Macau is like a little piece of Asia mixed with Europe and sprinkled with casinos. The whole city has a unique vibe, with fancy hotels just steps away from ancient temples. You can see the Portuguese influence in its food and colonial architecture. And of course, there are a lot of places to eat, like traditional Macanese food and Portuguese egg tarts. Here’s my Macau travel guide – everything you need to know about getting there, language, currency, where to stay, and what to eat.
SEE ALSO: Things To Do In Macau
WHERE IS MACAU
Located on the southern coast of China, Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the country and it’s very close to Hong Kong.
HOW TO GET TO MACAU
You can fly into the Macau airport or you can fly into Hong Kong and take the ferry to Macau. It only takes about an hour each way, so it’s even possible to visit Macau on a day trip from Hong Kong. Just don’t forget to bring your passport!
There are two main ferry services and prices vary based on seat class and travel dates. TurboJet takes you to the terminal in Macau where free shuttles transport you to the city center. Cotai Water Jet takes you to Taipa, closer to the Cotai Strip and larger casinos, and free shuttles transport you to big hotels like The Venetian, The Four Seasons, and The Parisian.
Tickets: TurboJet, Cotai Water Jet
Price: $164-200 HKD one way, depending on whether you’re traveling during a weekday, weekend, or at night when prices are higher.
Most people in Macau speak Cantonese and English. Many of the street vendors only speak Cantonese. That’s me shooting photos of the congi at a local congi street vendor.
Macau’s official currency is the Macanese Pataca (MOP), but the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) is also accepted nearly everywhere.
Local establishments accept MOP and HKD at a 1:1 rate, but the HKD is actually about 3% more valuable. Because of this, you’ll get a little more bang for your buck if you use MOP, but just be aware that you’ll only be able to spend it in Macau and not Hong Kong! If you’re just quickly visiting from Hong Kong, you’ll be fine with HKD. Many casinos require you to gamble with HKD anyway.
CASINOS IN MACAU?
The rumors are true, Macau is like Vegas with all its glitzy casinos, but the gambling here is much more professional. Professional to the point where they don’t serve free drinks like in Vegas because most gamblers want to stay clear headed.
Macau actually generates more money from gambling than Vegas! Gambling goes on 24 hours a day here and it’s pretty expensive to get in on the action at some of the bigger casinos. Many of the flashy, Vegas-style casinos are located along the Cotai Strip in Taipa.
Some of the biggest, most popular casinos include The Venetian (it’s the biggest in Macau and has the world’s largest casino floor), City of Dreams, the Wynn Macau, Grand Lisboa, MGM Macau, Galaxy, Studio City, and The Parisian.
There are also some cheaper, slightly old-fashioned casinos closer to the Macau city center like Kam Pek, Golden Dragon, Oceanus, and Babylon.
WHERE TO STAY IN MACAU
There are lots of places to stay in Macau. Choose the Cotai Strip if you’re into gambling and the Vegas vibe or the center of Macau if you’re here for sightseeing.
I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental (poolside photo above), which is located right on the water and about a 25-minute walk (or a short taxi ride) to the historic center. It was contemporary and chic, with amazing service, a luxurious spa, and an infinity pool with views of the waterfront. You could even watch the sunset while sipping cocktails at their restaurant and bar, Vida Rica. There’s no casino, but it’s just next to the Wynn and MGM Macau if you want to gamble.
WHAT TO EAT IN MACAU
Macau is where traditional southern Chinese cuisine mixes with the region’s Portuguese colonial roots to create food you can’t find anywhere else in the world. You can have elegant afternoon tea at one of the luxury hotels or delicious, cheap noodles from a street vendor.
SEE ALSO: 29 Iconic Macau Foods You Have to Eat
Portuguese egg tarts are the number-one food you have to try here, but Macau is also known for its pork chop buns, almond cookies, meat jerky, curry noodles, and African chicken.