Today I am sharing Dili Timor Leste travel tips. Whether you are a solo traveler, couple or in a group, these 12 travel tips to East Timor will help make your travel much easier and richer.

Do you know Timor means east in Malaysian language and Leste is Portuguese for East as well? And for 200 years Portuguese ruled over here, then Japanese and Indonesia.

Then in 2002 East Timor finally gained freedom/ independence and became one of the youngest countries in the world. Hence I recommend visiting now to see its raw and untouched beauty before the crowd goes!

Read about Dili Timor leste solo travel itinerary Actually this itinerary can be used as a guide even if you are travelling in a group or as a couple.
view of dili, east timor from dare
Dili Timor Leste travel tips for everyone

1 When is the best time to visit Timor Leste?

This one is bit tricky because when I went end of January, Google weather predicted rain and thunder all 10 days but when I landed I had sunshine every single day! (but locals told me it was raining straight three days before I arrived so, it could be pure luck too!) Bottom line- take the weather advice with a grain of salt!

East Timor typically offers a tropical climate between 20-30 degrees all year round, with a rainy season from December to March and a dry season from June to September. So ideally the best time to visit this paradise island is from April to July, that’s when you get the best weather.

2 Do you need a visa for Timor Leste?

For Australian passport holders – If you’re visiting Timor-Leste for tourism and you arrive via Nicolau Lobato International Airport or Dili Seaport, you can apply for a visa on arrival (of up to 30 days duration) In other circumstances, including if you enter Timor-Leste by land, you’ll need to get a visa before you arrive. For the rest of the world, please check with the local consulate first.

3 How to get to Dili, East Timor

The best way to get to Timor-Leste is via plane. You can fly into Dili, the capital, from Darwin, Singapore or Bali, which is the cheapest way because you could also cross the land border from the Indonesian border

I flew with Air North from Darwin to Dili. It was an early morning flight but it meant clear visibility for the beautiful view outside, and it was an only 1-hour flight! Best part? It was the smoothest flight ever and even though just an hour’s flight, you will still be served the munchies and the beverages!

I suggest booking it through most trusted sites such as Skyscanner or Momodo

dili timor leste travel tips

4 Which local Sim card to get?

After you land at Dili international airport, get yourself a local Telkomcel sim card. You can choose from Combo I (data, call & SMS $15) valid 30 days, Combo II (unlimited data, SMS $25) valid 60 days, Data only $10 valid 30 days and Call & SMS $2 valid 24 hours and $8 valid 30 days. There are shops on your left as you exit the entrance or buy in the city center. 

5 How to go around Dili, East Timor?

Usually solo traveling Asia, I suggest Grab (taxi app) but they don’t have it yet in Dili. But there are two types of taxies in Dili. Yellow and Blue. I used both and suggest getting on the blue one because it has a meter on and you don’t have to haggle. Advise using the yellow one when you are with a local, seems to be safer that way. It is not about yellow taxies charging more though, actually yellow was cheaper than the blue one (maybe because I was with a local) but I heard some bad stories about taxi drivers treating females badly on the yellow ones! 

On saying that, the best way to get around Dili is to rent out a scooter or a car. But if you don’t ride or drive, they also run public transportation which is like a microvan in Kathmandu. Locals call it mikrolets, colorful microvans charging only.50cents wherever you stop within Dili!

6 Local Timor Information

Currency = USD dollar
Capital City = Dili
Official Language = Portuguese, Tetum (15-31 other national languages)
Population = 1,183,643 (2015 census)
Time zone = UTC +9
Driving side = left
Calling code +670
Sin – Yes
Lae – No
Favór ida – Please
Deskulpa – I’m sorry.
Kolisensa – Excuse me
Ajuda! – Help!
Elo – HelloBondia / Dader diak – Good morning (from Portuguese “Bom dia”)
Botarde / Lorokraik diak – Good afternoon (from Portuguese “Boa tarde”)
Bonoite / Kalan diak – Good evening/good night (from Portuguese “Boa noite”)
Atelogu – See you later
Sorti diak ba loron ohin – Have a nice day
Hau ba lai / Adeus / Atelogu / Ate amanyá – Goodbye
Lao didiak / Boa Viajem – Bon voyage
Sorti diak / Boasorte – Good luck
Obrigadu (for male) barak / Obrigada (for female) barak – Thank you very much

dili timor leste solo travel itinerary

7 Where to stay in Dili?

I stayed at the Hotel Timor Dili, the capital city of East Timor. It is only 20 minutes drive from the airport and not too far from the must-see places in town as well. Plus they provide pick up and drop off shuttle service from the hotel.

I stayed in the Junior suite and must say there was a lot of space! Huge King size bed, a nice comfortable couch, 2 TVs and desk-chair to work, water delivered daily and newspaper too if you are into it, and free wifi!
Buffet breakfast was fresh every day, mostly Asian inspired but there was an element of English with cereals, bread, tea, and coffee. There was also a swimming pool, a cafe/restaurant on the ground floor as well as a gift/ souvenir shop behind the cafe. It was charged100 USD per night which I found to be a typical price in Dili for a hotel room. Staffs at the reception desk were helpful and warm which made my stay great. So overall, I liked this hotel, enjoyed my stay here and recommend it to you on your visit to Dili.

Dili Timor Leste travel tips readers, always check hotel prices and book it through trusted Agoda, or Alternatively use this $76 discount with Airbnb here for your first booking. Open with a new email and happy travels!

I have detailed travel resources right here. Save money, learn what and where.

8 Dos and Don’t in Dili, Timor

What I also found during my travel to Timor Leste is 97% of locals follow catholic religion and the rest of other religions. At some home, they eat all together and other women eat separately! There is a mixture of cultures and religions. And for the majority, they do not have much and live simple lives. Be respectful of their way of life and don’t be noisy. I would also advise not to draw any attention and you will be just fine.

There was no currency exchange place in Dili. The city has few ATMS though but I would still advise bringing some USD cash with you.

9 Is Timor safe to travel?

Dili Timor Leste travel tips post cannot be without safety tips. So here it is.

The overall security situation in East Timor has been stable for some years now. But having said that, the security situation may change suddenly. It is recommended to have a local guide during your stay. Or at least follow the general rule of traveling ie do not walk in dimly light streets at night, take care of your belongings and trust your gut!

I solo traveled Dili, Timor and didn’t have any problem throughout my stay. Not many locals spoke English, but the hotel staff and my tour guide did. A few hand gestures and broken English, Portuguese goes a long way with locals though!

I would also advise to regularly monitor the media and local information sources to keep up to date on political and security developments. If you find yourself in an area of disturbance, leave the area immediately and move to a safe location.

dili timor leste travel tips

10 Is Timor LGBT friendly?

Yes! In fact, they even have a gay parade once a year! So if you are worried about it, they totally get it! But there are no official laws passed on it yet though.

11 Can I wear shorts in Timor?

Although Timor is an extremely conservative country, it’s acceptable to wear shorts or even swimwear of your choice here. Having said that though, I would respect the culture and wear a long sarong that can be worn as a skirt or a thin crop top on top of my swimwear.

12 Is tap water safe in Dili, East Timor?

I drank bottles of water throughout my stay. I suggest never drinking tap water unless it is verified that it’s safe and that goes for all parts of the world.

Let me know in comments if you

Must read Dili, Timor Leste travel tips

One thought on “Must read Dili, Timor Leste travel tips

  • July 1, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    This is very useful information about East Timor. There’s such little travel information online about this country. Thank you for writing about it! If you want to travel Thailand like a local Thai, please contact me I’ve been living in Thailand since 2012 and I’ve traveled to practically every province and snorkeled almost every major island and dive site in the country.


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