Travelling to Timor-Leste for a holiday? Or maybe you are heading here for work? Whatever brings you to this incredible little island we are here to help! This is our Top 10 Things To Do In Dili! This video and blog post will help you explore Dili, discover Timorese culture, learn about Timor-Leste's past and find some cool spots to chill out!
PRISTINE CORAL REEFS
If you are heading to Timor-Leste you’ve got to book in a snorkel or dive trip! Coral reefs can be found right off the coast of Dili (so there’s no excuse!) across the northern coastline and on Atauro Island and Jaco Island. The reefs are so incredible here! In 2016 a team of researchers from Conservation International conducted a marine survey on Atauro Island and found that in terms of fish diversity, Timor-Leste has the most biodiverse waters in the world! They identified 642 Fish species with 315 at one single site!
RESISTANCE MUSEUM AND ARCHIVES
This museum commemorates Timor-Leste’s heroic struggle against Indonesian occupation. The museum displays an exhibition of weapons and communication tools the East Timorese used during the resistance as well as a collection of unique antique textiles, woven mats and pottery. It is well worth the visit to gain an appreciation of Timor-Leste's brutal history and the peoples' struggle in their fight for independence. Entrance fee is $1.50USD Location: Rua de Didade de Lisboa, Dili Hours: 9:00am-4:30pm Tuesday-Saturday
SANTA CRUZ CEMETERY
On 12th November 1991, Indonesian troops opened fire on unarmed pro-independence demonstrators in the cemetery. Over 250 people were murdered with many more injured. An American journalist Max Stahl caught the massacre on tape and managed to smuggle the footage back to Australia. This footage was shown worldwide and gained significant international attention. People from around the world united in solidarity with the Timorese people and put pressure on the international community to address the ongoing conflict in Timor-Leste (you’ll learn all about this at The Resistance and Archive Museum). This cemetery is very important to the people of Timor-Leste and a peaceful place with brightly coloured graves and a mountainous backdrop. Location: Rua de Santa Cruz, Dili
ARIEA BRANCA BEACH
Otherwise know as Rai Henek Mutin, to the locals, this is the perfect place to relax by the beach and enjoy a cold drink and meal. There are several restaurants along this strip of beach which serve a variety of meals including Western, Asian and Timorese style food. It is a great place to go and cool down after walking up to the Cristo Rei statue. Location: You can jump on microlet (local bus) number 12 from outside Leader Supermarket ($0.25c) and head towards the Cristo Rei statue.
The Chega (‘stop’ or ‘no more' in Portuguese) exhibition is set in the building and cells of an Indonesian prison. During the Indonesian occupation hundreds of resistance figures were interned here. This exhibition provides an insight into life in this notorious prison and you can even see exhibition cells, photography from during the worst periods of the struggle and information boards relating to pivotal historical events. Location: Estada de Balide. This is quite tricky to find as it is tucked away in the CAVR (Timor-Leste Commission for Reception Truth and Reconciliation) compound, but walk in the gates and head to the far right-side of the building. Entrance is free. Hours: Monday – Friday (closes between 12:00pm-2:00pm each day).
LARGO DE LECIDERE PARK
This is a great little spot to escape the hustle of Dili and relax in the shade by the beach. There is plenty of seating areas and often full of uni students hanging out wanting to practice their English.
Tais cloth is a traditional Timorese cloth woven solely by women with the technique passed down through the generations. It is an essential part of the national cultural heritage. Tais weavings are often used for ceremonial adornment at weddings and funerals and a sign of appreciation and respect towards friends, relatives and guests. Traditional tais is made from cotton harvested in the dry season and the dyes are derived from plant products such as mango skin, potato leaf, cactus flowers and turmeric. The patterns and colours vary between districts in Timor-Leste. This market is worth the visit! Along with the cloth itself, you can buy tais products such as handbags, earrings, hats and even shoes! Location: Rua Sebastiao de Costa, just off Comoro Road. Hours: 8am-7pm 7 days Budget: $5-100USD
CRISTO REI STATUE
The Cristo Rei statue is an iconic landmark in Dili and stands 27 meters high at the end of the Fatucama Peninsula. This statue of Jesus was presented to the people of Timor-Leste by the then President of Indonesia Hajji Suharto in 1996, as a gift for the country's 20 year anniversary of integration with Indonesia. It can be reached by climbing the 500 steps and is best experienced during late in the afternoon to catch the sunset over Dili's harbour. Location: End of the Fatucama Penisular. You can jump on microlet (local bus) number 12 from outside Leader Supermarket ($0.25c).
Arte Moris is Timor-Leste's first arts school, cultural centre and artists' association. Established in 2003, 'it's primary aim was to use art as a building block to psychological and social reconstruction of a country devastated by violence'. Arte Moris is a gallery and school, particularly focused on supporting youth by providing art classes and sponsorships for more advance students. This art space is unusual. Visitors will find the art is anything from sculptures made from old car parts and used cigarette packages to intricate and impressive portraits and drawings. Location: Av. Pres. Nicolau Lobato. West of the Comoro Bridge, on the right before the turnoff to the Airport.
Entrance is free. Hours: 8am-5pm.
Taibesi Markets Dili's largest and most popular produce market to purchase all sorts of goods. Here visitors are offered a real and raw shopping experience. Location: Taibesi, Dili Hours: All day/7 days.
Mercado de fruta e vegetais A smaller fruit and vegetable market on the beach with a good range of fresh produce. Location: Av dos Direitos Humanos, in front of Lita Supermarket on the beach. Hours: All day/7 days.
Merkadu Hahan Make sure you head to the local night food market, Merkadu Hahan. It is the equivalent of fish and chips on the beach – but being Timor-Leste, it's fish and rice! It’s cheap and delicious and a great place to watch the sunset. You'll be able to select chicken, pork and local seafood skewers accompanied by coconut rice wrapped in banana palm leaves and chili dipping sauce. Cold refreshments including beer and soft drinks are also available. Location: On the beach road in Bebonuk, east of Arbiru Beach Resort. Hours: 5pm-10pm 7 days Budget: $5USD for food and drink