East Timor is a brand-new destination, a place where you can be a pioneer (Lonely Plant, East Timor 1st edition, Tony Wheeler, 2004)
Tony and Maureen Wheel founded the Lonely Planet in 1973 but it wasn’t until 1974 that they traveled to (Then) Portuguese East Timor. East Timor was included it in their South-east Asia on a shoestring publication and this was probably the world’s 1st travel guide to include East Timor. Given the growth of the Lonely Plant into a global business it was a pleasant surprise to see that Tony Wheeler was the author of the 1st Lonely Plant guide to East Timor.
There have been 3 editions of the East Timor Lonely Plant guide, the last one was in 2011. I understand that the Lonely Plant East Timor guide had the unfortunate distinction of being the smallest and least sold Lonely Planet publication. Over time online travel platforms such as TripAdvisor have emerged to provide another dimension of information for travelers but you can’t go past a good guide book (Well, that’s my opinion). One of the best features of any travel guide is accommodation listings, finding a good place to stay at a price to suit your budget. In Timor than can be a challenge.
Tourist accommodation in Timor-Leste is dynamic, guest houses come and go and we understand that some hotels in Dili have gone since COVID. Sometimes phone numbers don’t work and sometimes the person you speak to forgets to pass on your booking. There are few online reviews and most guest houses outside of Dili are small with a limited number of rooms. Prices are often not published and some guest house locations can be difficult to find. Having said that there are some good resources. The Timor-Leste government’s tourism website Timor-Leste Tourism and Travel Guide is a good place to start, TripAdvisor has some good information and there is a new travel app called Go Timor supported by the USAID Tourism for all project. We used this app to find some contact numbers for this tour. When it comes to calling numbers WhatsApp is the best as calls to Timor-Leste on a mobile phone can cost a lot (Seriously!). The app is new and so some guest houses we have used in the past are not there but overall, it worked well. The challenge will be continuing to add new or missing listings, adding reviews, making improvements based on feedback and maintenance.