The grandeurs of Macau left us stunned. By the time we set foot in the hotel, one thing was sure – Macau was more first-rate than it looked in pictures. Golden walls embossed with dragons looked larger than life. The concierge in uniform with crisp gloves escorted us safely to our more than five star rooms. Macau’s royalty smote us faster than we thought.
If there is such a thing as ‘Razzmatazz capital of the world’, it would surely be Macau. After spending a week here, we bring to you the ultimate travel guide to Macau.
Minutes later, tucked away into the confines of white linen and bounded with terrific Chinese dinner, we carefully jotted down the plan for our first day out in the city next morning. The plan was to experience the cultural difference between the slow life of Coloane and the gaudy existence of Macau Peninsula.
Ultimate Travel Guide to Macau – Getting to Macau from India
The best way to travel to Macau is via HongKong. We flew Air India from Mumbai – HongKong at 7 pm, which reaches HongKong at 6.30 am local time – making it a total of 9 hours flight. It flies via Delhi so if you are boarding at Delhi then get the 9.05 pm flight. With a slight price difference, Jet airways, Etihad airways and Cathy Pacific fly non-stop Mumbai to Hongkong in 5 and half hours. Take your pick.
Indian passports need not pay visa fee upto 14 days in HongKong & Macau.
TurboJet Ferries ply directly from HongKong airport to Macau. Make sure you spot the signboard for Macau ferry terminal else if you step out of the airport you have to take a bus all the way to a ferry port in the city. The ferries keep running an regular intervals throughout the day and it is almost a 45 minutes ride. The economy cost per ticket is 164 MOP (Rs. 1410) and double for 1st class tickets.
Two Parts of Macau
Macau is pretty much sliced into two parts – one that is quiet and screams old world charm, while the other shines brazen enveloped in gaudy colors. On one side are the villages of Coloane and Taipai and on the other popular sights on Macau Peninsula- Senado sqaure, Ruins of St. Pauls and Casinos. In between Coloane and Taipa is the dazzling Cotai strip. Both the parts are connected by three bridges – the bridge of Friendship, Macau-Taipa bridge and Sai-Van bridge.
Macau transformed overnight. Atleast that’s what it feels like. A once upon a time – speck on the map of China evolved into a giant economy contributor in a decade or so.While there is lavishness sprinkled on the streets of Macau, there is also a picture perfect middle class life. As inexpensive hotels are ornamented with golden fabric, the locals struggle in houses that look like matchboxes.
You cannot miss out the imagery of a two-wheeler riding behind a Porsche. There was an air of might, wealth and co-existence amongst blue collared citizens of Macau.
Nowadays, an old fisherman’s son claims livelihood, plying tourists in the free casino shuttle buses that run across the town. A lazy little colony of fishermen resided before they had to deal with flocks of tourists’ everyday. Macau has dipped itself completely in luxury trade, bypassing total earnings of even Las Vegas casinos.
Yet the Macanese continue to work hard. Fishermen by the day and street show artists by noon, these men cannot resist old habits.
Ultimate Travel Guide to Macau – Things to do in Macau
1) Go for a morning walk in Taipa & Coloane
Streets of Taipa and the fishing village – Coloane almost remain virgin. There is scoops of Portuguese influence on architecture across Macau but it is starkly evident in this part of the city. Last night’s memory of sparkly buildings did not leave us and in comparison this part felt like a concrete colorful countryside without sheeps.
Pine forested hills sprawled across Coloane. Feng Shui mirrors dangled on the wooden doors of tiny village shops to ward off evil spirits. It is believed that when these so called devils see their own reflection through the mirror, they flee in terror. The Chinese culture is exactly intriguing. Soaking in the culture and going on self walking tours can be fun.
The pastel colored buildings make it a photographers paradise.
2) Skywalk on Macau Tower
Macau Tower is iconic to the city and the two activities that can be done apart from getting a bird eye view are bunjee jumping and skywalking. We tried the skywalking and even though it costed 811 MOP (Rs. 13,000) for both of us, we would say it was worth it. And if you want good photos, we suggest do it in the day time. More pictures and our experience of Macau Tower is here.
3) Cosmetics Shopping
Macau is THE best place for shopping cosmetics and perfumes. Stores like Sasa store them in bulk and give them at discounted rates. The most expensive brands can be sampled in 50 ml bottles at the store. The perfect gift to bring back home. So feel free to indulge.
4) Senado Square
This is the main city sqaure – an old world’s charm all with cobbled streets and direction signage. Most iconic architecture that has Portugal influence finds home here. It is flanked by buildings on all sides. Take a moment, find a bench or a spot and just soak in the vibe of the city.
There are daily tours starting from here for historical locations around the square with an audio guide facility. But you could explore on foot yourself. The directions are in English too and easy to follow.
5) Ruins of St. Pauls
Walking past the classic structure designs at this main town square, we were transported to the Ruins of St. Paul’s that stands tall and has steps full of vacationers munching on pork buns and tasty sticks at foot. As the name signifies this structure is part of church ruins from 16th century.
There are lots of shopping stores like Forever 21 around and the most famous bakery Koi Kei is exactly opposite. Grab a bunch of peanut candies – the most famous here and enjoy it with a side of this beautiful structure.
6) Dancing Fountains
At the entrance of Wynn hotel in Macau, a dancing fountain starts and ends every 15 minutes and is absolutely free of cost. From 11 am to midnight, air, water and light shimmer and make fantastic patterns on popular music. We went after 7 pm and the colors were magnificent on the the backdrop of a night sky.
7) A Ma Temple
Many Chinese temples are there in Macau and there are high chances you will bump into one or the other. But A Ma is the most popular so if you can fit it in your schedule make a visit. It is a temple and hence it is free of cost attraction in Macau.
8) Gondola Ride & Shoppes
The Venetian Macau hotel, located on Cotai strip is a galaxy of entertainment. It has the gondola ride incase you have not been to Venice and a lane of shops. There are so many more attractions at the hotel, there will never be a dull moment.
9) Casino hopping
The after party of a great day in Macau begins just when it starts getting dark. The black sky is a flawless backdrop to majestic city lights that draw you incessantly. The casinos run 24 hours a day but it is magical to visit them during late hours. We chose the Grand Lisboa, giving in to the guilty pleasures of frisking Macanese Pataca. Until the late hours in the morning – luckily we were staying right next to Grand Lisboa at Hotel Lisboa and hopped back to our rooms soon enough.
Baccarat is the most famous game here so you might want to Youtube it and get a hang if you are planning to play. We tried our luck at the slots but failed miserably!
10) Other things to do –
- There is a wine & grand prix museum which is pretty classy and the Macau history museum right next to Ruins of St. Pauls.
- You can head to Guia fortress and stroll to see the Kun Iam statue.
- Visit Zhuhai – another city which has the Zhuhai Port Plaza, in the basement of which there is a huge flea market selling discounted items. You could make a day trip to this place.
Ultimate Travel Guide to Macau – Where to Eat in Macau for Indians
Pork chop buns and egg noodles are the most famous dishes of Macau but if you are an Indian it is most likely that you are a vegetarian. And being a vegetarian in a Chinese country can be daunting. But do not worry because we have you covered. We chose to eat at local restaurants and would always find 2 vegetarian dishes in the main course. Just be clear and tell them – ‘No Meat’ and repeat it till they understand and nod their heads convincingly. Where to eat in Macau for Indians is going to be a list of Indian restaurants below.
Make do with the chop sticks while you can and then switch to forks. At the end of your meal or before, you will always get complimentary green tea. We ordered noodles and rice between 50-70 (Rs. 500) MOP per dish.
You can also stick to Indian restaurants in Macau. There are about 5 or 6 sprinkled around the town.
The Golden Peacock Indian Restaurant Macau
At the Venetian Macau hotel, the Golden Peacock offers a selection of Indian cuisine in a very fine dine environment. You get a lunch buffet here for 178 MOP (Rs. 1486) per person, which we believe is great, considering the rates of the place.
Indian Spice Restaurant Macau
This is located opposite Kun Iam Statue, very central and walking distance from Wynn and MGM hotel. The main course dishes are priced between MOP 55 – 80 (Rs. 500) per dish.
A take away store – Indian spice express is at the Venetian shopping lanes.
Indian Garden Restaurant Macau
This is very close to Taipa houses museum – about a km walk. Priced between MOP 55- 80 (Rs. 500) per dish.
Pro Tip – Order Chinese dishes at the hotel you stay at. The quality is better, same pricing and it doesnt have the typical Chinese flavour.
Must Eat Food in Macau For Vegetarians
Egg tarts at Lord Stow Bakery
Lord Stow’s bakery is located in the Shoppes lane at Venetian Macau and you must must must get yourself an egg tart from here because they were the pioneer. Egg tarts are one reason we actually went to Macau. Make sure you eat the steaming hot ones coming out of the tray. That’s about MOP 7 each (Rs. 59).
The whiff of sweet sugar might just lead you to the location. The dish became a present in 1950s to the Portuguese rule and till date remains the most popular, replicated by many on the streets of Macau.
Address – 1 Rua da Tassara, Coloane Island, Macau
Gelatin Desert Cake at Mok Yi Kei
Gelatin desert cake is a special Chinese snackable dish and has a whole lot of variety. The most famous being Durian ice cream. Mok Yi Kei is open till 11 pm, making it the perfect late night hang out place after dinner. It is about MOP 29 (Rs. 240).
Address – 9 A, Rua do Cunha, Taipa
Must Eat Food in Macau For Non-Vegetarians
Pork Chop buns at Tai Lei Loi Kei
Pork chop buns are to Macau what Vada Pav is to Mumbai and Chaat is to Delhi. If you are a non-vegetarian this is a must try dish and specially at Tai Lei Loi Kei which starts selling it at 3 pm everyday and goes on untill 6 pm.Mostly it is a sell out by 5 pm and costs MOP 22 each (Rs. 184).
Address – 18, Largo Governador Tamagnini Barbosa, Taipa Village (near the bus terminus, on the corner of Rua do Regedor and Rua Correia da Silva)
Roast Duck at Chan Kong Kei
Roast Duck marinated in special home prepared black pepper sauce – Chan Kong Kei has been doing it for 50 years. And for an amazing price of MOP 65 (Rs. 560).
Address – Rua Do Dr. P José Lobo 19
Beef Brisket Noodles at Hung Pun Kei
Hung Pun Kei’s beef brisket noodles is not for the faint hearted since it is noodles accompanied with a mix of all parts of beef. That is the intestines, blood, liver et all. It is a local favourite and almost every table at this restaurant will order it for MOP 28 (Rs. 240) which by Macau standards is unbelievably cheap.
Address – 58 Rua Correia da Silva, Taipa
Ultimate Travel Guide to Macau – Where to Stay
Budget – Between Rs. 5000 – Rs. 8000
Golden Dragon is really not budget except for its price everything is over the top. The rooms are large, the view is amazing, and the food is great. The service is top class too. When we stayed here, we got an amazing room view and service.
Indoor pool, gym and all of the best facilities, the Harbourview hotel is based on deisgns from Prague. You can even choose a sea view room here.
A km away from Senado sqaure this hotel is majestic for its price. It even has an indoor heated pool and spa facilities. It features true Macanese majestic gold designs in the hotel.
Luxury – Rs. 10,000 & up
We stayed here considering the royal set up and convenient location. Our extensive review of the hotel is here. We would recommend anyone to stay here.
The Venetian Macau is at one of the best locations and offers a lot when you book a room here. Everything from a mini golfcourse to an artificially created Venice themed canals is here.
Located at Cotai strip, Wynn Palace Macau offers incredible experience. It has 13 restaurants in the hotel. You can even take a skycab to reach the heart of the hotel.
ProTip – Split your stay between a budget and luxury hotel to experience it all like we did. It won’t break a bank.
Traveling around Macau
It is quite easy to travel around the city. Most hotels offer free shuttle buses at particular times to main sights of Macau. However the local bus transportation is very friendly too. The fares range between 2.8 MOP (Rs. 23) to 3.2 MOP (Rs. 26) for a single ride. Macau Pataca (MOP) is the city currency. When paying in cash, remember to offer the exact change to the driver else forget the change from the driver. They keep it with them.
Another option is to grab the Macau prepaid pass which works on buses as well as supermarkets like 7-Eleven, K Royal, San Miu etc. and is actually a better option to get cheaper bus tickets. When we bought our bus ticket the price was 3.2 MOP (Rs. 26) but realized later that on tapping the card on the machine next to the driver, the charge was just 2.00 MOP (Rs. 17). However the prepaid card costs 140 MOP (Rs. 1170) and you can use 100 MOP (Rs. 836) out of that for the first time.
Hiring a taxi is expensive but it is available widely if needed, especially late at night while returning from the casino.
Macau is the perfect 3 day holiday city, that you can visit from Hongkong as well as a short trip from India. It is not just for casino lovers while it is also everything a casino lover can expect. Whether it is a family holiday or a solo visit or a couple’s adventure – our ultimate travel guide to Macau will be with you on your vacation.
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