Expat Travels: Macau

Friday, October 02, 2015

As part of my journey to Hong Kong I did a day trip to nearby Macau. The former Portuguese colony is a one hour ferry ride from Hong Kong. U.S. citizens do not need a visa to visit either of these locales, however, you do not receive a passport stamp, either. I know :-(

Hong Kong has two main ferry terminals that offer service to Macau: the China Ferry terminal (Kowloon) and Hong Kong central just across the way. The main difference is the companies that serve each terminal, and the number of trips offered throughout the day. You can also transit in from HKG. Since I stayed in Kowloon, I went to the China Ferry terminal. 

It's a bit elusive and is hidden off of a very busy Canton Road.

I used Turbojet based on previous reviews I'd read, and based on the fact that they offered late returns if necessary, straight to my area. I paid $164HKD or $21 usd each way. The ride was quick and pleasant, no sea sickness here, and plenty of comfortable seating.

Ferry timetables to and from Macau from our port.

You're assigned a seat after check in.

Comfy but they don't recline.

You can buy economy or super class seats. Super class is upstairs, less crowded and boards first.
I think they got complimentary wifi as well.

Wifi info, in Chinese.

A window seat, with nobody next to me.

Off we go, they are extremely punctual.

You do have to clear immigration after arriving at Macau. This took less than 20 minutes for our sailing since most were nationals going through a separate line. It wasn't bad on the return, either.

Before heading out, I purchased a return ticket just on the off chance that they might be full. I was right and I'm glad I did. 

Though my sailing wasn't until 9pm that evening, the gate closes at 5:30.
Even if staying overnight, plan to get a return ticket before leaving for Macau city.

Macau was not at all difficult to navigate. I had read online that all of the casino shuttles offer free rides to the casinos from the ferry terminals, and vise versa. I jumped on the Grand Lisboa shuttle, as I had read that it was closest to the historic center at Senado Square. Nobody questioned me, I jumped right on and after the 10 minute ride over, I exited the casino through the front lobby and out the door to the square.

Most signs were in Chinese and Portuguese

If one didn't know better, they'd believe they were in an old European city.
Portuguese influence is still prevalent here.

Senado Square temple replica. Crowded area.

Western architecture

Senado Square
 Just around the corner from the square is the UNESCO Word Heritage Macau Cathedral.

Macau Cathedral

And (thankfully, because I was legit MELTING from the humidity) the most popular attraction in Macau, The Ruins of St. Paul, or Ruinas de Sao Paulo, were literally up a short hill from the cathedral.

Ruinas de Såo Paulo, always crowded from what I hear.

The original Såo Paulo church was destroyed by fire during a typhoon in the mid 1800s.
The facade somehow withstood the damage and remains in tact.

After getting your culture fix, you can walk on over to one of the many casino hotels available in Macau to cool off, have a drink and hit the slots. Truly, they line the streets once you leave the square. Some of them have very interesting architecture.

Grand Lisboa hotel casino, looking like Optimus Prime.

Shaming its older predecessor across the street.

File footage of MGM Macau
From venetianmacao.com
You don't just get the casino experience here, you get a mini replica of Venice complete with gondola ride
File footage. Gondola ride at the Venetian.

I did not make it to the Venetian, I was completely worn out from the heat from sight seeing in the Square. I did partake in a few slots and dinner at the Wynn, and I perused MGM and both Grand Lisboas respectively. After only a few hours I decided I was over it. I'm not much of a gambler but I'm a culture junkie and the UNESCO sites were a must.

If Vegas is your thing, you will have options here. However, it is far from the Vegas strip, so lower those expectations and have a good time. There are other sites that I did not make it to, including the Macau Tower, where bungee jumping is popular, and several prominent temples in the area. There is also a hop on, hop off bus here for city tours, too. 

For me, Macau was a day trip; but one could certainly spend a few days here and have things to do.

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