A mix of Asian and Portuguese influences, Macao culture and traditions make this a unique destination in the world that deserves mention. Known for its abundant casinos, this former Lisbon colony now dependent on China with a special independence status similar to that of Hong Kong, located just an hour away by ferry, holds a handful of incredible cultural and religious attractions, as well as a historical and culinary heritage of the most varied. This Special Administrative Region also has some Las Vegas with its clear bet on casinos, five-star hotels, entertainment and a great deal of Asian luxury. I assure you that Macao is a city that should be dedicated much more than a single day.Where is Macao?
The most densely populated city on the planet, it winks at its neighboring Hong Kong, to be one of the most vigorous destinations in Asia. Macao is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) from neighboring Hong Kong. It consists of four principal areas, the Macao Peninsula (home to the Historic Centre), the islands of Coloane and Taipa, which are now attached by landfill forming the fourth region of Cotai (home to the Cotai Strip and utmost of the new casino resorts).How do I get there?
Macao Airport only operates intracontinental flights, so to get to the island the best option is to fly to Hong Kong and from there take the ferry that combines both territories. The journey takes approximately one hour, and the cost of the ticket is quite affordable. Ferries from various companies continuously depart from the Hong Kong-Macao terminal in the central port. There are also ships to Macao that are taken at Hong Kong International Airport. Usually, ferry ride takes one hour, and there hold two options. Ferry mover TurboJET (Red ferry) goes directly to the Macao Peninsula ferry terminal every 15 minutes. And the other ferry operative, Cotai Jet (Blue ferry) goes straight to the Cotai terminal, every 30 mins. Amidst easy access to the Cotai Strip and Taipa Island.
Do you need a visa to travel to Macao?
Macao does not require an entry visa for stays less than 90 days. It is only necessary to be in possession of a passport with a validity of at least six months. Of course, this is valid if you access Macao from Hong Kong without entering Hongkong as nowadays you need visa approval to enter HK. If you have previously planned to stay in China, you will, of course, need a Chinese visa (and double entry if you plan to return to the eastern country later).Picture Credits : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Macau#/media/File:Macau_Arrival_Card.png
What language is spoken in Macao?
The official languages in Macao are Cantonese Chinese and Portuguese, but the reality is that very few people speak Portuguese. Although Cantonese Chinese is the official language, many people also speak Mandarin Chinese. English is also widely known – mostly in the casino resorts and main tourist areas. Still, if you’re using taxis, it might be beneficial to look up the Chinese address of a place on Google Maps and show that to the taxi driver.How many days do you need to see Macao?
As I mentioned at the beginning, many people dedicate only one day to see Macao. However, I think the ideal would be to spend at least 2 or 3 days. Macao is a region divided into three zones: Macao peninsula and the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are united to Macao by several bridges. Usually, people who only spend one day to see Macao focuses on knowing the historical district, located in Macao peninsula. But if you have two days or more, it would be ideal, and I would distribute it as follows:
First day in Macao: Dedicated to knowing the historical center and the most traditional side of the city, concentrated in the peninsula of Macao.Second day: Time to get to know the most luxurious and modern side of the city, for which you must visit Macao peninsula and also the island of Taipa, where the most famous and beautiful casinos are located.
The third day: It is the turn of discovering the small but lovely island of Coloane, a quiet area, which still retains the Portuguese essence in each of its narrow streets.How to get around Macao?
If there is something cheap in Macao, that is transportation. The bus network of Macao is excellent mainly for three reasons: the price, the efficiency and the facility to use it. The buses are punctual, and it is straightforward to take them since at the stops you will find signs that indicate the routes of each line. Besides, most Macao busses have Wi-Fi, and public address announce stops in Portuguese and English, which makes things much more comfortable.If you are planning to go by bus in Macao, I recommend that you download the MacaoGo app on your mobile phone. It will be useful for a lot of things related to the buses, among them, will help you to find the nearest stop to you depending on the destination to which you are heading.As for taxis, in Macao are a little cheaper but not too much. Most taxi drivers do not speak English, so always take the Chinese address.
Where to stay in Macao?
As for the area to stay in Macao, I would recommend you stay in Macao mainland or if you do not find anything in Taipa. Avoid staying in Coloane because the bus ride from Coloane to Macao is quite large (not so much for the distance in kilometers but for the number of stops that the buses make the trip).
Where to eat in Macao?
Macao’s cuisine is almost sacred – Macanese cuisine subtly mixes Chinese, Portuguese, Indian, Malay and African influences. Each region of China has its food, and because of the proximity of Macao with the Chinese province of Canton, Cantonese cuisine is very common in this city. However, in Macao, you can find food from all over China, and that is what most of all.
Try Urban Kitchen, Sai Van On Kei, Sio Hong Mao, Cafe Castle and Lord Stow’s Bakery for your best chance of tasting good Macanese cuisine.
Is Macao a safe place to visit?For the most portion, Macou is very safe, and visitors experience shallow levels of crime. Nevertheless, visitors should take the usual precautions that they would take in any city, e.g., take special care of passports, credit cards and money in crowded areas and late at night.
In Macao, the most exciting thing to bring home as the souvenir is gold jewelry and Chinese antiques. It is nice to look for bargains in the sidewalk markets located around Rua das Estalagens. In the market of Sao Domingos and Rua Cinco de Outubro, you will find branded clothes at almost balance prices. Shops open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., from Monday to Saturday, and close on Sundays. Some stores are open until 9:30 p.m. on Sundays. Casinos open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, even when there are typhoons!
Traveling to Macao for almost a week I have found a destination that mixes many of the things I like. My fondness for Chinese culture and my zest for Portugal. A great collection of historical heritage, leisure options at all times and an excellent gastronomy that alone justifies reaching this Special Administrative Region of which is not spoken very often.
I think Macao is worth it And that having a giant like Hong Kong alongside the possibility of combining both cities is always tempting.