By Rental Vehicle

Timor-Leste is an exciting country to explore and there is a lot to see out in the districts. Hiring a vehicle and driver is a great idea if you wish to travel flexibly and in comfort. With an experienced driver you are also more likely to stay on route (many road signs are lacking) and you’ll learn much more.

Part of the adventure is definitely the roads, some of which are notorious with their blind corners and pot-holes. In general the north coast road is in good condition following a major upgrade from the Batugade border to Lospalos in the east, but the roads inland crossing the mountains to the south coast are variable.

Road access to Hato Builico (Mt Ramelau) and Valu (Jaco Island) requires a strong 4WD. While a standard car is fine for Dili and outskirts, hiring a 4WD is still definitely needed for travel further afield.

All companies can organise drivers and this is definitely recommended.

Motorcycles can also be hired by licensed riders. 4WD vehicles cost around $85-120 per day to rent and motorcycles cost $25-35.

If your preference is for other aspects of your trip to be organised also, such as accommodation, specialist Dili based tour operators are happy to arrange personalised itineraries – refer to Exploring and Small Group Tours

By Bus (and other public transport)

Ornate, vividly painted buses (usually crowded) provide transport daily on the main routes from Dili to Maliana, Suai, and via Baucau to Viqueque and Lospalos. Schedules and trip times vary depending on the number of stops and road conditions.

Most public transport services leave early in the morning once they have filled up with passengers. Dili’s bus departure points are on the city outskirts – Becora for eastern districts, Taibessi central and southern and Tasi Tolu western.

Rugged routes to more isolated locations from these centres are covered by smaller microlets (mini-buses), bemos (vans) and anggunas (trucks carrying passengers and other belongings on the back) and in some cases ojeks – motorcycle taxis which take pillion passengers.

On Atauro Island getting around usually involves hiring a tuktuk (auto rickshaw) for travel between Beloi and Vila-Maumeta, a 4WD vehicle for accessing Anartutu up in the mountains, or a boat for journeying around the coast.

The small colourful microlets operate on specified set routes around Dili, Baucau and other main towns. In Dili the microlets are numbered and each travels a set route. To get on hail from the roadside and to disembark tap your coin on the metal handrail and the driver will stop.

By Taxi

Taxis are a frequent sight on Dili’s roads – there are lots of them, but operation is primarily limited to daylight hours. City fares vary between $2-5 depending on the distance. Flag them down from the roadside or ask your accommodation to organise. Those that are available in the evenings charge higher rates and have to be contacted by phone.

With the yellow taxis, fares need to be negotiated prior to travel. In contrast the blue taxis provide a more consistent quality service, use taxi meters and are available in the evenings and early mornings if rung.

An airport minibus shuttle service is another option if travelling between the airport and Dili (must be pre-booked).

By Boat

Both Oecusse and Atauro are linked by regular passenger boat services from Dili.

Oecusse is serviced by the Government run, Nakroma ferry which departs Dili Sea Port twice a week (Monday and Thursday) and returns from Pante Macassar the day following. The ferry is usually crowded and the trip takes around 8-12 hours. For ferry tickets visit their office at the Dili Port. Dragon Star Shipping also runs daily services on their fast star craft between Dili and Pante Macassar, approximately 3-4 hours.

The crossing between Dili and Atauro Island is serviced by a few operators, from dive/resort-operated fastboats, to the mass-passenger ferries Nakroma (operates every Saturday), and Success (operates every Thursday), to private charters. Advanced bookings are required for return trips on all fastboat services, and tickets to the ferries are typically available on the day prior to service via ticketing booths located at the Sea Port. All services are highly dependent on the weather – it helps to plan conservatively.

On Atauro Island, boats can be organised between Beloi and other coastal villages, including Adara on the more isolated north coast. When boating keep a look out for whales and dolphins, as sightings are common. Seabirds and flying fish are other highlights.

At the eastern end of Timor-Leste, Jaco Island is only a short distance from the mainland and on arrival at Valu it is easy to arrange transportation with local fishermen.

By Aircraft

Timor-Leste is a compact, mountainous country and flying greatly reduces travel time to Atauro, Oecusse, Suai, Maliana, Baucau, Lospalos and Same.

ZEESM, a Government Authority, operates a small aircraft between Dili and Pante Macassar, Oecusse on a scheduled daily basis (Thursday excluded). ZEESM can also arrange flight charters on this route and to other municipalities.

MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship NGO) operates from the Dili International Airport using small aircraft (up to 7 passengers). While they primarily run a medical evacuation service for Timorese living in the districts, their planes can be chartered for tourism flights to Atauro and other destinations.

How would you like to get around Timor-Leste?

Modern motor-launches provide transport across Wetar Strait between Dili and Beloi, Atauro for hotel guests and other travellers on a demand basis. Depart Dili waterfront just to the east of Palacio do Governo and Atauro Island near the Beloi pier. Boat charters for snorkelling, fishing and general sightseeing around Atauro also can be arranged.
Compass Diving is a 5-Star PADI Dive Resort, offering PADI-accredited dive courses, snorkel & dive day trips, and all-inclusive overnight dive holiday itineraries to various destinations across the country, including Atauro Island, the coasts around Dili, right up to Jaco Island. Atauro Island transfers and beachfront resort accommodation are also options for those wanting a beach getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. With 5 boats in operation, private charters and group transfers can also be arranged by the company. Compass Dili Office – Bayleaf Restaurant Building, Avenida de Portugal, Dili Atauro Island resort – 600m south of the main jetty, Beloi, Atauro Island
Modern metered, air conditioned blue taxis with drivers who speak Tetun and English. Operate day and night-time. Flag down or ring to travel.
Dragon Star Fast Boat is by far one of the most reliable, affordable and runs most often from Dili port to Beloi beach, Atauro island. The trip will take you one hour and 15 minutes and it leaves at 8:00 AM at the Dili Port (location is shown below) and from Beloi beach back to Dili at 3:30 PM
A wide range of vehicles including cars and 4WD vehicles available for rent. Experienced drivers can be arranged.
A wide range of vehicles including cars, 4WDs and a bus available for rent. Experienced included with hires.
Fly Bus runs an on demand airport shuttle service (must be pre-booked). Buses with luggage trailers also available for charter.
This large car ferry departs Dili for Oecusse at 2.45pm Tuesday and Friday and departs Oecussi for Dili on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.45pm (8-12 hours). Goes to Atauro on Thursday mornings at 8am, heading back to Dili at 3pm.
Local boats such as outriggers can be organised on Atauro for transport between Beloi and other villages, including Adara on the Island’s west coast. These boats also are used for sightseeing trips to beautiful beaches such as Akrema and accessing reefs when snorkelling. On occasion very intrepid travellers cross Wetar strait on these outriggers, organising the trip directly with owners/crew. Local boats usually leave very early when Wetar Strait is smoother. (Note: often no radios, life jackets or other safety equipment on board and passengers are exposed to the elements).
On arrival at Valu, located below Tutuala, boat transport across the narrow channel to Jaco Island can be easily organised with the local fishermen or via your accommodation.
Our aircraft are available for charter to up to nine destinations including Dili. Most airstrips are well maintained and long enough to permit a maximum weight take-off (around 450kgs payload) while others (Atauro, Los Palos, Maliana) have restricted take-off weight limits due to the length, condition of the airstrip or the surrounding terrain. So while we may be able to take full loads into some airstrips (eg. Atauro), we cannot take the same load out. All airstrips are open year-round, however the weather enroute to a few airstrips during the wet season can sometimes be challenging, usually in the afternoons. Planning ahead for these contingencies is advised.
Motor-cruiser service departs Dili waterfront 7.30am (Friday or Saturday) for Atauro and Beloi Beach (Barry’s Place), Atauro 6.30am (Monday). Leisurely crossing takes 2.5-3 hours and often dolphins are sighted. Other daily departures, trips between Beloi and Adara and charters also can be arranged.
Air-conditioned mini-bus daily service between Kupang and Dili (around 12 hours travel) via the land border crossing near Batugade.
Large range of 4WD vehicles, cars and buses available for hire. Experienced drivers can be arranged.
Taltabi Motor Rentals has motorcycles available for hire.
Yellow Taxis available all over Dili during daytime hours. Unmetered and price needs to be negotiated prior to travel. Flag down on roadside to travel. If night time or early morning taxi service wanted this must be prearranged with driver. Prices much higher at night.
ZEESM operates a scheduled flight service between Dili and Pante Macassar, Oecusse on a daily basis (Thursday excluded). The flight along the coast takes around 30 mins. Charter flights can also be arranged for this route and to other domestic destinations.