Macau Travel Guide
So where do I start with Macau? How can I explain a 30 square kilometre territory of China that is as charming as it is nuts!
I had not planned to visit but with a sporting event cancelled in Japan due to typhoon weather conditions I had a couple of days to waste. Having “done” Hong Kong it was an adventure I craved and the opportunity to jump on a ferry from Kowloon harbour in Hong Kong across to Macau was too good to resist!
Had I ever known anyone who had visited I would certainly have called upon them for advice. However, before I knew it we were strapped into a ferry and in under an hour we were arriving in the Las Vegas of the East… oh and by the way I hate casinos!
Table of Contents
A Mix Of Old & New
Arriving at the port we soon discovered that the people were incredibly welcoming if a little robotic. Being told precisely where to stand in line for the shuttle to our hotel was a snapshot of what was to come. The many young school kids in the old town were so well turned out and some were collecting money for a local charity. They loved a small donation from a curious if somewhat weird tourist such as me.
Macau’s skyline is dominated by the hideously gorgeous Grand Lisboa hotel which is supposed to represent a golden lotus flower. In my world, it resembles a toy robot I had from the seventies. I loved my robot and I love this! Other incredible buildings are everywhere. A gentle afternoon stroll will bring you to various amazing sites such as the MGM, the Wynne, the bridge across to Hong Kong, the Macau tower, and the Morpheus.
Macau is a city of two halves. The gaudy, the brash, the over-the-top strip of hotels and casinos. Then, in contrast, the charming if a little odd old town with a history to burn. I enjoyed my random little trip however I still hate casinos!
Macau does have an international airport which is mainly a transfer point for those traveling between Macau and Taiwan as well as a passenger hub for destinations in mainland China and South East Asia.
Our Taxi experience was mixed. We were greeted on our daytime arrival at the ferry terminal by taxis who were on hand to whisk us off to our hotel in central Macau at a reasonable cost just 20 mins away.
The nighttime taxi experience
Places To Stay in Macau
The Macau Peninsula is the main where you will find the most densely populated parts of the city.
Cotai is a great place to stay for the nightlife. Cotai is a small strip of reclaimed land that connects the Taipa and Coloane islands.
On arrival at Macau port, we headed across the walkway bridge to a shuttle bus pick-up area hosted by a team of ladies in what can only be described as “Thunderbirds” style hostess outfits. Simply marvelous and they were so friendly too.
Macau By Day
In the Historic Centre, you will find the ruins of the Church of St. Paul. Built-in 1580, the building has suffered many fires throughout the centuries and today, you can only see the front of the church together with the 66 stone steps that lead up to it.
Senado Square is also in the historical centre – a picturesque area with colourful Victorian architectural facades reminiscent of a European city. Here the city is teaming with people out duty-free shopping, buying street food or taking selfies.
The back streets around the Church of St Paul are fascinating and full of character, life and unlimited opportunities for photographers to capture the real Macau. I particularly liked witnessing an elderly gentleman sitting alone in his front room singing Karaoke.
Macau At Night
At night this area became a street market full of souvenirs and children’s fete-type stalls like apple bobbing. In the main square was a display by traditional sword dancers.
Then there were the bright lights of Macau’s Casino strip. An ugly or a beautiful area of glitzy hotels with vast floors packed with people gambling 24/7. Bars and restaurants in this area were modern yet lacking in character and soul. Whilst not for me, it seemed that for many, this was their life, praying on the turn of a card.
The Macau Tower was an interesting excursion worth it alone for the incredible views. To add to the enjoyment there were numerous restaurants, shops, and stalls selling everything from bling to custard tarts!
Macau is different – it’s rich and poor, it’s wild and it’s laid back, it is for me, and then again it is not. Confused? You will be!