Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor becoming one of the world’s newest countries as it became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on 20 May 2002 when it achieved independence from Indonesia. The relatively new nation is situated in the eastern half of the island of Timor, at eastern ‘end’ of the Lesser Sunda Islands, north of the Timor Sea and Australia.
The country occupies an area of 14,874 km2, including the island of Pulau Acrobat and Paula Jaco, compared it is about half the size of Belgium, or slightly larger than the Bahamas.
The nations have a population of 1.2 million people, capital and largest city is Dili, spoken languages are Tetum, and Portuguese (both official), Indonesian, English.
Immigration and Visa Requirements
Visas are required for most international traveler and this can be done upon arrival at a charge of US$30 for a 30 day visa and if required, they can be extended in Dili for a price of US$35 for an additional 30 day stay or US$75 for between 30 and 60 days.
Extension of a tourist visa past 30 days require a patron (also known as a sponsor), an East Timorese national or work-permit holder, who should complete a “Termo de Responsabilidade” For more information, kindly visit http://visiteasttimor.com
Timor Leste is located in the tropics and it has two seasons, the dry season from May to November and the wet season is from December to April. Timor Leste has an average temperature from 22 degree Celsius to 31 degree Celsius. Do take note that Timor Leste has mountain exceeding 2500m, one can expect cool temperature down to 5 degree Celsius.
Timor Leste has a turbulent history in the past but more recently, safety and security have improved a lot. However, traveler should exercise cautious and be aware of their personal belonging at all times. Advice should be sought when travelling to some areas or locations particularly at night and we strongly recommend you to obtain as much information as possible prior to travelling and consult with your government agency or foreign affairs for the upmost updated advice and information.
It is strongly recommended that traveler will need to consult their doctor on the vaccination that need to be done prior travelling to Timor Leste. The usual travel precautions to mosquitoes apply to Timor Leste as does drinking clean bottled / boiled water.
Timor Leste is one of the only two countries in Asia with the predominantly Christian population, the other will be Philippines. Roman Catholic make up 91% of the population, with the remaining being Muslim, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist and traditional local minorities.
It is important to respect the local belief regardless of the different religion.
The common transport in Timor Leste is Motor bike, Buses and Car. However, we do not recommend tourist to ride bike locally as you might not be familiar with the rules and road. The recommendation to use Taxi to get around the main town area of Dili. You can organize mini buses or rent a car with driver to travel around other part of Timor Leste.
Places of interest
Timor Leste is a place filled with Portuguese cultural and many amazing and spectacular sights. A drive towards Baucau (second largest city in Timoe Leste), which have the tale of 2 cities; Old Town with its sea views and Portugese-era relics and the New Town which was developed during Indonesian Era.
Atauro Island and Jaco Island is another top pick from tourist. This is due to the white sandy beaches and offshore coral fringe. You can also have diving or snorkeling activities there as the un-touched reef and the clear visibility water, enable you to experience the marines and if you are lucky, you are able to spot whales, dolphins or even dugongs!
Mountain trekking is also another favorite activities among tourist. An adventurous trek on Mt Ramelau (2,963m) that soars aboive the valley below and is the biggest mountain in Timor Leste and finally the brilliant bird watching areas of Konis Santana N.P. and Tasi-tolu wetlands is a must!
Eating Out and Night Life
Dili and its surround have wide range of international cuisine that is influenced by Portugal, Indonesia, China, Japan, Australia and its other neighbor countries. The local food such as Batar Dann (a popular dish of corn, mung beans and pumpkin) and Ikan Sabuko (a Spanish mackerel in tamarind marinade with basil and capsicum) can be found in the local restaurant.
Timor Leste grows one of the finest coffees in the world, the high altitude Arabica Bean with its original flavor characteristic it’s not to be missed. Sipping a cup of aromatic coffee at one of the café is a wonderful time to relax.
Dili has many bar with some offering live music and entertainment. We would recommend you to get hold of the free publication Guide Post Magazine or find out more from the hotel reception for all local information.
Timor Leste is famous for their beautiful handmade Tais (Traditional cloth) – a local product that represents the Timorese identity. Tais is normally woven with fine cotton by hand in many designs on simple wooden looms. Head off to Taibessi Market to find many local products such as Tais, wood cravings and other local crafts.
Dili has a number of supermarkets that stock wide range of western supplies from Australia, Singapore and Portugal. Local family shops have the daily essentials and open late into the night.
Timor Plaza is the shopping mall located in the central of Dili. Restaurant, food court, supermarket can be found over there.
Clothing and Footwear
Clothing should be light, cool and comfortable. Conservative dress is recommended for women and nudity by anyone in public places is considered very offensive. A fleece top and wet weather gear is highly recommended for those who are going for a mountain trek.
Closed light footwear and solid trekking sandals will be best to travel around Dili. But for walk through jungle or bush, sturdy shoes are a must, and reef shoes are advisable for snorkeling and diving.
Money and banking
The official currency of Timor Leste is the US Dollar. This is the only currency accepted as legal tender. Do not expect establishments to accept credit cards except for upper range of restaurant and hotels. Consult your local bank whether your credit card and ATM card will work in Timor Leste. Both ANZ Bank and Western Union have offices in Dili along with BNU and Bank Mandiri.
US Dollar notes issued prior to the Year 2003 will not be accepted
There are a small number of basic internet café, fast food restaurant such as Burger King and hotels offer WIFI services for tourist. Timor Telecom is the main telecommunication provider in Dili, and have Timor Telecom SIM Card available for tourist.
Timor Leste country code is +670 and the international access code is 00. The emergency service number is 112.