (near the corner of Belarmino Lobo, where the 24hr Kaliber 12 place is). Attractive Chinese restaurant in the suburbs with a few intriguing “Timorese” delicacies such as saboco fish. $8+.

Splurge

  • Osteria, Av. de Portugal (western beachfront road). It’s not the greatest Italian cuisine in town, but it’s close. The famous Sunday night specials ($10 pizzas and pastas) are the best bet due to the high costs. $10-$25.
  • Diya, Rua Presidente Nicolau Lobato (in Discovery Inn). Often considered as the town’s finest restaurant, having a mostly Indian cuisine. $20.
  • Panorama, Timor Plaza Level 5 (co-located with Sky Bar). Excellent views of Dili, however the cuisine was mediocre for the price. Simply order a beer at the bar and then order some satay sticks. $25.

Shopping In Dili

The official currency is the United States dollar. The most popular and practical denominations are $5, $10, and $20. They do not have to be in mint condition, but may be difficult to use if damaged – the exception being $1 notes, which become ripped and dirty after a few months of arriving in Dili and may be readily spent in that state (small notes, or coins, are particularly useful for taxis, warungs and street sellers). At hotels, stores, and expat restaurants, $50 and $100 notes are accepted. Bring no notes issued before to 2004 or $2 notes (unless you want to bewilder the locals). American coins are not used; instead, centavo coins are used, notably the new 100 centavo coin that is assisting the nation in phasing off its filthy $1 notes. Outside Timor-Leste, these coins are worthless.

It is recommended that you carry USD (remember that you will need $30 upon arrival for the visa). Certain currencies (e.g., AUD, NZD, GBP, Euro, and IDR) may be exchanged at banks (be prepared for lengthy lineups) and at a booth at Timor Plaza, however the exchange rates are bad. In Dili, there are various ATMs, the most dependable of which are the ANZ machines in front of Timor Plaza. You do not need an ANZ account to use the ATM, but you will need a bank card (eg Visa). However, using these ATMs might be costly As ANZ charges USD$7 every withdrawal.

Additionally, there is a USD$25 cost for transferring funds from an ANZ abroad account to an ANZ account in Dili. It is prudent to contact your bank in advance for guidance on the most cost-effective and efficient method of transferring funds across accounts.

Bank Mandiri, one of Indonesia’s largest banks, maintains a branch in Dili. The bank is situated near Dili’s Government Building. Additionally, they have various ATMs located across town, including at Timor Plaza and Tiger Fuel.

Caixa Geral de Depositos, a Portuguese bank operating under the brand name BNU, also maintains a branch in Dili and numerous other sites around East Timor. The alleged Dili airport branch consists of an empty desk and window and is never manned.

  • Timor Plaza, Rua Presidente Nicolau Lobato (between airport and Dili centre). Dili’s retail center. ATMs, SIM cards, souvenirs, ice cream, theater, and Friday after-work happy hour are all available here. Located 1.5 kilometers east of the airport.
  • Arte Moris, Rua Presidente Nicolau Lobato (between Timor Plaza and the airport). A gallery that offers Timorese artworks, many of which were created directly on Tais. Local symbols of life and death under Indonesian domination are recurring topics.
  • Tais Market, Colmera (two laneways lead to it, one from near Harvey World Travel and one from the large T-junction). A central location for collecting Tais, antique coins, woodwork, ceramics, and other oddities. Be cautious of fake Tais, which are sometimes imported from Indonesia. There are other shops with largely comparable offers, so browse and select a seller at random or depending on who is willing to educate you on regional differences. A big tais will cost between $40 and $60 (depending on how elegant it is), while a smaller tais will cost $30. Because intense haggling is uncommon, it’s tough to negotiate a reduction of 10% -20% off the first price, however discounts for repeated purchases are typical.
  • Alola Esperansa, Av. Bpo. de Madeiros (A bit south of the Mercado Lama roundabout),  +670 7723 6363. is the shop of Alola Foundation, East Timor’s non-governmental organisation for women and children. At Mercado Lama (Mascarenhas), you may discover a variety of high-quality handicrafts created by weavers from all across East Timor. Bags, wallets, shoes, and apparel, as well as a variety of other local handicrafts (all materials derived from Tais), as well as Timorese coffee. A lovely memento or present for family and friends, while also aiding women and children in East Timor. The store is open everyday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. A second outlet is located in Dili’s retail complex Timor Plaza in Comoro. You can be certain that you are purchasing genuine quality tais that are being sold for a worthy purpose, but the costs are five times more than at the tais market.
  • Audian, Rua Audian (east of the Mercado Lama roundabout). This is an excellent location for small grocers and hardware/home improvement companies. You may need to visit many locations to locate what you are looking for.
  • Colmera, Near corner of Rua Nicolau dos Reis Lobato and Estrada de Balidae (aka Colmera Road). This neighborhood is home to a variety of electrical and general retailers.

Small supermarkets and convenience shops are scattered around the city (with a concentration of small supermarkets in Audian), although they will provide a limited selection and will cater to Asian preferences. Even larger stores that cater to foreigners will have a limited selection, and you may need to visit many to get what you’re looking for (if you can actually get it – months-long shortages are common). Supermarkets have a limited selection of fruits and vegetables and charge a premium over marketplaces. The following are the major supermarkets of note:

  • Leader, Av. Presidente Nicolau Lobato (next to Timor Plaza). 9:30AM-9:30PM. Probably the finest supermarket in the area for expats, with a large selection of domestic products.
  • Kmanek, Timor Plaza, level 1. Excellent bargain, but with a restricted selection.
  • W Four, Timor Plaza (other side of the car park). Asian-oriented establishment with a nice selection and reasonable costs.
  • Landmark, Av. Presidente Nicolau Lobato. Although a large supermarket, it is deficient in a number of commodities.
  • Pateo, R. D Fernando. Portuguese supermarket. Unlike the majority of stores in this area, this one is well ventilated. Appropriate for Portuguese products such as tinned fish, cheese, chorizo, wine, and beer. However, it is rather costly.
  • Lita, Av. dos Direitos Humanos (Lecidere beachfront). The greatest grocery in downtown. Directly across the street is a fruit market.
  • Dilimart, Av. dos Direitos Humanos (next to Lita Store). Downtown, a large new supermarket has opened.
  • Kmanek, Rua Belarmino Lobo (near the Burger King corner). A good value grocery in the downtown area, although with a restricted selection. Usually has outdoor fruit and vegetable vendors.

Nightlife In Dili

After work on Fridays (5 to 8 p.m.), the iconic happy hour above Timor Plaza (Sky Bar – level 5) attracts a large number of foreigners. Castaway is an expat pub along Dili’s main road; beverages range from $4 beers and cocktails to a $10 large margarita. They have a shelf of (mostly English) books that you may leave and take as you like, in true backpacker fashion. (Cigarettes are offered inside the bar but are only worth it if you’re feeling lazy; at $2.50 a pack, they’re more than twice the price of cigarettes sold by street sellers!). Nova bar is located next to it.

  • Caz Bar, Areia Branca (Cristo Rei Beach) (next to Beachside Hotel), +670 7723 3961. A pleasant beachside tavern near Cristo Rei. Excellent pizza. Staff from non-governmental organizations frequent this location.
  • Kaliber 12, Rua Belarmino Lobo/Rua Audian. 24 hours a day, this corner business blasts music. You may get a drink at convenience store pricing, sit outdoors, and mingle with the locals.
  • Tower, Comoro Rd (Look for the wire tower with an illuminated T at the top). One of the hippest pubs in town, it fills up at 11 p.m. with locals and foreigners (particularly Portuguese). The $5 cover price includes one beverage. Although it is partially outside, it is nevertheless filled with cigarette smoke.
  • Moon Bar. The bar that the UN forbade its employees from visiting! It must be nice therefore, but how can you locate it?
  • Letefoho Specialty Coffee Roasters, Avenida de Portugal (western beach road, underneath Hotel Royal Beach). In a little hipster café, we’re promoting local coffee farmers. Some of the greatest coffee in town can be found here.
  • Club 88, Rua São Sebastião (above L&D Pizza Bar). It seems to have supplanted Tower as the preeminent late-night smokey dance club.
  • Miaow, Rua Belarmino Lobo (in the old Kebab Club building opposite Kmanek). A new (and first in Dili) jazz club featuring Timorese and international musicians. The most bizarre spot to spend a late Friday or Saturday night.

Stay Safe & Healthy In Dili

The greatest danger in Dili is probably getting involved in a traffic accident. It’s a good idea to pack a quality helmet in case you rent a bike or ride on the back of another person’s bike.

Personal safety in East Timor is ensured by taking simple measures. As is the case in many cities, it is typically regarded risky for a’malae’ (foreigner) woman to go alone after dark (and presumably also for a malae male). There have been a few reports of persons being robbed when travelling in cabs after dark. A few malae residences had been broken into overnight. However, walking about Dili during the day seems really secure — there are usually plenty of people around.

The sole additional security precaution in Dili is to avoid gang activity, which is most prevalent at night, notably in the Bairo Pite neighborhood. These gangs are founded on martial arts clubs in Dili, which – given Timor Leste’s history of violence and turmoil – serves as a social network for a large number of jobless guys. The primary gangs are Setesete, PSHT, and Korak, and their graffiti can be found around Dili. It is strongly advised that travelers avoid certain martial arts establishments and promptly leave an area if gang-related violence seems to be a possibility.

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