Before we formally bid China goodbye, we left our beloved Hong Kong to experience the mystical Macau. I’ve heard a lot about Macau and pretty much everyone recommended that I visit once I told them I would already be in Hong Kong in the better part of a week.
Macau was an elegant blend of Eastern culture and Western influence. It’s got a lot of shopping and gambling, of course, and indeed makes for a great short getaway from it’s neighbor, Hong Kong.
11:am arrival after a 1 hour ferry ride from Hong Kong
Arrive in the morning by ferry from Hong Kong. The roughly 1 hour ferry ride offers a scenic and relaxing view while you cruise the calm waters between the islands. If you know you’re traveling during a busy day, try to get the the terminal early to buy your ticket. We purchased our ticket from a ticket scalper who sold us regular-priced tickets from a sold-out ferry since we only got there 20 mins before the scheduled departure.
Once you’ve arrived at the Macau ferry terminal, you can head to the casinos right away on one of the free shuttles provided by the hotels and casinos. Or, you can take the bus for ~20 mins into the heart of Macau.
Noon: Senado Square
Senado Square is quaint town square with traditional Portuguese mosaic that echoed the architecture of what I saw when I was in Porto last summer. Stroll the area and check out the buildings nearby. The Square is a UNESCO World Heritage city and was the civic square of Macau when it was a Portuguese colony. Stalls in the streets and alleys around the square offer souvenirs and decent food.
As someone who spent a year living in Europe, I have to say that the architecture is not as authentic or grand as you would find if you were actually in a European country. Still, the uniqueness of its location, and the proximity of Macau to mainland China, makes this unexpected find worth the visit.
2pm: Checkout the Ruins of St Paul’s
Depending on the time of year, you may find yourself among a pretty big sea of tourists at Senado Square. If so, follow the flow of the crowd as it twists and turns into the narrow streets and find yourself at the foot of the Ruins of St. Paul’s. What once used to be an impressive cathedral like those you’d find in the European capitals, today only the church’s facade remains. The rest was burned down in the 1800s, but it’s still worth walking the grounds and checking out the artifacts they have on exhibit.
3pm: Head to Ah Ma Temple
You’ve just enjoyed the ornate facade of St Paul’s cathedral, so now let’s switch it up and visit one of the many Chinese temples in Macau. Ah Ma Temple is a famous one, along with Na Tcha Temple. Follow the traditions and light an incense while you’re there.
4:30pm: Get up the Macau Tower
I’m generally a big fan of going to a viewpoint with great height advantage. As a photographer, I’m almost certain that it would produce a great image of a city. At 338 meters tall, the Macau Tower is a popular attraction with an observation deck. You can even bungee jump from the tower, which more than 1 friend of mine has done in the past.
6pm: See you at the slots
Macau rivals Vegas as the biggest gambling hub, and no trip to Macau is complete without at least spending some time in the casinos. Even if you aren’t going to gamble, some of the casinos have ornate interiors that are worth checking out. Wynn Macau is one such casino, and some would probably say the same about the Venetian Macau, although I admit that the fake sky in the Venetian really makes me feel boxed in. Spend the rest of your night enjoying Macau lit up in the glimmers of the casino strip or find yourself reveling in your good fortunes at the casino tables.