Bargaining

Bargain with Dili's yellow taxi drivers before you start your journey (if you don't like bargaining, catch a metered blue taxi instead). There is a malae (foreigner) price for goods at roadside stalls – bargain for the local price.

Dangers & Annoyances

• Foreigners have been imprisoned for carrying small amounts of drugs or being in vehicles with others carrying drugs, so be aware of what is legal in Timor-Leste as well as who you're travelling with, what they're carrying or may be involved with. Laws can change quickly; recently Codeine was banned and pharmacists supplying or storing the drug were jailed.

• There are frequent reports of foreign women being sexually assaulted in Dili - this often happens during the day and in public areas so travel with others if possible.

• You can be jailed for up to 72 hours for not wearing a helmet on motorbike. Carry registration papers and your license with you while driving.

• Dengue fever is rife – avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by covering up as much as possible.

• Crocodiles occasionally swim in the ocean near river mouths.

Electricity

Plug types E,G and I are common.

Embassies & Consulates

More than a dozen countries have embassies, consulates or representative offices in Dili.

Australian Embassy Also assists Canadian citizens.

British Honorary Consul

Indonesian Embassy

New Zealand Embassy Also assists British citizens.

Portuguese Embassy

US Embassy

Emergency & Important Numbers

Timor-Leste's country code670
International access code00
Police112; 331 2383
Fire, Ambulance115

Entry & Exit Formalities

Customs Regulations

You can bring the following into Timor-Leste:

Alcohol 2.5L of any type

Cigarettes 200

Money Declare amounts between US$5,000–10,000. Higher amounts require authorisation from the Central Bank of Timor-Leste (info@bancocentral). For restrictions on taking cash out of the country, contact the Central Bank.

Visas

Australians, Irish and British visitors must pay for a visa on arrival at Dili's airport or seaport; US$30 for 30 days. Most other EU nationals are free. Most nationalities need a visa in advance for land border arrivals. Always ask for a 30-day visa, even if you don’t plan on staying that long – extending can be difficult. Tourist visas can be extended for 30 days (US$35) or 60 days (US$75). If needing a multiple-entry visa or to stay between 30 and 90 days, you can apply for Visa Application Authorisation online before arrival.

Land-Border Arrivals From Indonesia

All nationalities (other than Indonesian and Portuguese nationals) must apply for a Visa Application Authorisation prior to their arrival at the border – apply in person at a consulate (there's one in Kupang, though it's not always open) or via the Immigration Service’s website (http://migracao.gov.tl) and they'll email you a printable authorisation letter in about ten working days. You need to present this and the US$30 fee at the border.

Etiquette

Many Timorese had family or friends killed during Indonesian occupation, so broach these topics carefully. Having said that, many are willing to share their stories.

Paying a local to guide you up a mountain, to a waterfall or rock art spreads the tourist dollar and stops you inadvertently crossing onto sacred land.

Timorese women are usually modestly dressed; it's respectful if travellers cover up too.

Pay the mikrolet driver after you exit the vehicle.

It's polite to lower your right arm and duck if you are walking in front/between people.

Gay & Lesbian Travellers

The LGBT community held its first Gay Pride Day rally in Dili in 2017, with public support from then Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araújo. Fundasaun Codiva is a local NGO with a focus on diversity and action. Public displays of affection between couples of any orientation are not usual in Timor-Leste.

Insurance

Travel insurance is vital in Timor-Leste. Medical facilities outside Dili are limited and any serious cases generally get evacuated to Darwin or Singapore. Accordingly, travellers need to ensure that they have full evacuation coverage.

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Internet Access

Many hotels in Dili have slow wi-fi access, but the best bet is bringing an unlocked phone and using a local sim for internet – it costs around US$1 a day. A Telemor dongle offers unlimited data for US$1 a day.

Money

There are only a couple of ATMs outside Dili. Expensive hotels sometimes accept credit cards.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1US$0.80
Euro€1US$1.18
Indonesia10,000RpUS$0.74
SingaporeS$1US$0.74
UKUK£1US$1.30

Tipping

Only tip if you genuinely feel the service deserves it. If you are asked to tip excessively post (expensive) tour, suggest the guide asks his/her employer to increase their wages.

Opening Hours

Budget and midrange restaurants and cafes morning until late

High-end restaurants noon–2pm and 6–10pm

Small shops 9am–6pm Monday to Friday

Supermarkets 8am–8pm

Banks 9am–4pm Monday to Friday

Post

Confusingly, there's no postal service in Timor-Leste, though there is a post office. DHL operates in Dili but there are frequent reports of parcels taking more than three weeks to get to their destination.

Public Holidays

Timor-Leste has a large list of public holidays.

New Year’s Day 1 January

Veterans Day 3 March

Good Friday March/April (date varies)

World Labour Day 1 May

Restoration of Independence Day 20 May (the day in 2002 when sovereignty was transferred from the UN)

Corpus Christi Day May/June (date varies)

Idul Fitri End of Ramadan (date varies)

Popular Consultation Day 30 August (marks the start of independence in 1999)

All Saints’ Day 1 November

All Souls’ Day 2 November

Idul Adha Muslim day of sacrifice (date varies, usually September)

National Youth Day 12 November (commemorates the Santa Cruz Cemetery massacre)

Proclamation of Independence Day 28 November

Memorial Day 7 December

Day of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and Timor-Leste Patroness 8 December

Christmas Day 25 December

National Heroes Day 31 December

Smoking

  • Smoking Common throughout the country and in buses, taxis, hotels and restaurants.

Taxes & Refunds

Taxes are included in the prices of goods and services. There is no tax refund system for tourists.

Telephone

Phone Codes

International access code 0011

International country code 670

Landline numbers 7 digits starting with a 3

Mobile numbers 8 digits starting with a 7

Mobile Phones

Easy-to-obtain Timor Telecom, Telkomsel and Telemor SIM cards can be used in unlocked phones. Coverage is good, though occasionally drops out.

Time

Time is GMT +9 hours.

Toilets

Hotels and restaurants have toilet facilities ranging from modern Western flush toilets to mandi-style (a hole in the ground with a bucket of water to flush). There are public facilities (often broken) at food stops in the districts. You may need to hunt down a key. Your best bet for regional travel is "going bush" or asking at restaurants.

Tourist Information

Timor-Leste doesn’t have a central tourist office, but Dili's expat community is especially generous with information. Language barriers aside, locals are often happy to help.

Travel with Children

Travelling with children is a big adventure in Timor-Leste (as if it's not adventurous enough!). Dili's roads are fine for pushchairs, but roads in regional areas are rougher. Supplies (nappies, formula etc) are good in Dili but you'll need to take your own supplies if you're travelling with children to the districts. Despite there being loads of kids in Timor-Leste, yours will no doubt be a focus of attention for locals wherever you go.

Kids are welcomed with play equipment at Beloi Beach Hotel on Ataúro, and Lauhata Beach Escape in Liquiçá. In Dili, stay where there are swimming pools: Dive Timor Lorosae and Esplanada are two good choices (and both have onsite restaurants), though there are no pool fences.

In Dili, Chega! and the Resistance Museum are probably too full-on for kids, but they'll love a trip in a mikrolet (small minibus), and a before-dark walk up the steps to the Jesus statue at Cristo Rei (with a fresh coconut water at Caz Bar afterwards).

Older kids might appreciate learning how to cook in bamboo at Hotel Comunitaria Wailakurini, but you'll need to hold their hands up the steps to see the Guerilla Hideout at Wasa-Diga.

There's a special cooler-temperature kids' pool at the Be Manis hot springs at Marobo. The bat caves (and pizza dinner) near Balibo Fort Hotel will also delight.

Younger kids might enjoy shell hunting and playing in the sand at Adara, on Ataúro. The boat ride to get there is long, but pretty.

Souvenir-wise, kids seem to love the carved wooden crocodiles from Empreza Di'ak at Ataúro. (They might be able to spot the real thing on the road from Dili to Baucau/Lautem – but if they don't, the traffic-blocking buffalo crossing the road make a cool enough sight.)

Travellers with Disabilities

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Timor-Leste's footpaths pose problems for people with disabilities; local wheelchair users tend to use the road.

The tour companies operating in Dili should be able to take visitors' needs on board and suggest itineraries and places that are more accessible than others.

Volunteering

Many NGOs and local organisations take on volunteers to assist in a wide variety of roles.

Blue Ventures (www.blueventures.org) runs regular six-week Marine Conservation Expeditions at Ataúro, which is a pay-for 'volunteer' diving course.

It is essential to do your homework about the organisations and their work. Lonely Planet does not endorse any organisations that we do not work with directly.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures The metric system is used

Women Travellers

Sanitary products are available in Dili, but can be scarce in the districts.

Work

There are still employment opportunities for foreigners in Timor-Leste; check www.jobs.creativebridgedili.com for opportunities. In order to work in Timor-Leste, you'll need to apply for the appropriate Work Permit or Residence Visa, which can be downloaded from www.migracao.gov.tl and lodged with the Ministry of Interior at the Immigration Service of Timor-Leste.