How To Spend A Day In Macau
Often refered to as the ‘Vegas of Asia’, visiting Macau is well worth your time - and not just for the casinos. Most people spend just a day in Macau, using the city of Hong Kong as a base for their visit. This makes perfect sense as the two countries are only an hour away by ferry, and a return ticket only costs as little as £35… If you’re thinking of doing this, read my extensive post on getting from Hong Kong to Macau by ferry here.
During my visit to Macau, I split my day one two halves. The morning and early afternoon was spent seeing the other side of the city, the old Portuguese town. Followed by the casinos and shaping malls on the Coati strip in the evening. For me, this seemed the most logical and cost effective route as the old town was walking distance from the ferry terminal where as the Coati strip was a few kilometres away. As well as this, the casinos are SO much better at night time. Nothing beats seeing Asias version of the Eiffel tower and the huge Venetian lit up at night time.
The portuguese old town is one of the most stunning areas I’ve ever been to. Its mesmerising to see all the brightly coloured buildings, more commonly associated with Central/South America, lining the streets. There are 21 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the historic centre, the most well known are St. Dominic’s Cathedral and the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral - which has become the poster for Macau in recent years. Both of these building are located close to the main hub of the city - Senado Square, also a UNESCO site. Unfortunately, due to the hoards to chinese visitors these attractions get, you’ll have to get here super early in order to get a photo without anyone else in it. The first ferry from HK arrives in Macau at 8am and thats really when the city begins to get really busy. Alternatively, you can hope that it rains (the Chinese don’t like the rain). Once you’ve marvelled at these two buildings, head up to the National History Museum of Macau. Entrance is only 15 Pacetas (or HKD both are accepted everywhere!) and it’ll provide you with a great knowledge of the Portuguese colonisation and how they shaped the geographical area with Western culture. The museum is only small and shouldn’t take you any longer than an hour to see everything in it.
After your historic morning, its time to head to the casinos. Pretty much all the casinos are located on the Coati strip, about 4-5km away from the historic centre. To get there you can either head back to the ferry terminal and catch one of the free shuttle busses there (more on this later), or you can download google maps transit which will tell you the nearest bus route to the casinos.
The Coati strip is about 2km long and all the major malls and casinos are located on it. There's a huge covered bridge that connects them all together which makes it ideal for ‘casino hopping’. I reccomend you start at the Venetian and work your way over to the City Of Dreams. This route will take you through the largest and best casinos and will also leave you at the shuttle bus stop to take you back to the ferry terminal.
You now have to be 21 to enter the casinos in Macau. It use to be that foreigners were only required to be 18 but they changed it in early 2018. If you’re under 21 and look pretty old, you can get into some of the smaller casinos as long as you’re not looking to get into the Venetian on a Friday or Saturday night… If you're visiting as a family or with kids under 21, theres still so much on offer in the area. There are shops galore all over the strip. They have everything from an M&S to a Gucci and Channel. When you’re in the Venetian you HAVE to check out the replica Venice shopping area where they’ve basically recreated the streets and canals of venice. Its so real they even have a St. Marks square and gondalar rides! The Parisian casino, with the replica eiffel tower (about 1/3 of the size of the real one), is also a great place for kids. There's live shows on in the evening and you can even go to the top of the tower for 150 HKD/MOP.
Once you’ve had enough of the casinos and its time to head back, the easiest way is to take the shuttle busses. These busses run to and from both of the ferry ports in the city. In order to get back to the ferry port, you’ll need to head down into the lower basement of the Parisian casino where you’ll find about 10 terminals each going to a different park of the city. Just ask one of the many staff members on hand which bus to jump on. Busses operate every 15 minutes daily from 7am-12am.
If youre lucky enough to spend a night or two in this amazing city, you could spend a whole day in the historic centre and take the cable car up to Guia Fortress and lighthouse.