East Timor

East Timor continues to face sporadic internal ethnic & political tension and related violence may occur. This may not be targeted at foreigners or tourists, but follow the guidelines below. During periods where this is not an issue, remember you are travelling in a very poor country, and crimes such as assault and theft do occur: There is still a considerable international presence in East Timor, including a United Nations mission and international police and military mostly conducting capacity building and training for national security forces.

The Canadian Foreign Affairs department warned on June 22, 2010: "Violence or demonstrations may affect transportation routes and land border crossings as well as flights in and out of Dili’s airport. Disturbances have occurred in the vicinity of Dili’s Comoro airport, areas surrounding internally displaced persons camps, and at food storage warehouses. There has been continuing gang-related violence, arson, robbery, and vandalism. Gangs in Dili have attacked cars with stones and darts fired from slingshots, particularly during the early evening and at night. Local taxis should not be used. Travellers should avoid armed irregular groups, including martial arts groups that may be resident throughout the country. Travellers are advised to avoid unnecessary local travel and exercise extreme caution."

Foreigners or tourists have been the target for violence in East Timor, travelers should be responsible and adhere to standard precautions as in any developing country. Remember you are traveling in a poor country, and crimes such as assault and theft do occur. The key to avoid such crime is to apply common sense and reduce your exposure to possible opportunity crime such as:

Avoid large gatherings demonstrations have had the potential to escalate with little or no warning in the past.

Remove any visible valuables from your car if leaving it unattended.

Women should avoid traveling alone in taxis at night.

Women should avoid walking alone at night in quiet streets.

Hospitals and Doctors

There are hospitals in main centres, and clinics in many sub-districts elsewhere but medical care is not up to dealing with sustained or complex medical emergencies. Medical evacuation is often the only option in the case of complex surgery, trauma, or major illness. Travellers are strongly advised not to enter East Timor without some form of medical insurance which will cover medivac by air ambulance, be this travellers insurance from your travel agent or an employer if you are entering for professional reasons.

Dili - Dili National Hospital, located in Bidau Santana.

Pante Makassar, Oecussi - located in town near the port


Tetum and Portuguese are the official languages, but Indonesian which is widely spoken, and English which is very limited, are working languages according to the constitution. There are also about 37 indigenous languages, of which Tetum, Galole, Mambae, and Kemak are spoken by significant numbers of people.

A person who is proficient in Indonesian and Portuguese can get around quite easily. Don't expect to understand locals' conversations though.

by internet

Internet in East Timor is slow and limited. Timor Telecom holds the monopoly for this as well, and tries to block voice-over-IP services like Skype.

Internet cafes are available throughout Dili, Baucau, and some other smaller cities: look for Timor Telecom outlets.

by phone

Timor Telecom (http://www.timortelecom.tl/) has a monopoly on landline and mobile phone services in East Timor, and charges accordingly; expect to pay up to US$3/minute for international calls into East Timor. Calls out of the country are far cheaper with on average 40cents/minute to Australia, Indonesia, Portugal and USA.

It is recommended that you buy a local pre-paid phone for US$10 which includes phone, charger, sim card and US$3 credit on arrival from any Timor-Telecom store there is one in Landmark Plaza on way into town from the airport. Local prepaid SIM cards can be picked up for around US$3. Please remember that whilst international phones work in East Timor, the global roaming fees are very hefty, hence the recommendation to purchase a cheap phone package, even for a short visit.

On 31st July 2012 the National Numbering Plan NNP was changed and all mobile phone numbers now require an additional '7' be added to the front of the number making a total of eight digits. Land lines remain unchanged.

east timor travel advisories

Australian Government Travel Advisory (http://www.smarttraveller...)

Canadian Government Travel Advice (http://www.voyage.gc.ca/c...)

US Consular Information on Timor Leste (http://travel.state.gov/t...)

UK Government Travel Advice (http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/...)