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Safe to travel?

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Liverpool, United...
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Safe to travel?


I am a medical student planning to work in a clinic in Dili for 4 weeks during july this year.

I am going with 4 other girls and we were getting worried about the safety. Speaking to people recently, they have said that there are frequently riots and the area is politically unstable.

I was wondering if anyone could tell me if this is true? We haven't booked flights yet and can change to somewhere else if it could be a problem.


Brisbane, Australia
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1. Re: Safe to travel?

Hi, I deployed there in 2006 so my advice is limited to general advice.

I would say go but it is a 3rd world country so be smart about things.

Given that the UN and ISF troops are now pulling out the place is generally pretty calm and likely to remain so for the time being.

I would identify 3 things to watch out for.

1. The Eastern and Western Timorese have long-term feuds dating back to who did what during the Indonesian occupation. Much effort has gone into calming everything down but stay away from rallys.

2. Dili has many martial arts gangs that fight each other. This is probably much less now than back then but again, don't be a spectator. You dont want to get hit by a stray arrow.

3. Petty crime. There is high unemployment so crime naturally exists.

The locals like to drink, and chew beatlenut, which can exacerbate things during the afternoon/night.

The biggest possible change will be as the last of the UN/ISF leave the local economy may take a hit. This may make things cheaper but also increase unemployment.

Again, Timor has vastly improved since 2006 and I would encourage you to go. You will most likely be safer there than your typical Western city, just be smart about what you do and where you go.

Ballarat, Victoria...
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2. Re: Safe to travel?

I spent three months in Dili in 2005 and one month in 2010. Of course, you need to be a bit street wise there - don't wander round on your own after dark, watch your valuables, be aware of what's going on around you and don't be drunk in public - apart from that, enjoy the place. It is a fabulous country - the people are amazing and you can eat fabulous food from any country for about $10. Don't expect too much - as the previous person wrote, it is a developing country. Everything is there, and all of it works... sometimes. Slow down, breathe, enjoy the different way of life. Be sure to get out of Dili - ET is a BEAUTIFUL country with many happy memories for me. One of the greatest adventures is to hire a postie bike and head for the hills. So many adventures to be had, and you can still find places there that don't know what Coke-cola is..... that's rare now!

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503 posts
1,012 reviews
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3. Re: Safe to travel?

I'm living there now and it's generally as safe as any other SE Asian country. Riots are a small possibility and there is scattered crime but it's not rampant. I feel quite safe walking through Dili alone at midnight (although some areas have problems with martial arts gangs). HOWEVER, it is much worse for women and you'll get harassed regularly. That shouldn't stop you coming - we have several young female volunteers who love it here. You just don't want to walk around at night on your ow or travel in the districts on your own. As usual, traffic is a bigger danger due to terrible roads and terrible drivers.

Perth, Australia
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4. Re: Safe to travel?

I agree with previous comments. My husband's family are Timorese and we stayed in 2011 with relatives in Dili and visited towns outside Dili. I was really concerned before I went after reading the travel advice but I felt more safe there than on a night out in the city in Australia. People are polite and welcoming, and as a foreigner you are unlikely to be in the worst districts or become involved in the politically-based troubles that occasionally flare up. As others said, just be smart and don't hang about to spectate if something happens. As a woman, you might have unwanted advances, and I would advise that you wouldn't go about alone at night, and if the advances bother you, you could consider wearing a fake wedding ring. I'm sure that you will find the experience incredibly rewarding and that you won't regret going.

5. Re: Safe to travel?

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