Macau Travel Guide
Macau is a tiny Chinese territory that is about 28 square kilometers in size. Macau is a fusion of East and West in lifestyles, architecture and food. There are both eastern and western religions, and both western and eastern holidays are observed.
The new casinos and hotels are sophisticated like those in Las Vegas. So in its small area, you can see both old architecture of Asian and European origin and sophisticated modern luxury and resort buildings. You can see the Portuguese influence everywhere, with cobbled small streets, Portuguese churches and fortresses, gardens, and the pastel colors used. In 2005 many places were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A Visa Free City for Many and a China Gateway City
- Find out more about Macau's liberal visa-free policy.
- Also find out about how you can transit via Macau to China's 72-hour visa-free cities.
Macau has become Asia’s international gambling city, and it is considered the biggest gambling center in the world, with gambling revenues bigger than the Las Vegas Strip. It is one of the top 20 tourist destinations in the world. Several major Las Vegas casino companies have casinos and hotels here, and more are being built. So this little territory is the fastest growing territory in the world, growing faster than any other country or territory. The GDP grew about 13 percent in 2008. Along with gambling, the city’s attractions are old buildings, the Macau Great Prix race, concerts and shows, some museums, and beaches.
The largest new casinos cost billions of US dollars to build and are among the biggest such resort/casinos in the world. For example, the Venetian Macao cost 2.4 billion USD. It is the largest single structure hotel building in Asia and the fourth-largest building in the world measured by floor space. It has more floor space than any skyscraper in the world. There is a 15,000 seat arena for sports and entertainment events in it.
Macau is composed of a main island, a small peninsula and an airport island. The small island was once two small islands named Ilha de Taipa and Ilha de Coloane, but they were connected by a strip of landfill. The area of landfill is where the biggest new casinos are being built. Land is still being added there. The airport was built about 2 kilometers or a mile and a half east of the small island on landfill. It is basically a straight and narrow artificial island with an airstrip.
The territory has interesting demographics. Macau is the most densely populated region in the world with about 18,500 people living in each square kilometer. You would think that this would make for a poor living environment, but according to some estimates, the population has an average life expectancy of 84 years. This is first in the world, and they are thought to live longer than Japan’s population. This means they live longer than any other people. Maybe if you live there, you’ll live longer.
About 95 percent of the people are of Chinese descent. Some of the rest are multiracial. About 95 percent of the people speak a Chinese language as their native language -- mainly Cantonese. Only about 1.5 percent of the people speak English at home. It is strange, but in this former colony of Portugal, only a half a percent of the people speak Portuguese at home. Plenty of people speak English, especially the staff in the bigger hotels and tourist spots. However, a large number of the local people do not speak English.
For decades, Hong Kong residents have traveled to Macau to gamble or for entertainment, so this helped the Macau people learn the language. About 30 percent of Macau’s tourists still come from Hong Kong. The two territories are close together, only about an hour away from each other by regular ferry, and since casinos have been illegal in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong residents went there for gambling, entertainment and a change of pace. There was no other place nearby to go to.
Macau is 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Hong Kong. This is about an hour ride on a regular ferry, and there are also faster ferries. The Macao Peninsula is between the Pearl River and the Xijiang River on the southern border of Guangdong Province. It borders the Special Economic Zone of Zhuhai that is also a tourist destination. There is a border crossing called Portas do Cerco on the Macau side and Gongbei Port of Entry on the Zhuhai side.
Three bridges connect the peninsula and the island, and two especially built roadways connect the airport island and the main island.
- New and big hotel/casino/resort complexes.
- World class facilities for gambling and Las Vegas casino-style entertainment
- Old architecture within walking distance to visit.
- Macau's two beaches named Hac Sa (Black Sand) and Cheoc Van (Bamboo Bay) are located on the southern side of the main island.
- Some good museums: Museum of Taipa and Coloane History, Macau Marine Museum, Macau Wine Museum, and Macau Great Prix Museum.
- Many good restaurants of many styles of cuisine.
- The Macau International Airport (MFM) that is only about 7 minutes from the big casino area makes travel to the city easy.
- See the shows and the hotel/casinos.
- Take a vacation for relaxation and tour the little area.
- Visit the historical buildings and museums.
- Go to the beach.
- Go to Zhuhai or Hong Kong to tour and shop.
- Hiking and Bicycling: Taipa Grande and Taipa Pequena in the north and Alto de Coloane in the south are little hills that have hiking trails. Alto de Coloane is the highest hill in Macau and is 170 meters (560 ft) tall. You can see good views of the island and sea, and on the northern hills you can see all of Macau. Bicycles for touring the island are available at a rental kiosk near the bus stop adjacent to the Museum of Taipa and Coloane History.
Coloane in the southern part of the main island has an extensive network of well-maintained hiking trails. The trails are accessible from Seac Pai Van Park and from Cheoc Van and Hac Sa beaches. The main Coloane Trail goes up Alto de Coloane.
- Also read the most famous cities in China.
- Customize a Macau tour
- How to Plan a Tour of Macau from Hong Kong
Questions and Answers About Macau Travel Guide
Hi Ameen, June is quite hot in both HK and Macau. T-shirts and shorts would cope with the weather. I recommend the 2-Day Macau & Hong Kong Seat-in-coach Tour to you. Please check here: http://www.chinahighlights.com/tour/hong-kongtour/hk-2/
Please feel free to let me know if you like it or not.Whitney Liao replied on 2013-03-20
Hi Mary, for international flight, it is suggested that you arrive at the airport at least 3hrs in advance. The tour is possible. Please let me know your arriving and departing time, then I will give you some suggestions.Whitney Liao replied on 2013-03-11
Thanks for your enquiry! I understand that you are looking for a walking tour in Macau, Macau is not big but still it takes up some time to be transferred from one spot to another, a one-day tour with guide and driver is recommended as tour guides are very flexible for walking tours. The tickets for the dancing water show are from HKD480 to 880 depending on the zones. Here is a typical day tour in Macau for your reference,
Macau Classic One Day Tour visiting Ruins of St Paul Cathedral, Barra Temple, Macao Fisherman's Wharf, Leal Senado and Monte Fort at a cost of US$290 per person.
If you have the exact group size, I will be more than happy to update the cost for you.Candy Wei replied on 2012-11-20
you could go to see Macau Classic One Day Tour, Ruins of St Paul Cathedral, Macao Maritime Museum, Monte Fort, Macau Tower etc. They are all located in the central area of Macau. For more, you could check http://www.chinahighlights.com/macau/attraction/.And the transportation is very easily to get there. About your home flight, you should arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before departure, since you need some time to check in deposit your luggage.
I also send an email to you about the one day tour, please check it.
- Send your inquiry before Apr. 30, 2014, and we will email you a $25 coupon.
- The coupon is valid till Dec. 31, 2014, for paying tour packages worth $250 or up.
- The coupon cannot be used for paying flight tickets, train tickets, hotel rooms and day trips.
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