When I visited Hong Kong, I knew I wanted to find time to check out Macau, another autonomous region of China.
We’d planned on spending a day in Macau, but we ended up spending the morning lounging around our hotel (The Upper House), and wanted to be back in time for dinner in Hong Kong Island, so we only ended up spending about ~4 hours in Macau (sans ferry ride).
That meant we didn’t have time to visit the Coti side, but felt like the trip was still worth it to explore a new place.
Why should you visit Macau?
Macau, located on the south coast of China, is most known for its casinos.
It’s one of the oldest European colonies in the Orient. While Hong Kong was a British colony, Macau belonged to the Portuguese. In 1557, Macau was rented to Portugal by the Chinese empire as a trading port. As the last remaining European colony in Asia, sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China in 1999.
Today, Macau is the only place in the world where you’ll find signs written in both Chinese and Portuguese.
Macau is split into two main sections- Taipa is the part with casinos, and the Peninsula is the old part of Macau.
We spent our time in Macau in the Peninsula admiring the Portuguese architecture blended with European and Chinese influence. It felt like we were in Portugal, even though Macau belongs to China.
5 Things to do in Macau
Ruins of St. Paul’s: One of Macau’s best-known landmarks, the ruins were built by the Jesuits in the early 1600s. Many people think they used to be a cathedral, but the ruins are remnants of a Portuguese church and college.
Forte de Macau: The panoramic views from Macau’s historical military center help give an understanding of how different and diverse Macau is. The Museum of Macau is also located at the top of the forte.
Sam Kai Vui Kun (Kuan Tai Temple): Located near Senado Square, the temple’s roots date back to the time of Emperor Qianlong during the Qing Dynasty. Albeit small, this small temple has been a place of worship and venue for local business administrators for several centuries. Inside, you’ll find a tiny courtyard with shrines, incense coils and items of worship.
Senado Square and St. Dominic’s Church: Senado Square used to be a meeting place for both the Portuguese and Chinese back in the day. We came here to see the architecture, but there are also a lot of events that happen in the square. Near the square, you’ll find St. Dominic’s Church.
Egg Tarts at Lord Stow’s: Y’all know I love trying the local food wherever I visit. We visited Macau in between lunch and dinner, and decided we just needed a snack to hold us over for the afternoon. With the blend of Cantonese and Portuguese cuisines, there are plenty of great places to eat in Macau.
After seeing rave reviews for the egg tarts at Lord Stow’s, we headed there in search of a snack. With a flaky outer shell and creamy egg custard filling, you’ll understand why the tarts are so famous.
We didn’t have time to explore the Cotai Strip and casinos, but if you want to see the luxury side of Macau- head here. If you’ve been to Vegas, you’ll notice a lot of similarities. And if you’re in Taipa, but casinos aren’t really your thing, head to Old Taipa Village. The village is one of the only remaining traditional villages existing in the peninsula- think: narrow lanes and colorful colonial houses.
How to Get to Macau
The easiest way to get to Macau from Hong Kong is by ferry. The ferry in Hong Kong leaves at the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal on Hong Kong Island, as well as the China Ferry Terminal in Kowloon.
There are two companies you can choose from, Cotai Water Jet and TurboJet. We were staying on Hong Kong Island and wanted to go to Macau’s Outer Harbour Terminal, so it we opted for TurboJet.
If you want to head to Taipa first, you’ll need to use Cotai Water Jet. You can easily check out both parts of Macau once you’re there by taking a taxi across one of the three bridges that connect the islands.
It costs $42 USD for a round trip ferry ticket with TurboJet. Show up at least 30-45 minutes before the ferry you want to take.
Although the ferries leave regularly, they can sell out on the weekends, and you’ll need to go through border control before heading down to the boarding area. If you’re from the EU, US or AU, you’ll just need your passport for entry- you’ll be given a passport upon arrival.
Once in Macau, we took the A3 bus to Senado Square. To get back to the ferry terminal, we took a taxi (short on time), and were pleased to see it was just as cheap as in Hong Kong- think our ~15 minute ride was ~$5 USD.
And, in case you’re wondering, Macau’s currency is the Macau Pataca MOP, but Hong Kong dollars are accepted as well. As in Hong Kong, most people speak Cantonese, but understand some English.
If you’ve been to Macau, what was your favorite part of the visit?