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They call Macau the Las Vegas of Asia
… and they’re not wrong: The resort city is world famous for its luxurious hotels and extravagant casinos, attracting the rich and famous from all ends of the globe. But of course, you don’t need to be a high roller to appreciate the beauty of Macau. More than just the gambling capital of the world, the former Portuguese colony is incredibly rich in culture. It has history steeped in Western influence, and it shows. The Chinese-Portuguese historical and cultural significance is recognised worldwide, which is why the historic center of Macau is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nowhere else will you see traditional Chinese temples in the same city as European churches and cathedrals.
Sure sounds like an expensive place to visit, right?
Macau is easily accessible via ferry from Hong Kong (65km west of the delta), and the food and shopping is very affordable! Plus, you can save even more with the tips listed below!
Getting to Macau
There are direct flights from Singapore to Macau (approx 4h), but most tourists visit Macau and Hong Kong during the same trip. While a colourful and unique city, you can pretty much cover most of Macau’s highlights in one to three days.
Getting there from Hong Kong is simple: You can take a ferry from any one of the three terminals that are China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal near Shueng Wan, and Sky Pier at the Hong Kong International Airport. A single trip typically costs around S$23 to S$32 (~132 to 172 HKD), and takes an hour.
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Where to Go & Top Things to do in Macau
#1 Macau Tower
Your first stop should be atop Macau Tower, the heart of the bustling city. Standing at 338m tall, the 223-storey observation deck is the best place for a bird’s eye view of Macau colourful streets and contrasting architectural masterpieces.
#2 Historical Buildings and Sites
At the historic center lies some 30 places of interest that’ll be your storytellers, giving you a glimpse into the tales of Macau’s unique past as a strategic port city of the Portuguese Empire. Colonized from the 16th Century to 1999, Macau was Asia’s last European colony.
- The Ruins of St Paul: See what’s left of the 17th Century complex of St Paul’s Church and College. After getting hit by two fires and a typhoon between the 1600s and 1800s, St Paul’s was never returned to its former glory.
- Largo Do Senado (Senate Square): A European-style 3,700 sqm square that connects Largo do São Domingos and Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro.This is often the venue for local festivals and celebrations.
- A-Ma Temple: This religious building was built as a shrine for local sea goddess, Mazu. The story is that Macau’s name comes from this temple: When the first Portuguese men asked the fishermen for the city’s name, they answered “Magao”, which is the local name of the A-Ma Temple.
#3 Theme Parks & Attractions
History class dismissed! Now, it’s time for some fun:
- Fisherman’s Wharf Amusement Park: Park theme park, part restaurant hub, and part shopping center! Entry is free, so go ahead and stroll around and take photos, but if you want to sit the rides, they are chargeable.
- Planet J Theme Park: Planet J has a concept like no other! It’s an action-packed, real life role-playing game park.
- Batman Dark Flight 4D Ride, Studio City Macau: A multi-sensory flight simulation ride inspired by one of the most well loved superheros from the DC universe.
- Warner Bros. Fun Zone: Another DC attraction, this family-friendly theme park features not just exciting rides, but interactive displays and arcade games too.
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Bonus: Hacks for Freebies!
Nothing excites us like free things, and we’re not ashamed to admit it. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of ways you can save more money, so you have more spare change for that late night snack and budget shopping!
- Get around the city with the free shuttle buses.
They’re mostly operated by casinos for their guests, but as long as you wait at the right pick-up points, you should be able to take the bus. The Venetian and Wynn buses go to the airport, while the Wynn, Lisboa, and Star World buses have stops that are relatively near the historic center (10 to 15min walk).
- Enjoy complimentary snacks while visiting the casinos.
Like the shuttle bus services, this perk is meant for casino guests. However, you don’t need to blow any cash to get some bottled water or even tea cakes. Many tourists simply enter the lavish casinos to have peek inside, and in the spirit of true hospitality, they too are offered complimentary refreshments.
- More free food at the street-side stores!
There is a sampling culture in Macau, which means that at most stores, you may request for a sample to test the products. So don’t be shy, just ask and you (most likely) will be given. That said, it wouldn’t be too nice to abuse the system, so if you really enjoy the snack, buy it!
- Visiting the historic center? Request for a free audio guide.
Provided by the local tourism association, you can pick up an audio guide device from the Senate Square office and take it along with you as you uncover the stories of the historic center landmarks.
Ready to embark on your adventure?
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