Public transport in Timor Leste; Microlets, Dreamers Dive Academy Timor
Microlet? What is that?
Traveling to a new country has its challenges; especially when there isn’t much information on how to get around. Throw in a language barrier and you have yourself a grand adventure! Sure Taxis will get you around town here in Dili, but they can be expensive and difficult to negotiate. If you aren’t in a rush and don’t mind the heat, the local microlets are the way to go!
So what is a micolet? Also known as Bemos, it is close to impossible to not notice them during your stay in Timor Leste. Microlets come in a wide range of colors which are generally associated with their corresponding number. White microlets, the number 10. Blue, number 9. Light blue, number 12. Green, number 2. The list goes on. The physical vehicle is a small van with an open door on the side. As already stated, each one has a main color scheme and a number painted on it. Most of them will also have a variety of stickers and painted murals on the car.
The concept is simple, each number follows a specific route. To get on board you simply flag down the vehicle going where you want to go and climb in. Once you see your destination, you can bang a coin on the metal rail in the car so the driver knows to pull over. Once you get out, pass over your 25 cents to the driver. Do note that paying in large bills is a bad idea as most drivers won’t have enough change for $20 or even $5.
Now that you know the basics, here’s a few routes that we find helpful for visitors to know.
Getting to Cristo Rei Statue.
If you’re starting from outside Castaway Bar and Restaurant take a number 9 heading east (going towards the port). Once the microlet turns off the main road, just past the large white Palacio de Governo building, hop off. Walk down the first street behind the main road until you get to the next main road with a Burger King on the corner. If you wait at that corner, eventually a number 12 will come by and take you directly to Cristo Rei.
Getting to Timor Plaza
Starting again at Castaway, take the number 9 going west (towards the pier). Stay on board until the car gets to a main busy road. It will be crossing traffic going in both directions so try and get off before it crosses if possible. On the main road simply walk to the left (away from the bridge) and the Plaza will be on your right.
Getting to the airport
From Castaway, take the number 9 going west and hop off at the large roundabout for the president Nicolau Lobato. You will need to walk into the airport from there.
While there are many more places microlets stop, we find these to be the most commonly asked about routes. For the truly adventurous, grab a microlet and ride around town! It’s cheap, easy and a great cultural experience here in Timor Leste!
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