Tourism in Timor is increasing in popularity. You no longer just have to be connected with a Geelong partner school Timor trip. Anyone can visit as a tourist. Timor-Leste is rich in culture. Timor-Leste’s stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, coral reefs, caves, walk to Cristo Rei are only some of the attractions Timor-Leste has to offer. Experiencing and immersing oneself in Timorese culture is most definitely a highlight for many.
Prior to planning your travels, please be mindful of the dangers of ‘voluntourism’ or ‘unskilled volunteering’. The Geelong-Viqueque Friendship Schools believe that it is important for volunteers to be connected with existing organisations that maintain longterm partnerships. This ensures that positive relationships/friendships are maintained and funds/goods/services are relevant to the community’s needs. If your interested in volunteer work, consider volunteering for GVFS Geelong, local fundraisers.
If you’re planning to visit Timor-Leste, please don’t hesitate to contact the Geelong-Viqueque Friendship Schools for recommendations. Below is some preliminary information to kickstart your research.
Recommended Activities and Sights
- Cristo Rei, Dili. This 27 meter statue of Jesus Christ has a very interesting history. Worth climbing some 500 steps to see this incredible structure and picturesque surroundings.
- Timorese Resistance Archive and Museum- Portuguese, Tetun and English translations.
- Chega Museum/ Exhibition – Former Prison. A sad but valuable place to visit.
- The Alola Foundation founded by Kirsty Sword-Gusmao +The Alola shop.
- Santa Cruz Cemetery- Location of the tragic Santa Cruz Massacre.
- The mud volcano at Beacu (actually has 1-3 active mud bubbles in the middle). Visitors have been known to find specs of gold in the dried mud on the ground and up the trees. The volcano last errupted quite recently in the 1980s.
- Hot water springs (bee manas) in Kraras. Steam cave. Sulphur stream zig zagging down-hill. Shelter is available at the site to rest, ponder and have a drink. Permission from the local elders is needed in order to visit this sacred land. Visitors are also asked to pay a small fee.
- The tragic story of Kraras, Widowtown, ask a school teacher to tell the story. Go for a walk to the cliff above the river, go to the tree, look into the bone museum.
- Loihuno caves and resistance fighter hidey spots in the hills of Loihuno. See the Eco Lodge to organise guides etc. for both.
- Coral Reefs in Beloi, Ataro Island. Barry from ‘Barry’s Place’ is the best person to speak with to organise this.
Interesting Videos- Timor Tourism
Reagan Purdy’s documentary about his school trip to Viqueque-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa-QcxtALBg
Discover Atauro Island, Caroline Pemberton- …… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfs_QipaPmY
Beautiful Timor-Leste, Caroline Pemberton, Dr Dean Miller- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2zCxsEw1XQ
Scenes of Viqueque by Tonny Pereira- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BddaOf43UnA
Viqueque Tebe Dahur cultural dance in traditional dress- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY1BqEKkfWY
Loi huno caves experience of ‘Pretend Happy’- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-q6IH8D0E4
District of Viqueque:
Uma Maun Alin Guest House UMA accomm brochure
Hotel Lecidere http://www.hotel-lecidere-dili.com
Barry’s Place in Beloi http://www.barrysplaceatauro.com
Top Tips to Remember When Travelling to Timor
~ When converting your spending money into US dollars, remember to ask for small bills only. $1 and $5 bills are best. Locals and local buisnesses will find it difficult to provide change for a $50, $20 and sometimes even a $10 bill.~
~ When you want to take photos, remember it is most polite to ask the locals first. The easiest way to do this is by saying “bele?” (“may I?” in tetun) while holding or pointing to your camera. Afterwards, the locals will often love to see the photo you’ve taken. So remember to take the time to discuss it with them afterwards. ~
~ Timorese children are likely to refer to tourists as a “malae” which means “foreigner” in Tetun. This should not be taken as an insult but rather an excited greeting. Children may call out to you from a distance. This means that they are excited to see you. Even if you are just passing through, a friendly smile and wave is always very much appreciated. ~
~ Try to speak some of the local language. Each district of Timor-Leste speaks a different dialect however, the majority of Timorese people also speak Tetun. Tetun is one of the official Languages of Timor-Leste which has its origins in Dili. Trying to communicate with the locals in their local language really goes a long way. Locals don’t expect it to be perfect and appreciate the gesture. Your attempts also make for a very entertaining ice breaker with the local children. The GVFS have a free, downloadable Tetun Phrase Book located in our ‘Resources’ page. ~
~ In general, it is most appropriate to wear modest clothing including when swimming. Swimwear such as bikinis or speedos are not typically worn. ~
~Ask permission from local elders prior to accessing and visiting sacred sights including traditional houses. If your not sure which sites are sacred, ask a local. ~
~ Keep in mind Timor-Leste’s two seasons when planning your travels. Expect the dry season from May to November; Expect the wet season from December to April. ~