If you happen to be a country collector – or one of those of those cheeky chappies chasing the holy grail of the 193 Club – then at some point you are gonna have to visit 192 of the 193, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste! Or, as the cool kids call it, East Timor. And if you are not douchebag of a country collector and intend to visit more than the capital city of Dili, then Baucau makes for a great adventure. Three hours away from Dili and officially East Timor’s second city, there’s no reason not to visit!
How to get to Baucau?
If you read online travel guides to East Timor it will tell you that the journey time from Dili to Baucau takes about 2-3 hours. This is a very funny joke. It takes about 6 hours, as for the last 3 years no one has bothered to fix the roads. Want more fun ‘East Timor roads are crap’ facts? The roads are so bad the only vehicle that you can even insure to take outside Dili is a 4WD, which with insurance will set you back almost $200 a day.
If you are poor, or simply don’t have friends, a local brightly-coloured Vengabus will cost about $4, but expect to be sharing with chickens and as many people as they can fit on the bus.
Accommodation in Baucau
You want hotels? Baucau has three hotels – well, two and some beach bungalows. There’s a hotel in the centre of town that caters to aid worker types, a guesthouse and the aforementioned beachhuts of Baucau which overlook your own private beach and cost $25 a night. If you’re lucky, at certain times of the year you can see bioluminescence when swimming in the water. If you’re gonna stay here it is right at the bottom of the hill next to the beach and you would need a vehicle to make that happen.
What is there to see in Baucau?
Considering this is the second biggest city in East Timor, there is really not all that much to see in Baucau. But what there is, is pretty cool.
- The Old Town has old colonial buildings if that is your thing;
- The ONLY swimming pool in East Timor (apparently);
- The Baucau market is pretty cool if you like people-watching;
- Baucau Airport is quite the trip as you can literally walk around the runways, or hail a bike taxi and tear it up. What’s not to like?
- The beach huts and the beach.
What to eat in Baucau?
There is one famous restaurant known as the ‘Benfica Restaurant’. Food isn’t bad, but would be better overall if they bothered with putting the fridge on.
If you’re staying at the Baucau beach huts they will cook you a fine dinner for under 10 bucks. The fried chicken they served was up to the Colonel’s standards.
Nightlife of Baucau?
Lol. There is no nightlife, no bars, no clubs. As the second-biggest city of a South-East Asian nation, Baucau is one of the most relaxed places on Earth.
Best bet is to head into town, pick up a bottle of whisky for $15, and take it down to the beach.
Is it worth visiting Baucau?
Despite being a bit of a crap, underdeveloped backwater I have a real affinity for Baucau as it is like nothing else in the region, making even the sleepy city of Dili look like a metropolis. It will be better when they fix the roads, but if you are planning to travel to East Timor then Baucau should be on your list.
Getting out of Baucau
The roads of East Timor are currently horrendous, so whilst it is technically a 2-3 hour drive to Dili in the west or Lospalos in the east, you will need to budget double that to get anywhere else.
It might be possible to charter a boat, but as of now there are no ferries.