Macau, also known as Macao (pronounced /məˈkaʊ/) is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and is considered as the gaming capital in Asia. Macau has 33 casinos and all operate under a government franchise and under a common set of rules.
HOW TO GET THERE
Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering the Guangdong province to the north and facing the South China Sea in the east and south.
By Air – Direct to Macau
Tourists can use the Macau International Airport (MIA) for travel to and from different destinations in the region on direct flights or connecting flights to several ports in Asia, Europe and America. The MIA is located on Taipa Island and is 15 minutes away from the Macau Ferry Terminal, 20 minutes away from the Barrier Gate and 10 minutes away from the Cotai Strip where the City of Dreams Complex, this year’s Asian Poker Tour host, is located.
The Cotai Strip is Asia’s answer to Las Vegas; located on a strip of land which connects Macau’s islands of Taipa and Coloane, it is becoming one of Asia’s leading tourist destination.
By Air – Via Hong Kong
Tourists arriving via the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) can use the airport ferry service. Passengers can travel into or out of Macau via HKIA without the need to go through the HK Customs and Immigration formalities. The trip to Macau Route is approximately 45 minutes.
Another alternative is the ferry public transportation from HKIA to Macau-HK Ferry Terminal which includes the Airport Express, Public Bus No. A11 or Taxi (For rates reference visit this site)
Language: Chinese (Cantonese) and Portuguese are the official languages and used in government departments in all official documents and communications. English is generally used in trade, tourism and commerce.
Currency: Pataca (MOP$). Hong Kong Dollars (HKD$) are widely accepted as MOP$ is loosely pegged to the HKD$. 8 Patacas is equivalent to 1 USD$. (For conversion guide, click here.)
Foreign currency or travellers’ cheques can be changed in hotels, banks and authorized exchange dealers located all around the city. Most credit cards are accepted in many hotels, shops and restaurants. There are no restrictions on the amount of currency, which can be brought in or taken out of the territory.
Climate: Macau has a fairly warm tropical climate. Annual average temperature is about 20ºC (68ºF) and ranges from 16ºC (50ºF) to 25ºC (77ºF). Autumn (October to December) is the most pleasant season as days are sunny and warm, nights are cooler and humidity levels are low.
Travel Documents: All visitors must hold a passport or any valid travel document. Citizens of 66 countries can enter Macau without visa up to 30 to 90 days. (For more information, click here.)
THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF MACAU
Ten can’t-miss destination spots to explore while in the country:
House of Dancing Water Show, City of Dreams – “The House of Dancing Water” is uniquely created for City of Dreams by Franco Dragone, the world’s most spectacular showmaker whose shows have been seen by over 65 million spectators worldwide.
The show will be housed in a purpose-built theater designed with many breakthroughs including a stage pool that holds a record-breaking 3.7 million gallons of water, equivalent to 5 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This state-of-the-art theater will provide the setting for the birth of an epic love story and spectacular journey through time, showcasing dazzling costumes, special effects and record breaking acts never seen before in a theater.
The show is a must-see experience you’ll want to relive over and over again. Be sure to catch it, only at City of Dreams, Macau
Taipa Village – This small village clearly shows how the western and Chinese cultures have transformed and merged into one in Macau. The combination of Portuguese, Indian, and even Malay and Chinese cuisines make up the unique Macanese cuisine which cannot be found elsewhere in the world. Visit their famous food street, Rua da Cunha, and experience authentic Macanese food.
St. Paul’s Ruins and other historical sites – If you want to explore the cultural heritage of Macau and see exquisite architecture from the past, it would be best to take a walk downtown. One can find more than twenty interesting architectural sites in downtown Macau. Get to see the A-Ma Temple, Na Tcha Temple, Dom Pedro V Theatre, Moorish Barracks, the Cathedral and Mount Fortress, the Guia Fortress, the Mandarin House, St. Joseph ’s Seminary and the most popular of them all, the Ruins of St. Paul’s. One thing you must do while downtown: enjoy Macau’s famous local delicacy, the traditional egg tart.
Senado Square – Love to shop? Then the Senado Square is the right destination for you. Avenida Almeida Ribeiro, the most popular shopping destination in Macau, is just by the Senado Square. Shopping goods you can find here can range from luxury items to local Chinese delicacies.
Fisherman’s Wharf – This theme park is a new addition to the tourist destination spots to visit in Macau. It is specially designed to have different “town themes”. You can escape and experience Cape Town, the Italian Riviera, or Amsterdam all in just one night. You can also go back through time to the Tang Dynasty which is replicated and restored in the Dynasty Wharf. And the best feature offered by the Fisherman’s Wharf is the Cybernetic Fountain Show, a combination of laser light shows and music performances by the waterfront.
Macau Tower – Observe and see Macau from a bird’s point of view. Enjoy this breathtaking view from Macau Tower’s observation deck or dine in 360 Café, their revolving restaurant. Want something more adventurous? Try the Bungee Jump from the edge of the Macau Tower, the highest one in the world!!! Now that’s exciting!
Coloane Island – The Pearl River and the black-sand Hac Sa Beach are must-see sites in Coloane. A sports enthusiast or a fan of golf perhaps? Visit the Macau Golf and Country Club, one of the most stunning golf courses in Asia, which is situated in this island as well.
Exciting Evening Races – Get thrilled by watching different races at night. You can choose from Canindrome, Asia’s one and only greyhound racing complex, or the Macau Jockey Club for horse racing. The Macau Grand Prix Museum is also popular to tourists. The Grand Prix Museum has some wonderful books, videotapes and other items connected to Macau’s most important sporting event, and the world’s foremost Formula 3 competition.
Guia Hill – There are two hiking trails at Guia Hill, both are good for a stroll or jog. A 1.7 kilometre trail features a curved path which encircles the hill. A shorter distance, Fitness Circuit Walk offers 20 fully-equipped exercise stations along its winding path to the top. An outstanding lighthouse sits atop the hill with a courtyard out front, providing a perfect spot to observe the panorama of the city, harbours, and its surroundings. This is also accessible by Guia Cable Car, available daily from 07:30 to 18:30, on Avenida de Sidonio Pais.
Shopping and Nightlife – A trip to Macau would not be complete without exploring the many shopping areas and flourishing nightlife. A number of mega shops are within the casinos that offers a variety of local and international brands where prices are duty-free. Among these casinos are the Venetian, City of Dreams, MGM, and Wynn. Beyond the more contained, air-conditioned malls, the local markets where you see a crowd emerge to work their way through the quality produced crafts, leather, jewelry, clothes and scrumptious delicacies. Shoppers can revel in the contrast between the two main shopping areas; one as a symbol of Macau’s ever burgeoning prosperity, another of its still existing past.
While Macau’s emerging clubbing scene is till in its infancy, the Vegas of the East is proving to be fairly wild in its formative years. Pretty much a 24-hour part of town, the casinos will always welcome guests in for a drink or two – regardless of the hour. Among the hottest spots in town are D2 (AIA Tower), D3 (Fisherman’s Wharf), Bellinni’s (Venetian), Lion’s Bar (MGM), and Flame Bar (Hard Rock).
Macau Grand Prix – Held annually in November in the streets of Macau, the Macau Grand Prix features more than three hundred racing drivers and riders as the circuit is known for being the only street circuit racing even in which both car and motorcycle races are held.
The race weekend highlight of course is the Formula Three event which features many F3 champions from around the world. The 3.8-mile Guia Circuit is an exhilarating combination of long, fast straights and sharply twisting corners and is considered as one of the most demanding circuits in the world. The 57th Macau Grand Prix will be held from November 18 to 21 this year.