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Best things to do in East Timor

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Where in the world: Asia  /  East Timor

Top 15 things to do in East Timor

1. Cristo Rei, Dili

Perched atop a summit looking out toward the capital of East Timor, Cristo Rei stands as a symbol of the island’s relations with Indonesia. Reaching 27 m (88.6 ft) high, the statue was given as a gift to the east islanders by the Indonesian government in 1996, modeled on Rio de Janeiro’s monument of the same name. Climb the 500-step ascent and look out from the island’s peninsula, enjoying panoramic views of the Timor Sea. Take care on the uneven steps and bring plenty of water.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
Tours from $1,300 › Learn more about Cristo Rei

2. The Archives & Museum of East Timorese Resistance, Dili

Documenting East Timor's 24-year battle against Indonesian occupation, The Archives & Museum of East Timorese Resistance offers an in-depth look at the struggle though a variety of artifacts from the conflict. Set in the grand Portugese Court of Justice, the modern and well-equipped permanent exhibition started in 2012, and holds a large amount of information regarding the country's fight for independence. Observe and inspect documents, photographs, videos, weapons, and communication equipment as they paint an intricate historical background to the subject. The museum also contains an adjoining exhibition space, which holds temporary exhibitions of various traditonal cultural arts and crafts.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $1,300 › Learn more about The Archives & Museum of East Timorese Resistance

3. Tais Market, Dili

Take the spirit of East Timor with you by buying some woven tais cloth at Tais Market. Traditionally hand-made by women, the material is internationally-famous. The market also offers bags, jewelry, and other handicrafts. Use the colorful tais for a variety of purposes like a carpet, a table cloth, or simply as a decoration. While roaming the market, look out for the women making the material in their shops.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $1,300 › Learn more about Tais Market

4. Private 3-day Timor Island Tour

FROM $1,300
Journeys to the “Mystic Island of Timor” Our tours are a safe, economical and comfortable way of getting to know Timor. Our Drivers/Guides have an in-depth knowledge of the country, culture and terrain. So if you are coming our way and really want so see and experience Timor Island, Let us make your visit a truly memorable ONE!
Tours from $1,300 › More about this tour at viator.com ›
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5. Aquatica Dive Resort, Dili

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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6. Cemetery of Santa Cruz, Dili

Visit the final resting place of the victims of the 1991 protests at Cemetery of Santa Cruz. Over 250 people were killed in the November 12 demonstration for independence, and later buried here, endowing the site with great historical significance. Learn about the hardships faced by the local people under the Indonesian occupation, and get a sense for the consequences of the massacre.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $1,300 › Learn more about Cemetery of Santa Cruz

7. Mount Ramelau, Ermera

Hike the highest mountain in the region, 2986 m (9797 ft) tall Mount Ramelau, in the dark. The 2,986 m (9,797 ft) tall peak beckons hikers during midnight so they're able to welcome the sunrise. Hire a guide in the guesthouse at the bottom of the mountain, and prepare for a steep climb and cold temperatures. At the top, hikers are typically rewarded with views of the moon illuminating a bed of clouds and temperatures that bring crisp mornings. If you're not interested in night excursions, hike the mountain during the day to see green valleys, mountains, and numerous small peaks. Recharge at the top, which offers a viewing platform and a statue of the Virgin Mary. Be sure to bring your own snacks and drinks.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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8. Akrema Beach, Atauro

Remote Akrema Beach thrives with pure white sand and deep blue sea alongside reefs just waiting to be explored. Feel the fine sand under your feet or find shade under couple of trees nearby. Explore the seascape and snorkel around the few reefs, but keep in mind that the currents can be strong here. Many people come for the solitude and the vista of endless horizon--especially popular during sunset when the sky displays a palette of golden, orange, and purple colors. If looking for sightseeing, visit the nearby town Akrema.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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9. Jaco Island, Lautem District

Featuring long sandy beaches and blue waters, Jaco Island is part of Nino Konis Santana National Park and is known for being a Timorese Important Bird Area. This well-preserved beach provides a nice spot for snorkeling and diving because of its colorful coral reefs and turtles. The trip to the island takes approximately six hours by car and boat but rewards travelers with a peace representative of an uninhabited island. Guests can stay in one of two guesthouses or camp along the beach. Birdwatching is a popular pastime here--you can see many rare bird populations of Timor, including pink-headed imperial pigeons, Timor sparrows, blue-cheeked flowerpeckers, and many others.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Empreza Di'ak, Beloi

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Dili

As the largest catholic cathedral in Southeast Asia, Immaculate Conception Cathedral represents the main church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dili. Construction began in 1984, and the church is known for its exterior, built in a modern, minimalistic architecture style with touch of traditional Portuguese style at the bell tower. With the Angel Gabriel statue as the guardian of the entrance, the church is considered the greatest attraction in Dili, despite the fact that it is usually closed for tourists.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Old Ai Pelo Prison, Liquica

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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13. One Dollar Beach, Dili

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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14. Arte Moris, Dili

Arte Moris, which means "living art" in Tetum, presents a way to have a look at ordinary Timorese life through the eyes of local artists via their paintings and sculptures. A seemingly wretched and deserted building hides high-quality modern Timorese art that reflects artists' views of their country's current state. Besides being a cultural center, this edifice also houses the first non-profit fine arts school of East Timor and as such showcases a permanent collection of their students' artwork. While there, you'll have the chance to meet some of the artists and you may even support them by purchasing their artwork.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Arte Moris

15. Tasitolu, Dili

A protected area of wetlands including three saline lakes surrounded by hills, an esplanade, and a beach, Tasitolu lies 8 km (5.0 mi) from the capital. An important bird area, it shelters both native and migratory birds--including some threatened species. Go for a dive here (but note that the site is easy to miss) and view some bizarre sea creatures--spiny tiger and tozeuma shrimp, rhinopia, or seahorses. The main landmark, a statue of Pope John Paul II (sharing the hill with a chapel), reminds of his visit in 1989, the darkest hour of East Timor's struggle for independence (eventually declared here in 2002). In 2006 the area, still torn by conflict, became a base for UN forces.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $1,300 › Learn more about Tasitolu