East Timor Guide
Travelling to East Timor
If you are looking for somewhere unique and authentic to visit on your next holiday, look into Webjet’s airfares to East Timor. Located on an island in Southeast Asia, East Timor is one of the least-visited countries in the world. It is also one of the youngest, having gained its independence from Indonesia in 2002. This young country is unlike any others you’ve visited before. It has an interesting culture that has been strongly influenced by both Portugal and Indonesia over the years. East Timor is made up of beautiful beaches, rainforests, mountains, and some incredible coral reefs just off its coast. When you travel to East Timor, you won’t come across many other tourists. Instead, you’ll have lots of opportunities to interact with the country’s friendly locals and learn more about their culture.
Start planning your trip to East Timor with Webjet’s cheap flights to East Timor from New Zealand. Use our guide to East Timor below to start planning a trip you’ll never forget.
When is the Best Time Visit East Timor?
The temperatures of East Timor are pretty stable throughout the year, averaging between 25-30°C. While temperatures don’t change drastically, the weather of the country varies based on when you visit. East Timor experiences both a wet season and a dry season. The wet season takes place from December to April. During these months, the country sees regular rain, high humidity, and the occasional flood or landslide. Roads can often be closed off during the wet season, so it is not the ideal time to book airfares to East Timor. The dry season occurs between May and November, with the north coast experiencing the driest weather. Inland and in the mountains, East Timor can still get the occasional shower during the wet season. However, they don’t last long and aren’t heavy enough to stop you from getting out and exploring.
East Timor is still fairly under-the-radar when it comes to international travellers. No matter what time you plan your trip to the country, you won’t have to deal with large crowds of tourists. Throughout the country, you’ll have no trouble finding hotels with affordable rates year-round
Five Things First-Time Travellers to East Timor Should Know
• East Timor does not have its own currency, and instead utilises the US dollar. The exchange rate is about $1.44 NZD for each $1 USD.
• East Timor occupies half of a large island in Southeast Asia. It is located on the east side, while the west side of the island is part of Indonesia.
• New Zealand tourists require a visa to visit East Timor. You can obtain your visa at the airport, and your passport must be valid for at least six months after the day you will be entering East Timor. Visas are valid for 30 days and cost $30 USD ($43.10 NZD).
• There are two official languages in East Timor: Portuguese and Tatum. However, there are about 15 local languages spoken around the country. While visiting the capital city of Dili, you will have no trouble getting by speaking English.
• East Timor can also be called Timor-Leste. ‘Leste’ means ‘east’ in Portuguese.
East Timor Cities
Dili is the capital and largest city of East Timor. Since the country’s only major airport is located here, you will most likely spend some time in Dili at the beginning and end of your time in East Timor. It’s a beautiful city where you’ll find beaches and houses topped with thatched roofs. As the country’s largest city, Dili has lots of restaurants, shops, and markets to explore. Some popular attractions to experience during your time in Dili include the Páteo district, the Cristo Rei statue, and the Resistance Museum.
On the northern coast of East Timor, Baucau is the country’s second largest city. Baucau is located on a plateau and offers gorgeous views of the coastline. The city seems to be separated into two sections. In the Baucau Old Town, there’s lots of Portuguese colonial architecture. In the city’s New Town, you’ll see buildings with an Indonesian influence. Within Baucau, there are several markets to explore. Outside of the city, there are several other attractions to visit as well, including Mount Matebian and the Vaicana natural hot springs.
Suai is located southwest of Dili in the Cova Lima District of East Timor. Suai is mostly known for a tragic massacre that occurred in the town’s Old Lady of Fatima church in 1999. This was a time of political unrest in East Timor after Indonesia withdrew from the country that year. East Timor gained its full independence in 2002, and today, Suai is a nice place to visit to experience the culture of East Timor. As well as learning about the town’s history, you can observe its fishing industry and see traditional dancing.
Same is a small inland village located south of Dili. It is a great place to see the countryside of East Timor. Same is surrounded by rainforest and offers a different experience to the coastal parts of the country. Same had a strong Portuguese influence during the years of Portuguese rule in the country. In 1999, the village was partially destroyed following the Indonesian withdrawal from East Timor. The village has been getting rebuilt over the years, and today, Same is a nice place to visit the local market and search for local crafts.
Top Things to do in East Timor
Atauro Island is about 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) from Dili by boat. Scientists have said the island has some of the most biodiverse water in the world, making it a great place for snorkelling and diving. It is said to have more species of reef fish than anywhere else in the world. In addition to the tropical fish, you can see Atauro Island’s resident pod of dolphins and whales making their migration between the months of October to December. Atauro Island makes a great day trip from Dili, offering so many different experiences.
Lautem is a region in the eastern part of East Timor. While you can see influences of Portuguese culture in Lautem, the prominent culture is that of the native Fataluku people. You can see Fataluku spirit houses, which are located on tall stilts made of bamboo, wood, and dried grass. You can also witness regular festivals with traditional music and dancing. Some popular spots to visit within the Lautem region include Tutuala Beach and the villages of Viqueque and Lospalos.
Mount Ramelau is located outside the village of Same in western East Timor. It is the tallest peak in East Timor at almost 3,000 metres tall, and the hike to the top takes about six hours one-way. The mountain is a religious icon in the country, and there is an annual Christian pilgrimage to the top. From the top of the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views over the East Timor countryside. Many visitors choose to start the hike in the early hours of morning in order to reach the summit for sunrise.
Nino Konis Santana National Park
This national park is located on the far eastern end of East Timor. Within the park, there are lots of hiking trails, rainforest, and native animals. There are more than 250 species of birds in Nino Konis Santana National Park, including the rare and endangered yellow crested cockatoo. The national park makes up a portion of the region’s Coral Triangle, and there are some incredible snorkelling and diving opportunities here.
• Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport (DIL) - Dili, East Timor