Often referred to as the “Vegas of Asia” and overshadowed by Hong Kong, Macau rarely receives the recognition it deserves. The truth is, Macau offers world-class food, unique entertainment and an atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else. Best of all, if you’re already in Hong Kong, Macau is only an hour away and a worthy destination for a day trip or weekend getaway. Here are some things to check out if you want to get the most out of your trip to Macau.
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Macau has its own International Airport, however if you’re coming from Hong Kong, your best bet is to take a ferry from either the Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan, the China (HK) Ferry Terminal in Kowloon, or if you want to take in Macau the first thing off your flight to HK, there is also a ferry service to Macau available at the Hong Kong International Airport.
While Macau and Hong Kong are officially considered a part of the People’s Republic of China, as Special Administrative Regions (SARs) they have their own separate immigration policies and should be treated independently. Be sure to check your country’s immigration policy with Macau before taking your trip.
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The Ferries are jet propelled and the journey to Macau from Hong Kong takes almost exactly one hour. Ferries run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but tickets do sell out at peak times, so it is advisable that you purchase your tickets in advance. For the most part Macau’s currency, the Pataca, is interchangeable with the Hong Kong dollar 1:1, so if you’re carrying Hong Kong dollars, you’ll be fine in Macau.
Macau’s Main Attractions
For the gamblers
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Undoubtedly, 99 percent of the people who head to Macau will peek their heads into a casino or two, so let’s cover them first! Macau has over 30 casinos within some of the biggest hotel resorts in Asia. Most notable of all is the world’s largest casino, The Venetian Macau, which features endless gambling tables to test your luck. The casinos at Wynn, Sands Cotai Central, Grand Lisboa and Galaxy will also show you what the money, glitz, and glamour of Macau is all about.
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If you frequent places like Atlantic City, Las Vegas or Monte Carlo, you’ll find all your favourite games here, but each casino in Macau will feature some Chinese games that might be new to you. Keep your eyes out for the dice game Sic Bo, Mahjong and Pai Gow which features dominoes.
For the family
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It’s true that casinos take centre stage in Macau but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to do in this spectacular city! If you’re travelling with kids, Macau still has some great attractions that you’ll love. The bonus is, you don’t need to look much further than the many hotel resorts dotted around town.
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Sheraton Macau is the place to be if you’re bringing younger children to Macau. With a DreamWorks theme seen throughout the hotel’s ambience and dining options, kids are bound to fall in love with the Kung Fu Panda breakfast and daily parade of Shrek and friends. Studio City is another great spot for the whole family which features a 4D Batman ride which is sure to thrill the young ones. For the older kids, look no further than The City of Dreams which features the world’s largest water-based show, House of Dancing Water. Watch 80 gymnasts, circus artists, dancers, divers, actors, and motorcyclists twist, throw, and turn on stage.
For the adventurous
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Macau is just the right holiday destination for you if you’re a daredevil. Home to the world’s highest bungee jump at 233m above ground, whoever has the guts to take this giant leap of faith will always have our standing ovation.
For those who want the height but not the jump, you can also walk the perimeter of Macau Tower whilst being strapped onto a safety harnesses. Talk about the perfect spot for your Instagram shot!
Macau also has the only permanent go karting track in Hong Kong and Macau. Featuring a 1.2km track and 200cc karts, this is where you can ride fast and get the wind in your hair and bugs in your teeth.
For the history buffs
For a glimpse of Macau’s Portuguese and Chinese heritage, one of the easiest ways is to visit Senado Square and Ruins of St Paul’s. Senado Square is a European-style town square that is protected under the UNESCO Historic Centre of Macau World Heritage Site. Be warned – the square is one of Macau’s most famous attractions and is it’s very busy most of the time. But the crowds are well worth it to marvel at how Portuguese architecture blends in so effortlessly with traditional Chinese restaurants, shops for all your fashion needs, and local snack stores.
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Follow the winding roads and signs littered throughout Senado Square and find yourself at the Ruins of St Paul. This iconic landmark is always featured when Macau is mentioned and everyone who goes there is vying for the best spot to capture its magnificence.
For those seeking peace and quiet
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For those seeking a quiet retreat, look no further than Taipa Village. Arriving at this beachside neighbourhood feels like a step back in time and watching the sunset at the water’s edge feels like an indulgent treat in such a busy city. Rent a bicycle and make your way through colonial buildings, fill your bellies with bites from low-key restaurants and bakerie,s and shop until you drop at one-of-a-kind boutiques.
For the foodies
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While you can experience the best international fine-dining names in the world in Macau, you will definitely be missing out if you don’t grab some authentic Portuguese food in Macau. Some restaurants are sure to transport you to Portugal (at very least, it won’t feel like you’re in China) in taste and atmosphere. Some great places to consider include Antonio’s, Fernando’s or Restaurante Escada.
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True to its Chinese and Portuguese cultural beginnings, food in Macau is also delicious at any price. If you’re snacking, you must try Macau’s beloved Pork Chop Bun from the famous chain Tai Lei Loi Kei and also an incredibly decadent and flaky Portuguese Egg Tart, with the most famous ones coming from Lord Stow’s Bakery and Margaret’s Café e Nata.
For friends back home, remember to pick up some meat jerky, peanut candy, and almond cakes at Koi Kei Bakery which can be easily found at Senado Square.
For the party people
[ Every Wednesday – Ladies' Night – Free Admission & Free-Flow Drinks for Ladies ] • Girls! Call up your friends and tell them to meet you on the dancefloor! It's Ladies' night tonight meaning Complimentary admission and free-flow drinks all-night-long for luscious ladies. Join @SescoMusic &@CopanKasten and show us you're ready for the weekend! • [ 逢週三 – 女士之夜 – 女士可享免費入場及整晚暢飲 ] • 屬於妳們的週三晚上，女士可享免費入場及整晚暢飲！ 相約閨蜜一起到「嬌比」舞池，Copan Kasten 和DJ Samir 今晚帶領大家釋放魅力與激情，為即將來臨的週末盡情喝采！ • #ClubCubic #LadiesNight #DJSesco #CopanKasten
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If you’re looking to party the night away, Macau is a city that never sleeps. Macau’s best known club is Club Cubic, where the best international DJs and performers turn to first for their shows in Macau. The crowd is a mix of Macau’s who’s who, Hong Kongers, and international travellers, making it the perfect place to people watch and mingle the night away.
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With roots in Ibiza, Pacha regularly attracts world class acts and is conveniently attached to Studio City. If you’re there on a weekend be sure to check this club out for the hottest electronic music in town.
For those looking for more of a regular lounge or party experience, The China Rouge is a regular favourite for well-to-do locals. A drink here will definitely show you what Macau’s nightlife is all about.
Alexander Leung is a Canadian traveller, writer, digital marketer and musician currently based in Hong Kong. Alexander travels in search of unique experiences and enjoys telling the stories of people, places and culture from a curious traveller's perspective.