How Safe Is Timor-Leste for Travel?

Timor-Leste
Safety Index:
48

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, otherwise known as East Timor, is located in Southeast Asia.

It is positioned northwest of Australia in the Lesser Sunda Islands at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago.

East Timor also stretches over the eastern half of the island of Timor, the Oecussi region located on the northwest portion of Timor, and the small islands of Atauro and Jaco.

Tourists are a very rare occurrence in East Timor, so if you do visit it, you can count on spending a couple of days simply enjoying the feeling of being a very interesting and a very welcome stranger.

The locals will probably try to start up a conversation with you since it’s not that common that they get to see a tourist.

East Timor’s location at the end of the Indonesian archipelago, and at the base of the Coral Triangle, enables those rare tourists to enjoy the highest diversity of coral and reef fish species on earth.

This country also offers a rich cultural heritage way back from the Portuguese and Indonesian colonial periods, and if you’re a more adventurous kind, you can immerse yourself in East Timor’s world-class trekking.

Warnings & Dangers in Timor-Leste

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : HIGH

If you go and visit East Timor, you might have no negative experiences or incidents. However, it is a country where you should be vigilant and take all possible precaution measures in order to minimize the risk of something going wrong.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

Public transportation is not the safest or the most convenient option: you are highly advised to call your reliable taxi driver instead of hailing one on the streets and be aware that public transport is where the pickpockets and thieves operate.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH

There is an extreme threat of petty crime in East Timor. As in any developing country, you should be extremely careful when handling your valuables and never carry your money in a purse or a pocket. Never carry all your money in the same place, and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

There are plenty of natural disaster risks in East Timor. This country is susceptible to floods, landslides and prolonged dry spells causing insect infestations, diseases, and food insecurity. Apart from that, East Timor is located in a high-risk area for earthquakes and tsunamis.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : HIGH

As far as muggings go, it is relatively common, as well as armed robberies. Cases of intruders breaking into homes inhabited by foreigners have been known to happen. It is best to be cautious at all times.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Even though there haven't been any terrorist attacks in East Timor's recent history, they shouldn't be ruled out. Tourists are advised to remain aware of their surroundings at all times.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : HIGH

Again, as in other developing countries, you should be aware that people will probably try to scam you. Be wary of anyone using tactics in order to distract you. Double-check your change and negotiate everything in advance.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : HIGH

Women should be particularly cautious if traveling alone to East Timor. Harassment and violence against women have been reported, even in areas near the Christo Rei (the statue of Jesus which overlooks the capital). Stay out of the streets at night and be vigilant for any possible dangers at all times.

So... How Safe Is Timor-Leste Really?

East Timor is a developing country and visiting it has its dangers since it is a country where crime and poverty are widespread.

Any tourist should bear in mind that robberies and muggings do occur, oftentimes at gunpoint.

Tourists have also reported their bags being snatched and having been assaulted.

Bear in mind that crime-related incidents are most common in Dili and around the beaches surrounding the capital.

All types of petty or violent crime are a common occurrence in this country.

‘Smash and grab’ thefts from vehicles can happen, so never leave your things unattended even if your vehicles are locked with windows rolled up, especially since there were occurrences of rocks having been thrown at vehicles, particularly during the early evening and at night.

This is also the reason why you should avoid traveling on foot or by car after dark, altogether.

There have also been reports of intruders breaking into homes where foreigners reside.

Gang-related violence is also not rare in East Timor, and with it cases of violence, robbery, arson and vandalism in major towns such as Dili, Maliana, Suai, and Same.

Apart from gangs, avoid armed groups of people, roaming around both Dili and the surrounding districts.

When it comes to women, they should be particularly cautious, since harassment and violence against women have been reported, included the area near the Christo Rei (the statue of Jesus overlooking the capital).

Be particularly wary around the border regions since security forces are particularly concerned about criminal activities around these areas.

Criminals are also known to operate in the vicinity of Dili’s Comoro airport and at food storage warehouses.

Useful Information

  • Visas - Most nationals including the USA, Canadian, Australian, and British nationals do need a visa to enter East Timor. There is no need to obtain a visa in advance if you're arriving by air or sea: a single-entry visa valid for 30 days is issued upon arrival at East Timor's airport. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need a visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
  • Currency - There are three valid currencies in East Timor: United States Dollar, East Timor centavo coins and Indonesian rupiah. Keep in mind that there are only a couple of ATMs outside Dili. As far as credit cards go, only some expensive hotels sometimes accept them.
  • Weather - East Timor has a tropical climate characterized by generally hot and humid weather, accompanied by distinct rainy and dry seasons.
  • Airports - Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport, once known as Comoro International Airport, is the busiest and biggest airport in East Timor, located in Dili, the capital of this country.
  • Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Timor Leste, since it covers not only the costs of medical problems but also theft and loss of valuables.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Timor-Leste Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 28° C
Feb 28° C
Mar 28° C
Apr 28° C
May 28° C
Jun 27° C
Jul 27° C
Aug 26° C
Sep 27° C
Oct 27° C
Nov 29° C
Dec 29° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
313132323231313031313232
Low
°C
252524242423232222232525
High
°F
888890909088888688889090
Low
°F
777775757573737272737777

Where to Next?

4 Reviews on Timor-Leste

  1. I
    Ilalang Setiawan says:

    I like this information. Thank You.

  2. E
    Eusebio Guterres says:

    Timor Leste is Safe country

    Timor is safest country compare to some country. It’s unfair statement that saying Timor Leste not a safe country.

  3. Timor Leste (East Timor) is safe now

    This info seems like it is what the writer imagines east Timor to be like, opposed to what it really is like, Muggings often at gun point?! When and where? Some supporting evidence would be great. I have l lived here since 2002 and have never heard of a tourist or expat being mugged at gun point. In my personal experience the crime rates here are much lower than countries in similar economic brackets, where the majority live below the poverty line. Perhaps this info is out of date, with the exception of traffic related incidents and politically motivated/related crime (ie The civil unrest 2006-2009, safe since 2009) I find it pretty safe here. I am raising my currently 8 year old daughter here as many expats are raising their children here.

  4. This review bears no relation to the safety of Timor Leste. There is virtually no pickpockets, muggings or scams in the country. Young women do need to be careful, as they are targets of harassment, and young Timorese women are victims of worse. However, while there are some areas that are not safe – particularly at Dili is a safe place to walk around during the day. It is mot wise to show obvious wealth, but that is as much about good manners as safety. I highly recommend visiting Timor from a safety point of view. I lived there for 18 months so zi have some experience.

Rated 4.5 / 5 based on 4 user reviews.

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