East Timor Things to Do

  • Looking towards Jaco Island
    Looking towards Jaco Island
    by DSwede
  • Com Private Beach
    Com Private Beach
    by DSwede
  • Sunday Fish Markets
    Sunday Fish Markets
    by DSwede

East Timor Things to Do

  • Sacred Liurai village

    A flight of rocky stairs brings us to the flat top of a small hill, the sacred centre of Suco Liurai or Liurai village. The word liurai refers to a traditional ruler. In other words, Suco Liurai is the ceremonial centre of the region, where the liurai resided. On the hilltop we meet the wardens of the sacred site. In West-Timor a gift of sirih...

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  • The road to Suco Liurai

    To be honest, Maubisse town itself has not much to offer apart from the cool climate. It is the trip going there and the surroundings that are worth the effort. Our guide of Eco_Discovery brought us inland from Maubisse along a dirt road to Suco Liurai.The landscape could be on another planet and does not look hospitable. Strange rock formations...

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  • The pousada of Maubisse

    Maubisse was the mountain resort where Portuguese residents of Dili spent their weekends. Nowadays expats come here for the same purpose. The only accommodation is the "pousada", a building in typical Portuguese style located on a hilltop with a view over the valley in the direction of Dili.We could have taken lunch here, but because our guide...

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  • Maubisse church building

    The most remarkable building of Maubisse is the church. It dominates the view when one approaches Maubisse, and with its half-timbered construction makes the town look like a Swiss village.The church also provides evidence how much the Roman Catholic religion of the East-Timorese is still mixed up with animist beliefs and practices: the front yard...

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  • Humble dwellings

    The Timorese who live in the country-side are hardly touched by modernity. Here are some examples of houses built with local materials: bebak (palm leaf stalks), bamboo, wood, rock, mud, as seen along the road to Maubisse. Only the corrugated iron sheets have replaced the traditional thatched roofing.

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  • Bougainvillea everywhere

    The favourite garden shrub of Timor-Leste is bougainvillea. We saw them in every village we came through and they always were near a dwelling of some kind. They come in various colours and some had grown the size of trees.

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  • The road to Maubisse

    Maubisse (also spelled Maubesi) is a mountain resort south of Dili. In colonial times it was favoured by the Portuguese and now it still is for those who can afford leaving town for the weekend - including expats. The town is relatively affluent because it is also a centre of coffee plantations, the prime export commodity of Timor-Leste.The drive...

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  • Rock quarry

    A short distance past Aileu we encountered a group of Timorese making a living by digging up rock at the roadside. Their tools were quite primitive, a long chisel only. They sell the rock for building purposes.

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  • WW II memorial in Aileu town

    The town of Aileu was a base of Falintil resistance in the first few years after the Indonesian invasion. Later relentless assaults forced the resistance to retreat deeper into the mountains.A monument in the town square honours local Portuguese citizens massacred by the Japanese after their invasion in 1942. The porch leading to the monument has...

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  • Sacred house Uma Usan Hulkai

    At Laulara our guide pointed us to a traditional sacred house. Although Timor-Leste is said to be a Roman-Catholic country, animistic beliefs and practices are still very much alive. The caretaker was very pleased to get visitors, and insisted on posing with us. Then he asked to be sent prints of the pictures, which we did by intermediary of our...

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  • Dare WW II memorial

    A memorial site at Dare, at 5 km south of Dili, commemorates the role of Timorese and Australians resisting the Japanse occupation during WW II. A number of Australian companies stayed behind after the Japanese invaded Timor and waged a guerilla war aided by the Timorese.The original memorial was established in 1969 by the 2/2nd Commando...

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  • Loes river bridges

    The Indonesians built a lot of steel bridges, this one near Atabae across Loes river perhaps is the longest we saw (although, the one upstream between Balibo and Maliana seems not less long). Clearly this bridge had strategic value during the Indonesian occupation, as Loes river is the first and widest one to cross when one invades East Timor from...

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  • Balibo Flag House

    At the foot of Balibo fort a unprepossessing building commemorates the "Balibo Five", the Australian journalists who were killed by the Indonesian army in 1975. It was in this house that they had tried to take cover. In 2003 the house has been restored and renovated by the Balibo House Trust.Indonesia has tried to cover up this crime for years with...

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  • Balibo fort

    Although Batugade fort lies closest to the border with West Timor, Balibo fort seems more strategic as it lies on a hill overlooking the sea and the border area.Not surprisingly at Balibo in October 1975 the first skirmishes with the Indonesian army were fought out prior to the full scale invasion. These skirmishes cost the lives of five Australian...

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  • Balibo memorials

    Adjacent to Balibo flag house are more memorials.An independence statue towers above everything else. The fence posts around the statue are recycled army equipment.On a wall are written the names of the East Timorese who were killed by the militias after the plebiscite in 1999.And several plaques honour the Australian army battalions who served...

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  • Batugade fort

    Batugade is a logical place for a fort, only 2.5 km from the border with West-Timor. The fort was built by the Portuguese in 1655, now it is crumbling and overgrown. Within the walls a fairly spacious compound with a few ruines of buildings. Some people live in sheds within the walls and greet the few visitors. Most peculiar detail in our opinion:...

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  • Liquica recreation beach

    This deserted recreation beach near Liquica is called "Praia da Memoria", but our guide could not explain why. We wanted to have a swim here on our return from Maliana, but when we passed by again it was already dark.

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  • Liquica town

    At Liquica town square we saw this unfinished monument "in honour of the heroes of the independence" facing an old Portuguese mansion. At a government office people were queuing for social security benefits.

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  • Maubara lake

    A shallow freshwater lake near the coast with eerie dead trees. People don't bathe here because there are crocodiles, according to our guide. When someone meets a crocodile, it is probably because he has done something wrong. The crocodile shows up to warn him that he has to make amends. The person will plead: "grandmother, please don't eat me". He...

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  • Salt making

    Also near Atabae there is a site where people make salt from seawater. Elsewhere we have seen them let the water evaporate in large ponds. Here they filter the water in a mud bed, then boil it off on a fire of palm leaf ribs. There is another salt-making site closer to Dili, just about 15 km west of Dili (past the Pope statue).

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  • Fish sellers

    Near Atabae the land is flat and fishermen live in hovels close to the coast. They try to sell their catch displaying it at the roadside.We asked for the name of this long fish, and they said: "tuna", which made us wonder. Later we asked another Timorese about it, and he said: tuna happens to be the local name for an eel fish.We could not buy fish...

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  • The coastal road west from Dili

    The road from Dili along the coast to West-Timor is very scenic. Parts hug the beach where one can swim, parts wind through hills where one overlooks the sea. There are also several historic sites along the route (see following tips).We made the trip twice, once a tour with Eco-Discovery to Balibo and Maliana, two days later with a minibus...

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  • Maubara fort

    It is usually referred to as the Portuguese fort, but according to Wikipedia it was built in the 17th century by the Dutch and later traded with the Portuguese for the island of Flores.Actually only the walls remain. No ancient buildings inside them, instead a newly built restaurant that was not yet operational when we visited. Two old cannons on...

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  • Ruins of Aipelo prison

    According to our Eco-discovery guide Aipelo prison was used by the Portuguese to incarcerate Timorese who rebelled against forced labour and those who just could not pay their taxes.Presumably dating from th 19th century, the buildings are now in ruins. The site is surrounded by a low wall, which one has to climb over to approach the ruins. There...

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  • Dive, Dive, DIVE!

    Timor Leste has beautiful seas. Corals can be seen even when the water is at hip level.Diving hre will be wonderful. However, please do nature a favour by keeping the seas clean and the corals alive. Think of it as sharing the beauty with the next taveler after you.

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  • travel by local bus out of dili

    most pple drives out of dili (rich locals and foreginers). poor foreigners like us travel by local bus hehe... scary turns, sudden brakes, loud timorese musik, polite men and loud local ibu were the order of the day....we travelled to baucau, second largest town in Timor Leste..abt 3 hrs by bus , usd$2 ;-)take from becora terminal.

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  • CROCODILE COUNTRY

    East Timor it called crocodile country too, cos of the legend how this island from....and from the hill we can see where the Jesus statue land look like the crocodile head ....

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  • Paradise Beach

    The best beaches are in the north side of the island. The south part is very rocky.Tutuala in the Eastern part of the island is the best beach in the entire island. The Dolar Beach (35 Km from Dili) is a white sand beach, good for swimming, despite the strong currents during the low tide. You have to pay 1 USD to enter the beach, that's the reason...

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  • Tua Koin - And the Loo

    The toilets are composting toilets. They do not require the use of any machinery, it’s just a ventilation system. In two years time, the contribution of human waste that tourists make, can be used in gardens for fruit trees.

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  • Tua Koin - Eco-friendly Bathroom

    At Tua Koin, bathrooms are shared among travellers of every 3 cabins instead of having individual bathrooms, as water consumption would be higher for cleaning, etc. With limited budget, they could only afford economical means. They then decided to use the water system of a dipper (you can’t both soap and use water), hence restricting the use of...

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  • Tua Koin - Recycling Programme

    At Tua Koin, waste management is an important issue. And how do they do it?Influx of tourists would mean increase in waste. A recycling programme was thus implemented whereby waste is seperated into reusable bottles, recyclable cans, food scraps, and other non-biodegradable wastes. Bottles and cans are collected and brought to Dili for sale. And...

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  • Atauro - More About Tua Koin

    The thatched huts overlooking the sea are really welcoming. Tua Koin was set up by Roman Luan, an NGO based on Atauro Island, as a model for eco-tourism within the community there. As most of the materials are obtained locally and helpers/workers locally employed, and hence, the economic reaps are all diverted back to the community.

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  • Atauro - Tua Koin Eco-Village

    The Atauro-based NGO, Roman Luan, runs an eco-village called Tua Koin whereby it aims to build capacity among the local community in Atauro through eco-tourism. The visit was an interesting one and I was amazed at the efforts put in by the NGO in setting up such a place.Apparently, Tua Koin is the only eco accommodation for tourists who are...

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  • Atauro - Library at Villa

    There is a small community library at Villa, Atauro Island. It is a tiny place with a staff in-charged. They do have 3 computers, books although not many and even some games. Most of their library books and equipment were donations from overseas. When we were there, the staff was preparing some simple yet creative learning aids. We had a game of...

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  • MUST-DO : School Visits

    School visits can be on your agenda if you love to interact with children. However, it would be even better if you speak Portuguese of Tetum as communication can be a barrier. The children there are a curious bunch and they love visitors.Go interact with them. You can play some games with them or even teach them to sing some simple songs.

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  • MUST-DO : Home Visits

    The people in Atauro are a friendly bunch. There is no problem saying hi or visiting them in their homes. It will be interesting to just pop by some of the homes of the locals and just se their living conditions. They usually welcome visitors. Just smile and ask politely whether you can go in. You can even play with the kids in the villages.In...

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  • MUST-DO : Reef Walk

    When the tide gets really low, the reef flats are exposed and this is the best time when you can head down to the flats and do a reef walk.During the walk, remember to look down, see whether you can find anything beside rocks, etc. There were lots of reef creatures and fishes which I saw when I was reef walking. Some of the things which I saw are...

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  • MUST-DO : Star Gazing

    An activity which we did almost every night was star gazing. Every night, we would either get our picnic mat or chiars out nearer to the sea, sat there for hours to just chit chat and star gaze. It was fun. We counted ther number of meteor we saw. We saw Orion every night.Now, I kinda miss this activity.

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  • On the way to Atauro

    Although Atauro can be seen from Dili, it takes 2 hours on a fast ferry there. Something really funny happened on our way to Atauro.A cow jumped into the sea. Azmazing enough, they managed to "save" the cow. What happened was, the captain of the big passenger ferry made a few turns to save. Everyone was so fascinated with that incident. When we...

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  • Atauro Island

    Atauro Island is 40km north of Dili. You will be able to see the island from Dili. The ferry ride will take 2 hours or so. Atauro is a rather unexplored island. There is a small eco-village on the island. One can visit the many villages there or simply enjoy the accompany of the friendly islanders there. I shall be writing more on Atauro on the...

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  • Dili : Santa Cruz Cemetery

    You may be wondering why I am recommending the Santa Cruz Cemetery as one of the places you must go when you are in Dili.In 1991, there was a massacre at the Santa Cruz Cemetery and more than 200 people were killed. The Indonesians killed the East Timorese protestors as they were resisting the Indonesian control. P.S.: I had the chance to attend...

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  • Dili : Xanana Reading Room

    Travellers will usually drop by the only public library in Dili, the Xanana Reading Room. I actually intended to go but due to some unforeseen circumstances, I gotta forgo the trip to the Reading Room.The building that houses the library was once an Indonesian Consulate building. It is quite a nice building, built in the 1950s. It is a very basic...

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  • Dili : Still Areia Branca's Pretty Coves

    On the other side, you will see the mountains in gradual tones. Timor-Leste is a very mountainuous country. However, I do not have the chance to explore the mountains when I was there.

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  • Dili : Pretty Coves @ Areia Branca

    The breath-taking scenery as you walk up to the statue is really awesome. You will get to see those untouched beaches, the blue, green and turquoise sea. You will feel like dipping into the sea. Get ready to click click click when you are up there.

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  • Dili : Areia Branca at Cape Fatucama

    Areia Branca is the MUST VISIT place when you are in Dili. It is where the huge Jesus Christ statue is, somewhat like the one in Rio de Janeiro. It is a 15 minutes drive from the Dili town centre and as you moce along the coastline, you will see nice and beautiful coves and beaches. There is a carpark where you park your car. You have to walk up to...

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East Timor Things to Do

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