They say Macau is one of the top 20 destinations to be seen in the world. I say, if you’ve been to Las Vegas, USA and Barcelona Spain, you’ve got Macau covered. However, if you are visiting the high paced Hong Kong and have got an extra day at hand, Macau deserves a visit.
About Macau: Long story short, Macau is the biggest resort and casino hub (located in the modern part of town) in Asia along with some beautiful UNESCO World Heritage sites (located in the older part of the town). Macau is one of the special administrations of China. Having being recently come under Chinese control, Macau appears to be China’s prodigal, rebellious child with China’s limited cultural censorship. Interesting to note is that Macau is one of the very few regions in Asia with a “very high Human Development Index“. Japan ranks the highest with the highest HDI in Asia.
After spending 4 days in Hong Kong, we decided to visit Macau. It was a full action packed day that left us absorbing all the smells, views and vibes of the city.
Travel: The idle mode of transport from Hong Kong to Macau is via Ferry. We had to buy premium tickets as the cheaper ones were all sold out by the time we got to the station. It’s important to note that ferry prices vary across the days of the week and during the hours of the day as well. Ferry prices are generally higher in the evening, on weekends and on holidays.
We took ferry a 2.00 pm ferry from China Ferry Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui and reached at 3.30pm at Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal. So we just had roughly 7 hours to see the city and get back to catch a return Ferry at midnight. To make most of these 7 hours we hitched a cab for HKD $600 for 3 hours. Driver promised us to show almost all the major tourist spots before the sunset and then drop us at the Hotel of our choice. We ended up paying HKD $700 for 3 and 1/2 hours as Venetian hotel (on Cotai Strip) was on opposite side of the bridge.
IMP: despite being part of China, you’ll need passport and visa (on arrival) to travel between these Hong Kong and Macau.
Before exploring the casinos, we decided to visit Old Macau, the Portuguese Orient: Old part of the city has got a strong Portuguese influence with cobbled streets that run from old church to A-Ma Temple. These beautiful stone Mosaic patterns can been see on the main courtyard of Senado Square and of A-Ma temple and are iconic of the Portuguese architecture style in Macau.
1) Senado Square: We started our Macau trip with Senado Square. Decorated with tassels, crowded with locals and visitors alike, Senado Square welcomed us with a huge christmas tree. It’s known and clearly distinguished by the iconic black and white wave-like mosiac patteren on the floor. Senado Square has been a commercial hub for centuries now and still hosts a plethora of fine dining restaurants, high end branded shops and is a touted venue for many of the Macau’s celebrations.
2) Ruins of St Paul: After our visit to the square we headed for Ruins of St Paul. A UNESCO world heritage site Cathedral of St. Paul was originally built in 17th century. What makes it interesting is that it was destroyed by fire in 1835 & what was left is just a few remains along with the facade of the Church & St Paul’s college. It’s one of most visited and the oldest attractions of Macau, and hence a must visit.
3) A-Ma Temple: Another one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Macau, A-Ma Temple is a graceful small temple built in 1488 in honor of Goddess Matsu, the goddess of seafarers. Built in Chinese temple architectural style, it smells beautiful with its coils and coils of incense. While on your way up and down the temple, you might hear tourists and guides narrate the tales of the goddess and how she used to protect and bless fishermen. Its a lovely little site that is also adorned with Portuguese style cobbled, mosaic pathway.
4) Macau Tower: 338 meters in height, the Macau Tower is the world’s 10th highest freestanding tower. It has an Outdoor Observation Deck that offers a panoramic view of the Macau City, China, the Pearl River and even some islands of Hong Kong. It also has a revolving restaurant with capacity to accommodate 250 people. It completes a full circle, giving the view of the entire city in appox. 60 minutes. We skipped the observation deck as it was a foggy day for a clear view and were running extremely short on time.
5) Kun Iam Statue: Sun was setting when we reached this beautiful statue of Kun Iam. Dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, this bronze statue is 20 meters tall and has messages written from Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism on its lotus shaped base.
6) Macau Fisherman’s Warf: Are you a Seafood lover? Look no place else and head to Fisherman’s Warf to get a taste of Cantonese style seafood and wontons. Located in the outer harbor, its latest avatar draws inspiration from the Colosseum of Rome and hosts number of options for seafood lovers, shopping and entertainment.
7) Venetian Macau: The younger/ modern part of the city is in sync with moolah thanks to 5 of the 10 top world renowned casinos located in the city. If your prime focus is casinos, you can catch a designated bus to your hotel, available from the ferry stand. The hotel busses will lead you directly to the hotel of your choice. We chose Venetian because of my love for its faux sky, Venetian canals, gondola rides and the huge array of brands and shops.
We tried our luck at slots and won a dozen of dollars that we proudly cashed at the counter. We wanted to stay overnight and visit other hotels but since we had a flight to India the next day from Hong Kong, we decided to head back to catch a midnight ferry. Thanks to the much efficient, free shuttle service by Venetian, we reached the ferry station well on time.
Have you been to Macau? What would you do on a day trip to Macau? Write in your Macau experiences to me.