Macau on the south coast of China is called the Las Vegas of the East because it is widely known as a huge gambling centre in Asia. But there’s more to it than the glamour of luxurious casinos and fancy poker chips. It reflects a harmonious blend of Eastern and Western cultural influences since it used to be a Portuguese colony for more than 3 centuries. Enjoy the best of both Chinese and Portuguese cultures as you dive into a coexistence of traditions, cuisines, architectures, and languages.
Read my post here to view our 5–day itinerary and budget in Macau and Hong Kong.
HOW TO GET TO MACAU:
We booked a flight from Manila to Macau via Cebu Pacific Air. You may also opt to ride either the TurboJet or Cotai Water Jet for an hour or two from Hong Kong. Note that Macau has a separate immigration from Hong Kong so you still have to bring your passport.
THE BEST TIME TO GO TO MACAU:
The best time to visit is from October to December when the days are bright yet cool. We visited in early November and the temperature was 15 °C. Generally, the weather from January to February is cold and dry, March to April is warm, and May to September is the hottest and often occurs with rain, thunderstorms, and typhoons.
GETTING AROUND MACAU:
Macau is geographically divided into Macau Peninsula, Taipa, Cotai, and Coloane regions. Macau Peninsula is the most crowded and historical; Taipa is a residential area and is the location of Macau International Airport; Cotai is where a strip of grand casino hotels are developed; and Coloane is predominantly rural where beaches, hiking trails, and a resort are found. In about 36 hours, we explored a few historical sites and casino hotels in Macau Peninsula and Cotai. Click here to know the public bus routes or refer to this blog post for the free casino shuttle bus routes.
Macau, the first and last European colony in China, is indeed a destination that feels like Europe. Among the historical sites, we were only able to visit Senado Square, St. Dominic’s Church, Ruins of St. Paul’s, Monte Fort, and Macau Fisherman’s Wharf. All of them except Macau Fisherman’s Wharf are within walking distance from each other, and are included in the Historic Centre of Macau which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
How to get to Senado Square, St. Dominic’s Church, Ruins of St. Paul’s, and Monte Fort:
Take a bus (click here to know which bus) to Av. De Almeida Ribeiro. You may also ride a free casino shuttle bus to Wynn Macau, Grand Lisboa, StarWorld, or Hotel Sintra, and you’ll see Senado Square on your right after a short walk along Av. De Almeida Ribeiro. Another option is a shuttle bus to Sofitel but Senado Square will be on your left as you walk down Av. De Almeida Ribeiro. St. Dominic’s Church is situated within Senado Square while Ruins of St. Paul’s and Monte Fort are accessible on foot from Senado Square.
1. Senado Square
Senado Square (Largo do Senado in Portuguese) is a public square with an entire area of 3,700 square meters that was covered by Portuguese pavement in the early 1990s. The shops and restaurants that occupy the area add a modern touch to the attraction.
- Location: Central Macau Peninsula
2. St. Dominic’s Church
St. Dominic’s Church is a 16th century Baroque–style parish built by 3 Spanish Dominican priests in 1587 as a dedication to Our Lady of the Rosary.
- Location: Tv. de São Domingos & Largo de São Domingos, Macau
- Operating Hours: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
3. Ruins of St. Paul’s
The Ruins of Paul’s is a 17th-century Portuguese church dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle. Its intricate facade and stone stairway are the only remains after it caught fire. It’s a famous landmark so go early to avoid the crowds.
- Location: Santo António, Macau
4. Monte Fort
Monte Fort (Fortaleza de Monte in Portuguese) is a stone fort constructed on Mount Hill between 1617 and 1626 to protect the properties of the Jesuits. What I loved most about it were the 32 cannons placed around its walls and the panoramic view of the city. The Macau Museum which exhibits the history of Macau is also located here.
- Location: R. do Monte, Macau
- Operating Hours –
- Monte Fort: 06:00 AM to 7:00 PM (May – September), 07:00 AM to 6:00 PM (October – the next April)
- Macau Museum: 10:00 AM to 6:00 from Tuesday to Sunday
- Admission Fees: MOP 15 (Adults), MOP 8 (Students), MOP 10 (per person for commercial Institutions with a minimum of 10 persons, submitted 7 working days in advance), MOP 10 (per person for travel agencies registered in the Macau Museum), Free (Children of 12 years old or under and seniors of 65 years old or above/ Macau residents/ all visitors on the 15th of every month/ tourist guides card’s holders issued by the Macau Government Tourist Office)
- Contact: (853) 2835 7911, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Visit their website here.
5. Macau Fisherman’s Wharf
Macau Fisherman’s Wharf is described as the first theme park of Macau. It also offers dining, shopping, entertainment, accommodation, convention, and exhibition facilities. We just took photos at its main attraction which is a replica of the Colosseum in Rome.
- Location: Avenida da Amizade e Avenida Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Macau
- How to get there: Take a bus (click here to know which bus) or you may also ride a free casino shuttle bus to Macau Ferry Terminal or Sands Macao and walk from there.
- Operating Hours: 24/7
- Admission Fees: Free
- Contact: (853) 8299 3300
- Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WeChat: WX_MFW
- Visit their website here.
- MACAU PENINSULA: Wynn Macau, Sands Macao, StarWorld, Grand Lisboa, MGM Macau, Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16
Click here to read a detailed blog post about the free casino shuttle bus routes.
We arrived in Macau in the evening so we were able to witness right away how stunningly majestic the casino hotels are during nighttime. The ones in Cotai in particular left me awestruck to the point that I forgot to take photos because I got way too absorbed in the moment. We only entered The Venetian in Cotai, and Wynn Macau in Macau Peninsula.
1. The Venetian
The Venetian is the world’s largest casino owned by the American Las Vegas Sands company. We went here to see the grand canal and acrobat performances for free. You may also ride the gondola for a romantic experience.
- Location: Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca, Macau
- How to get there: Ride the complimentary Venetian shuttle bus from Border Gate, Taipa Ferry Terminal, Macau Ferry Terminal, Macau International Airport, Lotus Port, and Sands. Click here for The Venetian shuttle bus schedule.
- Operating Hours – Daily Canal: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Grand Canal and Marco Polo), 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM (San Luca)
- Admission Fees – Gondola Ride: MOP 128 (Adults), MOP 98 (Kids), MOP 512 (Private). Check Klook for deals!
- Contact: (853) 2882 8877 for reservations and (853) 2882 8888 for inquiries
- Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WeChat: SandsResortsMacao
- Visit their website here.
2. Wynn Macau
Our main purpose of going here was to watch the free shows which are the Tree of Prosperity, the Dragon of Fortune, and the Performance Lake. Unfortunately, the Performance Lake was under maintenance during our visit. Meanwhile, the Tree of Prosperity and the Dragon of Fortune both incorporate music, video, and lights effects. The former is a tree that truly conveys prosperity with its 98,000 24-karat gold and brass leaves accentuated by a chandelier composed of 21,000 crystals. The latter is a dragon with an animated head, glowing eyes, and smoke billowing from its nostrils.
- Location: R. Cidade de Sintra, Macau
- How to get there: Ride the complimentary Wynn Macau shuttle bus from Border Gate, Taipa Ferry Terminal, Macau Ferry Terminal, Macau International Airport, Lotus Port, and Wynn Palace. Click here for Wynn Macau bus schedule.
- Operating Hours –
- Dragon of Fortune: 10:00 AM to 12:00 AM daily (at 30-minute intervals), alternate with the Tree of Prosperity
- Tree of Prosperity: 10:30 AM to 12:00 AM daily (at 30-minute intervals), alternate with the Dragon of Fortune
- Performance Lake: Sunday to Friday: 11:00 AM to 9:45 PM, Saturday and eve of public holiday: 11:00 AM to 10:45 PM. Each show lasts for 3 minutes and runs alternately at 15-minute intervals.
- Admission Fees: Free
- Contact: (853) 2888 9966 or email@example.com for inquiries, and (853) 8986 9966 or firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations
- Follow them on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Youku, WeChat: WynnResortsMacau
- Visit their website here.
I’m just going to list down the foods that I highly recommend and are worth the hype, namely Margaret’s Cafe E Nata, Tai Lei Loi Kei, and Chan Kong Kei. All of them are within walking distance from each other.
How to get to Chan Kong Kei, Tai Lei Loi Kei, and Margaret’s Cafe E Nata:
Take a bus (click here to know which bus) to Av. De Almeida Ribeiro. You may also ride a free casino shuttle bus to Wynn Macau, Grand Lisboa, StarWorld, Hotel Sintra, or Sofitel. Walk toward Av. do Infante Dom Henrique and come to a halt when you reach Chow Tai Fook. Turn onto R. do Dr. Pedro Jose Lobo. Look for Chan Kong Kei on your left. Go straight and then turn right onto Rua do Comandante Mata e Oliveira before crossing the intersection. Turn right onto the alley to reach Tai Lei Loi Kei and Margaret’s Cafe E Nata.
1. Margaret’s Cafe E Nata
Margaret’s Cafe E Nata, together with Lord Stow’s Bakery, is well-known for their egg tart which is Macau’s most famous snack. We arrived at around 8:00 AM so we didn’t encounter the notorious long queue. We ordered 2 egg tarts and 2 milk teas for a total of MOP 44. The egg tart’s custard was sweet and creamy while the crust was flaky and greasy which I wasn’t a fan of. It isn’t my favorite egg tart (Tai Cheong in Hong Kong is!) but it’s still a must-try. I enjoyed their milk tea though. I love Chinese milk tea in general hehe.
- Location: 17B, Goldlion building, Rua do Comandante Mata e Oliveira, Macau
- Operating Hours: 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM (Closed on Wednesdays)
2. Tai Lei Loi Kei
Pork bun is another popular snack in Macau. We tried it at Tai Lei Loi Kei’s branch located in an alley called Patio do Comandante Mata e Oliveira where Margaret’s Cafe E Nata is also found. It’s somewhat costly (MOP 50) but it’s worth the price given its ample size, succulent taste, and tender meat. If I’m going to eat a delicacy in Macau over and over again, this would probably be it.
- Location: Patio do Comandante Mata e Oliveira, Macau
- Operating Hours: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily
3. Chan Kong Kei
Chan Kong Kei’s black pepper roast duck is the perfect meal to relieve your exhaustion and satisfy your hunger after a long day of walking due to its rich black pepper flavor and large serving size. We actually ordered the large by mistake which costs MOP 60 each because we didn’t notice that there’s a regular and cheaper option worth MOP 33. I was starving so I didn’t mind LOL! We got a table right away when we arrived past 8 in the evening. I would certainly eat this again if I go back to Macau.
- Location: 19 R. do Dr. Pedro Jose Lobo, Macau
- Operating Hours: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM daily
I don’t consider the “cheap” hotels in Macau as budget-friendly. We were willing to give one a try though regardless of the price but all of them are full of negative feedbacks. Thankfully, I found this Airbnb that has a similar rate but has rather positive reviews. The best part about it is that it’s literally a few steps away from major tourist attractions. Chi In and her family were such accommodating hosts. The room and the toilet were clean and looked exactly like the photos. The overall experience was almost comparable to that of a hotel!
- Location: Patio da Se
- How to get there: Chi In will send you a map a few days before your arrival.
- Rates: PHP 2493/ USD 50 per night (PHP 1247/ USD 25 per person for 2 pax)
If you would also tour Macau in a limited amount of time, I suggest prioritizing the historical attractions and spending less time inside the casino hotels unless you’ll gamble, watch a show, or stay in one. In my opinion, the historical sites are much more interesting due to their cultural immersion aspect. Although the casino hotels are kind of mediocre, viewing them at night (especially those in the Cotai Strip) is still a must. The experience left such a huge impact on me that it is undoubtedly the highlight of our Macau trip!