Dili: The Gateway to Timor-Leste

As the capital city of Timor-Leste, Dili is usually the first port of call for those venturing to this oft-forgotten corner of Southeast Asia.

Dili is the archetypal city on the rise. After suffering extensive damage in the post-1999-referendum conflict, Dili has since gathered momentum as the country looks to leave its troubled past behind.

For any adventurous visitors, the appeal is obvious. Its colonial past has left it with a distinctly Portuguese feel – expect a friendly ‘Bon dia’ or ‘Boa tarde’ as you go about your business – and thanks to its off-the-beaten-track nature the clean beaches can feel pleasantly remote and isolated.

Read more: How Surabaya Got Its Name, Part 1: The Shark and the Crocodile.

Travellers can earn their stripes as they roam the streets and soak up the welcoming, slightly hectic, atmosphere.


A 27-metre tall statue of Jesus brings a divine air to proceedings, and fantastic views across the bay, as it symbolically represents Dili welcoming all with open arms.

Visitors will most likely arrive at Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport from Denpasar (Bali). Return flights with Nam Air/Sriwijaya Air cost around $200. Air North flies daily from Darwin, Australia and there are also twice-weekly flights from Singapore.

A taxi ride into Dili from the airport costs between $5 and $10.


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