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MACAO TRAVEL GUIDE

Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. A Portuguese territory until 1999, it reflects a mix of cultural influences. Its giant casinos and malls on the Cotai Strip, which joins the islands of Taipa and Coloane, have earned it the nickname, "Las Vegas of Asia." One of its more striking landmarks is the tall Macau Tower, with sweeping city views.

 

Macau was one of the earliest European colonies in Asia and the last to be relinquished and thus has an even more visible colonial history than Hong Kong. Walking through the old city you could convince yourself you were in Europe - if the streets were devoid of people and signs not in Chinese, that is. The Portuguese and Macanese populations continue to maintain a presence but, as expected, most of the population is native Chinese.

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  • Capital: Macau
  • Government: Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
  • Currency: Macau Pataca (MOP) (official) and Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) (circulates)
  • Area: total: 28.2 km²
  • Population: 631 636 (2018)
  • Language: Portuguese and Chinese (Cantonese) (official languages), Chinese (Mandarin) and English (spoken in tourist areas)
  • Religion:Buddhist 92.3%, Christian (chiefly Roman Catholic) 6%, none and other 1.7% (2011 est.)
  • Electricity: 220V, 50Hz (rounded 3-pin 5A and 15A plug and UK 13A plug)

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SEASONS AT A GLANCE

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Climate Chart with avergae monthly temperatues and rainfall

BEST TIME TO VISIT MACAO

Macao has a tropical monsoon climate, with two distinct seasons: the rainy season and the dry season.

  • The rainy season in Macao typically runs from May to September, during which the weather is hot and humid, with occasional thunderstorms. The average temperature during this time is around 30°C (86°F).
  • The dry season runs from October to April, during which the weather is milder and drier, with temperatures averaging around 22°C (72°F). This is generally considered the best time to visit Macao for tourism, as the weather is more comfortable and there are fewer tourists.

It's worth noting that Macao can be affected by typhoons during the rainy season, which can bring strong winds and heavy rain to the region. Visitors should check the forecast and be prepared for potential disruptions to travel plans.

 

The best time to visit Macao depends on personal preference and what you would like to do during your visit. The weather in Macao is generally warm and humid throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 22-33°C (72-91°F). If you would like to enjoy the beach, the best time to visit would be between May and September, when the water is warm and the weather is sunny. If you're looking to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit would be between October and April, when the weather is milder and there are fewer tourists. Please keep in mind that the City may be more crowded during Chinese New Year, Macau Grand Prix, Wine Festival, and other events.

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MACAO TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to Macao can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the time of year you plan to visit, your mode of transportation, and your accommodation and activities.

  • Airfare: The cost of a round-trip flight from major cities in Asia and North America to Macao can range from around $300 to $1000, depending on the departure location and time of booking.
  • Accommodation: The cost of accommodation in Macao can range from budget-friendly options like hostels and guesthouses, which can cost as little as $20 per night, to luxury hotels, which can cost over $300 per night.
  • Transportation: The cost of transportation in Macao can vary depending on how you plan to get around. Public transportation options such as buses and ferries are relatively inexpensive, with fares ranging from $0.5 to $3. Taxis are also readily available, but tend to be more expensive, with fares starting at around $3.50, and going up to $5 for a short ride.
  • Food and drinks: The cost of food and drinks in Macao can vary depending on where you choose to eat and drink. Street food and local restaurants are generally more affordable, with meals costing around $5 to $10. Fine dining restaurants can be more expensive, with prices ranging from $20 to $50 or more for a meal.
  • Activities: The cost of activities in Macao can vary depending on what you plan to do. Some popular tourist attractions, such as the historic center of Macau and the Macau Tower, have free admission, while others, such as casinos and theme parks, can be quite expensive, with prices ranging from $20 to $50 or more.

All in all, it's possible to visit Macao on a budget, but it also depends on your taste and lifestyle. A budget of $50-100 per day should cover accommodation, food, transportation, and some activities for budget travellers.

 

Here is a sample budget for a 3-day visit to Macao:

  • Airfare: $500 (round-trip from a major city in Asia or North America)
  • Accommodation: $90 ($30 per night for a budget hotel or guesthouse)
  • Transportation: $20 ($5 per day for buses and ferries)
  • Food and drinks: $60 ($20 per day for meals and drinks)
  • Activities: $50 ($20 for entrance fees and $30 for other activities)

Total: $730

 

Please note that this is just a rough estimate, and your actual expenses may vary depending on your specific travel plans and preferences. It's a good idea to budget a bit more for unexpected expenses or emergencies.

 

Also, it's possible to save money by staying in a budget friendly hostel, cooking some of your own meals or opting for street food, and looking for free activities such as visiting the historic center of Macau or the Macau Museum.

 

Keep in mind that Macau is known for its high-end shopping, dining and entertainment and also for its casinos, so if you plan to indulge in those activities, your budget may vary accordingly.

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR MACAO

Here are some travel tips for visiting Macao:

  • Plan ahead: Research your travel itinerary, including transportation, accommodation, and activities, and make reservations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
  • Know the currency: Macao uses the Macau Pataca (MOP) as its official currency. You can also use Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) in Macao, but it's best to have some MOP on hand for small purchases and tips.
  • Get a free Tourist Map and information at the Macau Tourism Center: They have locations in the Macau Ferry Terminal, the Macau International Airport, and at the Border Gate. They offer free maps, brochures and can help you plan your trip.
  • Be aware of the language: While English is widely spoken in Macao, it's helpful to know a few basic phrases in Cantonese or Mandarin, as not all locals speak English.
  • Be prepared for the weather: Macao has a tropical climate and can be hot and humid, especially during the summer months, so bring a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of water.
  • Take advantage of free shuttles: Many of the casinos offer free shuttles to and from the ferry terminal, it's a good way to save money on transportation.
  • Take advantage of the free Wi-Fi: Macao offers free Wi-Fi service in many public places, including the airport, hotels, and popular tourist attractions.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: As in any other tourist destination, it's always good to be aware of your surroundings and take the usual precautions to protect your valuables.
  • Don't forget your passport: Macao is a Special Administrative Region of China, so you will need your passport to enter and exit the city.

REGIONS & HIGHLIGHTS OF MACAO

Macao is divided into three main regions:

  1. The Macau Peninsula: This is the oldest and most historic part of Macao, and is home to many of the city's most famous landmarks, such as the Ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, the A-Ma Temple, and the Senado Square. The peninsula also has several museums, including the Macau Museum and the Wine Museum, and is home to the city's famous casinos and high-end shopping and dining.
  2. Taipa Island: This island is connected to the Macau Peninsula by bridges and is home to the Macau International Airport. Taipa is known for its colonial architecture and traditional Chinese-Portuguese fusion cuisine. The island is also home to several casinos and the popular "Cotai Strip", an area of reclaimed land that features several large casinos and resorts.
  3. Coloane Island: This is the most rural of the three regions, and is known for its beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and traditional village atmosphere. Coloane is home to the A-Ma Cultural Village, which features a replica of the A-Ma Temple and other exhibits on Macau's cultural heritage, and the Tam Kung Temple, a traditional Chinese temple dedicated to Tam Kung, a Taoist deity.

Some highlights of each region:

  • Macau Peninsula: The historic center of Macau, Senado Square, Ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, A-Ma Temple, Macau Museum, casinos, and high-end shopping.
  • Taipa Island: The Macau International Airport, colonial architecture, traditional Chinese-Portuguese fusion cuisine, casinos, and Cotai Strip.
  • Coloane Island: Beautiful beaches, hiking trails, A-Ma Cultural Village, Tam Kung Temple, and traditional village atmosphere.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN MACAO

Macao is known for its unique blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, and there are many things to see and do when visiting the city. Here are some of the best things to see and do:

  • Visit the Historic Center of Macau: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to many of Macao's most famous landmarks, including the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, the A-Ma Temple, and the Senado Square.
  • Explore the Casinos: Macao is known for its casinos and is the gambling capital of Asia. It has some of the most famous and luxurious casinos in the world.
  • Visit the Macau Museum: This museum offers a comprehensive overview of Macao's history, culture, and heritage.
  • Take a stroll along the Cotai Strip: This area of reclaimed land features several large casinos and resorts and is a good place to experience the city's nightlife and entertainment.
  • Explore the Taipa Village: This charming traditional village is known for its colonial architecture and traditional Chinese-Portuguese fusion cuisine.
  • Go to the beaches of Coloane: This island is known for its beautiful beaches and is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.
  • Take a boat tour: Take a boat tour to the nearby islands, such as Taipa, Coloane, and the outer islands of Ilha Verde, where you can see the natural beauty of the region and learn about the history and culture of Macao.
  • Visit the Venetian Macau: A large luxury resort and casino, it has replicas of famous Venetian landmarks, as well as a shopping mall, an indoor canal, and gondola rides.
  • Take a cable car ride: Take a cable car ride to the top of Guia Hill for a panoramic view of the city, and the Macau Tower observation deck is also a great option for a panoramic view of the city.
  • Enjoy the food: Macao has a diverse culinary scene that reflects its unique blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, with many traditional Chinese and Portuguese restaurants, as well as international cuisines.

WHAT TO EAT IN MACAO

Macao is known for its unique blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, and this is reflected in its diverse culinary scene. Here are some of the best things to eat when visiting Macao:

  • Macanese cuisine: This is a fusion of Chinese and Portuguese cuisines and is unique to Macao. Some popular dishes include Minchi (a dish made with minced meat and potatoes), African chicken (a spicy chicken dish with piri-piri sauce), and Bacalhau (a dish made with salted cod).
  • Dim sum: Macao is known for its delicious dim sum, and there are many restaurants that serve a wide variety of steamed and fried dumplings.
  • Seafood: Macao is surrounded by water and has access to a wide variety of fresh seafood. Some popular seafood dishes include shrimp, crab, and fish.
  • Egg tarts: This is a popular dessert in Macao, which is a flaky pastry crust filled with a sweet custard filling.
  • Portuguese wine: Macao was a Portuguese colony for centuries, and there are many restaurants that serve Portuguese wine.
  • Chinese tea: Macao has a long history of tea culture, and there are many tea houses that serve traditional Chinese tea.
  • Almond cookies: These are a traditional Macanese cookie that are made with almonds and are often served with tea.
  • Cashew nuts: Cashew nuts are produced in Macao and are often served as a snack.
  • Pork chop buns: This is a popular street food in Macao and it is made with a crispy pork chop and a bun.
  • Milk pudding: A traditional Chinese dessert made with milk, sugar, and egg yolks which is creamy, sweet, and very delicious.

It's also worth noting that Macao has a wide variety of international cuisine options available, from Italian to Japanese and Thai.

LGBTQ IN MACAO

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WHERE TO STAY IN MACAO

For a first-time visit to Macau, it's recommended to base yourself in the Macau Peninsula, as it offers convenient access to major attractions, historical sites, and vibrant nightlife. Here's why:


Where To Stay In Macau (Peninsula):

The Macau Peninsula is the historic center of Macau and home to many of its iconic landmarks, including UNESCO-listed historic sites, bustling markets, and modern casinos. Explore attractions like the Ruins of St. Paul's, Senado Square, and A-Ma Temple.

  • Budget: Ole Tai Sam Un Hotel offers affordable accommodations with clean rooms and basic amenities, located near major attractions and public transportation.

  • Mid-range: Hotel Lisboa Macau provides comfortable rooms and modern facilities, including a casino and entertainment complex, with a central location in the heart of the peninsula.

  • Luxury: The Venetian Macao offers luxurious accommodations with upscale amenities, including spacious suites, a shopping mall, and a variety of dining options, in a sprawling resort complex.

Tip: Visit Macau during the weekdays and avoid major holidays or festivals for better rates and fewer crowds, and consider booking accommodations directly through hotel websites for potential discounts or special offers.


Additionally, for those seeking a more relaxed atmosphere away from the bustling city center, consider staying in the following region:


Where To Stay in the Cotai Strip of Macau:

The Cotai Strip is a newer area of Macau known for its luxury resorts, entertainment complexes, and world-class dining options.

  • Budget: There are limited budget accommodations on the Cotai Strip, but nearby areas like Taipa or Coloane may offer more affordable options.

  • Mid-range: Sheraton Grand Macao offers comfortable rooms and family-friendly amenities, including a pool and children's club, in a convenient location on the Cotai Strip.

  • Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton Macau provides luxurious accommodations with exquisite design and unparalleled service, including exclusive access to The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge and VIP experiences.

Tip: Consider booking accommodations on the Cotai Strip during weekdays or non-peak periods for better rates and take advantage of package deals that may include additional perks such as spa credits or dining vouchers.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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Booking.com is our number one resource for researching and booking accommodation. In addition to Booking.com, we have found Agoda.com to consistently returns the cheapest rates in Southeast Asia. For longer stays, find unique homes worldwide on Holiday Swap, the most affordable travel platform that allows you to book homes anytime, anywhere in only a few clicks.

TRANSPORT

DiscoverCars.com is a leader in online car rental bookings; we compare car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. 12Go connects the world door-to-door, from transfers to flights, under the same user-friendly ticket.

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