Macau has a colourful palette and a plethora of sites despite occupying just 30.8sq km of the Chinese mainland. From neon-lit casinos to dusky markets, cobbled streets to modern cafes and Baroque churches to Art Deco buildings - there's a wonderful mix of East and West. Thirty buildings and squares are UNESCO listed, and many reflect Macau's colonial Portuguese legacy, as does the food, laid-back lifestyle and the blue azulejo-tiled street names. Yet Macau has a modern Asian look, rivalling Singapore and Hong Kong.
It was the Portuguese who settled Macau in 1557, persuading the Chinese to rent them the peninsula and establishing trade links in the region that made them very wealthy. It was this period of prosperity that created the colonial Macau we see today – the Basilica of St Paul, the Mediterranean courtyards, luxurious villas, the hill-top lighthouse and UNESCO World Heritage old city.
By the 17th century Macau was already in decline and became a backwater for licensed gambling, prostitution and organized crime well into the 20th Century. In fact the Chinese refused to take it back until 1999, by which time it was in better shape anyway. By then the Triad gangs had been dealt with, the monopoly on casino licenses revoked and Macau’s economy had kick started as foreign tourism increased.
Today Macau is seen as having something of two faces with people coming to appreciate the fortresses, churches and food of the colonial era and dining in the modern Las Vegas of the East amidst 14 casinos and ritzy hotels. There are also other sights such as Buddhist temples, war bunkers, the excellent Museu de Macau, Macau Tower and the Fisherman’s Wharf theme park.
Macau is based on a peninsula with a couple of islands including Taipa and Colôane. Most of the sights including St. Dominic's Church and Basilica of St Paul are packed around a few blocks in the old core around Largo do Senado, a good starting point of your tour.
Macau restaurants serve a spicy blend of Portuguese, Chinese, Malay, Indian, and African dishes. The choice should keep all palettes happy because not only can you find delicious dim sum and pork chop bun, but there are also excellent Portuguese coffee (bica) and wine, Goanese chicken, and fresh Chinese vegetables.
Traditional Portuguese dishes to look out for including bacalhau (cod) and rich soups like caldo verde or sopa a alentejena. Famed Macanese (Chinese/Portuguese) dishes include stir-fried curry crab and jagra de ovos (sweet egg tart).
Below are some of the best places to eat in Macau:
Thanks to its Portuguese heritage, Macau has got coffee right. It, therefore, makes sense to head to Portuguese establishments for the best blend of bica and pastries, while the Chinese establishments produce a juicy pork bun with milky teas and puddings.
And here are the best cafes in Macau:
Due to its tax free status, shopping is a delight in Macau with prices considerably lower than the USA, Europe and other Asian centers. Thanks to recent developments, you can find designer shopping centers though there are plenty of exotic Asian markets and traditional shops selling Chinese medicines and Portuguese antiques. Other things to shop for including electronics, jewelry, fabric, porcelain and wine. Prices vary according to quality so be wary of imitations. Avenida Almeira Ribeiro is the main commercial center and has many designer boutiques.
Passport / Visa
All visitors must hold a passport or a valid travel document for travel to Macau and are required to have a visa except some countries which are exempted from a visa or entry permit.
Most travelers can enter Macau with just their passports for between 30 and 90 days, including citizens of the following countries:
Travelers who do require visas can get them, valid for 30 days, on arrival in Macau. Visitors may also apply for an entry permit or visa upon arrival at the immigration checkpoint. However, visitors from certain countries are required to obtain a visa in advance before their trip to Macau.
You can get a single one-month visa extension from the Peninsula or Taipa branches of the Macau Immigration Department.
Address: Public Security Police Force Headquarters, Praceta de 1 de Outubro, Macau
Phone: +853 2872 5488
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Macau is during autumn and winter, from mid-October to December. The average yearly temperatures are around 20 degree Celsius and there are almost 100 days when the temperature becomes higher than 30 degree Celsius.
Visitors are advised to wear a thick jacket or an overcoat to keep warm during the colder months.
Macau International Airport locates on Taipa Island and is serviced by flights of Air Asia, China Easter, EVA Airways, Silk Air, Singapore Airlines, Trans Asia Airways and Xiamen Airlines.
From the airport you can catch public buses to Avenida Almeida Ribeiro, the Border Gate, the Jetfoil Terminal and Colôane.
Shuttle bus service to your hotel is available departing from the north exit of the airport parking lot. Buses run every 15-20 minutes between 11.00am and 9.00pm. It is also possible to get to Hong Kong airport via the fast ferries from Macau Jetfoil Terminal.
Address: Taipa, Macau
Phone: +853 2886 1111
Getting around Macau is easy. Bus services are provided by Transmac and TCM, and routes run from 6.45am until midnight to destinations all over the city. You pay your fare into the box at the front, there’s no change given. You can get a full list of companies and routes from the Macau Tourist Map. Mokes are also a fun way of getting around. These bright, open-sided vehicles are part of Macau history and worth a ride. Many gather outside the casinos and main hotels.
Ferry services link Macau to Hong Kong and Shenzhen. First Ferry and Turbojet have regular services. You can also get a sampan across the harbour to Wānzái on the mainland.
Taxis can be found at the airport, Jetfoil Terminal and on main streets. There are surcharges between Taipa and Coloane and Macau and Coloane.
+853 2851 9519
The General Post Office is located at Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro.
Address: Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau
Phone: +853 2832 3666
H.& B Pharmacy
865, Grand Canal Street, Level 3
Shoppes at Venetian
Sun–Thur 10am - 11pm
Fri–Sat 10am - 12am
Seng Tou Street, 407-413 G/F,
Nova Taipa Garden, Macau
Address: Seng Tou Street, 407-413 G/F, Macau
Phone: +853 2885 5100
The country Code is + 853.
There are no area codes in Macau.
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