It’s super easy to spend the day in Macau by taking the ferry from Hong Kong, either from Hong Kong Island or Kowloon which is where I went to and from. There are a couple of companies who operate, I took Turbojet who run services throughout the day and late night too, costing me $170 on the way there (12.00pm) and $200 on the way back (21.05) – roughly less than £20 each way. Having been burned after that train situation in Leshan/Chengdu with Rach, I made sure I had a departure ticket booked upon arrival haha (I’ve put other handy tips in at the bottom of the post).
I got a map and highlighted directions from the ferry port to the Guia Fortress & Lighthouse from the tourist information office. About a 20 min walk past the reservoir, and then a cable car up into Flora Park. Macau at that point was interesting, quite a lot of tower blocks (of course), but all looking pretty run down (if I’m super honest here, compared to many of them I’ve seen across China). It was hot and humid, and I was really feeling it (yes my sweaty top lip was getting the better of me), but as a walked through the park and saw the view over Macau it was really worth it.
This is the highest point in Macau however so, on a clear day you can see across the city and to China too if you’re lucky. In this photo you can really see the difference between the historical and more modern parts of the city.
Next I was a woman on a mission to Senado Square, part of Colonial Macau and notably very Portuguese after their colonial influence (similar to the UK & HK). I had downloaded an offline google map before I arrived but I took a few detours to wander down alleyways. I had lunch at a small cafe and ordered what the guy on my table had as it looked delicious; curry sauce chicken wings, potatoes with boiled noodles. A serious test of my chopstick / spoon skills eating those wings – did it though ✌🏼🥢.
I spent some time trying still trying to find what seemed to be the elusive Senado Square, and on the way found a few parks, some casinos and shops haha – eventually I navigated myself there. After that I decided to stop trying to look for places and just wander. Strolling the streets I found some cute shops, market stalls, food – basically spent the afternoon coming across nice places, including The Ruins of St. Paul’s, used to be a 17th-century complex which what was originally St. Paul’s College and the Church of St. Paul also known as “Mater Dei”, a 17th-century Portuguese church dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle (wikipedia, there’s also a park and a fort just nearby you can visit but I got distracted). I found an amazing Portuguese Street, and met lots of Macuans who were clearly historically Portuguese – was crazy hearing Portuguese in Asia – even some of the gift shops just had Portugal souvenirs hahah!
After the sun set I found myself back where I gotten lost earlier right by the casinos. Now however, with the sun gone they were showcasing an incredible display of colours, lights, flashing – insane! People were taking photos, headed to the casinos all glammed up. You can’t officially gamble in China or HK but the rules are different in Macau which means hoards of Chinese head there for a trip to Asian Vegas – in fact the largest casino in the world (the Venetian, owned by the same company as the one in Vegas) is in Macau, so I can totally understand the draw!
After the insane light show haha, I headed back to the ferry terminal for my 9pm voyage back across the South China Sea to HK. There’s loads of other things to do in Macau, I barely scratched the surface, so I would recommend that you could even fill two days with activities – I would take a look at my fave China Travel site.
- You DO NOT need a visa for Macau.
- You DO need you passport.
- You DO need an arrivals card when you get back into HK as a visitor.
- Arrive back to the ferry terminal with at least 15 mins to spare before your scheduled departure time.
- You can spend HK dollars all over Macau, but you cannot spend Macau dollars in HK – make sure you spend them all before you return (I found $50 before which I now cannot spend).
- The exchange rate between HK & Macau dollars is basically 1:1 so it’s pointless to change them for the day.