How to Get to Timor Leste in 2022
Is Timor Leste open for tourists? What sort of COVID restrictions are in place and is it safe to visit? What should a foreign traveler know before traveling to Timor Leste? How can you get to Timor Leste? Read below for the answer to all your Timor Leste travel questions!
Intro to Timor Leste
Timor Leste–often called by its English translation East Timor–is an under-visited but incredibly unique and beautiful travel destination in Southeast Asia. Whether you’re going on a beach vacation or looking for a little-known destination to explore staggering biodiversity, rich history, and otherworldly adventures, Timor Leste is an ideal location. As you plan your visit to our beautiful nation, we want to help provide all the relevant information for getting here. Traveling to Timor Leste can be difficult, but it is safe and worth visiting. Since the country is open again for tourists and travelers, we’ve outlined important travel logistics below. Since COVID-19 continues to define the world of travel, we have also included relevant information about the most current COVID protocols.
How to get Dili, Timor Leste by plane
Regardless of why you’re going or what you plan to do, the first step of your trip to Timor Leste is arriving. Below, we’ve outlined what air travel to Dili, our capital city, looks like.
Dili holds the biggest airport in Timor Leste and is the only international one that services airlines. Dili (airport code DIL) is serviced by three airports: Bali, Indonesia (DPS); Darwin, Australia (DRW), and Singapore (SIN) (current as of July 2022). Of course, these three airports all have many connecting national and international flights, but it’s necessary to connect through one of these airports before flying to Timor Leste.
Though you will likely be traveling halfway around the world to get to us, traveling to Timor Leste is worth it. The country is inexpensive, and the beaches, people, food, and weather are definitely worth a few hours on a plane!
Citizens of most countries, including Americans and Britons, for example, do not need visas to travel to Timor Leste. There are no entry requirements before you leave. However, once you arrive in Timor Leste, you will need to purchase a 30-day visa to the country which costs $30. You can do this at the airport very quickly.
Other transport to Timor Leste
In addition to air travel, you can travel to Timor Leste via bus. The larger island of Timor is divided in half, between Timor Leste and the Indonesian province of West Timor. Since the province and independent country are on the same island and thus connected by land, a bus is another way to arrive in our country. It is also the most inexpensive option, so it is ideal for travelers on a budget.
The bus to Dili leaves from Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia. This capital of the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara is easily accessible by inexpensive flights from Bali or Jakarta. From Kupang, the journey is 16 hours, as the terrain is rough and curvy, but the journey will nonetheless be comfortable. The bus will be between $10 and $30. At the border control, you will have to exit the bus and show your passport. But, as long as you travel with all the necessary documents, the officials will quickly send you on the rest of the path to Dili.
It’s important to note that a land bus to East Timor is very easy. The East Timorese security is relaxed and will most likely only check your passport. However, if you’re re-entering West Timor, the Indonesian border control is more strict. So take note just in case you take the bus back through Indonesia to return home.
For a more personal experience with traveling to Timor Leste on a bus, this blog post details one traveler’s experiences. The article also has great information on travel to Timor Leste!
Covid Restrictions and Border Control
Although we all wish it to be otherwise, COVID still dictates international travel regulations. So when considering traveling to Timor Leste, it’s crucial to have all the necessary requirements fulfilled so travel is as smooth as possible. If you don’t fulfill the necessary requirements, you could be barred from boarding the plane or not allowed into the country.
Fortunately, for vaccinated international travelers to Timor Leste, COVID restrictions are simple. With proof of vaccination, you will be allowed to board your plane and enter Timor Leste. After you arrive here, you may be subject to a few screening tests in the airport though, so be prepared just in case. This would most likely be temperature tests, symptom consultations, and/or similar non-invasive procedures. No such test would take more than five minutes.
If you’re unvaccinated, entry to Timor Leste requires a 10-day quarantine. You’ll likely be tested at the airport and once more when you finish your time in a hotel. And of course, if you test positive, your quarantine will be extended to 14 days. A positive covid-19 diagnosis also requires a 14-day quarantine for vaccinated travelers.
For all covid restrictions for travel to Dili, we recommend looking up Timor Leste’s embassy website for your country. For ease, the American and British Timorese embassies and their covid pages are linked here. They are the easiest to find and most comprehensive travel-to-Timor-Leste sites available.
COVID in Timor Leste
Reuters has a very in-depth article about the state of COVID in Timor Leste. We’ll link it here so you can check it out yourself, but the important highlights are as follows:
- Timor Leste imposed a lockdown until around March 2021 and has been open since.
- The last serious spike in cases was the winter of 2021 (August), with a secondary spike in February.
- Overall, covid is not very serious, and between 50-60% of the population is vaccinated.
You can find more information here, a World Health Organization article about numbers and trends of Timor Leste’s covid over the past three years. This link is the New York Times database of covid numbers globe-wide and has info about Timor Leste’s vaccinations.
What to Do When You Arrive in Timor Leste
Once you have arrived in Timor Leste, you are now free to explore many beautiful destinations throughout the country. The easiest and most beautiful place to reach from Dili is Ataúro Island, home to the most biodiverse coral reefs on Earth, and vibrant local culture ready to welcome you to your new island home. Getting there is as simple as taking a 20 minute flight, which you can read more about at https://www.timorleste.tl/from-dili-to-atauro-in-20-minutes-with-mafs-fly-stay-shuttle-service/
The island offers hiking tours, historical trips, water activities like fishing and scuba diving, and many more experiences that you can take part in. Our Things To Do is filled with creative ideas, trips, guides, and activities for you to look into. Contact ATKOMA, the destination management organization on the island, at [email protected] or +670 7737 5489 to book your trip!
After reading this blog, you’re one step closer to being in Timor Leste safe and sound. We hope you have a wonderful trip and enjoy all our beautiful country has to offer. If you’re interested in how we can help you more with traveling to Timor Leste, contact us to learn more. Information about our work with the country can be found here, while information about us is at this link.
* Please note: this information is current as of July 2022, and may be subject to change. Contact ATKOMA for the most up-to-date information!