Macau Travel Guide

Often given second billing to its neighbor, Hong Kong, Macau deserves its own share of the tourism market. Important both as a bastion of 16th century colonial architecture and as a center of casino gaming, Macau is one of the most interesting destinations found along China's eastern seaboard.

What’s Cool

Shiny new casinos on every corner, centuries-old Portuguese architecture, escapes to neighboring islands, Cantonese cooking seasoned with Portuguese spices, incredible shopping bargains, Chinese temples and Jesuit churches.

What’s Not

Government corruption, the seedy underbelly of the casino industry (think gangsters and call-girls), downgrading your hotel after gambling away your budget, the local habit of belching and spitting everywhere, and pushy taxi drivers.

When to Go

Best: October-December
Worst: June-September

Visas Required?

US/Can: no (30 day)
EU: *no (30 days)
Aus/NZ: no (30 days)

Essential Info

Time: GMT+7
Electricity: 220V 50Hz 3-Pin Plug
Money: Baht: 1US$ = 32 Baht
Phone: ICC (+66) Outgoing: 001

Gamblers and culture buffs arrive in equal numbers in Macau, with the former making a beeline for the Las Vegas style casinos that have become a mainstay of Macau's Cotai. The latter head for the fa├žade of Sao Paulo Cathedral, the last remaining part of this fire-damaged church. Other architectural wonders await those interested in the island-region's unique Portuguese and Chinese characteristics.

More modern attractions come in the form of Macau Tower and Fisherman's Wharf. The former offers outstanding views while the latter takes theme parks to a new level. For a breath of fresh air, take a ferry across to the quieter islands of Taipa or Coloane. You could of course just settle for spending your entire holiday in the world's largest casino, the Venetian.

Travel to Macau - Getting There

Visitors arrive by air and sea via Macau International Airport or the ferry port, respectively. The latter connects to Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The city is compact enough that you can walk between many of the attractions, although taxis are easily hailed across the city. For alternative means of getting around, consider booking a three-wheeled pedicab for a scenic tour or even hiring a bicycle. A well-organized bus system is available for public transport across the island.

Macau Things to Do

Kun Iam Temple
Is the most popular temple in the area, with plenty of historical significance going back to the early 17th century.
Ruinas de Igreja Sao Paulo
Macau’s Portuguese heritage couldn’t be more apparent in this Jesuit Church, one of the greatest Christian shrines on the continent, which dates to the 1600s.
Senado Square
Portuguese artisans laid the intricate mosaic of colorful stones on this central city plaza.
Lou Lim Ioc Garden
Is exactly what visitors envision when thinking of classical Chinese gardens, with lotus blossoms floating on fish ponds, hidden caves, delicate bridges and ancient gnarled trees.
Mount Fortress
A 17th century fortress built by Jesuits and used as a stronghold against the invading Dutch.
Coloane Island
A popular resort destination with ample facilities, including hiking trails and a golf course.
Cultural Sightseeing
Is so interesting in Macau due to the unique fusion of Portuguese architecture, Catholic undercurrents and mainland Chinese contributions.
Bird watching
Is well catered for at Seac Pai Wan Park, a large facility that maintains walking paths through an enormous aviary.
Casino Hopping
Across the cities nine separate gaming establishments is the number one pastime in Macau.
Greyhound racing
Is another way to test your luck in Macau. This is the only track of its kind on the entire continent.
Partying
Happens primarily in the casinos though locals congregate in karaoke bars, where drinks are more reasonably priced.
Shopping
Is a favorite tourist activity here, largely because of the bargains that are available. Look for silk, electronics and fine jewelry along Rua de San Paulo.

Macau’s festivals used to have a distinctly Portuguese slant, but the People’s Republic replaced all of the old nationalism with new PRC-branded observances. The following is a list of the major festivities

January/February
Pinned to the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year is not to be missed. Look for floral parades, dragon-tail dances and lanterns on every corner.
May
The International Dragon Boat Festival is centered on a boat racing competition that commemorates the noble suicide (by drowning) of Wat Yuen, a poet who couldn’t stomach government corruption.
September
The International Fireworks Display competition is an exciting time to be in Macau. Just don’t plan on going to bed early.
October
Macau’s Music Festival draws music lovers from around the world. Performances span virtually every style, including classical, jazz, Chinese folk and modern electronica and rock.
November
The Macau Grand Prix is a major year’s-end festivity. The area’s casinos do especially well during this event.
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