Country guide: Macau

Getting in

Macau is also a Special Autonomous Region of China, albeit substantially smaller than Hong Kong.  It is typically reached by ferry or by bus on the new bridge from Hong Kong. Both ferries and busses from Hong Kong will cost around HK$200/US$26 each way per person, and will take around an hour.  You can also fly into Macau International Airport, or cross the border from Zhuhai in mainland China, where high speed rail trains run from Guangzhou.

Most nationalities will be able to get a 30 day visa-free entry at the border for Macau.

Getting around

Macau is a small area, so most places will be within reach of a cheap taxi ride.  By using Google Maps, local busses can be a convenient and affordable option (MOP$4.20/US$0.50, though be aware that they do not give change for cash fares).  Most people visiting Macau will stay with one of the large casinos – these offer their own free busses around the city, though their destinations and schedule can be a little limited (often they’ll take you to the Macau Old Town, the border, or to other casino properties owned by the same company).

For day-to-day transport within Macau, a budget of around US$5 to US$10 per person, per day is usually more than sufficient.

Accommodation

Macau’s accommodation, meanwhile, is centred around the casinos, and some fantastically luxurious accommodation is available for relatively affordable prices. Budget accommodation isn’t really a huge thing in Macau.  Some relatively budget-oriented (US$70 per night or so) accommodation is available in the old town, and AirBnBs may be a good option for the more budget-minded. Mid-range accommodation (like the Countdown Hotel in the City of Dreams) starts at around US$100 per night (although this accommodation being within gigantic resorts means it’s often extremely luxurious by mid-range standards).  Affordable luxury accommodation (such as the Altira Macau) starts from around US$150 per night.

Food

As with most things in Macau, Macau’s mid- and higher-end food experiences are based around the casinos. Cheaper eats can be found in some food courts in the larger resorts, such as the Sands Cotai, and on the casino floor in most larger casinos (Venetian, Parisian, City of Dreams etc.). The local areas in Macau, such as the old town, Taipa and Coloane have some great local noodle, pork chop bun and roast duck restaurants with dishes at street food prices.

Expect to spend around HK$100 per meal, per person for mid-range options. Local dishes and some food courts will average closer to HK$50 per dish. Some ideas on where to eat are included in our one week itinerary to Hong Kong and Macau.

Budget

Macau is not a backpacker destination by any stretch of the imagination, but it also doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. A budget of US$100 to US$150 per person, per day will cover all your non-gambling needs, including some high quality luxury accommodation.

When it comes to gambling, Macau is not Las Vegas. The proliferation of mainland Chinese money means that they’re probably not interested in taking your money, unless you’re putting some serious dough on the table. Minimum bets for table games (like the ultra-popular baccarat) start at HK$300 to HK$500 (US$40-65) and go up from there. Automated games can be played substantially less, but doesn’t that take away some of the fun?

Macau officially has its own currency, the Macau Pataca (MOP), which is pegged to the Hong Kong Dollar at a rate of 1HKD=1.03MOP. In practice, when paying by cash you’ll always use Hong Kong dollars, and that’s what will come out of the ATMs in Macau, just the same as in Hong Kong. If you’re travelling from Hong Kong, be sure to keep plenty of HKD in your wallet, and if you’re travelling from the mainland or elsewhere, be sure to exchange or withdraw HKD, not MOP. Don’t be surprised to see the local currency rejected by the casinos.

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