Why spend a day in Macau? I mean, the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau is not dirt cheap and there’s nothing to see other than casinos, right? Wrong! Not many travelers consider leaving Hong Kong and visiting this former Portuguese colony for a day, which is a pity, since Macau has more than enough entertainment to keep you busy and enchanted.
How to get to Macau from Hong Kong
There are several companies that offer hight speed ferries from Hong Kong to Macau: Turbojet, Cotai Jet Ferry, Macao Dragon, and First Ferry. The trip costs about 135 HKD each way and lasts about one hour to 75 minutes, and is usually smooth but can be bumpy on a windy day: if you get dizzy easily stay away from the front of the catamaran as it is here that the boat moves most. Staying as close as possible to the read end will make your trip much smoother.
Immigration in Macau is a breeze, and although most visitors choose to flag a taxi and get a ride to the old town or the casinos I chose to walk instead, following the map I was given at the tourist info booth. The walk is not very interesting as you leave the harbour, but finding your way across the city is easy enough and will give you the opportunity to see what the Macau is really like.
What to do in Macau and places to visit
Macau has two main areas: Macau Peninsula and the island, connected by three long bridges. Fortunately for travelers, most of the famous casinos and historical monuments are in the peninsula, which is where the ferries arrive. If you want to see the biggest casino in the world, the Venetian Macau, you will have to catch a bus or taxi to the Cotai strip in the island, which is also home to the airport, race course, sports grounds and and the only beach in Macau.
But for most of us Peninsular Macau has what we want to see, which makes things that much easier. Find your way around Guia Hill and get lost in the old city at your own pace, absorbing the unique cultural blend and enjoying the attractions in Macau I visited when there, including St Paul’s Cathedral’s, A-Ma Temple and Fortaleza do Monte, atop Guia Hill. Perhaps one of the most fascinating traits of this city is the distinct european architechture lived and owned by an obvious Asian population; this presents many good opportunities for fantastic photos.
Eventually you’ll have to step into a casino- this is casino land after all! Baccarat is the most popular game here, however if you’re anything like me you won’t spend a cent and observe how others spend theirs. I decided to visit Casino Lisboa, which boasts an unusal structure visible from far away. Inside, the lobby displays an impressive chandelier as well as a a few sophisticated sculptures made of jade or ivory, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars- I have to say these are some of the most detailed carvings I have ever seen.
By 5 pm I felt I had seen enough of Macau and after walking for 9 hours my legs were aching for some rest. I slowly made my way back to the harbour and hopped on the next ferry to Hong Kong- I only had to wait for 15 minutes, that’s how frequent they are.
If unsure about visiting or what to do in Macau don’t worry as it is not all casinos as they say. It is very short trip from Hong Kong, convenient, and a good way of getting another stamp in your passport and staying away from those electronic shops. Macau is a great day trip I highly recommend if you’re in HK and have a free day, but there is one final piece of advice you must not forget: make sure you spend all your Macau Patacas exchange them at the ferry terminal there or in Hong Kong; I still have 100 Patacas with me because they are not accepted for exchange anywhere else.
Has this article changed your perception of Macau, or have you learned anything? Have you been there? What did you like most? And least? Please share your thoughs with us in the comments section below, and this post too if you liked it!