Thu, December 1st, 2011 - By

Spotlight: Macau on the Cheap


Macau is a popular, must-see sidetrip when visiting Hong Kong, a common starting/stopping point for many Asia trips or a destination in itself. I love Hong Kong, with its unique and wonderful blend of British and Asian cultures – heck, if it weren’t for the air pollution (which is, admittedly, pretty bad), I’d love to live there.

But taking the trip to Macau reminds you of how diverse this region is. Macau, a small, small place, is similar to Hong Kong in that it is a “special administrative region” of China. But it’s not China, and it’s totally unlike Hong Kong because instead of a heavy British influence, it has a very heavy Portuguese influence. Everything from the art and architecture, to the food and customs, all carry a rich reflection of the country that originally pioneered this land.

But Macau is known as a gambling destination – would you believe more money is spent here in casinos than in Las Vegas? Indeed. But you don’t have to break the bank  – here are some cheap ways to enjoy Macau.

These burning incense "lanterns" hang in the temples in both Hong Kong and Macau.

The Best Attractions are Free

Believe it or not, Macau’s richest cultural attraction (at least in my humble opinion, the richest) are actually free. They include:

  • Sao Paulo Cathedral: This cathedral is actually a ruin – one wall stands, and it’s an icon of Macau, probably it’s most photographed point.
  • The Beach:  There is plenty of shoreline, and while this isn’t the Caribbean, the black beaches of Hac Sa can be an enjoyable stroll.
  • Temples: Many temples, like the one you see above, are open to the public and you’re free to stroll as you please. Some have donation/collection boxes with a suggested donation, so if you truly enjoyed the visit, I’d encourage you to leave some change, but many are open without expectation of giving.
  • Senate Square: This famous square is noteworthy for the waves of black and white tiles that cover the ground of the square.
  • Mount Fortress and Guia Fortress:  These lands have been contentious for years, and there are a lot of leftover military defences. Mount Fortress is just blocks from the casinos and gives you a great vantage point, whereas Guia Fortress is on a larger hill with wonderful lookout points over the sea. Bring comfortable shoes!

Get a Free Ride

Here’s a good tip for you – taxis are expensive, but if you do some pre-planning, you can figure out which casino is near your destination.  And then hop on one of the free casino buses – they don’t check reservations because they’re just too busy. This does require some planning, as I say, but it is helpful.

Enjoy the Casino Shows

Just like in Vegas, many of the casinos have free shows to entice you in for a drink and some gambling. A few popular ones:

  • Wynn Macau Fountain Show
  • Nam Van Lake Cybernetic Fountain Laser and Music Show
  • The City of Dreams Casino “Bubble”

These can change regularly (you know those casinos never sit still), so be sure to ask around for the latest times and free show offerings.

Photo credits: edzelr, vairoj

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Thursday, December 1st, 2011 at 11:00
Category : Spotlight
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