Find paradise in East Timor
East Timor (or the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste) doesn’t make many must-see lists in Asia. The country – Asia’s newest – sits at the southern end of Indonesia and is isolated and near-inaccessible, as well as being home to Unmit, the largest UN peacekeeping mission on Earth. Emerging from decades of bloodshed and occupation with scarcely any infrastructure intact, war-ravaged Timor-Leste attracts just a few thousand tourists every year. But the fact that roads here are among the world’s worst, the humidity is oppressive, poverty is rampant and healthcare minimal doesn’t put us off finding out if reports from fellow travellers are true – namely, that East Timor is nothing short of paradise. The country has what everyone else in Southeast Asia is endlessly searching for: dreamy islands, pristine beaches, crystal-clear azure seas, some of the most diverse sea life on the planet and a queue of welcoming locals to show you the way. Adventurous tourists will come across incredible hiking, untouched lagoons and delicious seafood. And, more often than not, you’re the only traveller in town. For a full guide to this stunning country, see www.timeoutshanghai.com.
When to go From late April to July.
How to get there Singapore, Bali and Darwin remain the only ports of entry to Timor-Leste – flights are available from Air North, Air Timor, Batavia and Merpati. A return flight from Singapore starts at 5,700RMB with Air Timor. For flights to Singapore from Shanghai, see experience 1 above.
Where to stay In Dili, we recommend East Timor Backpackers (www.easttimorbackpackers.com) from 80RMB/night. On Atauro Island, there’s the legendary Barry’s Place Eco-Lodge (+670 7723 6084), with rooms from 190RMB.