If you’re going to Hong Kong for a few days, I highly recommend a quick day trip from Hong Kong to Macau. Plan on an overnight stay if you want to gamble at the casinos but if you just want to see some of the highlights, Macau can easily be done in a day. My friend Andrew and I recently did a cheap self-guided, day trip from Hong Kong to Macau and we had a blast. We would have loved to stay an extra day to see the rest of the sights but even with our limited time, our quick day trip was one of the most memorable experiences of this trip.
If you look online, there aren’t many sites that tell you how to do a self-guided, day trip to Macau. Most of them start off as informative posts but quickly turn into how complicated a self-guided, “do it yourself,” day trip can be and how it would be easier to just book a tour through XY tour company. And though a tour group would be easier, I’m here to tell you a fun day trip from Hong Kong to Macau can easily be done for half the price of an organized tour and will give you the flexibility to see more things and visit less touristy shops.
Here’s some info about Macau, Asia’s Las Vegas
Macau was a Portuguese colony until 1999 and was the last remaining European colony in Asia. Just like Hong Kong, Macau is considered a Special Administrative Region of China so it is governed differently than mainland China. Macau is primarily known for its Vegas-like casinos but there is so much more to Macau than that. As a former Portuguese colony, Macau has a European charm like no other city in Asia and the blending (and contrast) of the two cultures is striking. If you want to visit Macau for some gambling, there are no shortages of mega-casinos and resorts but don’t expect a “Las Vegas Strip” like in Las Vegas. The casinos in Macau are more spread out from each other and in my opinion, not as grand as the Las Vegas casinos.
The casinos are cool but if you’re like me and want to see more of the sights, here’s an easy itinerary that my friend Andrew and I did. I’ll walk you through step by step on how to make the most of your day trip from Hong Kong to Macau. This day trip will cost you approximately $63 USD per person.
Day trip from Hong Kong to Macau: Immigration and Currency
US citizens do not need a travel visa to visit Macau from Hong Kong. However, you will need to go through customs and immigration so bring your passport with you. They won’t let you board the ferry without your passport and you will have to complete departure and arrival cards just like at the airport. Macau has their own currency, the Macanese Pataca (MOP), but Hong Kong Dollars are universally accepted everywhere. The current currency conversion is 97 Hong Kong cents to 1 MOP, so it’s almost an even exchange. Mandarin and Portuguese are the official languages of Macau but English is widely spoken as well.
Day trip from Hong Kong to Macau: Transportation
The cheapest and easiest way to get to Macau is by TurboJet ferry. You can take the ferry from Hong Kong Island, Kowloon or from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau. Note: The ferries to Macau DO NOT embark/disembark from the Central Ferry Terminal where the other ferries are located. On Hong Kong Island, ferries to Macau embark from the Macau Ferry Terminal and from the China Ferry Terminal in Kowloon.
Ferries between Hong Kong and Macau run 24 hours a day and the ride takes approximately 55 minutes. Ferries run every 15 minutes or so during the day and about once an hour after midnight. From the Macau Ferry Terminal, buy tickets for Macau (outer harbor) if you want to see the historical sights or for Macau (Taipa) if you are more interested in the casinos, shopping and other entertainment.
TurbjoJet ferries have several classes of service but the basic economy class ticket will cost you about $21 USD one way. Weekends, Holidays and night ferries will cost you a few bucks more. Here’s what the economy class cabin looks like. It not bad.
Day Trip from Hong Kong to Macau: Itinerary
There’s so much to see and do in Macau but if you are only visiting for a day and want to see the highlights, follow this plan to see the Macau Tower, Historic Center and the Wynn Macau Casino. Start your day as early as possible to avoid the crowds and bring your walking shoes.
Once you arrive in Macau, go buy something and get some small change (coins) for public transportation. You will need approximately 10 MOP ($1.30 USD) per person for the entire itinerary. Each bus ride costs 3.2 MOP per person and you will ride the bus 3 times on this trip. The buses do not give change back so make sure you have plenty of change handy. With your bus fare in hand, walk past all the taxi hawkers in the reception hall to the outside bus stand.
First stop: Macau Tower. Take the #32 bus to the “Macau Tower” stop. The bus will stop directly in front of the Macau Tower. Visual signs on the bus will help you identify your stop and stops are announced in Mandarin, Portuguese and English.
Have you seen the Space Needle in Seattle? The Macau Tower is like that. The Macau Tower stands 1,109 feet high and offers an observation deck on the 58th floor and an adventure deck on the 61st floor. Here, you can bungy jump off the 61st floor, Skywalk along the edge of the building or climb to the top of the tower needle. Prices for the adventure activities are ridiculously expensive but the ticket price for the observation deck is not bad. Entry to both decks will cost you 135 MOP ($17 USD). It was worth it for the sweeping views of the city and the glass bottom floor.
Second stop: Historic colonial Macau. Now, go back to the bus stop and take either bus #23 or #32 to the “Santo Agostinho” stop. Exit the bus, make a right hand turn and walk towards “Avenida De Almeida Ribeiro.”
Cross the street and make a left here. Walk for a few blocks to Largo de Senado (Senado Square). Senado Square is a awesome space representing the heart of Portuguese influences and the blending of Portuguese and Chinese cultures. It’s an outdoor market area with shops, street vendors and public exhibitions and is the starting point for the Historic Center of Macau.
From here, explore the Historic Center of Macau area by following the signs to St. Dominic’s Church, Ruins of St. Paul and Fortaleza do Monte (Mount Fortress).
Third stop: Wynn Macau Casino. When you are done, re-trace your route and walk back towards Avenida De Almeida Ribeiro as if you were going back to the bus stop. However, instead of turning back for the bus stop, keep walking south towards the Wynn Casino. If you get lost, just look up for the Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino. It’s the giant hotel shaped like a golden lotus flower. The Wynn Macau will be on the other side of the Grand Lisboa.
Here, you can watch the water fountain show out front, throw your money away gambling or have dinner at one of the many restaurants. We had dinner at Red 8, a casual noodle and congee bar. It was delicious and surprisingly cheap. Fun fact: Unlike in Vegas, where you can smoke almost anywhere you want, smoking is generally not allowed in any of the casinos in Macau except in designated smoking rooms and areas.
From here, you can take the Wynn Macau Casino shuttle or bus #32 back to the ferry terminal (Terminal Maritimo). The bus stop is located across the street from the Wynn Macau, next to the President Hotel. When you get to the ferry terminal, buy your return ticket home. Make sure you get a return ticket for the correct port (Hong Kong Island, Kowloon or HKIA).
And that’s it! You just explored your first day trip from Hong Kong to Macau. Obviously, there is so much more to see and do in Macau and one day will not give you enough time to see all the sights but this is a good start. Most people only think of Macau as a gambling destination but as you can see, Macau offers a lot of culture, history and charm. It really is an amazing place to visit and a perfect side trip to your Hong Kong itinerary.
Have you visited Macau before and have some tips to share? If so, please share your experiences with us in the comments section below. Thanks!
The other reviews in this series include:
- Air France Business Class Lounge San Francisco
- British Airways Terraces Lounge San Francisco
- DoubleTree San Francisco Airport
- Korean Air First Class, Boeing 747-8 San Francisco to Seoul
- Four Points Sheraton Namsan Seoul
- Korean Air First Class Lounge
- Korean Air First Class, Boeing 747-8 Seoul to Hong Kong
- Courtyard Marriott Hong Kong
- Day trip Hong Kong to Macau
- SWISS Business Class, Boeing 777-300ER Bangkok to Zurich
- Hilton Zurich Airport
- Turkish Airlines, Airbus A321 Zurich to Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge
- Turkish Airlines Free Transit Hotel Warning
- Turkish Airlines Business Class, Boeing 777-300ER Istanbul to Los Angeles