East Timor
East Timor © Nick Hobgood

Charming, beautiful and off the beaten track, East Timor is the perfect setting for unforgettable adventures. Its beaches, forests, coral reefs and colonial towns are beyond enchanting.

Colonised by Portugal in the 18th century, East Timor declared independence in 1975, only to be invaded and occupied by Indonesia nine days later. The country's road to sovereignty has indeed been a bumpy ride.

Today, its tourism infrastructure is not highly developed. That said, East Timor is maturing as a destination, and visitors can look forward to hiking through jungles, diving hardly touched reefs, and exploring misty mountain villages.

The Cristo Rei is one of East Timor's more famous landmarks. Standing at 89-feet (27m), the creation is one of the world's tallest statues of Christ. Beyond the capital, Dili, visitors will find a mysterious and intensely beautiful land, where empty beaches become tropical forests, and mountains reach down to the water's edge.

Regarding when to visit, East Timor is at its best just after the wet season (late April to July). Warm weather and exquisite diving conditions are its top drawcards.