Introducing East Timor

Nothing is easy about East Timor (Timor-Leste in the locally preferred Portuguese) and that’s both its blessing and its curse. Independence hasn’t been simple; years spent under Portuguese and Indonesian thumbs have been burdened by tragedy, and recent history shows why you can’t just declare yourself a new country (as happened in 2002) and expect things to be hunky-dory. Travellers will experience some of the challenges the Timorese contend with on a daily basis, and that may be the best reason to visit. The tourism infrastructure is barely developed, yet there’s just enough for the adventurous to experience this beautiful place without undue travail. The diving is magnificent, the countryside superb and the people genuinely welcoming. Once you've had your fill of the capital, head east of Dili and discover the country's best beaches, or head out to Atauro Island for some great snorkeling. And just as the locals have found ways to get by, you will too – which only makes your journey more rewarding.

Sure the roads are crap and getting from one place to another can take forever, but the flip side is that you’ll rarely be following in others’ footsteps. You can get into the unique cultural rhythm that combines European and Asian beats. There’s a nod and a wave from everyone you meet. Soon you’ll realise that what’s easiest about East Timor is its charm.

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