Health & Safety
Government programs to remove pigs and stagnant water from Dili have lowered the malaria rate to almost nil, however, Dengue fever is still rife in the country and Chikungunya, filariasis and Japanese encephalitis are prevalent.
General tips to keep yourself safe and in good health
Malaria and dengue are real concerns in East Timor, take safety measures to mind your health. Before traveling you should consult a doctor to take note of the recommended vaccines.
Usually, for Timor-Leste, the main vaccines are tetanus, hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, Japanese encephalitis. The malaria prophylaxis is prescribed or not depending on the time of permanence in the country.
All tap water should be used with caution and ice should be treated as a suspect (you can get bottled water everywhere around the city). So does salads and unwashed fruits. Even for brushing your teeth you should use bottled or boiled water.
You should do like the locals, clean your cans before drinking from them. Wearing light and fresh clothes will be an advantage.
Avoid standing near water puddles, creeks, pools, pots with water, because these are some of mosquitoes favorite places, especially at sunset.
If you do require medicines or other pharmaceuticals they are easily accessible in Díli however take precautions elsewhere (since might be more difficult to obtain them) – this website lists all of pharmacies in Dili.
Other main concerns in East Timor are small crime (bag snatching) and driving (which in general is not advisable).
For small petty crime, it’s advisable that you be mindful and as you would in any part of the world. Robbery most habitually happens from moppets, with cell telephones being a prime target.
Walking around in isolated areas at night is never a good idea, and women traveling alone should also be extra careful. That being said, crime rates are relatively low.
Driving in East Timor could be an adventure since generally, the roads are in poor condition. However, drivers tend to be passive and traffic is not dense.
By far the biggest annoyance would be getting yourself involved in a traffic accident, always (and we mean ALWAYS) wear a helmet if you are riding a bike.
But be careful because in case of an accident, usually, the fault is always yours, even when it’s not, locals tend to blame the foreigners.
Diplomacy is always a good option in this kind of situation.
Although political demonstrations do not occur very often, do not engage in such manifestations and just walk away, they are not targeted to foreigners and your presence might be unwelcome.
It’s generally advised for foreigners to not walk alone at night in darkest areas.
Another issue that you must pay special attention is about crocodiles. Since ancient times that East Timor is well known for being the crocodile island and in fact this fearless animal lives happily among the population.
The crocodiles live both in freshwater and saltwater, so you can found them at some beaches and in some rivers, especially in hidden places.
For Timorese people, the crocodiles are sacred animals, so the best you can do is stay alert, watch if there are any signs informing their presence and maintain safe distance not putting yourself in risk.
If you ask any Timorese they will tell you all about crocodiles.