Honestly, What is and isn’t considered Chinese can actually be very confusing and then along comes Macau and just confuses you even more. I know I have said this about just about everyplace I have written a mini guide for but I really do want to come back here.
It’s a lot like Hanoi in a way that you have the vibe of an Asian city and society but then you look around and you really can see the European influence. It’s also just a short ferry ride away from Hong Kong so if you are already seeing Hong Kong you do not have much of an excuse outside of time. I highly recommend a day trip, it will be well worth it.
Currently, Macau is a special administrative region of China (probably going to stay that way for a very long time). For travelers, this means they have their own currency and different visa requirements (most people do not need one, this is completely opposite from mainland China) Its interesting to note that up until 1999 Macau was a Portuguese settlement. This is something that is really noticed with the architecture of many of the buildings and just the whole vibe of the place to begin with.
Basically ever since Portugal handed everything back over to the Chinese it’s become widely known as the Las Vegas of Asia. As soon as you get off the boat from Hong Kong you will see tons of buses that will give you a free ride to any casino of your choice, that's right 100% free. And if you are not wanting to see the casinos you have to pay and take a local city bus. If you decided to go to the casinos (which is what I did, not sure I would fully recommend doing that) first it can be a little difficult to make it to the other side to see the more historic side. However, this is nothing a slightly expensive cab ride can’t fix or long but very cheap bus ride.
Macau is split into two main islands and on one side you have almost all of the casinos and on the other, you have most of the deep history and more ethnically cultural part. On the casino side, everything is very new and modern and most things outside of the casinos are actually written in Chinese as that is the target tourist market. On the other side, you will see the very deep Portuguese roots being blended with the Chinese influence which makes for some interesting sights.
Special administrative district of China
Population: Roughly 566,375
Land size:11.39 mi²
Currency: Macanese pataca
Language: Chinese & Portuguese
My recommendations for things to do in Macau
- Ruins of St. Paul Cathedral – This is actually at the top of every guide book for the number one thing to see in Macau. Well, I happen to agree with them.
- Senado Square – If you don’t see the Portuguese influence visiting this spot then, well, something is wrong with you.
- Venetian Macau – This is currently the world’s largest casino. It has 3,000 rooms and 350 international shops. This place is huge and the inside is made to look like different European cities.
- Macau Tower – This is the 10th largest free-standing tower in the world and the 8th largest in Asia standing at 338 meters. You can literally see this tower from just about anywhere while visiting Macau. For the super brave you can actually Bungee jump off of it (something 2 of my friends actually did, I must mention it is not cheap at all though, the big factor on why I did not do it.)
- A Ma Temple – This place is actually how Macau got its name and is a pretty interesting site.
- Kun Iam Statue
Quick thing to note almost everywhere will also accept Hong Kong Dollars and the exchange rate is currently 1 for 1 and I expect it to stay that way for the ongoing future. When you pay with Hong Kong Dollar they will give you back Pataca and try to spend just that while you are in Macau because once you leave it can be more than a little difficult finding a place willing to exchange it.
What are your thoughts on Macau? Have you ever been and what would you recommend?
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