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Timor-Leste forum

Anyone ever been here?

Posted by mftwanderer on 17/8/2013 at 13:58

Judging by the lack of activity I'm guessing not many people visit Timor-Leste.

Is it dangerous to travel in or is there just not much to get excited about here?

#1 mftwanderer has been a member since 14/8/2013. Location: Earth. Posts: 4

Posted by hayles623 on 21/8/2013 at 10:14

My girlfriend and I are heading there after travelling se for about 6 months. She is very excited about it as it is supposed to have amazing beaches and is not tarnished by tourism as some other locations. I will admit I don't have a huge idea of what it is like there but it had been described as breath taking so that has to be a good sign! If you are planning on going I will happily give you a detailed review once I have been ...

#2 hayles623 has been a member since 16/8/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by ksauer on 19/9/2013 at 07:33

Hello there,
I'm glad to see people are asking about Timor Leste. My friend and I were there for three weeks in June 2013 and had the experience of a lifetime. Its true that you should visit Timor Leste before its economy opens up and its tourism sector becomes more developed; however, you have to have realistic expectations going in. It was by far the most difficult travel I have done in Asia thus far. There is absolutely no infrastructure for backpacking/affordable tourism and so you have to shell out money and pay the "foreigner's price" (read: former UN workers and NGO volunteers who are mostly wealthy retirees). Here's a few things you should know:
1) The cultural heritage in this country is absolutely unique and I wish it were easier to travel in Timor Leste because the people there have so much to teach us.
2) The history of Timor Leste is fascinating and through it you can learn a lot about Portuguese colonialism, Australian, Indonesian and American politics.
3) The people in general are very kind-hearted and a little Portuguese/Tetun will get you a long way. Its in your best interest to learn some phrases in one or both of these languages before venturing outside of Dili.
4) Public transportation isn't established anywhere so you have to flag down small buses and ride in the back of trucks. This is really fun at first but also frustrating when you're stuck waiting around all day for a truck that may or may not come (and don't go try to poke around and explore because if you miss the truck you're waiting till tomorrow). Some of the trucks/vans roll through town late at night or super early in the morning, as in 4:00 am. Roads are rough, mostly unpaved and virtually impossible to drive on when it rains due to mud and potholes.
5) Safety can be an issue in certain areas so use caution. We always had good encounters with the locals but we met many travelers who had close calls with people trying to rob them.
6) The cheapest bed in Dili is at the Backpackers' Hostel and even that is expensive. If you want a lot more bang for just a little more buck, consider the Dili Beach Hotel. Outside of Dili be aware that guest houses are around $30-$60 PER PERSON, not per room. Locals would rather pass up your business than give you a cheaper deal. Don't try to barter in Timor Leste, it doesn't work.
7) Budget plenty of time to get anywhere if you're heading outside of Dili. Enjoy the experience and the breathtaking scenery, and bring a book because you'll be waiting a lot for rides.
8) We bought a tent at the grocery store in the mall in Dili because we couldn't afford the guesthouses in Los Palos, Walu Beach (Tutuala), Bacau and Atauro Island. We later realized that this was a little dangerous considering that there were only two of us, but if you have a bigger group you'll be fine. DON'T camp on the beach because there ARE crocodiles (we didn't believe it till we saw it).
9) Food can also be expensive. We bought fruit at markets and lived off of these amazing banana fritters and spicy rice packets (look for plastic canisters with brown paper packets inside). When you feel like splurging, Timorese do amazing things with fresh fish!

My friend and I took the bus from Kupang to Dili, and traveled around Dili, Bacau, Los Palos, Tututala, Walu Beach/Jaco Island and Atauro Island. If you have any questions about those places please feel free to ask! Although it was intense, we had an amazing time and learned so much. I highly recommend visiting Timor Leste to anybody with a good deal of patience coupled with a sense of adventure.

#3 ksauer has been a member since 19/9/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by ksauer on 19/9/2013 at 07:42

Ok I just remembered something you should know: If you're crossing over from Indonesia, whatever Indonesian visa you have will instantly be invalid after entering East Timor. You'll have to apply for another one at the Indonesian Embassy in Dili if you are re-entering Indonesia by land. This can take five to seven working days. Get to the Embassy really early because a long line forms and then get ready to throw elbows to defend your place in line. I recommend going a day early and getting them to tell you EXACTLY what paperwork and photocopies you need because it changes constantly. It was a nightmare for myself and many other people staying at the Dili Backpackers hostel. Moral of the story: leave yourself plenty of time. You may also want to just buy a cheap flight back to Indonesia via one of the many travel agents in Dili; then you can just apply for a visa on arrival once you get to the airport in Indonesia. Sometimes this ticket+30 day visa on arrival ends up being cheaper than the bus back to Kupang Indonesia+visa fees at the Indonesian Embassy in Dili.

#4 ksauer has been a member since 19/9/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by roxaane on 26/12/2013 at 08:29

Not a destination I had previously heard of.
Off to Google to find out more...

#5 roxaane has been a member since 17/12/2013. Posts: 6

Posted by boaby on 3/1/2014 at 00:14

Hi Ksaur,

Interesting post, I was working offshore in E/T and planed to do some diving on return to Dilli ,unfortunately flights were all changed so we had to leave Dilli as soon as we got onshore .

I did not get a chance to check out dive shops/operators did you perchance do any diving there ?

#6 boaby has been a member since 26/1/2011. Posts: 41

Posted by ksauer on 5/1/2014 at 01:56

Hi there, I didn't dive in ET so I don't really have any helpful info for you. I did talk to several people there who were diving and they said it was much more expensive than what they were used to and reports ranged from "average" to "amazing." Good luck!

#7 ksauer has been a member since 19/9/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by Terry001 on 14/1/2014 at 23:53

Nice Post..

#8 Terry001 has been a member since 10/1/2014. Posts: 18

Posted by Sparts on 24/1/2014 at 06:31

Hi, I was there a couple of years ago.
It's an interesting palce to visit for sure.

Having only recently come out of a guerilla war that lasted over 20 years, it's not without it's problems. In the capital you avoid certain areas. "Martial Arts" Gangs used to be and I reckon still are an issue. They were initially setup to battle the occupying Indonesian army but have failed to disperse and they have been known to fight with each other. These gangs are not a few dozen strong, rather they count thousands from within their ranks and are a real problem for the government who have been trying to break them for years - with a degree of success. I think some/all are now outlawed which has pushed them under the radar.
Booze is a big problem as is domestic abuse. Women can be treated very badly. The locals are very poor and unemployment is sky high.
the UN (who propped up the Dili economy as there were so many there) have now left and so what happens next is uncertain.

The good news is that it's a wonderful unspoiled country. If you like to get off the beaten track then this is a place that should be on your list. Though the transport infrastructure is very poor, (you have not seen a pothole until you've been to Timor) you can get around but understand that it will take you a lot longer. We did take a 7 hour drive to the interior (approx 60 miles covered in that time) and then hiked to visit some vilages that without a heck of an effort would remain pretty much cut off from the rest of the country.

No question, if you venture outside the major aresas then you should do so as a group and be careful where you go at night.
you won't forget a visit to Timor Leste in a hurry, that I can promise you.

One last thing, the treatment of Timor by the Australians is utterly disgusting. The australians bugged the office of the Timorese govt when oil contracts were being negotiated. The money concerned is relatively small potatoes by Aussie standards but essential to providing the most basic of services in Timor. This is currently going through the courts and I can only hope that the contract is torn up

PS Did I mention the runway is too short for most airliners to land properly? When you land the brakes are applied so hard that you almost leave your seat. Quite an experience!

#9 Sparts has been a member since 5/6/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 169

Posted by Sqwatter on 17/6/2014 at 05:00

Once again very little has been said about TL so this is on a wing and a prayer. I'm heading there for a couple weeks at the start of August on my own and can't wait to get there. Although i have more than enough money for the short trip, i'm probably going to sleep in my hammock and hire a bike or hitchhike around the country. I've never had a problem with this before but hearing about crocodiles, general security and the troubles the countries been through, is this ok if i take the usual necessary precautions or downright stupid?

#10 Sqwatter has been a member since 17/6/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by Sparts on 17/6/2014 at 11:04

Based upon my experiences, (granted 3 years ago). I'd say you are taking to much risk.
It was more secure then when the UN were around. I expect it's less so now.

I think that when violence does occur, it tends to be quite extreme.
There are a lot of desperate and hungry people there. Alcohol is a big problem as is domestic abuse.
I'd stay somewhere more secure, at least for a few nights - get a feel for the place before you decide to wing it.
Hitching hiking in the day should be fine, though some roads are quite and towns/villages can be very remote. Some roads we drove on we didn't see another car for an hour at a time - and that'd be a UN vehicle.

From what I remember, accommodation was expensive - but that was down to them exploiting the UN. Prices may well have fallen now.

Enjoy. It's a fascinating place and I look forward to any update you can provide.

#11 Sparts has been a member since 5/6/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 169

Posted by Shreeya on 11/11/2014 at 08:48

I do not think its a good decision...

#12 Shreeya has been a member since 11/11/2014. Posts: 6

Posted by Sparts on 12/11/2014 at 04:27

Great post Shreeya. ;)
Care to enlighten us as to why not? Did you have a bad experience?

#13 Sparts has been a member since 5/6/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 169

Posted by emma33 on 16/11/2014 at 20:38

I have been to West Timor and thought it was fascinating...very different to most of Indonesia in terms of geography and religion. If Timor Leste is anything like West Timor you will have a great time. One thing: my mother went to West Timor five years ago to work as a volunteer. She had only been there about 6 days when she got malaria and ended up having to come home (to Australia). She was taking every precaution you could think of, including wearing stockings and light-colored clothing. Malaria is very common there. So, you might need to be prepared for that.

#14 emma33 has been a member since 16/11/2014. Posts: 9

Posted by JeffMartel on 21/7/2015 at 04:55

I have never been there so I don't have any idea about Timor-Leste, but I have heard many things about the place and really want to go there once. Apart from the enjoyment I think safety also plays a vital role in tourism,

#15 JeffMartel has been a member since 21/7/2015. Posts: 1

Posted by Woutervanderslu on 1/8/2017 at 08:08

No recent travelers there? I Read things gettong better on Lonely Planet.
Van anybody affirm??

#16 Woutervanderslu has been a member since 5/8/2015. Posts: 2

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