Dili, East Timor | Australian Frequent Flyer
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Dili, East Timor

samh004

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I was reading this article today and decided that I should probably try book myself a flight out to Dili with my Qantas points for next year, taking a punt on air travel being back to some level of normal by then. The worst that could happen is losing the roughly 16,000 points and some taxes, or losing the 6,000 points from a cancellation. If things are resetting by then, I would be able to cross off another country and see somewhere new.

I note there's plenty of information online, TripAdvisor seeming to give a fair amount of info away, but there weren't any recent threads on AFF so I was hoping those in the know might chime in and let me know their thoughts on tourism, culture, whats to see and do, how long to stay, how much things could cost, etc... I have until the end of April to book a flight and I'm pretty sure it would be a good use of 16,000 points (out of Darwin).
 

Mattg

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I haven't been to Dili but I am also interested in tips from anyone who has!

With Airnorth ending the QFF partnership at the end of this month (but you can still book reward flights into next year), I am also considering taking a trip.
 

Dudditz

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I visited Dili a few years ago for three nights. Only stayed in town but did a day scuba trip a couple of hours away. I'll add some basic insight for those who are interested.

Accommodation varied dramatically with many resorts and high end establishments along the water just outside of town and some very average hotels elsewhere. Wasn't many tourists while I was there but found an excellent Portuguese run wine store with cafe that was a godsend.

Had some decent food mainly seafood, Portugese classics or western options. Overall costs were reasonably expensive by local standards but I felt that was a hangover from the days of many aid workers, NGOs and money floating around.

Taxis regularly drive up the main road and are cheap for short trips although you will need to negotiate. Portuguese basics are very handy also as most locals (particularly older ones) speak it in addition to the local language.

I did a nice hike up to their version of Christ the redeemer up on the hill. There are a couple of museums, parks and things around but really a few days at a slow pace was enough for me.

I've heard there are some fantastic hikes and trips up to the tribal lands but you'll need time, a 4wd or a tour to consider that and be mindful that outside of Dili the country is very underdeveloped so rain could make travel difficult.

Overall I enjoy a short visit, the people were very friendly and I felt safe although I'm a relatively independent young guy so I am comfortable wandering around at most hours. People live a very humble life there and I think there was a real fear that the government was selling out much or their industries and agriculture to China at the time. I was told much of the pristine reef was destroyed by Chinese fishing trawlers.

Worth a visit but I wouldn't be calling it a hidden gem or tourist booming hotspot anytime soon sadly.
 
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theblank

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People live a very humble life there and I think there was a real fear that the government was selling out much or their industries and agriculture to China at the time. I was told much of the pristine reef was destroyed by Chinese fishing trawlers.
Yeah - life has improved so much for East Timorese since they became independant. :sarcasm.
 

Cossie

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Yeah - life has improved so much for East Timorese since they became independant. :sarcasm.
Not helped by Australia trying to diddle them out of their share of natural resources.

 

moa999

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Not helped by Australia trying to diddle them out of their share of natural resources.

Not exactly diddle. Sea boundaries are fairly complex things and the continent has a very large shallow continental shelf to the north.
 

WLGFlyer

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Went to East Timor in 2017. Spent a night in Dili and then headed off to Atauro for some diving.

Wouldn't spend too much time in Dili, there are a few museums, plenty of hotels, bars and restaurants but overall dirty and has a depressing feel to it. Never felt unsafe but it's not an inviting place, especially at night. Decent NGO expat community as well.

Now if you want to venture out, renting a 4x4 seemed fairly straight forward and can be organized via email (expect $200/day). Once you leave Dili prepare for unsealed roads, slow travel and very basic accommodation. I ended up opting to head over to Atauro for some diving instead - if that's your thing its absolutely fantastic. Otherwise there isn't much to do and food/accommodation is very basic. There is one hotel on the island that is up to western standarts and run by locals now living in Australia. They can also organize door to door trips from the Airport and back.

Feel free to ask if you have any further questions. Overall I really enjoyed my trip but it's not for everyone.

Time wise I'd do one night in Dili to get organized, have a look arround and then either head offshore, inland or both if you have the time. Your time of travel will also play a role (high seas, wet season). Expect Australian prices or significantly higher for things only foreigners require (cars, hotels etc).
 

samh004

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I ended up booking for April (just after Easter) next year. Was tempted to spend just 3 nights initially, but ended up with a Wednesday to Monday billing to maximise my chances of really getting to explore the country. At this stage I'm not focused on accommodation or tours, but shall start researching towards the end of the year as (hopefully) the world gears start moving again.
 

WLGFlyer

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Going to be interesting to see how Air North / Qantas will handle any schedule changes / cancellations.
 
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