Welcome to Macau !

   

Global Mark : 13.12

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
5 2 3 4 4 3 4 4

1

13.33

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Notes AVER.
13 77%  (10) 62%  (8) 69%  (9) 8 to 16 12.92


Description :
A Portuguese enclave with Chinese characteristics, a gambling city with the highest rate of church per square meter in the world, a relaxed atmosphere & way of life with regular outbreach of violence and a lot of  prostitution,... Macau is a fascinating mix of past and modernity in all its excess.

Comments : Macau is nice but somehow not as popular with backpackers as HK. Modernity & the return to China in December 99 are slowly eroding the colonial charm of the enclave...

What to do : Macau is a place to be enjoyed by self propelled engine  so bring good shoes / Get a free map at the Tourist Office on arrival and explore / Gamble at casino (bring long pants) / Confess yourself for the above in one of the church / Visit cemeteries / Relax in parks / Eat Portuguese food / Cycle the islands /  Swim at Coloane's beaches / Cross the border to China

What you may not like :  The ugly  atmosphere of the casino (this is not Las Vegas !) / Not being rich like all those Chinese gamblers / The ferry cost from HK / The lack of dormitory /

How long ?  The small size of Macau means that you can visit it as a day trip from HK. But to really feel its atmosphere, taste its great food, gamble or visit its two islands, it would be recommended to spend one night there.


Where to stay ?

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money !  >> Hostels

Macau offers better value for money than HK but budget accommodations are more limited. Ask the Tourist association for the latest.

Pensao Kuan Heng (573 629), 3-4  Rua Ponte E Horta, offers good rooms from M$110 (Sgl)

San Va Hospedaria (573 701), corner Rua de Felicidade and Travessa de Felicidade, is probably the cheapest with Sgl starting at M$35. For this price you however do not get window nor apparently any cleaning staff...


What to see / visit ?

Below is a suggested itinerary for Macau Peninsula only. A visit to the islands would require another day.

  • At the Ferry Terminal, visit the information Office for free maps and tips

  • Walk toward the heart of the City (or take bus No3)

  • Once on Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, check the Leal Senado Library, the Cathedral, St Dominic Church, the Ruins of St Paul and the nice Monte Fort

  • Continue North toward Camoes Grotto & Garden and the nearby Old Protestant Cemetery

  • Walk east to peaceful Lou Lim Loc Gardens and Sun Yat-Sen Memorial House

  • Climb toward Guia Fortress and Guia Lighthouse (cable car also available)

  • Continue North to the 400 years old Kun Lam Temple. Nearby is another cemetery and garden

  • Pass the Colina de Mong Ha to the small Lin Fong Temple

  • Catch a glance of China at the Barrier Gate and check the nearby Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Park

  • Take bus No10 or 18 to the South of the Peninsula.

  • Visit A-Ma Temple and go up Penha Hill to the Chapel of Our Lady of Penha.

  • Dine at A Lorcha (313 193), 289 Rua do Almirante Sergio, probably the best Portuguese Restaurant of Macau, Dish Award 1999 for HK Magazine. Don't be scared : prices are very reasonable.  Enjoy your meal with a bottle of Mateus Rose...

  • Have a digestion walk back to the Heart of the City, passing St. Lawrence Church, the Government House and St. Augustine Church.

  • Spend the rest of your money at Casino Lisboa

   
How to come ?

From HK, you can leave either from Central's Macau Ferry Terminal or TST's China Ferry Terminal.

The latest is the cheapest at $113 during week day and $134 during WE, inclusive of the $26 HK Government Embarkation Tax. Night service at 18:15, 18:45 & 20 cost $134 or $154. The trip by catamaran takes 70mn.  Morning departures include 8:30, 9, 9:30 & 11:40. Call HYFCO Travel Agent (2730 8608) for details.

If you plan to come back late, it might be better to book a return ticket with a Jetfoil to/from Central as they operate 24 hours daily, every 15 to 60mn.  Night service cost $161, day service $130 or 141 (WE). The trip takes 55mn. Call Far East Hydrofoil Co (2859 3333) for details. Turbo Cat (60mn) or Foil-Cat (50mn) are also available for the same price.

It is advisible to buy a return ticket in advance, in particular during week end or holidays. 


Going to China  ?
 

Why not indeed go to China via Macau ? A good way to save on Ferry fees... Buses to Guangzhou are available directly from Macau (Kee Kwan Motors, 3 hrs, around M$60). From Zhuhai across the border, cheaper buses go to various destinations including Guangzhou, Foshan or  Zhaoqing. 

As for the visa, you can get a three months tourist visa straight at Gongbei border for HK$140 plus one ID photo. British citizens can not get visa upon arrival at the border (info submitted by Hong Xiu Ping, China).


Other info...

  • Macau Government Tourist Office, 9 Largo do Senado, Tel 315 566, Fax 510 104. Also one office at the HK Ferry Terminal

  • Money ?  HK dollars can be used everywhere instead of the pataca (M$), on theory worth 3% less.

  • Visa ? Most visitors from developed countries can visit Macau for 20 days without a visa but with a valid passport. If required, visas are delivered on arrival

  • When to visit ? Avoid Week end or holidays if possible !

  • Special Events ? International Fireworks Festival, Music Festival, Macau Grand Prix and Macau Marathon take place from September to December. Check with the Tourist Office for the exact dates. With 95% of the population Chinese, all the Chinese festivals & holidays also apply. HK is however  usually a better place to experience those.

  • How to visit ? Some great deal (Transport + Hotel) can be arranged from HK's travel agencies. Shop around.

  • HK's visa extension ? Macau has been, for years,  the logical destination for people wishing to extend their stay in HK.  Immigrations officers are well aware of that and a trip to China is now considered to be a better alternative to be able to re-enter HK with another 3 months fresh visa...

   Macau Tourist Association

   Macau : City of Culture Guide

 

Backpacker's Tips : Reuben Goh, Malaysia (June 07)
« MACAU TOWER: What's nice: A visit to the top of the building, Price: 80 patacas, Other interest: If you're one of those Xtreme Sports fan, you can SkyWalk, SkyJump, Bungee Jump or Mass Climb the Macau tower. It is rather expensive, but a unique experience. On board the tower there's 2 restaurants as well, 360 Cafe - serves buffet lunch and dinner (rather pricey), and 180 Lounge - more like a coffee shop. Below, there are some shops and a cinema.
Somethings to be aware of: 1. Many tourist places closes on Monday, some on Tuesday. So check it out before going. 2. Some buses are not that frequent. On top of that, some places are so near, it is easier to walk. 3. Many people can speak english, they are just not used to it. But they will help you out any how they can.»

Backpacker's Tips : Claudine Olejnik, Belgium (Janv 07)
« Hotel Kou Va - rua Da Felicidade 71 - have changed his name and is now totaly renovated ... for same price then before !!! bedclothes - carpet - TV - bathroom are new and there is also a new lift. We recommand warmly this address. Morever, it is perfectly located, in a small street plenty of old chineses shops and small restaurants !! The name is now HOTEL KOWAH and the new tel numbers are 289-30-755 and 283-75-599. We paid 250 MOB for two per night. It's cheaper for s single room ( 190 or 200 MOB I think ). It's normally more expensive for WE but if you'll stay few nights you'll paid the same price.»

Backpacker's Tips :  David Emanuel Andersson (March 06)
« After having tried lots of options in Macau, I recommend the following:
Hotel Kou Va, 71, Rua Da Felicidade - In my opinion, this small hotel offers the best value for money in Macau. Very clean doubles with attached bathroom cost between MOP150 and MOP200. This also seems to be the only hotel in the area where the owner does not allow prostitutes inside the hotel (although there are lots of streetwalkers in the neighborhood).
Margaret's Cafe: This is an excellent and inexpensive al fresco place for sandwiches, cakes and coffee. It's not easy to find, but is on a side street from Laurindo Almeida, somewhere between the Lisboa Hotel and the Main Square (Largo Senado).
Near the Royal Hotel/Vasco da Gama Park, there are several good small Thai restaurants, if you have a craving for spicy food.
If you miss European culture, go to the church at the end of Largo Senado (I think it's called Sao Domingo). This beautifully restored church is from the 17th century, and has an attached museum with Asian Catholic art on the 2nd and 3d floors. No entrance fee.
There is a pub area near the waterfront in the reclamation area called NAPE. There are a couple of good but expensive pubs (beers MOP35) such as Moonwalker and Casablanca, that sometimes offer live music. If you want to enjoy the atmosphere without paying for overpriced drinks, there is a strategically located convenience store among the pubs, with outdoor seating and attached toilet. There you can get a beer for about MOP10 or a soft drink for about MOP5. This area does not get crowded until 11pm.
If you want cheap food, there are several hole-in-the-wall restaurants with outdoor seating in the Porto Interior area. This is on the opposite side of the Macau peninsula, and is not far from Rua De Felicidade, which offers excellent but more expensive Cantonese seafood restaurants.
In Coloane village, there is a nice Portuguese-style square with a couple of nice al fresco restaurants, such as the Nga Tim Cafe. Moderate prices.
The northern part of the Macau peninsula lacks tourist attractions, but is generally cheaper than the rest of Macau. It's not particularly beautiful, but the area has the distinction of being the most densely populated area in the world. If you really want good seafood, cross the border and go to Wanzai in Zhuhai, which has a seafood market and restaurants that can cook your purchases.

Not recommended: Central Hotel (near Largo Senado). Although this hotel boasts a perfect location and doubles for about MOP180, it is a cockroach-infested dump. If you're traveling alone, Chinese prostitiutes will make phone calls and knock on your door. Al fresco restaurants opposite Macau Tower, such as Henry's Galley. High prices and bland food. If you want to splurge, don't do it at Macau's luxury hotels. Zhuhai's hotels offer much better value (just across the Gongbei border)

Backpacker's Tips : Antoine Vionnet, France (August 03)
« DESCRIPTION: … mix of wealth and poverty, religions and cultures (Portuguese, Chinese, Philipines),…

WHAT TO SEE/VISIT: 
- Buy a fresh fruit juice (among more than 20 species of fruit) for around 10 patacas when climbing the street St Domingos on the right.
- Visit the most interesting museum in Macau: The maritime museum in front of the A-Ma temple
- Borrow a cycle for a trip in Coloane Island
- Listen to English music bands in the Mandarin Hotel from Tuesday to Sunday (better on Friday and Saturday night, close at 4pm), first drink=40 patacas, assez chic, don’t be surprise by the prostitution…)
- Try the “DIM SUM” steam food in the typical Chinese Wa Fong restaurant in Taipa, av. Doctor Sun Yat Sun (30patacas /person)
- Practice windsurfing in the beache of Coloane Island. (do not expect blue and transparent water! Because of sortie du fleuve (eau boueuse + alluvions) and pollution!)

OTHER INFO:
- There is a new politic in the border and in the immigration office about the tourist Visa. It is no more possible to renew it for 3 months several times. If you plan to stay more than 3 months in Macau I advise you to leave Macau (go in Hong kong or Zuhai for a day trip) during the first 45 days of your 3 months Visa. If you overflow this limit you will not get a new 3 months visa but less, maybe 1 or 2 months, or even a few days.
- Acess to internet in the library of the University of Macau in Taipa island.
- Ask about special event in the Macau Tower: elastic jump, climbing, … (depend of the annual program)
- For those who cannot survive without real western food (cheese, wine, bread, …) a frenchshop has open in Taipa island called “le Gourmet”, tel 853841436, Nova Taipa Garden, 25G/F
- A lot of restaurants propose now an English menu (sometimes more expensive than the Chinese one!)
- The only western pub: the Irish Bar in Taipa (20patacas a beer) with billard et flechettes
- The only good bakeries (quite expensive) are in the big Hotels (Mandarin, Hyatt, …) reduction of 20 to 50% after 7pm)
- I f you stay a few days, order custom made suit, shirt, trousers,… in one of the numerous shops near the Red Market
- Prepare coins for the bus and don’t pay much than Chinese!: Here is the real price (not always written on the buses): 
Macau – Taipa: 3.30 patacas
Macau – Macau: 2.50
Taipa – Taipa: 2.50
Macau – Coloane: 5
Taipa – Coloane: 2.80
- More and more people are speaking English (instead of Portuguese), it is not really difficult to live in 
Macau even if you do not know Chinese.

SPECIAL EVENTS:
- Drunk dragon dance: unique event in Asia. The fishermens association present a show in all the markets of Macau, dancing the drunk dragon (at the end of the day it is no more acting but really drunk people!): great and typical event during April.
- Dragon boat race in the lake near the Macau tower: 20 people in a boat and teams from all Asia (first week of june): impressive!
»