When to travel
There are two clear seasons: the wet season, from November to May, where the temperatures are also highest, and the dry season, from June to October. Spring (May-July) is the best time of the year to visit, as it is just beginning the dry season and the temperatures are relatively mild.
Temperatures vary between 15º Celsius in the mountain areas and 30º Celsius on the northern and eastern coast.
Food and beverages
Drink bottled water only. Avoid ice and wipe off any water from the tops of beverage cans before drinking. Salads should also be avoided if washed with tap water. Fruit should be peeled. Be wary of non-cooked food; antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals are easily bought in Dili, but are hard to find elsewhere.
Animals and insects
Avoid contact with animals as they are generally not vaccinated and can transmit diseases. Use insect repellent, especially at dawn and dusk and sleep with a mosquito net.
Although criminal rates are very low in Dili and almost non-existent elsewhere, it is wise not to carry jewellery or other valuables and to take a copy of your documents (e.g. your passport should be kept in a safe place). Theft most frequently occurs from cars, with mobile phones a prime target.
The driving in East Timor is generally passive and traffic is far from dense; however, vehicles and roads are generally in poor condition, and are made more hazardous by wandering livestock. Sudden wash-outs of roads is just one reason why driving after nightfall outside Dili is foolish.
Be aware of limitations to exports of artefacts and other souvenirs made of organic and local products. The acquisition and export of corals, birds and turtle shelves are punished by law.
Remember that Timor-Leste is a new country with little experience with tourism and foreigners. Respect their traditions and ways and be patient. Everybody will do their best to welcome you.
Source: adapted from Turismo Timor-Leste
Customs and etiquette
The handshake is the most common form of greeting in East Timor. Men shake hands when meeting a woman from a foreign culture but rarely when greeting a Timorese woman.
Timorese traditions of clothing are modest. Garments above the knee (for both men and woman) are rarely acceptable in a professional or traditional social occasion. A relaxed dress code applies with short-sleeved shirt/pants appropriate for most business meetings. More formal attire is suggested if visiting senior East Timorese business and political leaders, however, men don’t need to wear coats/jackets and ties.
Pre-arranged appointments are highly recommended as contacts frequently move around East Timor and to and from Australia, often at short notice. It’s a good idea to confirm meetings a day before the scheduled time and be prepared to reschedule at the last minute.
It is polite to wait until your host invites you to sit down, or to eat and drink.
The Australian Embassy
Avenida dos Mártires da Patria, Dili
Phone: (670) 332 2111
Fax: (670) 332 2247
FIRE: (670) 723 0686
POLICE: (670) 723 0686
AMBULANCE: (670) 723 3212
There are 3 banks in Dili; all have ATM services available for Visa, Maestro & Cirrus.
Banco Nationale Ultramarine (BNU)
Tel: (670) 3324 301
Tel: (670) 3324 800
Fax: (670) 3324 822
Tel: (670) 3317 777