EAST TIMOR | Dili Travel Guide + Expenses + Itinerary | Lakad Pilipinas

East Timor is one of the most underrated and forgotten places in South East Asia. Heck, even I didn’t know it was in South East Asia until recently. It was also fairly recent that it has gained its independence from Indonesia and has since been struggling to find a foothold in the league of ASEAN nations.

Locally called Timor Leste, this island nation east of Indonesia has much to share in terms of beaches and diverse marine life. Much of the country, including its capital, is still underdeveloped, attracting not much tourists. It is, however, perfect for those looking for places where malls and high-rise CBD’s hasn’t ruled much of the city and people still go out to parks and, in East Timor, beaches, for leisure.

We allotted a whole week to see East Timor, knowing full well that our stay was a tad too long. A trip to Dili can actually be accomplished in three full days, which most people do as a side trip from Bali, but we wanted to see it on a more relaxed pace.

 

 

UNDERSTAND EAST TIMOR


East Timor has been a Portuguese colony for 273 years. A few days after it was given sovereignty, Indonesia came in and annexed the nation. It was only until 1999, after years of bloody clashes with Indonesian forces that took a toll on 84,000 East Timorese, that they finally received their independence.

The most populous city in East Timor is Dili, its capital. The country is further subdivided into twelve municipalities, including one located at Indonesia’s West Timor. Catholicism, brought by the Portuguese, is the prevalent religion in the country. Most East Timorese we met in Dili can speak English, but they are more proficient in Portuguese and Tetun, their native language. US dollars is the main currency for anything one dollar and above, below one dollar, they have local coins divided into quarters.

Like most South East Asian nations, East Timor has only two seasons. It is best to visit during the dry season, which starts from May to November, since flooding and landslides can occur during the wet months of December to April. Note, however, that it can really, really get hot during the summer months, so bring the necessary things to protect yourselves from the sun.

 

 

HOW TO GET TO EAST TIMOR


Only three countries has direct flights to East Timor’s Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport in Dili—Bali in Indonesia via Sriwijaya Air and Citilink, Darwin in Australia via AirNorth, and Singapore via SilkAir. The most frequent of the three is from Bali, which has at least two flights daily to Dili. There is a way to cross from Indonesia to East Timor by land and ferry but it is very tedious and time-consuming.

 

 

EAST TIMOR VISA REQUIREMENT FOR FILIPINOS


East Timor is part of South East Asia but is still not a member of ASEAN nations. With this, Filipinos need to secure a visa to enter its territory. Getting an East Timor tourist visa for Filipinos is quite easy though since they offer visa-on-arrival for USD30.00 at Dili’s airport. This is valid for thirty days. It is, however, required for a visitor to have at least three blank pages on his passport before being allowed to fly to East Timor.

 

 

HOW TO GET FROM DILI AIRPORT TO TOWN


Dili’s Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport is located about six kilometers west of the city center. There are no buses or mass transport that you can take from the airport except taxis. These should have a fixed fare of USD10.00. If you want to save a bit, you may walk for about ten minutes to the main street along the roundabout, then hail a white, number 10 microlet—a converted non-airconditioned mini-van—for USD0.25 (prepare exact amount). Be prepared to have your GPS turned on on your mobile so you’d know where to alight since these microlets might not pass directly at your hotel.

 

 

HOW TO GET AROUND DILI


The main mode of transportation for the Timorese people is the microlet. As I mentioned above, these are mini-vans that has been converted as mass transports. The seats inside are rearranged, with passengers facing each other, and the air-conditioning has been removed. It can get pretty tight inside during rush hour but the USD0.25 fare makes it worth the trouble. These have fixed routes, which can be gleaned from the number painted on their bodies.

If you’re not the adventurous type, there are taxis that roam the streets of Dili. The yellow taxis are unmetered, usually without air-conditioning, and requires haggling. Fares start at USD1.50 but be sure to ask how much you would be paying before getting in. The blue taxis, which you can hail both on the streets and by phone (77427777, 3311110) are much more reliable, with working air-conditioning and meters.

 

 

SAFETY IN DILI


We never encountered trouble during our week’s stay in Dili, walking around town and riding microlets without a hitch. Although most East Timorese we met were quite shy and mostly kept to themselves, they are generally friendly when we talk to them. Like in most cities, it’s best to avoid walking alone at night, as some of the streets and even the main roadways in Dili aren’t that well-lit. Catch a microlet or a cab if you really must be out during the evenings.

 

 

STAYING CONNECTED IN DILI


Smart and Sun Cellular roaming does not work in East Timor. There might be coverage for Globe Telecom, but since we really didn’t have a Globe sim at the time, we cannot be a hundred percent sure. If you need to be connected while in East Timor, there’s usually Internet wi-fi available on hotels and the bigger restaurants. If you need Internet on the go, it’s best to get a Timor Telecom prepaid simcard, which would cost about USD1.00 plus USD5.00 for a 1.1GB data plan. Just be aware that Internet in Dili is extremely slow.

 

 

WHERE TO STAY IN DILI


There are only a handful of lodgings in Dili which range from hostels to mid-luxury resorts. The lowest rates can be found at the Casa Minha Backpackers Hostel but you’d really have to lower your expectations. One of the most modern and luxurious place you can stay in is at the Timor Plaza Hotel & Apartments, but it is a bit far from the center of Dili. When looking for accommodations in Dili, I suggest finding one near the Palacio do Governo, the center of the city. During our weeklong tour of Dili, we stayed at D’City Hotel, a midrange accommodation which has free transfers to and from the airport.
CHECK THE FULL LIST OF ACCOMMODATIONS IN DILI

 

 

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN DILI


Dili isn’t really your typical capital city, in fact, it looks more like a provincial town than a city—there are no high-rise structures, there’s hardly any malls (there’s one, but it’s really small), and there are no theme parks for tourists. In fact, there’s really nothing here except aging colonial buildings, beautiful beaches, abundant marine life, bushy mountains, and quiet plazas and boulevards. If you’re into exploring places sans the usual tourist traps, and tourists themselves, then East Timor should be definitely on your list. Here’s what we did during our travel to East Timor.

Dili Walking Tour
Beaches of Dili
Cristo Rei Dili

 

 

TOURS IN DILI


We saw some pamphlets advertising for tours in East Timor, but when we asked our hotel’s front desk about them, she said that they’re not in operation anymore. I think it’s safe to say that there’s really no organized tours in Dili or even the rest of East Timor except for diving tours. No Klook or KKDay to turn to here, you’d really have to rough it out and do everything DIY.

 

 

WHAT TO EAT IN DILI


Portuguese cuisine has heavily influenced the dining tables of East Timor. We can see that every time we had breakfast on our hotel. But right out on the streets, we observed a more Indonesian flavor to the cheap fares (starts from USD 0.50) we ate on warung eateries and sidewalk hawkers—from the typical bakso meatball soup to mie goreng noodles. For picky eaters, mid-range restaurants abound along the center of town, with offerings from Portuguese dishes to burgers and pizzas. And surprisingly, there’s even a couple of Burger King and Gloria Jean’s Coffee in town.

 

 

WHERE TO DRINK IN DILI


Dili’s night life is something we didn’t get to experience during our trip. The main problem was getting back to the hotel after the wee hours of the evening, we just didn’t have the moolah to hail a cab, which has double the fares during such hours. Two of the most popular watering holes in Dili are the Tower Café & Bar and Club 88 along Rua São Sebastião.

 

 

SHOPPING IN DILI


There really isn’t much of a shopping scene in Dili, being it has only a single mall, the Timor Plaza. But still, those who have an itch for buying stuff can head over to the Tais Market where legit local handicrafts are sold. For those looking for local products, there are numerous groceries around town where you can score gems like East Timor’s famed local coffee.

 

 

EAST TIMOR ~ DILI THREE DAYS ITINERARY


As I previously mentioned, we stayed for one whole week at Dili. Unnecessarily long, but we wanted to see and feel the city without rushing it. For those pressed for time, you can actually explore most places in Dili for three days, granted that you arrive and depart during midday and aren’t that concerned about being burned by the blistering heat of the city. It’s actually quite perfect if you’re doing it as a side trip from Bali.

If you’re planning to go diving, which Dili is famous for but we didn’t have the money for, and hiking, which you can also do in the city but we’d really rather not do, I suggest that you add a day or two for each to your itinerary.

For the purpose of this guide, I used the cheapest options possible for lodging, fares, and food places.

 

DAY ONE ~ ARRIVAL & CITY TOUR | USD 91.00 FOR TWO


Arrive in Dili at noon
    USD 30.00 x 2 – VISA ON ARRIVAL FEE
    USD 0.25 x 2 – MICROLET FROM AIRPORT TO HOTEL

Check in at hostel 
    USD 12.00 x 2 NIGHTS – CHEAPEST DILI ACCOMMODATION FOR TWO VIA AGODA
Lunch 
    USD 1.50 x 2PAX – AVERAGE WARUNG MEAL PRICE
Start walking tour of Dili
    TAIS MARKET
    PATEO GROCERY
    ARCHIVES & MUSEUM OF EAST TIMORESE RESISTANCE
    PALACIO DO GOVERNO
    MONUMENTO 12 DE NOVEMBRO
    FAROL DO PORTO DE DILI
    SUNSET AT DILI BOULEVARD / LARGO DE LECIDERE

Dinner
    USD 1.50 x 2PAX – AVERAGE WARUNG MEAL PRICE
    USD 0.25 x 2 – MICROLET BACK TO HOTEL

 

DAY TWO ~ BEACH TOUR | USD 11.50 FOR TWO


Breakfast
    USD 1.50 x 2PAX – AVERAGE WARUNG MEAL PRICE
Visit Cristo Rei Statue
    USD 0.25 x 2 – MICROLET TO BIDAU
    USD 0.25 x 2 – MICROLET TO CRISTO REI

Visit Jesus Backside Beach + Unnamed Beach *OPTIONAL
Visit Cristo Rei Beach
Visit Unnamed Pocket Beach

Visit Areia Branca Beach
Lunch 
    USD 1.50 x 2PAX – AVERAGE WARUNG MEAL PRICE
Go back to Largo de Lecidere
    USD 0.25 x 2 – MICROLET TO BIDAU
    USD 0.25 x 2 – MICROLET TO LARGO DE LECIDERE

Dinner
    USD 1.50 x 2PAX – AVERAGE WARUNG MEAL PRICE
    USD 0.25 x 2 – MICROLET BACK TO HOTEL

 

DAY THREE ~ DEPARTURE | USD 4.50 FOR TWO


Breakfast
    USD 1.50 x 2PAX – AVERAGE WARUNG MEAL PRICE
Visit Santa Cruz Cemetery
    USD 0.25 x 4 – MICROLET TO STA. CRUZ AND BACK
Hotel check out, head to airport, and depart
    USD 0.25 x 2 – MICROLET TO AIRPORT

 


TOTAL BUDGET: USD 107.00 (PHP 5,700.00++) for two persons 
  USD 53.50
(PHP 2,850.00) per person 
  USD 17.83
(PHP 950.00) per person, per day
* BASED ON TWO PERSONS TRAVELING TOGETHER FOR THREE DAYS IN DILI






Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, October 26, 2018

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