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Timor-Leste Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 4-6 days

Best Time: May to November Read More

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Timor Leste

"The soul shack"

Timor-Leste Tourism

Timor Leste, also known as East Timor is a small country located northwest of Australia and east of Indonesia. A world in its own self, Timor Leste gives you the uninhibited version of things otherwise subverted in other locations. There is something so utterly challenging in its mountains and untouched reefs that pushes the visitor to explore more. AsiaÕs newest country offers some of the worldÕs last great off-the-beaten-track adventures.

Set out to explore the ever changing terrain of Timor Leste, through its misty mountains and dense jungles. Get a taste of the mark the Portuguese left in the local coffee, indulge in fringing the intricate reefs and aquatic life on a snorkelling trip. Timor Leste takes you on a roller coaster ride that brings you the degree of thrill and calm like no other place. A lazy stroll through the markets, an adrenaline pumping trip or trek, or an equally wondrous opportunity to submerge all your worries as you witness the beauty under the blue waters, your next best memory would stem from here. For History buffs, even though Timor Leste is perhaps the youngest country in the world, yet the dynamic change of events this place has experienced would leave one reeling. A trip to the museum will shed light on to its dark past, and how Timor Leste has emerged from a state of absolute uncertainty to a land filled with promises and hidden potential.

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Currency in Timor-Leste

The only currency accepted in the country is USD and there are very few places where credit cards are accepted. Thus, it is recommended to carry cash in USD or traveller's cheque.

Exchanging Money in Timor-Leste

Most of the ATMs are located in Dili and they are quite scarce outside the city. Credit cards are not widely accepted. Currency exchange options are available in banks and money exchange centres.

Daily Budget for Timor-Leste

On a shoestring budget, USD 25 will be enough to get you going in Dili and nearby places. A mid range budget would be from USD 50 - 100 whereas a luxury budget can go as high as USD 200 if you plan on exploring the entire country.

Religion of Timor-Leste

The main religion in Timor Leste is Christianity with almost 97% of the population practising Roman Catholicism. Around 2.2% of the population practise Protestantism and less than 1% practise Islam.

Timor-Leste Customs

The people of Timor Leste are conservative and that is reflected in their dress sense and behaviour. The dress codes are generally relaxed for foreigners and shorts and sleeveless are widely acceptable, however it is best to dress in clothes that cover the knee and shoulder to avoid being on the offensive when in a Church or a Muslim locality. Men greet each other by shaking hands whereas women kiss each other on the cheeks. Avoid sensitive conversation topics such as politics and finance. Tipping is not mandatory in the country and no service charge is levied on the bill, if you are satisfied with the service, you can tip around 10% of the total bill amount.

Language of Timor-Leste

The official languages of the country are Tetum and Portuguese., however, Indonesian is widely spoken in Timor Leste. The usage of English is very limited throughout the country. Use Halo for Hello, Selamat Pagi for Good Morning and Terima Kasih for Thank you, your efforts to speak in Indonesian will be appreciated.

History of Timor-Leste

Timor Leste bears the load of its dark past characterized by periods of turmoil and unrest. The point of interest in Timor Leste's history starts from the colonisation of the country by Portuguese in the early 16th century who were attracted by the abundance of Sandalwood. The Portuguese, after colonising the country went on to exploit its resources and established farming of coffee, cotton and sugar cane on the islands. They also bought Catholicism with them, which is still practised in the country. The country gained independence from the Portuguese in November 1975, but was invaded by Indonesia few days later and went on to control the country for the next two decades. The resistance of the Timorese people resulted in some 60,000 deaths. The country was able to get free from the Indonesian rule in 1999 via UN's referendum in which people voted for an independent Timor. UN sent Peacekeeping forces to restore peace and security on the islands. The UN relinquished its control of the country in May 2002, making it one of the newest countries in the world, putting an end to the country's long freedom struggle.

Nightlife in Timor-Leste

Timor Leste's nightlife is not one of its prime attractions. The people are conservative and most women in the country do not drink. Despite being a catholic country, there are quite a few beachfront bars and nightclubs in Dili. Head out to Poy Cholor, which serves food till 5:00 AM in the morning, accompanied by live music or visit Caz bar, one of the top spots for drinking and relaxing.

Shopping in Timor-Leste

Most shopping options in the country can be found in the capital Dili, in terms of its multiple roadside kiosk, small markets and shopping plaza. Markets here can be found in every main town, though they are small and cater only to local needs. Souvenirs that you must take home include aromatic coffee beans, traditional hand woven Tais, Batik and embroidered fabrics, and silverworks.

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How to Reach Timor-Leste

How to Reach Overview

The best option for getting in the country is via a flight or via the land border between Indonesia and Timor Leste, however Visa on arrival is not available at the land border except for Portuguese and Indonesian nationals.

How to reach Timor-Leste by flight

The country's main airport Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport, formerly knows as Comoro Airport is located in Dili. Some of the major airline carriers that directly connect to Dili include Airnorth from Darwin in Australia, Air Timor from Singapore and NAM Air from Bali in Indonesia. An additional fee of USD 10 is levied for flying out of Dili as airport departure tax.

How to reach Timor-Leste by road

Getting in by cab or car is not a feasible option.

How to reach Timor-Leste by bus

There are daily direct cross border buses connecting Dili to Kupang in Indonesia and the entire journey takes around 12 hours, this is a feasible option for Indonesian and Portuguese citizens as only they can obtain visa on arrival at land border crossing.

Local transport in Timor-Leste

The best options for exploring the country include buses and cars, though the transport infrastructure is not fully developed and it can get really difficult to reach certain places. There are numerous Indonesian styled vans (Bemos) and minibuses (Mikrolets) that operate between many parts of the country, connecting the cities of Dili, Los Palos, Baucau and Maliana. Mikrolets are the best means for travelling between the districts, the buses are numbered following a specified route. Taxis are the best means for exploring Dili, they are quite cheap and widely available. Car rentals are easily available in the city, however driving in the city is not so easy. Ferries connect Dili to the neighbouring Atauro Islands and Oekusi. Even though there are airports in Baucau, Suai and Oekusi, there is no domestic air travel service in the country yet.

Timor-Leste Photos

Timor-Leste, Timor Leste
A demonstration for independence from Indonesia held in Australia during September 1999
Nicolau Lobato Presidential Palace in Dili.
The National Parliament of East Timor

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FAQs on Timor-Leste

What is the best time to visit Timor leste?

The country enjoys a tropical monsoon climate which is defined by two distinct seasons. The wet season starts from December and lasts till April, though the rains enhance the greenery, they create flood like conditions and make travel highly difficult. The dry season from May to November is a good time for exploring the country as it receives a little amount of rainfall. The months of September - November are ideal for whale spotting.
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What is the local food in Timor leste?

Timor Leste's gastronomy is influenced by Southeast Asian and Portuguese cuisine. As an agro based economy, the staples here include rice, maize, taro and sweet potatoes whereas pork, poultry, goats and fish are the base for any non vegetarian dish. Some of the must try dishes in the country include Ikan Sabuko, a mackerel dish with tamarind and basil and Feijoada, a common Portuguese dish made with pork and beans. The best restaurants of the country are located in Dili, you can head to DiZa, which is one of the country's fanciest restaurant or to Castaway bar to enjoy Australian cuisine with a few drinks.
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What is the best way to reach Timor leste?

The best option for getting in the country is via a flight or via the land border between Indonesia and Timor Leste, however Visa on arrival is not available at the land border except for Portuguese and Indonesian nationals.
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What are the things to do in Timor leste?

The top things to do in Timor leste are Dili, Atauro islands, Baucau, Jaco island, Mount Ramelau, Com. You can see all the places to visit in Timor leste here

What are the places near Timor leste?

The top places near to Timor leste are Cebu city which is 257 km from Timor leste, London which is located 11551 km from Timor leste, Dubai which is located 7631 km from Timor leste, Amsterdam which is located 11209 km from Timor leste, New york city which is located 14146 km from Timor leste

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