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While traveling in East Timor, if you are using public transit, you do not need to pay attention to this tip. However if that is true, you will also be among the exceptionally few people who travel to Timor for leisure and do so on the extreme budget requiring the uncomfortable and unsafe public transit.
There are a few regular fuel stations in Timor. For example there is Tiger Fuel in Dili and a station near the Baucau airport on the west side of Baucau. At these stations, you may fill your vehicle for about $0.94 / L. Do not expect credit cards to work, so be prepared with cash.
Outside of these places, gas / diesel / petrol (or what ever you call it) will usually only be available from small roadside stands. Just look for the houses or small stores that have a line of clear plastic bottles on display with fuel. Or sometimes there may be a larger barrel with a hand pump. When pouring into the tank, they will use the measured amount and screen through a small filter to avoid contamination.
At locations along the main north coast, you will pay $1.00 / L.
At locations in the remote interior or extreme east like Tutuala, you may pay $1.25 / L.
Take this into account when you try to budget your vehicle!
Make sure that you select the correct fuel. They use multiple names, so remember the correct ones that are synonymous with what you need.
If you are curious about renting a motorcycle, check my Dili tips.
Updated Mar 13, 2010
We took the Timortravel minibus from Dili to Kupang and we think it is the most convenient way to travel over land between East and West Timor. The minibus leaves Dili in the morning; after a change of buses at the border village of Motaain it arrives in Kupang after nightfall. It picks you up at the address where you stay and drops you off at the address of your destination. One can also go part of the way, to Atambua, Kefamenanu, or Soe. The fare for Dili to Kupang was USD 20 or Rp 200,000 (July 2009), the bus takes no more than 11 passengers, but there may go four buses simultaneously.
We had bought our ticket the day before at the Timortravel office. Scheduled time of departure was 8 am. When we got impatient by 8:30 the receptionist at our hotel laughed: 'Timortravel is always late'. Eventually the bus showed up at 9. It then rushed to the border, vainly trying to overtake others. At the border it became clear why: everyone rushed and elbowed to the one window of the Timor-Leste immigration office to have their passport stamped. After that one has to clear Indonesian customs who go through your luggage and Indonesian immigration who check your visa. Once past these hurdles another minibus with Indonesian license plate is waiting for the rest of the journey. A stop for lunch at Atambua; more stops at the Timortravel offices in Kefa and Soe.
Adresses and phone numbers: Timor Tour Travel & Cargo
Head Office Atambua, Jalan Sukarno 43, Atambua. T +62.389.22292, -22455, M +62.868.1212 6643.
Branch Office Dili, Jalan 15 Oktober no 17, Audian, Dili; T +670.390.333 1014, M +670 723 5093.
Branch Office Kupang, Jalan Timor Raya no 8, Kupang. T +62.380.881 543, -882 125, M +62.81.2379 4199.
Branch Office Kefa, Jalan El Tari km 4, Kefamenanu. T +62.388.31320.
Branch Office Soe, Jalan Gajah Mada, Soe. T +62.388.21710, M +62.81.2663 2042.
Branch Office Surabaya, Jalan Kalisosok no 37, Surabaya. T +62.31.352 8093, -352 8055, M +62.81.2302 0006.
Updated Aug 13, 2009
A ferry sails three times a week between Dili and Pante Makasar, the capital of the Oecusse enclave. It is the only way to travel between the two parts of Timor-Leste if you do not want to cross Indonesian soil (not counting the helicopters for UN personnel).
The ferry leaves in the afternoon and arrives before daybreak. Monday, Wednesday and Friday it leaves from Dili; Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday it leaves from Pante Makasar.
The economy fare is only USD 4, but if you want a VIP place (room to lie down and airconditoning) you have to add USD 5. These were the rates for the old ferry we travelled with on July 28, 2009, from Pante Makasar to Dili. It will soon be replaced by a new and bigger one, made in Germany.
Updated Aug 13, 2009
Well, it is possible.
Get to Darwin in Australia and Perkins Shipping Group Pty operate a barge that runs Darwin-Dili-Singapore (and reverse) 3 times a month. check their website at www.perkins.com.au for schedules and contact details, you would have to ring up and arrange in advance for passage. This is not a luxury boat - it is a freight barge, sorry, I have no idea how much passage would cost.
You could take this barge straight to Singapore (takes 13 days) or if you want to stay in East Timor for a while then get off at Dili and you can continue overland by taking a 12 hour bus from Dili to Kupang in Indonesian West Timor (check conditions to see if the border is open) and get on a number of boats leaving Kupang and heading to other Indonesian islands (check www.pelni.in) for routes, timetables and prices).
Continue using Pelni ships island hopping your way through Indonesia (and buses on larger islands such as Java and Sumatra) until you reach either Batam or Bintan in the Riau Archipelago where you can get on ferries to Singapore or Johore Baharu in Malaysia, or Dumai on Sumatra where you can get a ferry to Melaka in Malaysia or Medan on Sumatra from where you can catch a ferry to Penang.
From Penang you can get another ferry to Langkawi and then another to Satun in Thailand or you could get a ferry to the Malaysian mainland (Peninsula).
Once you are on the Malaysian peninsula continue north by either bus or train to Thailand.
If you want to go overland to Europe from Thailand you will have to go through China (crossing borders either via Laos or Cambodia and Vietnam as all land borders with Myanmar are closed to foreigners).
From China there are many options:
(mainly ending up either in Moscow or Iran)
To end in Moscow:
- The Trans-Mongolian Railway leaving Beijing, going through Mongolia and ending in Moscow. Or the Trans-Manchurian (same route but going around rather than through Mongolia), or cross the border into Russia from north east China and catch the Trans-Siberian Railway from Vladivostock to Moscow.
From Moscow you can travel either by bus or train to pretty much anywhere in Europe you desire (with connecting stops).
To end in Iran:
- Head west to Urumqui in Xinjiang province and continue overland through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan into Iran (note: It may be difficult to arrange a visa for Turkmenistan in particular). Or;
- From Xinjiang take the Karakorum Highway into Northern Pakistan and continue south crossing the border into Iran where you get on that same train. Or;
- Apparently the border between Tibet and Nepal recently re-opened while I was there (Nepal) in 2007, so you could get yourself to Lhasa in Tibet (The railway from Beijing is now complete), then cross into Nepal and continue into India where you can gross the only open border into Pakistan at Wagah (Between Amritsar and Lahore in Punjab), then continue through to Iran. (Note: the border between Pakistan and Iran has been described as dangerous but it is open).
Getting from Iran to Europe there are a few options too:
- The easiest by far is to get on the Tehran-Istanbul train which operates weekly and takes 2 days. Or;
- Go to Georgia either via Azerbaijan or Armenia and cross into eastern Turkey and get a bus from Trabzon to Istanbul. (Note: the border between Georgia and Russia is closed). Or;
- You could even get on a boat to the gulf states (Qatar, Bahrain, UAE) and continue through Oman into Yemen from where you could get on a boar to Djibouti in Africa and continue through Ethiopia into Sudan, Egypt, Libya and then Tunisia from where you could get on a boat to Sicily in southern Italy but this is a very long way around.
From Istanbul there are trains heading pretty much everywhere in Europe going via Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and others.
These routes could obviously also be done vice-versa.
And there are also many other possibilities for overland travel from/to Australia and Europe, these are just the easiest ones I could think of.
I have found www.seat61.com a very useful tool for overland travel.
Good luck and have a great journey.
Written Feb 25, 2009
now we have the easy way to Dili-East Timor from Kupang, if you want to see the view on the way to Dili from Kupang, we can take travel, Timor Tour And Travel, start from 8.00 am Kupang and arrive in Dili at 7.00pm , one day journey.
And in Dili, we can rent a car from company or private car to go to all around East Timor. So no problem to reach East Timor now.
Updated Jan 4, 2009
When we were organising the trip, we realised that connections were few and infrequent. As we departed from Singapore, the only way we could get there is via Bali where we caught on to a Mertapi flight to Dili.
The airport itself is very basic and I still ses the UN Officers at the airport. Well, there are many UN choppers and planes at the small airport.
curtiscj Sat Apr 1, 2006 10:58 MYT
Another way to fly to Dili is through Darwin (Australia). Dili is only one and a half hours flight by AirNorth (Qantas).
Updated Apr 1, 2006
The most efficient way to get around Timor Leste is to drive yourself around. The locals get around on motorcycles or squash onto truck and buses that serve as public transport. When I say squash, I MEAN SQUASH.
Do yourself a favour and drive.
Written Feb 13, 2006
There are 2 ways to go to Dili by bus which is actually a van. Locals call it 'beast' or 'best', derived from bus but with their own pronounciation.
1. Use vans provided by travel agencies whose offices are normally located in Kupang centre. The van will stop at Atambua for a meal before proceed to Motaain (or 'Perbatasan' meaning border). After passing through border, another van from the same agency will pick you up. Once in Dili, they will drop you off at your requested place or hotel. The whole trip takes about 12-13 hours.
Price: KOE-DIL Rp170,000, DIL-KOE USD17-18 (prices will include water, cakes and sweets)
2. This is for people who want to experience a local ride. Take a mikrolet (Rp2,000, ask local for mikrolet number and direction) to Oebobo Terminal and take a van to Atambua (Rp50,000, no tic counter and ignore local claims for higher tic for less stops and air-con, it's all the same), about 9 hours. There will be a stop near Soe for a meal. Stay a night in Atambua. Ask van driver for hotel to suits your budget. In the morning, take an ojek (as pillion rider on motorbike, Rp2,000) to mikrolet station in Pasar Baru (new market) and take a mikrolet to Motaain (Perbatasan) for Rp5,000, about an hour ride. Pre-negotiate the price first or else they will insist on higher price when you arrive.
Once you pass East Timor immigration, walk about 200 metres where you will get any kind of transport available at time of arrival to Dili for USD3-4 which takes another 3 hours ride.
At border crossing, you will go through police, immigration, quarantine, military and custom checks in the correct order (for Indonesia) and then walk 300 metres to East Timor where you will go through security and then immigration (USD30 for visa) checks. On return, the Indonesia immigration is very helpful, but they charge everyone USD1 for their own pocket.
Whenever you feel like going to the loo, just ask the drive to stop. Either they get you a place with proper loo or do it in the nature.
Updated Jan 7, 2006
U may fly to the capital Dili from Denpasar, Bali/ Indonesia or from Darwin, N. territory, Australia. Coming from Europe I normally choose the first option. No safe, reliable boat connection to the island.
Buy the airfare locally. When in Bali, I used Arowana travel agency.
For Civil Aviation rules and regulations you can download here .
MERPATI Airlines office:
Ave Bispo Medeiros No 5
Dili, Timor Leste
Telp : +670-390-321880
Fax : +670-390-321921
E-mail : email@example.com
Updated Aug 12, 2005
To get to Atauro Island, the only way is by boat/ferry. When I was there, I travelled on the KMP Sereia do Mar, a ferry from Indonesia to Atauro Island. The ferry ride was very comfortable as it has an air-conditioned cabin on the 2nd deck (get into the air-con cabin only after your ticket stubs have been torn). Your belongings (if is just a backpack, you can just bring along with you) can be placed in Deck 1.
The normal price for a one-way ticket is USD7. It is not very frequent (twice a week to and fro).
Written Dec 9, 2004
Hotel Timor Dili
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