Buses, mostly of the small variety found on remote Indonesian islands, run to most parts of the country and main cities like Dili, Baucau, Maliana, Los Palos and Suai are quite well linked. Indonesian-style bemos (vans) and mikrolets (minibuses) run from these cities to nearby villages.
In Dili, you can hire a ride on a mikrolet for 25c to get around. The mikrolets are numbered, and each number goes on a set route. To get off, simply tap your coin on the metal handrail and the driver will stop for you. You pay the driver when you get off.
Mikrolets, buses and “angunna” (truck with open-air back for passengers) are your main means for getting from one district to another one. Most of these departures take place very early in the morning and drivers have a tendency of doing keliling (Indonesian for “going round”) where they spend considerable time combing the streets and scouting for passengers before actually departing.
From Dili to other Districts.
To travel westward, take transportation from Tasi Tolu “bus terminal” (it’s not really a terminal with a shelter but all the buses and mikrolets gather here to travel westward). e.g. of area in the West: Liquica, Bobonaro
To travel eastward, take transportation from Becora bus terminal. e.g. of area in the East: Baucau, Los Palos
To travel southward, take transportation from Taibessi bus terminal near the Taibessi market. e.g. of area in the South: Ermera, Maubisse
Fares range from US$3 – US$10 depending on distance.
Taxis are one of the best means of transport in and around Dili. Fares are not very steep ($1-3) and there are lots of them! However, you do need to negotiate the price with the driver first before going on. There are few taxis in the evening so do expect an extra $1-$3 more on your trip, especially if it’s really late and your destination is far.
You can hire a vehicle (Saloon or 4WD) in Dili for around $85-$120 a day from Rentlo or other companies. However, do be prepared for adventure – besides the tricky roads there is the lack of road signs to contend with.
While in Dili you will need to confine yourself to a speed limit of 40 kph. On open roads you may rev up and touch 50-60 kph. Tourists from the west might find the going slow but that is the maximum speed that can be achieved on Dili roads.
Ensure that you are carrying a valid driving license or permit with you. This can be either from your country or you can have it issued in East Timor. Your license should specify the kind of vehicle you are allowed to drive. Do drive carefully and remember that there is no provision here for third-party motor insurance.
The Oekusi (Oecussi) Enclave, Ataúru (Ataúro) Island and Dili are well connected by ferry. A boat ride to Jaku (Jaco) Island will prove to be a memorable experience. An added attraction here is that the fishermen also cook fish for you on request!
Motorcycles/scooters are a great way to see the country: you’ll be afforded the freedom of traveling wherever you want at any time, and will have a rather small responsibility in terms of a bike to park over night. Bungee cords may be purchased from Star Moto in Baucau to fasten your luggage to the bike.
There are no more commercial bike rental operators left operating. Perhaps try Dili expat forums and couchsurfing to rent from an international resident.
Although there are airports in Baucau, Suai and Oecussi, there is not a regular domestic air service yet within East Timor. There are small MAF planes that can be chartered to fly to these destinations, which are normally utilised for medical evacuations.
Feature image: latodili.wordpress.com