This article is part of our completely FREE and FANTASTIC All in One Travel Guide to Having Fun in Macau. Why spend days researching when all your holiday information is simply a click away? 🙂
Raevian and I visited Macau last year in November. This former Portuguese colony is famous as a gambling haven but is often under-appreciated for its exotic fusion of Portuguese and Chinese culture. This cultural amalgamation is palpable from its mix of local Chinese dwellers and ubiquitous Portuguese influences, such as the various Portuguese-inspired foods and pastel-colored Portuguese architecture.
It is very easy to travel around Macau. Most of the hotels provide free shuttle services. Galaxy Hotel (on Taipa Island), in particular, provides shuttles to many places in Macau. You can see the list of places on Galaxy’s website. If not, you can also catch a cab (the rates are very reasonable) easily at the airport, the ferry terminal, the hotels, or even along the roads. After going through the reviews and best prices of hotels in Macau, we decided to stay at the luxurious hotel Conrad Macao Cotai Central, which has awesome service and classy rooms.
Below is a list of 10 things to do in Macau, starting with visiting the world-renowned casinos, but also including other interesting activities that embody the unique culture of Macau. Enjoy! Also read: 10 Places to Eat in Macau
1. Casino Hopping
Every year, countless Chinese and Hong Kong gamblers visit the “Las Vegas of the Far East”. There are thirty-three casinos in Macau, of which the biggest is “The Venetian Macao”. It is also the biggest casino in the world! Raevian and I were awed by the towering magnitude of the casino resorts, which become even more stunning at night with their dazzling and flamboyant lighting displays. Personally, I was a little put-off by this ostentatious spectacle, which seemed to be an overwhelming metaphor of mankind’s greed and other vices. But when I conveyed this sentiment to Raevian (who was busy snapping photos of the casinos), she brushed me off as being humourless and told me to just enjoy myself. I guessed I was thinking too much and decided to just soak in the beautiful sights and sounds. It is extremely easy to travel between the casino resorts as they all offer free shuttle services. Below is the list of casinos/hotels we visited. You can refer to the map at the end of this article to find out the casinos’ locations.
– The Venetian Macao
– Four Seasons
– City of Dreams (Hard Rock Hotel, Crown Towers, Grand Hyatt)
– Sands Cotai Central (Conrad, Sheraton, Holiday Inn)
– Galaxy Macau
– Casino Lisboa
– Wynn Macau
– MGM Macau
Sands Cotai Central (Conrad, Sheraton, Holiday Inn)
Left: Conrad Hotel. Right: Hotel Lisboa.
The Venetian Macao
The Venetian Mall (aka “The Grand Canal Shoppes”) inside Venetian Macao Hotel
City of Dreams (Hard Rock Hotel, Crown Towers, Grand Hyatt)
2. Food Hunting
There are lots of good food in Macau! Raevian and I were on a food-hunting mission during our stay in Macau (which probably explains the extra 2kg I gained after the trip). From Portuguese egg tarts to almond cookies to durian ice-cream to Pork Chop buns to dim sum to Crab Congee, Macau will definitely have something to satisfy your taste buds. You can read our article on the “10 Places to Eat in Macau”, where we describe each food spot in detail.
3. Visit Taipa Village
Beyond the glitzy exterior of Macau lies Taipa Village, a charming enclave that houses rows of rustic Chinese/Portuguese restaurants and shops. Raevian and I also chanced upon a small Chinese temple. You will find lots of good food along Rua Do Cunha street as mentioned in my previous article. Other than indulging our gustatory senses here, Raevian and I also enjoyed walking along the narrow streets and alleys of Taipa Village. This is perhaps the only place in the world where you can walk past a sprawl of traditional Chinese shops, turn the corner, and find Portuguese-styled buildings in their light hues of yellow, green, and blue.
Directions to Taipa Village
Method One: You can easily reach Taipa Village by walking from Galaxy Hotel. It will take about fifteen minutes. If you are unsure, you can check with the friendly Galaxy Hotel staff. There used to be a shuttle service between Galaxy Hotel and Taipa Village but it has been discontinued.
Method Two: Otherwise, you can catch a cab from the airport, the ferry terminal, your hotel, or simply flag a cab along the streets. Raevian and I found the Macau cab fares reasonable and they only charge by the meter (instead of quoting you a random overpriced amount like in some countries).
You can refer to this map to get a better idea.
Taipa Village, a charming enclave that houses rows of rustic Chinese/Portuguese restaurants and shops
Beautiful Streets of Taipa Village
Taipa Village at night
Taipa Village at night
Photo Taking in Taipa Village
4. Visit Senado Square
Senado Square (Largo do Senado / 議事亭前地) is a beautiful town square in Macau paved with traditional Portuguese mosaic. It houses an elegant water foundation in the centre. Senado Square used to be the official civic square of Macau when it was still a Portuguese colony, but today it is a popular tourist attraction and listed as one of the sites in the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Centre of Macau”. Similar to Taipa Village, you will also find good food in the area (Wong Chi Kei, Margarets Cafe e Nata).
Standing in the centre of the square near the fountain, I took a moment to look at the traditional Portuguese pavement beneath my feet, the surrounding Portuguese architecture, and simply reveled in the atmosphere of the place. It almost felt like I was standing in the centre of a European plaza. This is a beautiful place and you would kick yourself if you did not visit it! There are many attractions near Senado Square worth visiting too, and I have listed them below.
Buildings around Senado Square:
Leal Senado Building (民政總署大樓)
Holy House of Mercy (Santa Casa da Misericórdia / 仁慈堂大樓)
St. Dominic’s Church (Igreja de São Domingos / 玫瑰堂)
Interior of St. Dominic’s Church (Igreja de São Domingos / 玫瑰堂)
Macau Business Tourism Centre
Ruins of St Paul’s (Ruínas de São Paulo / 大三巴牌坊)
Ruins of St Paul’s is a ten minutes walk from Senado Square. See pictures of this attraction below. Directions to Senado Square
Method One: You can take a shuttle bus from Galaxy Hotel to “San Ma Lo (新馬路)” (Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro). From there, just walk two minutes to Senado Square.
Method Two: If you are going from Taipa Village, you can grab a cab from the Rua do Cunha taxi-stand in Taipa Village to reach here. It will be a fifteen-minutes ride. You will travel across the bridge from Taipa Island (where Taipa Village is situated) to Macau Peninsula (where Senado Square is situated). See this map.
Method Three: Finally, you can also catch a cab from the airport, the ferry terminal, your hotel, or catch a cab along the streets. We found the Macau cab fares reasonable and they only charge by the meter instead of quoting you a random overpriced amount.
If you are unsure of the directions, you can look at my map of Macau to get a clearer idea. 🙂
Senado Square paved with traditional Portuguese mosaic
Water fountain in Senado Square. It changes colours at night!
5. Visit Kun Iam Statue
The Kun Iam Statue is a bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy that stands at 20 metres tall. It is built on top of a dome shaped like a lotus flower, and faces Macau to protect it (symbolically). By the time we reached the statue, it was already 6p.m. and the Kun Iam Ecumenical Centre (consisting of a souvenir centre, a contemplation room, among others) beneath the statue was closed. Raevian had told me to hurry earlier but I had insisted that the centre would only be closed at 6.30p.m. I was fearing the worst and preparing for a earful from Raevian, but luckily it turned out the statue looked beautiful with its gentle glow in the evening sun. We managed to get a few good shots of the statue, below is one of them.
Directions to Kun Iam Statue
As usual, you can simply catch a taxi to reach Kun Iam Statue. However, you can also take a hotel shuttle bus to MGM Macau, and walk about ten minutes from there to reach the statue.
Kun Iam Ecumenical Centre
Address: Avenida de Sun Yat-sen
Opening Hours: 10a.m. to 6p.m. (closed on Fridays)
Tel：+853 2875 1516
Free admission. Free internet access in the library.
Kun Iam Statue
6. Visit Chinese Temples
There are many traditional Chinese temples in Macau. Raevian and I chanced upon one in Taipa Village. There are also more well-known ones like the Na Tcha Temple (哪吒庙) and the Ah Ma Temple (妈阁庙).
Chinese Temple in Taipa Village
7. Macau Tower
Standing at 338 metres tall, the Macau Tower is another popular attraction in Macau. It boasts amenities such as an observation deck, a revolving restaurant, and even a cinema. For the adventurous (like Raevian), you can also try the world’s second highest bungee jump at 233 metres. Why anybody would want to stand at the top of a towering structure amidst strong winds, and choose to jump headfirst downwards (albeit with a piece of rope tied to your leg), totally blows my mind. Obviously Raevian doesn’t share my sentiments and looks forward to any type of adrenaline-charged activity.
Directions to Macau Tower
You can simply catch a cab to reach this place. The Macau cab fares are very reasonable. Otherwise, you can take a hotel shuttle bus to MGM Macau and walk about twenty minutes from there to Macau Tower.
8. View the Bridges of Macau
Before our trip, when Raevian told me that one of the things on our Macau agenda was to view the Macau bridges at night, I thought she was trying to pull a fast one. In my mind, the only bridge I knew to be worthy of visiting was the Golden Gate Bridge. Macau was just a tiny island, how could it have any notable bridges? Well, I was wrong and the bridges of Macau are indeed rather beautiful and majestic at night. There are three long bridges connecting Macau Peninsula and Taipa Island:
1. Sai Van Bridge (Ponte de Sai Van /西灣大橋).
2. Macau-Taipa Bridge (Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho /嘉樂庇總督大橋)
3. Bridge of Friendship (Ponte de Amizade / 澳門友誼大橋)
We took some pictures of the Macau-Taipa Bridge from outside MGM hotel, and sat on one of the benches to enjoy the night breeze and picturesque view of the bridge. For the other bridges, we were able to see them while transiting between the islands on the shuttle buses.
Macau-Taipa Bridge (Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho /嘉樂庇總督大橋)
9. Visit the Museums
I am a history buff and I enjoy dragging Raevian to museums with me. It’s like payback for all the shopping trips: she’s now the one mindlessly scrolling through her Facebook feed while waiting for me to finish my excruciatingly long tour of the museum. HAHA. There are quite a few museums in Macau, but I was kind enough to visit just one: the Macao Museum. It is situated on top of a hill right beside Ruins of St Paul’s. If you are interested in the history of Macau, this would be the place for you. Some of the displays are interactive with buttons to press/play, so Raevian wasn’t that bored.
On the hill top, you will also find Mount Fortress (Fortaleza do Monte/大炮台), which was the military stronghold of the former Portuguese colony. We went to Mount Fortress through the museum. However, you can visit it directly as well. Entrance is free and you get a good view of Macau from the top. There are also World War Two cannons lined up on the sides of the fortress. Do note that you can take an escalator up to the fortress, instead of going up the steps (unless you want to, of course). Other museums in Macau include the Grand Prix Museum, the Wine Museum, and the Macau Maritime Museum.
Directions to Macao Museum
Macao Museum is situated right beside Ruins of St Paul’s, and is within walking distance from Senado Square (a ten minutes walk). See above (4. Visit Senado Square) for directions to Senado Square. The map at the end of this article will give you a clearer idea as well.
Monte Fortress, 112 Praceta do Museu de Macau
Opening hours : 10a.m. to 6p.m. (Ticket booth closes 5.30p.m.)
Closed on Mondays
Tel: +853 2835 7911
Admission Fee: MOP 15
Macao Museum Entrance
They used Apple II in Macau too!
Hilltop Level of Macao Museum
Mount Fortress (Fortaleza do Monte/大炮台), located beside Macao Museum on the hilltop
View from Mount Fortress on the hilltop. Left: Casino Lisboa. Right: Ruins of St Paul’s and view of Macau from the top.
10. Take a trip to Zhuhai
Last but not least, if you are spending at least two days in Macau, you can also plan for a day trip to the neighboring city of Zhuhai, in China. Singaporeans can visit Zhuhai for up to 15 days without a visa for sightseeing. Once you clear the Zhuhai customs, you will reach a huge underground mall. This is the Zhuhai Port Plaza (珠海口岸购物广场). Basically, it’s a giant multi-level flea market that sells anything from mobile accessories to winter clothing. If you are a fan of such places, you will enjoy shopping here. However, please be warned that some of the stall owners can be a tad aggressive. In one shop, after I picked up a shirt but decided not to buy it, I was hounded by the lady stall owner as I tried to leave the stall. “Why don’t you just buy it? It’s cheap! You want discount? How much discount? You tell me? How much??!” she kept asking as she followed me all the way to outside her stall. In the end, she finally gave up and went back. Full marks for persistence though.
For lunch, Raevian and I went to Yijian Seafood Restaurant (益健海鲜大食坊), which is located right outside the “North Exit 1”of Zhuhai Port Plaza. This Chinese seafood offers fresh seafood at a super low price. You get to pick your desired seafood (scallops, fish, crabs, etc) from the water tanks and the chefs will prepare them for you. We had two sea cucumbers, four scallops, and one plate of ma-la (spicy) chicken for less than SGD30 (impossible price to get in Singapore). The food was decent enough for the price we paid. Service was good and prompt. However, I saw some people smoking in the restaurant (welcome to China!) and I was glad we were not sitting near them. Overall, we had an enjoyable lunch.
After lunch, we went back to Macau as it was getting dark and we had heard that Zhuhai was not entirely safe for tourists. However, if you are interested, you can visit other nearby attractions such as Lotus Road, Fisher’s Girl Statue, and Lover’s Road.
Directions to Zhuhai
1. Go to the Macau Border Gate.
This is the immigration checkpoint at the northern tip of the Macau Peninsula (see map below). You can take the hotel shuttle from Galaxy Hotel or City of Dreams to the “Border Gate”.
2. Clear Macau customs
Once you enter the immigration building, queue up to clear the Macau customs. I recommend going early to avoid the long queues. Raevian and I reached at about 11.30am and the queues were relatively short.
3. Walk to Gongbei Port of Entry
Once you clear the Macau customs, you can walk over to “Gongbei Port of Entry”, which is the Zhuhai immigration checkpoint. The walk should take about 20 minutes (15 if you are a brisk walker like Raevian and me). Basically, you are walking across the border between Macau and Zhuhai. Along the way, you will find shops selling alcohol and cigarettes. We did not buy any but I assume they were selling at premium prices as people were buying the items in bulk (warning: smoking and drinking is bad for your health and may lead to cancer, among other diseases).
4. Clear Zhuhai Customs
After you walk across the border and clear the Zhuhai customs, you’ll officially be in Zhuhai! The first place you see will be Zhuhai Port Plaza.
The entire process (clearing Macau customs, walking across the border, clearing Zhuhai customs) should take about 30 minutes or less during non-peak hours. However, if you go during peak hours, it may take about 2 hours. Therefore, I recommend going early (before 12pm) to avoid the queues.
Macau Border Gate
Walking across the Macau-Zhuhai border!
Zhuhai Port Plaza
Zhuhai Port Plaza, North Exit 1. Exit here to go to Yijian Seafood Restaurant (益健海鲜大食坊)!
Live Seafood in Yijian Seafood Restaurant (益健海鲜大食坊)
Clockwise from top: Yijian Seafood Restaurant Menu, Ma-La (spicy) Chicken, Scallops, Sea Cucumbers
Yijian Seafood Restaurant (益健海鲜大食坊)
Yijian Seafood Restaurant (益健海鲜大食坊) Entrance
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article! Please use the below social media buttons to share this article if you found the information in here useful. I have also included a rough map/illustration of Macau below so it is easier for you to visualize the various places.
Thanks for reading!
This is part of our completely FREE and FANTASTIC All in One Travel Guide to Having Fun in Macau. Why spend days researching when all your holiday information is simply a click away? 🙂
All in One Travel Guide to Having Fun in Macau!
1. Macau Factsheet: Get to know Macau in 5 Minutes!
2. Culture of Macau
3. 10 Things to Do in Macau
4. 10 Places to Eat in Macau
5. Macau One-Day and Two-Days Itinerary
6. Download this guide for viewing on mobile devices!
7. Travel Video: Experience Hong Kong and Macau in Four Minutes!