Last year while planning our trip to Hong Kong, we decided to spend a day in Macau, which actually turned out to be just half a day. Of course, half a day is not enough to explore any city. But we managed quite a lot. So if you are pressed for time like us, you can use my experience to plan your visit to Macau.
Macau is an autonomous territory on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, China. It is among the world’s richest regions and it became the world’s largest gambling center in 2006. Culture of Macau is a fusion of Portuguese and Chinese culture.
Macau Peninsula includes the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are connected to Macau by humongous bridges and to each other by a causeway, now built up into the Cotai Strip.
Around noon, we settled our bags in our room in Hong Kong and walked to the China Ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. We had not booked our onward tickets as we were not sure by when we would reach the terminal. On reaching the ticket counter, we were surprised that some people were selling tickets right outside the counter at a cheaper rate 😛 We got our tickets and set sailing. It took us about an hour to reach Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal.
There are other ferry terminals as well: Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal near IFC tower on Hong Kong Island and Sky pier at Hong Kong International Airport. We chose China Ferry terminal as it was close to where we were staying in Hong Kong.
You can also reach Macau directly by air. Please do check flights from your city.
You will find plenty of taxis and buses outside the ferry terminal and in the city that will take you around. A little research is required before you hop on the local bus as drivers do not understand English, so asking them for directions can be difficult.
Most fun way to get around Macau is to get on board the free buses/shuttle offered by various hotels. You will find these buses outside the airport, ferry terminal, and other hotels.
Macau Pataca (MOP) is the currency of Macau. If you are travelling from HongKong, you can use Hong Kong Dollars here. If you want to exchange money, do it at the ferry terminal or airport. We had a tough time looking for money exchange in the city.
Make sure you have exact amount as many places including local buses will not return your change.
For Indian citizens, no visa is required to enter Macau. Do check the necessary requirements for your country before the visit.
Yes you read it right!! Macau has an extensive free wifi coverage throughout the city. It is known as the wifigo system. You can also use the encrypted service wifigo-s. The username is “wifigo” and the password is “wifigo”. Alternatively, most of the shuttle buses, restaurants, casinos, hotels all have their own free wifi. Stay connected! 🙂
What to Do
After immigration, we got out of the ferry terminal and boarded Bus no. 18 to reach Macau tower. Alternate buses to choose are Bus 9A or 21. Macau tower is definitely a must see. Standing at 338m above ground level, it is a total stunner. Apart from the breathtaking views of the island, the tower offers variety of adventure sports like Bungy jumping, sky walking. Read more on my post about ‘Macau Tower‘.
After spending our afternoon at the tower, we hopped on to one of the free buses towards Senado square. Closest free shuttle bus would be to the Grand Lisboa, drop off in basement, make your way to main lobby and out to front exit, then 5 minute walk to Senado Square 🙂 It is a beautiful town square paved with traditional Portuguese mosaic stones and an elegant water fountain in the center. It used to be the official civic square of Macau in olden times. It is listed as one of the sites in the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Centre of Macau”.
Ruins of St. Paul’s
Walking through local shops around Senado square, you will reach St. Paul’s in about 10 mins. There is not much remaining, apart from just a wall which looks beautiful against the blue sky.
The most fascinating part of being in Macau is hopping from one casino to another. All the grand hotels and casinos will transfer you to another world of bling and glamour.
Grand Lisboa is nearest to the Ruins of St. Paul’s. Huge beautiful hotel with a crazy busy casino.
We found a huge line for the free bus outside Lisboa so we started to walk to look for a cab and we found another free shuttle which took us across the peninsula to Cotai where our first stop was the City of Dreams hotel.
Then we went to Hard Rock hotel next to it.
Next, we went to the Venetian where we spent most of the time. Venetian Macau is the largest casino in the world. It is a whole new world inside. Beautiful artwork on the walls, numerous branded stores, restaurants and food court, all under one roof.
Unfortunately, we were out of time so we couldn’t visit The Galaxy and the Sands but they sure looked stunning from outside.
As we already had booked tickets for our return ferry, we got onto the free shuttle bus to the ferry terminal and were back in Hong Kong.
See! Even with so little time, you can go around Macau and visit so many places. If you are visiting Hong Kong for more than 3 days, make sure to go to Macau!