Shopping in Dili can be quite a challenge since there are not so many shopping centers. Actually there are quite a few of them but they all sell the same shitty poor quality Chinese/Indonesian apparel and the few clothing store pretending to sell original brands tend to be ridiculously overpriced just like everything else. Smart rich Timorese who travel buy everything abroad or ask friends to bring them what’s needed like the latest smartphone. No one in their sane mind would buy anything in Timor with the current situation on the market. What averts me from buying anything more or less expensive in Timor is that this country has got no notion of warranty and if a piece of newly bought footwear or garment falls apart in a week, you just forget about it and go get a new one.
The only thing you (well most of us) cannot buy abroad and bring to Timor is a car/motorbike what leads to situations like this:
The smile at the end of the message implies a joke but the sad fact is this ad is 100% serious.
They expect us to pay 300$ for this pile of rusted metal garbage whereas in Cambodia for 250$ I bought a fully functioning semi automatic bike that needed no mending or replacements and worked perfectly for more that 9 months after which I sold it for the same amount of money. Here’s it.
Getting back to the sheep. What I eventually found out about shopping in Dili is that the best place to get good quality apparel at moderate prices is the second-hand markets scattered around the city which offer branded moderately worn clothes sometimes in mint condition for 1-5$ for an item. Crazy right? Look what I got there not so long ago
3 fantastic branded cotton shirts of my size in great condition for only 2$ each with all buttons on their places! Yes I had to spend much more time than if I’d simply gone to Timor Plaza but it was worth the money I saved and it was definitely an interesting experience. It took me so long because I have a very popular size S-M and I’m really finicky about what I’m looking for. If you are L-XL and don’t care about the color or pockets then you can save plenty of time. I walked around 3-4 markets to get what I wanted.
The biggest second hand markets in Dili are
- in Tasitolu next to the bus terminal and the last stop of the microlet 10.
- in Taibesi near the food market
- near the intersection of Avenida D. Martinho Lopes and Avenida 20 de Maio (along the road Avenida D. Martinho Lopes) close to Dili Hospital
- in Aimutin on Rua de Aimutin (the road passing by Hotel the Ramelau)
The latter is the best imo and worth visiting first. That’s where I bought the shirts and some bed sheets. I reckon I don’t have to mention it but to be on the safe side – wash all the things you buy very thoroughly.
Now on a sad note – there is no good footwear at the markets so shopping centers remain the only option. I once bought a pair of new shoes at the market near Dili mosque and they fell apart in 4 days.
To encourage you even more to opt for second hand market shopping – the textile industry is one of the dirtiest in the world and pollutes the environment a tiny bit less than oil industry. No matter what you buy, even organic cotton’s production is very bad for the environment. If you’re interested do a research and maybe your mind set will change. People got to stop buying poor quality clothes every 6 months and then throw them away. Either buy second hand or choose more expensive but long lasting clothes of higher quality.
Don’t even get me started on the corporate T-shits which every company believes they must issue for every single trivial corporate event.