Dili is the capital and largest city in Timor-Leste. The city has a total population of roughly 150,000 inhabitants. It is the political, commercial and cultural heart of the country and is located on the central northern coastline of Timor-Leste. The almost 500-year-old port city was massively destroyed during violent attacks in 1999 by Indonesian military and local pro-Indonesian militias. Still, some of the original buildings in Portugese colonial style remain, but Dili has not recovered yet and not many travellers visit the city or the rest of the country.
Carnival de Timor is the annual festival held in Dili in middle of April (sometimes in May, depending on rain season). Initiated by the Ministry of Tourism  in 2010, Carnival de Timor is all about fun, music and multiculturalism. Both modern and traditional costumes, East Timorese and foreign minorities, even embassies also participate in this annual festival. The parade start in a landmark and end in Palacio do Governo, greeted by bands and award for best dressed group. The crowd continued to dance into the night with live music and other carnival attractions.
Held early in the year (March), the annual Festival of Culture and Food of Timor-Leste aims to share the Timorese culture with the world. Expect traditional dances, music, and many other forms of entertainment, enhanced by good eats.
Observed May 20 as a public holiday, this day in 2002 marked the UN’s transfer of sovereignty to the newly elected East Timor government. Festivities take place nationwide with Mass at church and tributes paid to those who fought for freedom.
Held in June, the Festival for Peace is a series of shows and exhibits performed and organized by the youth who attend intensive art, multimedia, dancing, and music lessons at Ba Futuru. It aims to promote personal growth and improve the life of those living in conflict-prone areas of Dili, as well as those who are impacted directly or indirectly by violence.
November 12 marks the anniversary of the massacre of Santa Cruz, which occurred in Dili in 1991. A public holiday, this tragic day saw peaceful, pro-independence protesters massacred by Indonesian military forces.
Observed on December 7, this public holiday pays tribute to the country’s many heroes in the fight for independence while also remembering the day of the 1975 invasion of East Timor by Indonesia.
The climate of Dili is tropical with hot and humid weather year round. The western monsoon brings rains from December to March, while July to November is the dry season when occasional showers are still possible. Temperatures are usually around 30 °C during the day and still above 20 °C at night.
Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport (DIL) in Dili is the country's only airport with regular public passenger services.
Flights from Darwin in Australia are operated by Airnorth. Flights from Denpasar in Bali, Indonesia are provided by Merpati Airlines. Flights can be booked out weeks in advance, so plans need to be made accordingly.
There is a direct bus daily between Dili and Kupang in West Timor, Indonesia and the journey takes 12 hours. You can also do the trip in stages by taking minibuses to the border, cross on foot and go to the nearest town on the other side of the border.
There is a ferry connection from Dili to Ataúru Island and the Oekusi Enclave. You can arrange with a ride with local fishermen to visit Jako islet.
You can hire a vehicle (4WD) in Dili for around $85 a day.
Tiger Fuel in Dili, rents motorcycles for $25-35 per day.
Numerous beachfront bars and nightclubs provide the nightlife in Dili. Both food and drinks are served and the bars/nightclubs are kept open till late. Some very nice inner city restaurants include Nautilaus, Diya, Ocean View Hotel and Gion Japanese Restaurant. In the Meti Aut area is the newly renovated Atlantic Bar and Grill which is arguably amongst the best service and quality in Timor. Another is the Caz Bar where kayaks can be hired late in the night and a barbeque serves fried fish and all the beach side meals such as sizzling garlic prawns, hamburgers and a large range of cold beer.
|Dili Beach Hotel||Pantai Kelapa Beach Road||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Esplanada||Avenida da Portugal (Beach Rd)||Hotel||-|
Internet in East Timor is slow and limited. Timor Telecom holds the monopoly for this as well, and tries to block voice-over-IP services like Skype.
Internet cafes are available throughout Dili, Baucau, and some other smaller cities: look for Timor Telecom outlets.
See also: International Telephone Calls
East Timor's international phone code is 670.
Timor Telecom has a monopoly on landline and mobile phone services in East Timor, and charges accordingly; expect to pay up to US$3/minute for international calls into East Timor. Calls out of the country are far cheaper with on average 40cents/minute to Australia, Indonesia, Portugal and USA.
It is recommended that you buy a local pre-paid phone for US$10 (which includes phone, charger, sim card and US$3 credit) on arrival from any Timor-Telecom store (there is one in Landmark Plaza on way into town from the airport). Local prepaid SIM cards can be picked up for around US$3. Please remember that whilst international phones work in East Timor, the global roaming fees are very hefty, hence the recommendation to purchase a cheap phone package, even for a short visit.
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