Size wise, the capital Kupang is the only real city in the West Timor and it serves as the hub for everything. With new hotels and buildings springing up and an emerging tourist industry it provides everything travellers need, albeit in a rather unsophisticated manner. Which of course is part of Kupang’s charm. Nowhere is this more obvious than the nightly food market on Siliwangi Road where locals and tourists head for cheap eats.
The only other major centres are Soe in central West Timor, Kefamenanu (Kefa) in the central north and Atambua in the north near the border with East Timor. Large towns with basic facilities such as transport, accommodation, restaurants and ATM’s, they have everything travellers need, but don’t go expecting anything too fancy.
They’re all connected by a semi-decent road although it deteriorates somewhat after Soe. West Timor has a fairly wide network of roads connecting most of its towns and communities but most of them are unsealed and apart from some minor coastal plains, the mountainous landscape means the roads are usually narrow, winding and up and down. If you’re inclined to get motion sick, take some pills because you’ll need them.
Facilities of any kind away from these towns are very limited so most travellers use them as a base from which to explore the surrounding areas. Although it’s possible to travel to these hubs by public transport, you’ll need to arrange private transport (car, ojek or scooter) to get out and about from there.
You should note that English not widely spoken and in some regions, nor is Bahasa Indonesia, so a guide-interpreter is highly recommended. Many villagers feel uncomfortable when tourists waltz in unattended and it’s even more awkward when you can’t communicate.
Also note that most Timorese adhere to a midday siesta so keep that in mind when planning your outings. If you turn up at a village at midday you won’t be well received.