Ten things to know before you go to Macau. I’m Chris, this is Topher and this is Yellow Productions. We do travel guides that are fun, informative and entertaining.
This is part of our series on Hong Kong and the areas around it. If you want to see more information about Hong Kong, find links in the description below or at the end of this video, even more videos on Macau too. But still, let’s talk about Macau.
Some general information first, Macau has been a Portuguese Colony, it was for about 400 years, from the 1500’s until 1999. Which now, it’s a special administrative region of China. Macau, it is very small. It is like 11 square miles, but 640,000 people live here. Every year though, in 2017, 30 million visitors came to visit Macau.
Most of them from Mainland China. Macau is famous for two things, One, the old Portuguese square, being this old Portuguese colony, that’s one of the major reasons to come here. Also, for gambling.
This is the only place in China where gambling is legal. And so, the visitors from China who come here, they primarily come to gamble at casino cruise. In fact, gambling is so popular in Macau, that the gambling in the casinos in Macau have generated seven times what the Las Vegas strip generates in gambling revenue. That’s pretty crazy.
If you are coming from Hong Kong, it’s definitely worth a day trip, maybe even an overnight trip if you want to spend some time in Cotai. We will talk about getting in in a moment, but you should know Macau has like four areas. There is the Macau Peninsula which has the main Portuguese village here with the Ruins of St. Paul. Going down south there is Taipa, the Cotai strip where the casinos are, and on the end is Coloane. Before you go to Macau, you will need to know about getting into Macau.
Chances are, the way you will be getting into Macau is via a ferry. I am standing at one of the Macau ferry terminals. There are two ferry terminals in Macau. This main one here and there is a second one in Taipa, which is more convenient if you’re going to the Cotai strip. Most people come from Hong Kong and come to Macau as a day trip. There are four ferry terminals in Hong Kong and two ferry operators, TurboJet, the red one, and the Cotai WaterJet, the blue one.
The offer pretty similar services. It takes about an hour from Hong Kong, or either way. And I will recommend if you get prone to sea sickness or motion sickness, you might want to buy a ticket for the upper deck. It is about twice the price of the lower deck, but it moves a lot less. There are a couple other options to come into Macau.
You can fly, there is an airport. You can cross the border from China by land, or you can take helicopters from Hong Kong. It is only 15 minutes by helicopter. Before you go to Macau, you need to know about getting around Macau.
And so there’s basically three options for getting around Macau. Well, four if you count your feet, you can certainly walk. But of those three, there are taxis, there are a lot of taxis in Macau.
When you come into the ferry stations, there will be taxi drivers waiting there. There’s buses, Macau operates a public bus that runs around. The service is pretty good. But third, something you should get familiar with are the free shuttles that the hotels provide. Like the Venetian, the Sands, a lot of these provided these free shuttles. so if that is going where you want to go, learn to use the free shuttles.
I’ll point out, no ride share companies operate here, Uber, Lyft, Grab, none of those things are available in Macau. So if you are looking for a taxi there might be a bit of a wait. We have experienced some wait while we were waiting in a casino for a taxi. If you come in the ferry terminals, you’ll see there will be a lot of people offering like tours and things like that to take you around they will offer and come up to you for taxis. Take the official ones out of the official taxi rank. And they will charge you in Macanese pataca, but they are pretty cheap.
We will talk about currency in a little bit. The fourth thing to know is that the number four is unlucky. The number four in Chinese sounds like death So you will not see fourth floors in any of these hotel room buildings. So onto number five, speaking of luck, Let’s talk about casinos. You need to know about casinos before you come to Macau. I mentioned earlier the Cotai Strip, right here, this is where all the big casino hotels are.
The City of Dreams, the Wynn, the Venetian, which I’m standing at right now. But you should know if you are going into the casinos here they’re a little bit paranoid, actually, ultra paranoid. Going into every single casino here, you will go through metal detectors and they do not allow cameras, even to be shown in the casinos. We were walking into a casino and this girl had a camera around her neck, and they said you got to put it in the bag before you come into the casino. It’s actually gotten a lot better now than it used to be.
When I came here 10 years ago, they actually put a sticker over my camera with a no-camera sign over it, really keep your cameras away when you’re in the casinos here. In the casino hotels its okay to take photos and videos in the common areas. But here, at the Venetian, if you go past that point, with the white screens, then no cameras after that. Before you come to Macau you need to know about the money.
The currency in Macau is the Macanese pataca. MOP is how it’s abbreviated. The Macanese pataca is basically equivalent to the Hong Kong dollar.
Actually, they will except both currencies here, Hong Kong dollar and Macau patacas. But you might use Macau patacas – actually, you might use Hong Kong dollars, and they may give you Macau patacas in change. The big restaurants, and things like that, the casinos they will all take credit cards, but the little places around the Portuguese village, you will want some money, but probably make sure to spend all your patacas while you in Macau, before you go back to Hong Kong, because they won’t know what to do with your Macanese pataca. By the way, the official exchange rate is one Hong Kong dollar is equivalent to 1.03 Macanese pataca.
But you will find many stores have signs that they accept it one to one to one. The next thing you will need to know before you go to Macau is about the language. So, there’s two official languages in Macau, one is Portuguese, being a former portuguese colony, the second one is Chinese spoken Cantonese.
English is not one of the official languages, though they do speak a little bit of English. You will see everything, pretty much signed in Chinese and Portuguese, maybe in English. But by the way, the Portuguese, if you’ve learned portuguese in school, they have a special dialect here called Macanese Portuguese.
Before you go to Macau, you should know about shopping. The best shopping in Macau, its in the Cotai strip. In these big casino hotels. Right now, I am in the Venetian Grand Canal Shops. This is probably my favorite place for shopping in Macau. Why?
Because you can shop and walk along the Grand Canal and see gondoliers, that sing, sometimes, she must be tired. The other one is singing right now though. Around the Portuguese square, there’s a lot of, like, souvenir shops, things like that. But if you want luxury shopping, Cotai Strip.
Something you should know about Macau, is that lots of Macau, outside of the casinos and the commercial, like, Portuguese district, kinda feel a little empty. Like, this is the Fisherman’s Wharf Shopping Mall. This was like a very ambitious project. They’ve, like, created different scenes around the world. Walking around here at 1pm on a Monday, it is empty. And a lot of the shopping areas in Macau kinda feel that way.
This one maybe in particular cause it is just off the beaten casino path. But where is everybody? They are either seeing the Portuguese sights or they are coming here for intense sessions of gambling. If most of the visitors to Macau come from mainland China, and they come almost only to gamble, so that’s where they’ll be. When you come to Macau, if all you do is go to the casinos and go to the Portuguese center, you will think that it’s either really cute or really ritzy in the whole thing, I would encourage you, if you want to see the real Macau, get off on some of the side streets.
Like, take a look at some of these wires. I mean when this was a Portuguese Colony, it feels a bit like its a little bit of a place that the land time forgot or governing forgot. And it is all within the shadows, take a look up there, of the casinos, that’s the Grand Lisboa casino. And just two blocks from it are these really unpainted apartment buildings.
Hmm. To continue your exploration of the real Macau, just there from the shadows of the casino Lisboa as you’re walking around, make sure to check out the city’s churches. This is the ruins of St. Paul. You can’t go inside, but most of the city’s churches you can still go inside during daylight hours. But Macau’s a really interesting cross between Christianity and Buddhism.