Best things to do in Dili
Find out more about those top places in Dili
Considered to be a hidden gem by many travelers, East Timor is one of those countries that flies under the tourism radar and usually goes unnoticed. The former Portuguese colony is a country in the maritime Southeast Asia and shares its borders with Indonesia and Australia. With a rich blend of natural and man-made attractions, every visit to East Timor is set up to be a memorable one.
With several similarities to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, the Cristo Rei is an incredible statue located at the end of the Fatucama peninsula. Designed by Mochamad Syailillah, the statue was unveiled in 1996 as a gift from the government of Indonesia to the citizens of East Timor. The Cristo Rei consists of a statue, a globe and a pedestal which makes its total length 27 meters - a symbolic reference to the integration of East Timor as the 27th province of Indonesia.
To see a fine example of East Timor’s artistic side, visit the rock art caves at the Nino Konis Santana National Park. It features rock paintings which are mostly made colored with just a few in black and white – the drawings are meant to depict boats, the sun, geometric pattern, humans and stars. The year the paintings were made are uncertain but scientists suggest that it dates back to the Neolithic Age. While visiting, it is advisable to go with a guide for easy locating of the inner caves.
Just a few kilometers from the village of Baguia is an abandoned building that was once one of the seven schools built by the Portuguese while the East Timor was still a colony. Although little is known about the building, it was said to have been built between 1920s and 1930s. It was severely damaged during World War II which led to its disuse for decades. Nevertheless, it makes a good viewing scene and offers a great insight on precolonial architecture on the island.
Difficult to find a place with as much history in East Timor as the Venilale Tunnels - the tunnels were dug by the Japanese during World War II. Their main purpose was to serve as shelter during the war as the Japanese struggled to defeat the opposition. Adding to the tunnels great history, they were also part of the Frente Revoluvionaria de Timor-Leste Independente (FRETILIN) in 1974 where the citizens of East-Timor fought for independence using the tunnels as a major part of their tactics.
Situated in a remote village on the border between Bobonaro and Ermera is the semi-ruined Marobo Hot Springs Resort. The builders of the resort are unknown, although there are speculations that it might have been built by the Japanese during the World War II or the Portuguese during East Timor colonial years. Presently the resort has a few surviving buildings left and it is one of those places that must be visited.