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Macau also spelled Macao, is a small city connected to China at the southern part of Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. The city was a former Portuguese colony from the 16th century until December 20, 1999. The Portuguese influences can be seen in architecture, food, tradition and religion.
While gambling tourism brings in a lot of visitors (and revenue), there are many reasons why Macau is an excellent destination for solo travellers. The well-preserved colonial architecture can be seen in the historical centre, which has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Furthermore, Macau’s designation as a “Creative Cities Network in the field of Gastronomy” by UNESCO, draws foodies everywhere to experience the delightful Macanese cuisine.
Safety in Macau is not an issue for solo female travellers. The city is peaceful and has a low crime rate. It is very safe to walk alone during the day and at night.
If you only have one day, you can see majority of Macau attractions on the Macau Peninsula side. But if you can spare another day, visit Taipa and tour around all the glitzy casinos.
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How to get to Macau
Visitors from China, Taiwan, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, and Korea will arrive at Macau International Airport in Taipa.
From the airport, there are taxis, local buses and many hotel shuttle buses that will take you directly to your hotel.
Travellers from Hong Kong can take the hydrofoil ferry, TurboJET or Cotai Water Jet, and arrive in Macau in about an hour at one of the two ferry terminals: Macau Ferry Terminal or Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal.
One way ticket starts from $160HKD. You don’t have to buy tickets in advance as there are between 2 to 3 hydrofoil ferry per hour going to Macau.
Once you are at either ferry terminal, you can take a hotel shuttle bus to your hotel for free.
How to get around Macau
Walking is my preferred method when it comes to getting around Macau. You can easily walk to all of the attractions on the Macau Peninsula.
When you venture to Taipa, you can take a taxi or bus. However, the easiest and cheapest way getting around Macau is by the free hotel shuttle buses run by all the major casinos.
All the casinos provide a shuttle bus service between ferry terminals, airport, historical centre and back to their hotel.
Related Post – Want to eat like a local in Hong Kong? Check this post!
Want to see a show or join a tour in Macau? Check out some of these options:
Where to stay in Macau
Macau, also known as the “Vegas of the East”, lives up to its reputation where the city has many glitzy hotels, just like Las Vegas.
While there are a handful of budget accommodations, one of the highlights of visiting Macau is to experience a world-class hotel. Here are a few recommendations on where to stay in Macau.
- Cost: $600 – 1,500 HKD per day
- Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel
- Enjoy your stay in one of the 3,000 guest rooms at the 5-star hotel. Make sure to check out some of the amenities including swimming pool, hot tub, sauna and fitness center.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- MGM Cotai
- The newer MGM hotel is a brand new luxury hotel with all the glitz and glamour. The lobby glitters and shimmers – they put a lot of thought into the design of the hotel. No expense was spared on designing and building this $3.4 billion dollar hotel.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Cost: $1,500+ HKD per day
- MGM Macau
- The original MGM hotel has modern rooms that come with a large soaker tub and separate shower. The entire place feels luxurious and comfortable. The hotel is located on the peninsula side where you can easily walk to the historic centre. And if possible, ask for a room facing the water where you can see the harbour and Taipa.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Cost: average price is about $600 HKD per day
- There are over 300+ Airbnb listings in Macau (Macau Peninsula and Taipa)
- If you want to stay at an Airbnb, choose one in Macau Peninsula so you can easily get around the city. Plus the prices there is cheaper than the ones in Taipa
- Before you book your Airbnb accommodation, always read reviews and read all the fine prints before booking
- If you are not part of Airbnb yet, claim your $35 Airbnb discount here
Related Post – Everything you need to know before booking Airbnb
What to Eat in Macau
Macanese cuisine is the fusion between Portuguese food and Chinese cooking techniques. The people of Macau try to replicate European cuisine with local spices and ingredients, and the result is simply delicious.
Typical Macanese Food
- Pork Chop Bun – fried whole pork chop sandwiched in a fresh baguette bun
- Bacalhau – salted cod, either grilled or in a croquette
- Caldo Verde – Portuguese kale and potato soup
- Clams – clams in garlic, olive oil and coriander
- Grilled fish – many types of fish to choose from. Like codfish, seabass, and sardines
- African Chicken – unique to Macanese cuisine, this is a hybrid of Portuguese and Cantonese cooking and with the influence of European, Indian and African flavours
- Beef Offals in Curry – local Macanese snacks include fish balls, beef offals braised in curry broth
- Street food skewers – another typical Macanese snack; fish balls, tofu, pork blood cubes are skewered and cooked in a tasty broth
- Pork Jerky – large sheets of pork jerky are favourite amongst tourists
- Portuguese Egg Tarts – similar to a Chinese egg tart but the Portuguese egg tart has a slightly burnt top
- Serradura – a traditional dessert where crushed tea biscuit is layered in between whipped cream and condensed milk
- Almond Cookies – almond flavoured cookies
Where to Eat in Macau
- Albergue 1601 – the restaurant is in a beautiful heritage building. Everything on the menu is delightful!
- Sing Lei Cha Chaan Teng (勝利茶餐室) – a small local restaurant that serves great pork chop on a bun. Don’t let the line-up scare you away; it moves quickly!
- A Petisqueira – I’ve been to this restaurant a few times, and everything I tried was excellent. But make sure you book a reservation in advance, you can almost never get a table if you walk in. The early reservation starts at 6:30. I love the fried clams, codfish cakes, sardines, seafood rice, and grilled seabass
- Portugália – a cozy little restaurant in Taipa Village. Try their clams “à bulhão pato” and shrimps “à là guilho”
- Margaret’s Cafe e Nata – if you can only eat one Portuguese egg tart, you have to come here. But I cannot see why you would only want one! Ha! But beware of the line-up. And you have to purchase your egg tarts first before you line-up.
- Lord Stow’s Bakery – many locations; if the line-up at Margaret’s Cafe e Nata is too intimidating, try the Portuguese egg tart here. To me, it’s just as delicious!
My Macau 1 and 2 day itinerary
Macau has two parts: the historic centre is located on the Macau Peninsula which is on the north side of the city.
The southern part of Macau consists of Taipa, Cotai and Coloane. And the majority of the highlights are in Taipa and the casino hotels are in Cotai.
If you only have one day in Macau, definitely see all the historical highlights in Macau because they are the most popular places to visit.
However, if you have another day, I encourage you to explore Taipa and Cotai as they are the newer parts of Macau.
Day 1: Macau Peninsula (blue pins)
1, 2, & 3. Visit the historic centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
In the heart of the city, the historic district is known as “The Historic Centre of Macao” and it has over 20 ancient monuments and places that are worth visiting. The centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Start at Senado Square, a paved town square with numerous Portuguese colonial buildings and classic Portuguese limestone floors. The square is the most visited spot and has many festivals throughout the year.
Besides all the retail stores and local food shops, there are plenty of historic buildings that are worth seeing. Look for the Holy House of Mercy and St. Dominic’s Church.
4 & 5. See the Ruins of St. Paul’s, Macau’s most famous landmark
From Senado Square, follow the signs that take you through several paved narrow streets.
At the end of the road, you will see the Ruins of St. Paul’s at the top of the hill. You won’t miss this – follow the crowd and selfie-sticks. Ha!
The church was destroyed in a fire in 1835 and left behind a facade. You can walk behind the granite wall and see what’s left of the original church building.
Monte Fort is near the ruins and is worth visiting as well. It is a 400-year-old fort with a great view.
6. Take Instagram photos at Travessa da Paixao
At the base of Ruins of St. Paul’s, turn left and follow the cobblestone street, you will find Travessa da Paixao, also known as Lover’s Lane. The hilly street has brightly coloured buildings that are totally Instagram worthy!
7. Visit Rua de Felicidade, Macau’s old red-light district
Stroll over to Rua de Felicidade, where it was once Macau’s red-light district, but it is now full of restaurants and little shops.
I especially like this street because of the traditional Chinese architecture mixed with new materials like concrete and stone. The street has so much character and is one of the best spots for taking photos.
8. Take in the view of Macau from Guia Fortress
The Guia Fortress is part of the 17th-century colonial military fort that has a lighthouse and a chapel. The UNESCO Heritage Site is popular with visitors because of its spectacular views.
You can take the cable car to the top but the walk up is not difficult at all.
9 & 10. Visit the legendary Grand Lisboa Hotel and Performance Lake at Wynn Macau
Macau has a lot of hotels! Visiting some of the hotels is an exciting event in itself. Grand Lisboa Hotel has been around for as long as I remember and is one of the original hotels in Macau.
Then walk over to Wynn Macau to check out the light, music and fountain show at the Performance Lake. The incredible display of water and lights performance occurs every 15-minute intervals throughout the day from 11 am to 10 pm weekdays and 11 am to 12 am on weekends.
Day 2: Taipa & Cotai (purple pins)
1, 2, 3 & 4. Visit Taipa Village
Taipa Village is a small area with many local restaurants, cafes and shops. Most of the stores are concentrated on Rua do Cunha.
There is an open-air market and performance on weekends at the Taipa Flea Market which attracts many locals and visitors.
While you are in Taipa, learn about the Macanese heritage at Taipa Houses Museum and stroll through Flower City Park.
5, 6, 7, & 8. Try your luck at one of the casino hotels in Cotai
If gambling is your thing, are you in luck! Gambling is legal in Macau, and each hotel has its own casino. Try your luck at a slot machine or a baccarat table at Venetian Macao Casino, City of Dreams, The Parisian Macao, Galaxy Hotel or MGM Cotai.
But if you don’t gamble, there are still many things to do and see. Each casino hotel has many shops and restaurants.
But the highlight is seeing all the casino hotels themselves. Each is different and designed well. And it really does feel like Las Vegas!
9 & 10. Get a bird’s eye view from the Macau Tower
The Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre is on the Macau Peninsula by the harbour. At a height of 338m, it is the tallest structure in Macau.
Go up to the 58th level and enjoy a drink and 360°view at the Macau Tower 360° Café.
Or you can attempt the skywalk and walk around the periphery of The Macau Tower, or bungee jump from the 233m (764ft) high platform, which is Guinness World Record for the Highest Commercial Bungy Jump in the world.
Return to Hong Kong or continue on your trip
And there you have it! The best of Macau in 1 and 2 days.
Most people visit Macau as a day trip or stay overnight on the weekend. Then they return to Hong Kong to continue the rest of the trip.
Or if you have a flight out of Macau, take one of the hotel shuttle buses to the airport. It is absolutely free!
I hope you enjoyed my itinerary for Macau. Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed it or something else you would rather do. Or anything else!