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Dili is a city by the sea, locked in by hills that lead to the districts beyond. The island of Ataúro glimmers to its north, on the other side of one of the deepest channels in Asia. Dili itself spreads from the airport, along the waterfront and all the way to the Cristo Rei statue in the east. The city's foreshore is popular with runners and walkers in the morning and evening, when the weather is cooler. Most of the action occurs here on the waterfront, and one or two blocks south of it, though sadly the western section has recently been populated by oversized embassies.

Dili is a great place to recharge batteries (literally) between jaunts into the districts. Pick accommodation with a pool and its own restaurant for the ideal escape from the dust and noise that can overload the senses. Travelers tend to hang out in the bars along Av de Portugal (also known as Beach Rd) and at Areia Branca, near the Cristo Rei statue. Timor Plaza, close-ish to the airport, is a surprisingly good spot for food, bars and air-con. Dili's biggest jewel? World-class dive sites are just minutes from town.

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