Macau is sort of Hong Kong’s city-state sister. Officially an autonomous region of China, Macau is today an interesting mix of post Portuguese colonization architecture and world-lass gambling.
Since accommodation is usually cheaper in Hong Kong, most travelers visit Macau on day trips. Here’s how to do it.
Like Hong Kong, more than 100 nationalities (including EU) can enter visa-free for 30 days or more. The traveler receives a landing slip instead of a stamp on the passport (but make sure to carry your passport!). Travelers from other nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival for 100 MOP.
- By plane: Macau International Airport (MFM) is located on Taipa island, closer to Cotai than the Macau peninsula. Many low-cost airlines now operate in this airport, but it is still far from the better-serviced Hong Kong airport.
- By boat: Flying to Hong Kong and then taking a boat to Macau might be a cheaper combination. TurboJet operates the cheapest ferries, which connect China Ferry Terminal in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui district or Sheun Wang port in Hong Kong Island with the Outer Harbour in the northern Macau peninsula. Prices are around 150 HKD per journey. Late ferries are more expensive (180 HKD) and early ferries are usually full. Book at the terminal at least one day before if you wish to board the 7 AM or 8 AM ferries, otherwise showing up the same day should not be a problem. TurboJet has a standby option, so if you bought a ticket for the 10 PM ferry, you can take any earlier (but not later) ferry if there are empty seats. A more expensive CotaiJet takes you directly to Taipa island.
- On foot: Except for moving between the islands, Macau can be largely explored on foot. This is the best way to navigate the constant contrasts between Portuguese heritage, working class Chinese lifestyle and the casino chimeras.
- By bus: There is an extensive local bus network in Macau, and a lot of locals use an app called “Bus Traveling System” (available in English and Chinese) to move around. A journey in a bus costs between 1 and 3 MOP. There is a free shuttle bus from Macau Tower to Studio City, a good way to cover the distance from the peninsula to Cotai (so you can go and bungee jump off Macau Tower every time you win some money). Of course, if you stay in a hotel they probably have shuttle buses to everywhere.
- By taxi: Macau-related websites state 10 MOP/km. In my experience, it was 8 MOP/km.
- By car: A sea-crossing bridge is currently under construction and expected to be opened in 2018. It connects Macau,
Hong Kong and Guandgong (China). Funny enough, it is said among locals that even if the bridge operates continuously throughout its entire life span, the money obtained from it will not be enough to cover the construction costs.
You’re in Macau, now… what to do? I would say walk, walk, walk around. Get lost around the cozy streets full of Chinese and Portuguese history and try to make a sense of it. Or gamble. Here are my thoughts about it.