Macau

Where to Stay in Macau

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Planning a trip to Macau? There are many attractions you definitely shouldn't miss during your visit to the Las Vegas of Asia. Before you arrive, get familiar with its four main regions so you know where to spend your time. For more inspiration on what to see and do in Macau, be sure to check out the photo gallery.

Wynn hotel and casino MacauHostels in Macau

While hostels are technically not allowed in Macau, there are some very cheap private hotels for budget travelers. These boutique hotels are available for under $60 USD per night.

Best Hotel to Stay in Macau

Given that Macau's primary form of industry is tourism, there is no shortage of hotels to choose from. As mentioned above, hostels are illegal. However, boutique hotels and guest houses offer budget accommodations. If you have a budget of at least $140 USD per night, big chain hotels are easily affordable. Rather than try to nail down the best hotel in Macau, it's easier to do so according to the district or region you plan to spend the most time.

Districts of Macau

Geographically, Macau is divided into three regions that include the Macau Peninsula and islands of Taipa and Coloane. A fourth region also exists in the strip of reclaimed land between Taipa and Coloane known as Cotai. The two entertainment zones of the older Macau Peninsula and newer Cotai Strip are easily the most popular for tourists. The two are fairly far apart and require either a 30-minute bus ride or slightly shorter taxi ride to get from one to the other.

Where to stay in Macau

Macau Peninsula (the older district)

The Macau Peninsula is the most northern region that is directly connected to mainland China. A majority of the tourist attractions are here, as well as many residential areas.

Attractions

  • Casino Lisboa
  • Casa Real Casino
  • Grand Lisboa
  • L'Arc Casino
  • MGM Grand Macau
  • Wynn Macau

Hotels Under $100 USD per night

Macau Peninsula Grand LisboaTaipa

South of the peninsula is the island of Taipa. There are three bridges that lead to Taipa and it is where the Macau International Airport is found.

Hotels in Taipa

The Venetian Macau hotel and casino

Cotai Strip

Further south of Taipa is the newer region of Cotai. All of the newest construction in Macau exists here and it is where you will find dazzling new casinos, hotels, and shopping malls. The largest casino in the world (The Venetian) is located in Cotai.

Attractions

  • City of Dreams
  • Dancing Water Theater
  • Macau Orient Golf Club
  • Karting Track
  • Galaxy Macau
  • Pousada Marina Infante
  • Sands Cotai Central
  • The Venetian Casino Resort, Macao

Hotels in Cotai

As this is a newer part of town, hotels are pricey averaging $140 USD per night.

Galaxy Macau in Cotai

Coloane

At the southernmost tip of Macau is the island of Coloane. Very mountainous, it is the least developed region. With that said, Coloane offers the most nature activities in Macau including many outdoor hiking trails, two beaches, one resort, and Macau's very first golf course.

Hotels in Coloane

what to do in macau

Travel Photos to Inspire You to Visit Macau

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Are you considering a trip to Macau, often considered the Las Vegas of Asia? We recently did a two-day trip to Macau from our base in Hong Kong and absolutely loved our stay. This former Portuguese colony still has European influences. Yet it is also strikingly modern with new casinos and hotels being constructed as we speak. If you visit, be sure to wander the glitzy areas, but also stay off the beaten path to the parks, markets, and other tourist attractions that will give you a taste of daily life in Macau. Whether you do just a day trip or an overnight stay, make time in your travel itinerary to explore all four regions. Below, we share travel photos to inspire you to visit Macau. Have you traveled here before? Let us know what your experience was like in the comments below!

Two Days in Macau

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I must confess, I love casinos like the ones in Las Vegas. Even though I don't drink or gamble, there's something about the bright lights, glitz, and glam that make casinos like Vegas and Seattle's Tulalip Resort Casino attractive. Thus, our Asia 2016 tour had to include a stopover in the Las Vegas of Asia: Macau (also spelled Macao). Indeed, more revenue from gambling is generated here than anywhere else in the world, reportedly seven times the revenue of Las Vegas, and many of the iconic Vegas hotels and casinos can also be found here.

Walking through The Venetian in Macau really didn't feel that different from its Vegas counterpart; everything was the same, including the faux painted skies and gondola rides. But apart from similar aesthetics and designs, Macau has an entirely different vibe, and it's actually quite tough to compare it to Vegas. Some travelers might find this disappointing, but I found the surprising charm, character, and history of the former European colony to be fascinating. It's a place I'd love to return to someday and explore further.

See more travel photos of Macau.

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Macau Travel Stats

  • 2 Days
  • 28.46 Miles Walked
  • 80°F Avg Temp
  • 94% Avg Humidity
  • Item lost: cell phone

Where is Macau

Located on the continent of Asia, Macau is a dependent territory of China. With a population of around 650,000 spread over an area of 11.8 square miles, Macau is considered the most densely populated region in the world. Despite the density, this region is also among the richest, thanks largely to being the world's largest gambling centers. Most visitors come to Macau as a day trip from Hong Kong.

Macau Weather

Thanks to its southern location, Macau has a very humid subtropical climate. Average humidity is generally around 75% to 90%. The warmest month of the year is July, where the average temperature is 84°F. Meanwhile, the coolest month is January where the climate can be as low as 58°F.

Travel Macau Map

Currency and Affordability

The official currency is the Macanese pataca, which was first introduced in both Portuguese Macau and Portuguese Timor in 1984.

Macau currency Macanese Pataca

Getting to Macau

Entering Macau is very easily done via a ferry from Hong Kong. Ferries from Hong Kong to Macau run 24 hours a day, at intervals of 15-30 minutes during the day and each hour at night. Thus, ferries are the easiest and most affordable ways to get into Macau. Economy class tickets on a modern Turbo Jet (with free Wi-Fi!) that will get you from Hong Kong to Macau in about an hour will cost around HKD 164 (~ $21USD), with ticket prices being slightly higher during the evening and on weekends.For many years, this was the main way for visitors to get in and out of the country. In recent times, however, direct flights have made it possible to fly directly into Macau.

Upon arriving at the main ferry terminal in Macau, you'll then need to taxi or bus to your final destination, which will likely be one of two major entertainment zones in Macau. Many hotels and casinos provide free shuttle bus transportation.

Entry Requirements

Even though Hong Kong and Macau are officially part of the People's Republic of China, both are designated as Special Administrative Regions (SAR), meaning that a Chinese visa is typically not required to enter either Hong Kong or Macau. This, of course, does depend on which passport you hold and how long you plan to stay, but it was not a problem for two Americans with a 2-day trip planned.

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Where to Stay in Macau

Government regulations do not allow hostels to operate in Macau. As a result, it is is not an easy travel destination for backpackers and travelers on a budget. Luckily, you can easily afford a day trip to Macau from Hong Kong at the very least.

In our case, we got extremely lucky and found a private, modern Airbnb apartment rental close to many of the attractions. Conveniently located across the street from the Emperor Palace Casino, the apartment was reasonably priced. But best of all, it had a walk-in bathroom that wasn't the size of a tiny closet. This was a big luxury after experiencing the cramped quarters of accommodations in Hong Kong. Still, it was pricey enough that we only planned for a two-night stay before heading back to Hong Kong.

Macau Airbnb
Macao Peninsula Macau travel photography

The antithesis of Sin City

Our Airbnb was in the older Macau Peninsula area where the Grand Lisboa, Wynn Macau, and MGM Grand Macau were found. We spent the bulk of our first day debating about whether the shape of the Casino Lisboa's building was an onion or a pineapple (it's a lotus) and strolling through all of its surrounding casinos.

Visually, casinos here trumped those of Las Vegas in terms of newness and overall impressive grandeur. They had a "no photos in the casinos" rule that was very strictly enforced, so there are no images for proof. But we saw some of the most impressive chandeliers and interior designs in the casinos. Many hotel lobbies were also very stunning, especially those of Galaxy Macau. There were also lots of impressive hotel shows such as the unveiling of a 24-carat golden Tree of Prosperity at the Wynn, and the 3-meter Fortune Diamond that rises from a waterfall at the Galaxy Macau.

Fortune Diamond Galaxy Macau travel photography

A Tame Party and Nightlife Scene

But for all of the grandeur and the incredibly spotless shine of Macau's casinos, it was severely lacking in the crazy, chaotic, "party all night" vibe that is only found in a place like Vegas. The reason was cultural appropriation. Definitely not a drinking society, don't expect to see the booze-fueled advertising behemoths and the enormous half-yard drinks that dominate Vegas. In fact, we actually struggled to find a lively bar serving any sort of alcohol in certain casinos in the Macau Peninsula.

Instead, the throngs of older Chinese men and women crowding the baccarat tables (poker was nowhere in sight) were sipping hot water and tea. And while some women were scantily clad, there were no go-go dancers and streetside performers. Speaking of entertainment, there were very few advertisements for big-name performers and shows, so the typical Vegas-style entertainment factor was also missing. Take all of this away, and you have a place that looks like Las Vegas but hardly feels like it. In many ways, Macau is the antithesis of Sin City.

chandelier Macau travel photography

Seeing the effects of the anti-corruption crackdown

Adding to the puzzling vibe was the observation that all luxury shops and malls were empty. Even the many upscale, Michelin-starred restaurants and casinos of Macau Peninsula were like eerie ghost towns. There were absolutely no patrons, yet each venue was fully staffed. This led to awkward moments as tuxedoed security guards warily eyed our camera bags, daring us to snap a photo so they could reprimand us.

In the newer Cotai district, we finally found a much busier scene. There was a more normal flow of people going into casinos and shops, yet the high-end boutiques remained empty. Upon returning to Hong Kong, we reported our findings to our local friend who confirmed that the mainland Chinese have tightly reigned in their spending due to a corruption crackdown in which any obvious displays of wealth triggered an investigation over possible bribery and abuse of power.

The Real Macau

After leaving behind the strange casinos, we ventured into the "real streets." It was out here in the bustling city that we finally fell into our stride. This was the only country we visited in Asia this time around where we couldn't use English. Dining was particularly interesting as we pointed cluelessly menus we couldn't read, attempting to order food. Being robbed of our ability to communicate made our travels here feel the most exotic and authentic.

Macau travel photography

While Macau isn't that large, it is very condensed and full of tall residential buildings and busy streets. Yet compared to Hong Kong, it was significantly less chaotic and more peaceful. Since it was once a colony of the Portuguese empire for over 400 years, Portuguese influence remains. Many of the buildings, especially in the old part of town, retain colonial architectural design. Street signs are in both Chinese and Portuguese. However, Cantonese is the most widely spoken language and it's questionable how many residents know any Portuguese language.

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Overall Thoughts

All-in-all, two days was the perfect amount of time to spend in Macau. Our first day gave us time to stroll through the casinos to admire the glitzy, unique architecture that can't be found even in Las Vegas. And our second day let us explore the real streets and people of Macau. From a tourist perspective, there may not be many attractions or activities, especially if you've been to Las Vegas. However, experiencing Asia's version of Sin City is definitely worth a visit.

Personally, I feel that our visit during the low season had an impact on our experience. It's strange to visit a place where tourist attractions are practically lifeless. I would love to return when it's full of more people. I'd also love to get a local tour guide's perspective of Macau. It possesses a mysterious charm that can't quite be cracked in just a two-day stay.