Macau will forever own a special place in my heart. It is where my father was born and raised. It was one of the first places I’ve ever been at tourist at. And it is home to many of my favorite dishes.
Once a Portuguese colony and now one of the most visited cities in the world, Macau has managed to achieve the perfect balance of old and new. You can stay at a brand new luxurious 5 star hotel upon arrival and then take a short cab ride to enjoy a classic Macanese meal in a century old restaurant.
Macau is divided into 4 main parts (from North to South): Macau Peninsula, Taipa, Cotai, and Coloane. Each with its own special characteristics and must-sees.
The currency used in Macau is Macanese Pataca. However, the most commonly used currency is the Hong Kong Dollar due to the large amount of Hong Kong tourists. If you’re flying into Macau directly, it is recommended that you take out some cash at the airport as most places are cash only.
Cantonese and Portuguese are the main language spoken by locals. But it is not difficult to find locals who speak English and Mandarin.
WHERE TO STAY
There is an endless supply of luxury hotels in Macau. And these hotels will ruin you as they did me. Macau hotels are at the highest of quality offered at the most affordable rate. So if you have a little extra budget, stay at one of the 5 star hotels! It will blow your mind.
This also means that the quality of their 3 star hotels are also quite high. So for me, the main factor in choosing where to stay is location.
I highly recommend staying in the southern part of the Macau Peninsula. You will be conveniently in the middle of everything. With a nice view by the water, you can relax in nice hotel when you’re not exploring. And the area has a fun night scene as well.
HOW TO GET AROUND
TAXI and WALKING is my favorite combination. Macau is so small that you can walk everywhere. Once you get tired,l grab a cab to your next destination. PERFECT!
The bus is actually very affordable and convenient as well. And it is a fun adventure! I took a bus from Senado Square to Black Sand Beach and it was one of my most unforgettable moments for sure!
WHAT TO DO
You must not go to Macau and not gamble. If you don’t like gambling, at least visit a casino. Macau is where it is at now because of its casinos. If you grew up in Asia, you will know this about Macau. Since the beginning of time, everyone went there for the casinos. Go to Hotel Lisboa and people watch. I like standing their watching these older Chinese men screaming and shouting by the tables. This is how it’s been for decades! And of course, if you’re lucky, you might make some extra cash for your trip.
GET LOST + EXPLORE
Roaming the streets of Macau oddly can give you a similar feeling to roaming the streets of Europe. There are so many little cobble stoned roads that lead you through different neighborhoods. And Macau adds an extra element of surprise – are you heading into Portugal, or China? I love the blend of culture in Macau! One second you’re passing by a gorgeous cathedral and within 20 more steps, the smell of incense from the nearby temple starts filling the air around you. You never know what this one road will lead you to.
TRY MACANESE CUISINE
There’s nothing like it. A food baby of the Portuguese and Cantonese culture. Trust me, you’ll fall in love.
VISIT THE OLD MACAU
The 5 star hotels, Michelin restaurants, brand new shops and casinos and all its glamor may be attractive, but promise me, take a look at the “Old” Macau. Visit the places that MADE Macau so desirable to these investors and developers in the first place. Try to spend 70% of your time outside of the newly developed zones, you won’t regret it.
Some of my favorites are:
RUINS OF ST. PAULS
HISTORIC CENTRE OF MACAU
RUA DO CUNHA
THE STREETS OF COLOANE
ST. FRANCIS XAVIER CHURCH
BLACK SAND BEACH + FERNANDO’S
MA KOK MIU (A-MA TEMPLE)
WHAT TO EAT
I recently posted about the Must Eats places of Macau. If you have the time and tummy space, definitely follow that list! If not, at least find a place nearby to try these out:
PORTUGUESE EGG TART
PORK CHOP BUN
BEEF OR PORK JERKY
ICE CREAM at LAI KEI’S
However many days you decide to stay in Macau, you’re going to have a blast. I have so much love for this city, I can’t wait for you to see it!
Oh, and sorry for the old photos… the beauty of this project is that it allows me to retrace all the steps I’ve taken over the years. And looking at all these photos make me want to use them even though they seem quite outdated.
What do you like to do when you’re in Macau?