Recently I got the opportunity to take a weekend trip to East Timor and it was an amazing experience. I learned and saw so much in just a few days, it was truly incredible. I want to share my journey with you all, share my tips and tricks because I know that it is an off the beaten path kind of destination, but you should add it to your bucket list right away.
I am very lucky to be able to spend so much time in Bali and have the opportunity to visit destinations that are off the grid and less traveled. Timor is one of those places.
Preparing to go into East Timor:
So this is a pretty hard country to get to. You basically have to have a layover in Indonesia. So make sure that you account for this and maybe stay a few days in Indonesia before you go there, but that is up to you.
Once you are there you are going to have to pay a $30 entry fee to the country – this gets you a visa for 30 days. (When I landed I was unaware that I needed any US dollars right away. Luckily for me, I was sitting on the airplane with an amazing Australian couple who spotted me for my visa!)
After you pay your $30, you wait in the line for immigration and when I got up to the counter the woman was so kind to me. Normally when you go through immigration the officers barely say a word to you. In Timor this woman was so excited that I was there, she told me that I should stay for a month. She smiled at me and said “I will stamp your passport for 30 days because you should stay for 30 days”. It was so sweet!
Where to stay in East Timor:
I stayed at Daterra Hostel. I was lucky to get a ride to the hostel from some people who work at the Australian embassy. Right off the bat everything about my trip to East Timor was going AMAZINGLY. Once I got to my hostel I was welcomed with open arms. I chose to stay here because I had some friends go to Timor earlier in the month and they loved their stay with them. They immediately made me lunch and invited me to watch the sunset on the beach with them.
You can book with Daterra through their Facebook and make sure to mention that you know me! They will be overjoyed to have you coming!
What to see in Dili:
There isn’t too much to see in Dili but I wanted to break it down for you and tell you a bit about what I did while I was there.
I started out going to the beach to watch the sunset. To get around you can either take a bus or you can take a taxi. I took the little buses around everywhere. It costs 25 cents and you can get all over. They are a pretty squishy ride but it is a local experience.
We went to the beach and went to see the famous Christo Rei that sits on the hill above Dili, overlooking the ocean. The whole beach was deserted except for us and a group of local kids playing soccer. The water was perfect for swimming or you could lay out on the pristine white beaches.
Besides spending time at the beach, the other thing that I did in Dili was go to the CHEVA expedition. You HAVE to go here. Just know that it is extremely sad. Everything that happened in Dili only stopped less than 20 years ago. This means that so recently this small country was being torn apart. Their people were being brutally tortured and their children were being taken from them. I went on my last day in Dili and it opened my eyes up so much to everything that was going on. It changed my perspective on my whole trip.
Getting outside of Dili:
One of the days I was there I really wanted to get outside of Dili and see more of the country. I jumped on the scooter and took a ride along the coast. The coastline was stunning. I had my go pro out the entire time recording everything. Then we stopped at the Black Rock Beach and chatted with the kids that were getting the fishing nets ready and organizing the coconuts. We also stopped by a beautiful church and then continued on our way to the next place.
We then stopped at a tiny village called Mombira. Here we went to a market and had the most amazing experience. The women were so kind to me, they gave me bracelets that they had made with their children. I sat and held one woman’s baby while she cooked noodles for us to eat with her and her family. After eating with the locals, the kids walked us up to an abandoned fortress that someone had then built a house over.
When we got up there the whole place was locked down. The kids helped us climb a wall and continue the adventure. They told us that they play there all the time. The views from the fortress were beautiful! I was so happy that we were able to go up there. The kids were overjoyed to be spending time with us and we were very grateful to get a genuine experience. After the hike we stopped off to have drinks and candies with all the kids.
After saying goodbye we spent the rest of the day at the beach relaxing and having an iced coffee. My adventure around the coast of Timor was one the highlights of this year.
While East Timor may not have been on your bucket list, I urge you to go! Like I said, before I moved to Indonesia I had no idea that Timor was even around and I definitely had no idea about the poverty and genocide that the people of Timor faced. Timor is a interesting country and I think that it deserves a visit from everyone.