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Macau Travel Tips

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While Macau has a lot in common with its noisy neighbour Hong Kong, you’ll soon get a feel for its unique identity as you explore the Portuguese colonial architecture, traditional Chinese temples, and glittering casinos which rival anything found in Las Vegas. The result is a disorientating, thrilling mash-up of influences, and Macau has just as much to offer those craving culture as it does for party animals.

 

Best Time to Travel

 

Macau’s glitzy tendencies shift into top gear in November, when the Macau Grand Prix races into town, bringing celebrities, festivities and all-night parties in its slipstream. If you’d rather slow the pace, then April is a good time to visit, as you’ll be here as the weather starts to hot up. You'll also be avoiding summer's muggy, humid weather, which brings the monsoon season’s downpours with it. If the sun is shining, why not escape the urban sprawl by heading to the relatively untouched Coloane island? Here, you can paddle in the ocean’s waves as they lap against long, peaceful beaches of dark-golden sand.

 

Not to Miss

 

The best way to get a taste for Macau’s cultural duality is to start with a visit to Senado Square. Wavy floor tiles, pretty fountains, and buildings lined with pastel-coloured arches give the area an unmistakably European flavour, which has been preserved with UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The stunning ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral stand grandly above the city, acting as a constant reminder of the Portuguese influence in Macau. Modern Macau’s sky high ambitions, meanwhile, are perfectly reflected in the Macau Tower, which offers incredible views. If that sounds too sedate, you can experience the rush of plummeting to earth from one of the world’s highest bungee jumping platforms.

 

Getting around

 

Macau is simple to reach as it has its own airport built on an island of reclaimed land. It handles flights from various destinations across Asia, but Hong Kong’s airport is ideal if you’re flying in from further away. You’ll simply need to hop aboard a fast ferry once you’ve landed, to cruise into Macau in around an hour. If you’re travelling straight across, then the airport’s SkyPier ferry service will help you to arrive without needing to pass through Hong Kong’s immigration. Unlike Hong Kong, the historic centre of Macau is nice and compact, so it’s easy to walk to most places. That said, the expansive bus network will let you get around in a jiffy.

 

Cuisine

 

Unsurprisingly, considering its colonial history, Macau’s cuisine is a delicious fusion of Portuguese seafood, and South China’s complex spices. Many of Macau’s restaurants lean towards the Portuguese-style tapas rations, letting you tuck into portions of Macanese chilli shrimps or something a little more exotic, like pig’s ear salad. If you’re craving a quick snack, then nothing beats a simple but effective pork chop sandwich, or a sweet Portuguese egg tart, freshly blowtorched to give it a delicious burnt caramel topping.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

Macau is a great example of cultures coming together, and the locals will be happy to welcome you during your stay. In theory, tips are not expected, as most restaurants automatically add a service charge to bills. Tipping is becoming more normalised, however, as foreign visitor numbers increase. Rounding up taxi fares, and giving a little something in casinos shows courtesy, and will be genuinely appreciated.

Fast Facts

 

Population: 607500

Spoken languages: Cantonese, Portuguese

Electrical: China runs on 220V, 50 Hz current

Phone Calling Code: +853999