From Kupang to Dili

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
The Timor island has since 2002 been split into two parts. One being Indonesian and the other being the independant country; Timor-Leste. More commonly known as East Timor.
We arrived on the Indonesian side by flight from Makassar on South Sulawesi to Kupang. Kupang is still quite unvisited by tourists and the city only hosts one single hostel for backpackers; the Lavalon Sea View Hostel. A cozy place with an ocean view and a manager who can help you arrange motorbike rental to explore Kupang. And most importantly he can help you find a bus from Kupang to Dili.

Kupang isn't exactly a cultural hotspot and to honest there's not much to see. The hostel is located very close to Ketapang Satu Beach, but going for a swim there involves quite the danger. The owner of the hostel told us, that since he opened his hostel 19 people have died from crocodile attacks.


Ketapang Satu Beach in Kupang, Indonesia
Instead, I'd recommend to rent a motorbike and head to Goa Kristal (or Crystal Cave). A natrual underground swimmingpool. The cave is not that easy to find, but there are always locals in the area who are more than happy to help by pointing you in the right direction. We gave a 5000 IDR tip for parking/guiding, which was much appreciated by the locals. The climb down the cave is not far, but quite steep and slippery - definitely bring a pair of shoes. The water is kinda salty from the rock minerals, so a bottle of fresh water is not a bad idea either. Plenty of locals hang around, but they don't seem to mind a few strangers in their secret hiding place.


Goa Krystal (Crystal Cave) south of Kupang, Indonesia

How to Get from Kupang to Dili by Bus

The bus from Kupang to Dili is an exhausting 12-hour ride by mini-van. The local driver will most likely blast out local pop/trance music for the entire length of the trip. The price however, is a mere 225.000 IDR per person. At the border, you'll have to cross by foot which is an experience in itself. For European Union passport holders the immigration is free. For UK, Australian and so on, the immigration fee is 30 USD.


Border crossing by foot from Indonesia to Timor-Leste
After crossing the border the landscape will begin to change pretty quickly. You'll enter the coastal highway and pass through small hut villages in rural Timor-Leste. Once you arrive in Dili, I'd recommend staying at Dili Central Backpackers. An Aussie-run hostel and the only place for backpackers in Dili - for now atleast.


Hut society in suburban Timor-Leste
If you want to know more about Timor-Leste (or East Timor), you can read my recommendations for a visit to East Timor here: The History of Timor-Leste. Thanks for reading and happy travels.

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