Only a hours’ ferry ride away Macau is a easy day trip from Hong Kong. Macau was governed by the Portugese until 1999 when it became a Special Adminstrative Republic of China. Throughout the last few years several casinos have sprung up making Macau the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’.
You must take your passport if you wish to take a day trip to Macau and unlike China where in most cases it is necessary to obtain a visa in advance of your visit UK citizens are granted entry into Macau for up to 3 months without one.
We decided to visit Macau on a Monday as we had heard the trip from Hong Kong is very busy at weekends. As mentioned the ferry journey lasts an hour and they run about every 30 – 60 minutes depending on the time of day. The cost is around £15 per person each way (£30 return).
You can buy single tickets from kiosk at Turbojet Tsimshatsui China ferry terminal, Kowloon and don’t need to book them in advance. Macau and HK dollars are 1:1 and HK currency is accepted in Macau but not vice versa.
Upon arrival in Macau several casinos offer free bus transfers directly to their resort. The buses continually line up just outside the ferry terminal. We took the bus to the Venetian casino, the largest casino in the world and the seventh largest (by floor area) building in the world.
There are several canals running through the complex and the ceiling has been decorated to look like the sky. You can have a gondola ride or shop in the many shops which line the canals. There is even a ‘St Marks Square’!
We were not allowed to take photos in the casino area however we can only describe it as immense… As far as the eye could see there were slot machines, roulette wheels and blackjack tables. Even at 10.30 am on a Monday morning they were busy with people gambing away probably thousands of dollars.
It is entirely possible to spend a day just walking around the Venetian but we wanted to experience the unique contrasts of glitzy casinos and the traditional mixed Portuguese and Chinese culture by exploring the ‘old’ Macau.
We got the complementary Venetian bus back to the ferry terminal then took public bus number 3 to historic Senado Square. The buses take cash (including HK currency) but you need the exact change.
The old Macau did indeed have a Portuguese feel and the black and white cobbles of Senado square felt like we were back in Lagos (Portugal). We walked to the Ruins of St Paul’s (top pic) and walked around the old fort which gave us great views over the city.
We had a Portuguese style lunch in a back street behind the Grand Lisboa casino.