Or Timor-Leste as it is official called is Asia’s newest country. After getting rid of several hundred years of Portuguese rule, they had to fight of Indonesian rule, until at long last they gained their independence in 2002. Thanks to Portuguese proselytizing most of the population in this young nation is Catholic, and thanks to all those centuries of colonization they also left behind their language. Timor by and large however is a country of as many languages as there are tribes, and there are quite a few tribes.
Timor is the land of the unspoiled. From unspoiled beaches, to pristine dive sites, to authentic villages, to unexplored mountainous regions, to lazy towns with nothing else to do than hang around in a hammock. Timorese food is a mixture of traditional and Portuguese, which can’t really go wrong.
Some call this country an off-the-beaten track destination and if you count the number of tourists that visit, it certainly is. But don’t go just for that reason. It is more than off-the-beaten track. It is sublime diving in Atauro, clamber up to the Cristo Rei statue in Dili, swim and snorkel around holy Jaco Island with its pristine white beaches, hike around the lush hills of Maubisse, or visit the Oecussi exclave to really get away from it all.
Dust of your Portuguese and visit this intriguing little country.
Highlights from East Timor
- Dili, the capital is where you can learn about the history of this new country, and for some great views walk up the Cristo Rei statue
- Take a boat to Atauro Island, with beautiful white beaches, coral reefs and turquoise waters
- Hike the lush hills and mountains south of Baucau
- Make your way to Lake Ira Lalaroe with some stilted Fataluku houses, and nearby Nino Konis Santana National Park
- Stay in Walu and pay a fisherman to take you over to sacred Jaco Island for some snorkeling
- Use Maubisse as a base to hike the surrounding hills
- Take the ferry from Dili to Oecussi, an exclave of Timor-Leste surrounded on three sides by Indonesia, once there see if you can spot some dugongs in the water
- Climb up to Mount Ramelau or sacred Mount Matebian
Hints and Tips for East Timor
- Due to a large expat community East Timor is not the cheapest place to travel
- Visas on arrival are available and cost 30 dollars for 30 days.
- The US dollar is used as the local currency.
- ATM’s are scarce outside Dili
- The official languages are Tetum and Portuguese, the younger generation speaks some Indonesian too.
- Wet season is from December to April, when roads can be washed away and towns can become inaccessible.