A Day in Macau
We were confused – whether to explore Macau in a day or stay back to take it at an easy pace. Macau is an island, a SAR of China and it is considered the Las Vegas of the East. The city has a colonial charm of the Portuguese. The streets are named in French as well and having been to Pondicherry earlier, I could sense familiarity while walking on the streets.
I posted on Facebook groups, researched online and tried to chalk out an itinerary for us to maximize our day in Macau. We decided to take the first available ferry in the morning and return to Hong Kong on the last available one.
Travelling to Macau from Hong Kong: Taking the ferry is the most economical way to travel to Macau from Hong Kong. These ferries ply between 7:00 am and 11:55 pm and cover the stretch in around 55 minutes. You can get the tickets from Shun Tak Center in Hong Kong Central. The tickets are around 370 HKD for a round trip and you need to carry your passports or Hong Kong Ids as a proof of identity when you travel.
If you can afford, the lavish way would be to fly in a helicopter and reach your destination in just 15 mins. The tickets come up to approximately 7000 HKD for a round trip. I am sure that journey must be gorgeous but the choppy sea waters on an air-conditioned ferry give an entirely different experience as well.
Travelling within the city: Do you know what drives Macau’s economy? Gambling. Casinos are grand by all standards and the power of money shows up the moment you can spot a casino. Interiors, chandeliers, stores, layout and even the architecture – it’s something straight out from a book and fairy tale like.
So, these casinos operate free shuttle buses from the ferry terminals. Macau is a small city and once you are near a casino, you can always walk by and explore a tourist spot. Almost every attraction is close by if you are reading the map right. Though you may spend time waiting for a shuttle but these are free and if you have the time, you can certainly save some dollars.
The other idea would be to take the package tours or get into a hop-on, hop-off city tour. These are available inside the ferry terminal. As you step out of the ferry terminal, even taxi drivers are willing to take your around the city for a charge. It’s negotiable and up to you if you want to go comfortable.
We decided to venture out on our own and challenge ourselves in an unknown territory. So with maps in our hands, we took our first free shuttle to a casino in Macau – Grand Lisboa.
Currency: The current is Macau is known as Pataca but the good thing is that Hong Kong Dollars are accepted as a currency all over Macau. Even in local buses and we tried that.
Places to Visit: So, as we reached Grand Lisboa, we knew that we need to quickly step out to start exploring the tourist spots. The maps were available at the ferry terminal and we took that to move ahead.
Senado Square: Located in the center of Macau, Senado square, during our visit had tuned into a Christmas Celebration space. With the huge Christmas tree adorning the center, the entire square had turned festive.
St. Dominic’s Church: You can’t miss this colorful church. A part of the historic center, this church is on the way to Ruins of St Paul and you get a chance to walk through the old streets. Tourists line up to get pictures on the green doors and the yellow background. It’s one of a kind for sure.
Ruins of St. Paul: My trip to Macau was complete as I had to chance to visit this site. These ruins are so magnificent that they will leave an impression and you will remember this façade. When the rest of the building was destroyed in fire, this façade stood the test. Later it was restored, supported and protected to stand. It’s a UNESCO preserved world heritage site.
Remember to walk around the ruins and you will get a chance to walk up to the Mount Fortress and then spot the many cannons around on the fort. These cannons look over the city and sight is beautiful!
Oh yes, while you walk to the ruins, do try out an egg tart. The warm gooey tart tasted delicious and I wish I could have carried home some.
Na Tcha Temple: This old temple built during 1888 is right behind the ruins of St.Paul. A small one overlooking a long steep street and one not to miss if you want to cover the historic center of Macau.
A-Ma Temple: A temple with a historic significance. When the Portuguese came to the coast near A-Ma temple, they asked the Chinese of the name of the place. The Chinese replied A-Ma-Gau which means the Bay of Goddess A-Ma and it was interpreted as Macao. That’s how the city got a name.
Our Lady of Penha: While walking from A-Ma to Macau Tower, we explored a bit more and reached a Church with a beautiful view point. It was a church that we had not heard before. Tucked away from the hustle bustle and on an uphill, the church is peacefully located facing the Macua Tower and the beautiful panorama of the city.
Macau Tower: For that rush of adrenaline and some adventure, you can try world’s highest Bungee jump from the Macau Tower standing tall at 233 feet. You can also try walking on the outer rim of the tower for a thrilling experience. Only thing that I found was a bit of downer was the cost. It’s expensive – approximately 5000 HKD but if you have the cash, go dash!
City of Dreams: And then, we were set to explore the ‘west’ of Macau. City of Dreams is no doubt a city in itself. We got in to a free shuttle to reach this casino and spent some good time getting to see the life of the rich. When the bets go as high as a million dollars, the thrill would exceed that of a bungee jump.
We also had a chance to catch House of Dancing Waters, a show that you should not miss at any cost when in Macau. It’s one of a kind in the world. From drama to acrobatics, dance to acting, stunts that are unmatched and graphics that will take your breath away, the house of dancing waters has many records to its fame. Imagine what it means to have a show that has over 2 million spectators.
With that – our day long trip to Macau came an end. We took another shuttle back to the ferry terminal with loads of memories to treasure for life. Macau is one the richest cities in the world and that showed up in the casinos. It was filthy rich – one that you would have seen in movies and no-where else.
The city appealed to me on its cultural aspect. The history and the ancient buildings. The world heritage sites and the of course egg tart.