East Timor or the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is a new state in Southeast Asia on the Timor island. It occupies the eastern part of the Oecusse district and two other small islands. East Timor borders Indonesia. It is washed by the waters of the Timor Sea, the Ombay Passage, and the Banda Sea. The capital city is Dili.
The climate in Timor is sub-equatorial with a dry and a wet season. The dry season lasts from May to November and a wet season lasts from December to April. Plan your holidays in East Timor for the period from May to June when the weather is not too hot and dry. The fans of diving should come here from July to October.
The official languages in East Timor are the Portuguese and Tetum. The Indonesian and English are also spoken in the Republic. The majority of the population is the Catholics (96.9%).
The lovers of hiking will enjoy the mountainous terrain with many rivers and waterfalls. The coral reefs near the coast are the habitat for a huge number of sea animals. Even the most experienced divers will find something interesting for themselves.
Dili is a real Mecca for the fans of scuba diving. It is in the capital city, diving safari is arranged for the tourists. Besides, in Dili, there are many historical and architectural monuments of the Portuguese epoch in East Timor. The tourists can also spend time on excellent sandy beaches.
Baucau is the best destination for hiking and biking. This is the second largest city in East Timor and the capital city of the Baucau district. The most visited place here is the sandalwood plantations.
It is more convenient to get to East Timor by plane. The tourists have to take transit flights with a stop in Singapore, Denpasar or Darwin in Australia.
The duration of the flight depends on the route. A direct flight from Singapore to Dili is 4 hours.
The tourists can get to Indonesia and then travel to East Timor by land. This is only available for the tourists from the countries which have a visa-free regime with East Timor.
From Australia or Indonesia, one can get to East Timor by sea. The destination is the international port of Dili.
The citizens of the European Union can travel to East Timor visa-free and stay in the country for 90 days.
For the CIS citizens, a visa is issued on arrival at the airport. The tourists must have an international passport valid for, at least, six months since the date of arrival.
A visa is issued only at the airport or the international port in Dili. If you want to cross the land border, you have to obtain a visa beforehand.
One can apply for a visa online on the website of the Immigration Service of East Timor. A visa gives you a permit to stay in the country for 90 days. The time for processing the documents for a visa is 10 working days.
There are no restrictions concerning import and export of national and foreign currency. The sum exceeding 5.000 US dollars must be declared.
The tourists can import the following goods duty-free:
- a small amount of alcohol and cigarettes;
- a few medications for personal use;
- souvenirs the total cost of which must not exceed 300 US dollars.
The tourists can buy and export souvenirs and gifts for personal use.
It is prohibited to export:
- items having artistic or historical value (a permit is required);
- rare animals and birds.
The cuisine of East Timor combines traditional Indonesian dishes and Portuguese cooking traditions. The staple food is rice.
The foodies will enjoy a Portuguese dish Caldeirada. In Portugal, the locals make it with seafood and in Timor, they use mutton, beef and vegetables.
The travelers should try rice soups with chicken or beef and vegetarian soups with vegetables and greens.
The chicken is usually served with curry sauce and noodles.
In East Timor, there are many fish and seafood dishes. Do not miss a chance to try Pepes Ikan, roasted spiced fish.
If you crave for sweets, you will be delighted by the traditional coconut pudding or famous Leche Flan (caramel dessert with cream and citrus fruits).
A popular drink is a coffee which the locals grow themselves.
In East Timor, they make beer and a beverage Tapai from fermented rice. In large stores, there is a great choice of imported drinks.
The official currency in East Timor is the US Dollar (USD) which is equal to 100 cents. In circulation are the banknotes from 1 to 100 dollars. The Australian dollar and the Indonesian rupiah are also used for payments here.
One can exchange currency at banks and in exchange offices.
Visa and Master Card are accepted in large malls, hotels and restaurants.
There are not many ATMs in East Timore so make sure you have enough cash.
You can cash traveler’s checks at banks.
In East Timor, take care of your safety, avoid crowds of people, mass meetings and gatherings. Do not leave your hotel room at night.
Be careful with local foods, drink only bottled water and eat only heat-processed food.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in East Timor
The holidays in East Timor will be in the relaxed pace. There are interesting places to visit, to enjoy the nature, historical and architectural sights.
- The Christ Statue (Cristo Rei) is a copy of the statue in Rio de Janeiro. Its height is 30 m.
- The Chega Museum in the former prison in Dili. Its expositions are devoted to the violation of the human rights in the country before it became independent.
- The Presidential Palace.
- The building of the military reservation in Dili dates back to 1627. It’s built during the period of the colonial domination of Portugal.
- The Atauro island is a great place for ecological tourism. The trip to the island will not take much time, but the travelers will visit fish and craft villages, can go snorkelling and diving.
- The Jesus Backside Beach is one of the best places in the country for a beach holiday.
- The village Iralfai preserved the traditional everyday routine, customs and traditions of the indigenous people.
- The National Park on the Jaco island will allow the tourists feel the atmosphere of the real jungles.
- The Carnival de Timor takes place in April or May. During this festival, the tourists will get to know the culture of the people of this country.
- The Nino Konis Santana National Park attracts the tourists with its archaeological monuments and unique fauna.
- Coffee plantations. The largest of them are Ermera, Maubisse, Manufahi, and Liquisa.
- Petroglyphs in the Lene Hara cave. This unique gallery includes the cave drawings which are 8.000 – 10.000 years old.
- The Tatamailau Mount is the highest peak in East Timor. It is 2.986 meters. There are hiking and trekking routes.
Souvenirs in East Timor
In East Timor, anyone can buy traditional crafts:
- wicker goods (baskets, mats);
- jewelry boxes;
- pearl jewelry;
- local coffee.