Macau is easy to visit as a day trip from Hong Kong – and in fact makes for a nice break. If you have time though I would recommend spending two days here so that you don’t feel rushed. For simplicity sake, I will give you an outline for things to do in Macau in one day.
Even though Macau is technically part of China it has a lot of European influence because it was once Portuguese territory. This is very clear once you arrive. While I was there I felt like I was in Europe. Okay – that might be a bit of a stretch but after living in South Korea for over a year, my one day in Macau was a European treat for me. If you are traveling from Europe, Macau might feel more like Asia to you.
I really didn’t know what to make of this place – I mean it has the same casino/hotels as the Las Vegas strip and I ate Mexican food for lunch.
Macau is a great place to just wander around for there are not a lot of things to do. You will want to take your time exploring it since you will easily find yourself getting lost down beautiful side streets and into pretty parks. If you are into photography Macau is also a great destination since the colonial buildings and the mix or Europe with Asia create many interesting and artistic shots.
The most common way to get to Macau is by taking a ferry from Hong Kong. This is what I did. I had originally only planned to see Hong Kong, but after realizing that it didn’t really take much time to see Hong Kong I decided I could afford to spend a day in Macau. In hindsight I wish that I had spent two days in Macau. I felt like a saw a lot of Macau in one day but I would have been able to enjoy things more if I wasn’t so rushed. Macau is a city meant to be aimlessly wandered around – not on a tight schedule. But isn’t everywhere?
At the Hong Hong ferry terminal you can buy a roundtrip ticket. They will show you the return times that you have to choose from.
Remember that when you are going to Macau from Hong Kong you are technically entering a different country so you will need your passport. Before you enter you will go through security but it is a pretty streamlined process. Even though you are entering a different country there is no need to exchange currency since they accept Hong Kong dollars in Macau.
You can use this website to check out your different Ferry options.
Once you step out of the ferry terminal into Macau, you will need to take the underground walkway to the casino buses. These buses take you to the casinos – for free! I hopped on the bus for the Venetian because I wanted to check out the hotel and it was also closest to the areas that I wanted to explore.
Indulge in a Fresh Egg Tart
Once I got off of the free shuttle I went inside the bus I went inside of the casino/hotel. Since I have already been in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, I wasn’t too keen on exploring the hotel. However, I did want to come here to check out Lord Stow’s Bakery. This bakery is the original creator of the famous egg tart. You can’t visit Macau without trying an egg tart – so make sure this is the first thing you do. You will see them everywhere but Lord Stow’s is the best spot to try the real deal.
When you buy your egg tart…or two…or ten, it will be warm and melt in your mouth. The name egg tart doesn’t sound too appetizing, but after biting into this warm, sweet, and creamy dessert – I was sold. It took a lot of self-restraint not to buy ten more.
Tour Taipa Village
After my satisfying treat, I moved onto the next thing to do – visit Taipa village. I headed outside of the Venetian to the main road to jump on a local bus there.
You can also walk there following these directions:
- Walk west along Est. Baia N. S. Esperanca/ Quartel for about 500 yards, and turn right. Then, walk north for about 200 yards to the village.
While on the bus I wasn’t exactly sure what stop to get off at so I just waited until we eventually arrived at an area that looked interesting and that was buzzing with people.
Taipa area is where you can find a lot of Portuguese style buildings. As someone who has fallen deeply in love with Europe, I was in my happy place. I loved exploring random side streets in this area and taking pictures of the buildings with their beautiful architecture and colours.
There is a main street here that is buzzing with people and shops. Shop workers are outside on the street offering free samples for you to try of all sorts of treats. There is a popular bakery that had storms of people in it. I went inside to check it out to see what all the fuss was about. The bakery was interesting – but I think the word ‘bakery’ is a bit of a stretch since I don’t think anything was really cooked fresh on the store grounds. Instead everything was wrapped in really interesting packaging. My favourite part was that there were free samples for almost everything that they were selling.
Walking down this busy streets there was a lot of food for sale. I saw some more egg tarts and so obviously had to stop to try another one to see how it compared to Lord Stow’s. It was good but couldn’t live up to the original egg tart creator. Instead, these tarts were more greasy and less fresh tasting.
There is a sign with a city map that you can use as your guide to get around. I used this to help me go visit an old and small temple. No one was around except for one woman sweeping the floor. It was dark and smokey in eery yet mystifying way.
There is also a park here that was peacefully pleasant to walk around with people doing tai chi and couples holding hands.
After wandering around for bit, I wanted to make my way over to the city centre. The buses in Macau are very, very confusing and nobody speaks English so it is hard to find people to help you. I had been warned about this before but thought I would be able to figure it out anyway. nope.
However, I was eventually lucky enough to finally find a man who spoke English and could direct me to the proper bus stop, the bus number, and tell me what stop to get off at. The bus stop was a bit of a walk from where I was, and I definitely would not have found it on my own. If you can find a taxi that will save you a lot of time and trouble.
Check Out St. Paul’s Church
Once I got to the central area, I decided to stop messing around and went into the first information centre that I saw. From here I picked up a map and with new confidence headed toward St. Paul’s Church.
The church is an iconic piece of Macau that you can’t miss. To be honest though, there isn’t too much to see – it’s all been destroyed. All that remains of this masterpiece is the front end – but it is actually pretty interesting to see just the standing front face of a church.
This is the main tourist sight in Macau so it will be a busy area and the walk there even busier. The streets are packed with people, restaurants and shops. It is an interesting place to see and the crowds will definitely make you feel like you are in Asia.
Next to St. Paul’s church I saw a park area and decided to check it out. The park had a pathway that led up to the top of a hill. I followed the path up to where there was a fortress and Macao Museum. Once again, lacking on time I didn’t go into the museum but the fortress area in itself was super neat to check out.
The top of the hill was beautiful and when I looked over the stone wall I got an amazing view of the city as the sun was beginning to set in the sky. It was this view that gave me a real sense for the city. The buildings were all very old and rundown looking – but there was something beautiful about the character that these old buildings had.
Also, don’t do what I do and sit on the fortress wall. I had security come up and yell at me for it. On second thought, maybe you should – it was totally worth it.
After the fortress I decided to walk down the hill taking a different pathway. This is where I got lost. But – to be frank – Macau is a city for getting lost in. Every street I came across seemed to beckon me to come and explore it. So I did. I came across a lovely little shop that was selling tea and so decided to try one.
I ordered a honey, ginger, green tea. Oh my gosh. This was one of the best teas that I have ever had! You know it’s good because I am randomly writing about a cup of tea that I had instead of my travel experience in Macau. I feel the need to write about it because it was a little shop in such a random location that I highly doubt you will come across it on your own – never mind go in if you do see it. So if you feel like having an amazing cup of tea on your wanders here is the where to find the Tea Inn – you’re welcome.
Crash the Casinos
At night I walked over to the casinos. But when in Macau I decided to at least go in and check it out.
If gambling is your thing then you might as well take part in the activity that this city is famous for. I am not much of a gambler – if you haven’t noticed from my wild travel stories I am not a very lucky person It was – but it’s worth taking a peek inside. It’s pretty amazing seeing all the high-rolling Chinese gambling against each other. Too intimidating for me while wearing my sneakers and backpack so I left pretty quickly.
Walk Along the Waterfront
I walked down to the water front where there was a walking path. From here there is a nice view of the buildings lighting up the night sky with their vibrant colours and you can see the lights of the bridge shining across the water.
All of the casinos and waterfront are located near the small bus terminal that takes you back to the ferry. They have a ticket desk here where you can ask them which bus to take to the ferry terminal.
As you drift away from the port you will wave good-bye to your amazing day in Macau.