A big thanks to Cebu Pacific’s random seat sales, we were able to take on this challenge. I remember when I was younger that I dreamed of just having coffee in Hongkong and then returning back to Manila afterwards, the same manner that I dreamed of just attending a lunch meeting in Macau and then going back to Manila right after.
Now it is happening, for real. I went to Macau and ate ‘Lechon Macau’.
We did it by being spontaneous just for a little bit. So at the time when we saw the seat sale that falls on a good weekend, we didn’t hesitate and booked it in advance. HAHA.
We flew from Clark, so the challenge started from us reaching the airport on time for check in.
Macau, or Macao, Officially known as the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China is a special administrative region on the western side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China.
Macau was formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire, after Ming China leased the territory as a trading post/treaty port in 1557. Portugal governed the area under titular Chinese sovereignty until 1887, when it was given perpetual colonial rights for Macau. The colony remained under Portuguese control until 1999, when it was returned to China. As a special administrative region, Macau’s system of government is separate from that of mainland China.
-As written by Wikipedia
Best Time to Visit
If you want to experience a winter-like weather, go there ideally by November to February. I personally target to go back to this place during Chinese New Year, since I dream of spending Chinese New Year in China. Hehe.
Macau has their own currency called the Macanese Pataca, abbreviated as MOP. However, they are also accepting Hongkong Dollars (HKD) and US Dollars (USD).
They said that English is the global language, but not for this place. You will be challenged to speak with people especially with the locals if you aren’t familiar with Mandarin, Cantonese, Fukien and Portuguese. You can only talk to yourself, your companion, tourists that can understand English and Filipinos working in the City. This is one of the challenges where you will find your internet data handy.
One mistake that I made during this trip was not to bring warmer clothes as we went here in March. I was expecting a normal to sunny weather but we went there on an 18 degrees Celsius temperature and I went out of the airport wearing sleeveless top and slippers. Can you imagine how cold I felt back then? Eventually I was forced to buy a crochet sweatshirt to keep me warm while walking around.
Where to Stay
There are lots of accommodations available in the City Center which you can choose to book for your stay. But since we just needed a place to rest, wash up and change, we decided to book a transient room for 2 persons located at Senado Square. The rental is managed by Filipinos so we didn’t have a hard time communicating with them. The place is very convenient since its located at the City Center, where all transportation options are accessible, and some of the spots to visit can be reached through walking.
We were able to book the place for MOP 300 or 1900 PHP. This is for a stay good for 2 days since we left our things the whole day while exploring the city.
If you will be doing this by yourself, make sure you have your travel map and your internet ready. Maps are free for tourists and are usually available for distribution on the airport upon arrival.
Data and Mobile Communications
No matter how budgeted your trip should be, when I say you need this, you gotta believe me. Considering that most people in Macau are ‘Mainland’ Chinese, they can only speak 15% to no English. It will be an advantage if you can speak Portuguese, but tell you, Google translate is going to be your BFF for this trip.
You will also need an interactive map which will help you find your way back when you’re lost, and find the nearest taxi stand in case your legs can’t bear the walking agony. I preferred using Google Maps to aid these pain points.
You will need your internet perked up because unless there is a Filipino that can spot you while you’re getting lost, nobody is going to help you. This notice came from a first hand experience. Hahaha.
Before flying to Macau, we purchased a 4G-enabled sim for China, that can be just plug and play as long as your phone is unlocked to be used for any network. We bought the sim for PHP 350 from Travel Sim PH.
It was so reliable and it saved us from all the challenging obstacle courses during the entire trip.
You can ride a cab on any available taxi stands on every establishment you go to. current flagdown rate for the first 1.6Kms is MOP 19, and MOP 2 for every 240 meters additional. Make sure you have the name of your destination ready so that the driver can easily understand you. Telling them the destination verbally is a headache most of the time. The only time the driver understood me was the moment I shown him the photo of the establishment in my phone.
Hotel Shuttle Buses
You can actually travel your way around by riding the point-to point shuttle buses provided by the hotels for free. You just have to make sure that your schedule is in sync with the pick up and drop off itineraries. To plan ahead, you can check different websites of hotels for the bus schedules.
Your travel will be cost efficient by travelling your way via public buses if you don’t want long walks from the hop-on hop off spots of hotel shuttle buses. This is the method where you didn’t have to worry about talking to locals, but carries a lot of adventures in it.
I personally suggest also that you utilize your Google Maps, and download the Bus Travelling System app by Transport Bureau of Macau SAR. Considering that the public signs are either in Chinese or in Portuguese, it will be a challenge to understand the bus stops. Using the app will help you track which bus stop you should be waiting and which bus you should be boarding.
To download the app, just go to the links below:
The app also have improved such that the buses’ GPS system is able to communicate the location of the nearest bus and how long is their estimated arrival in the bus stop.
While this option is highly-efficient, we highly suggest that you plan your itinerary ahead, so that you can also do your research on key bus stops, and key buses that you can look out for. Make sure that you always prepare exact amount upon boarding the buses, as the automatic fare machine will never give you change. Bus fare is MOP 6.80
A lot of times that we boarded the bus and donated MOP 20 because we had no change. HAHA.
Its gonna be physically exhausting, but the most of the places are actually reachable by walking. You just needed to keep your maps handy, and a pre-plotted tour plan.
Places to Visit
Also known as Largo de Senado, is a beautiful paved square in historic downtown Macau. The Portuguese influence is everywhere here, with beautiful old pastel coloured buildings surrounding it, giving it something of a Mediterranean feeling. It was added add a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.
Ruins of St Paul
One of the most recognizable landmarks in Macau, the Ruins of St. Paul’s are all that remains of a 16th century complex which included the Church of St Paul (Mater Dei) and St Paul’s College. The college was one of the largest in Asia when it was first built, at a time when Macau was the main port in the Pearl River Delta (before being overtaken by Hong Kong).
Monte Fort stands out as the best preserved and large European construction of its age in East Asia. Its where the Macau museum was also located.
Taipa and Coloane Village
In my opinion, this part of Macau should be the highlight of any tour services offered for Macau, instead of offering a walking tour to the strip of Casino hotels in Cotai Strip. Its because this place is where the history of Macau if being unfolded and their culture is being observed. I will prioritize this place again once I find time (and money) to come back to Macau.
Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Centre
After a visit by Macau Business Tycoon Dr. Stanley Ho to the Sky Tower in Aukland, He got so impressed and desired to build his own in Macau. Holds the Guinness Book of Record title for the Highest Bungee Jump in the World, the Macau Tower stands tall at 338m (1,108.9 ft). To-date, this establishment offers world class entertainment, shows and Cinema to its guests. It is also being used as location venues for different business and trade events held in Macau.
Pak Tai Temple
Originally built in 1843, This is a temple that was dedicated to the former Northern Emperor “Pak Tai” who is believed to withstand floods and fire.
Macao Giant Panda Pavilion
Also known as the Seac Pai Van Park, located at the West side of Coloane district, you can actually see a Panda! Not only the ordinary cute one, but also the Red Panda! You can see how happy I was when we finally got into the park gate.
The park is actually an 8km trail which features not only these cutie pies, but also other rare animals such as the Pink Flamingo, and others. They also maintain a herbal medicine garden and exotic plants garden which is very informative to visit. While this place is truly a haven for nature lovers, what actually triggered my fancy of going here are the Pandas.
To summarize, this area holds most of 5-star hotels that has Casinos in it. Tourists that loves to play here can travel from one Casino hotel to another just by riding the free shuttle buses. You can actually see them all in one view from the outside, and you will not be able to decide which to choose first, but you must try to visit these hotels if you still have time.
The Venetian Macao (The only hotel we paid a visit)
Beside Venetian Hotel, along Cotai district, you can also explore Parisian Hotel, Studio City, Galaxy Hotel. Wynn Palace, Sheraton Grand Hotel. As were not fond of glamour and casinos, we decided not to spend time in these hotels anymore. But they are worth seeing if you still have time and energy to spare as they are beside each other.
Dishes to Try
Macau is a place where the East meets West and their cuisine simple speaks of a fusion of Chinese and Portuguese cuisine. Its history can be tasted on every Macanese food that you will try. You can buy the egg tarts at Pastelaria Koi Kei which has several branches around Macau. Meanwhile, the almond cookies can also be found there packed in boxes, but there are also other shops that sells them.
We bought the pork chop bun in Senado Square while walking around. And we suggest trying the authentic Macanese food in Taipa Village, where we had a very delightful lunch, particularly at La Famiglia
Portuguese Egg Tart
Macanese Almond Cookies
Pork Chop Bun
Portuguese Suckling Pig
Spending 24 hours touring outside of the country is crazy. But if were gonna be asked if it’s worth it? It’s gonna be a big yes. We’re willing to try it again on other destinations, if given the time and money to spare.