Travel Guide Asia China Macau



Colonial architecture

Colonial architecture

© Utrecht

With less than 100 kilometers separating it from Hong Kong, Macau has been overshadowed by its more popular neighbor. But Macau can't complain: a thriving gambling industry has brought the city great wealth. Nor can visitors complain, as Macau is one of China's most interesting cities. Macau is a limited democracy whose foreign affairs and defense are the business of China. What makes Macau really fascinating, though, is its starkly Mediterranean look. The Portuguese turned it into a significant port in the middle of the 16th century; over the centuries, it turned into a home for the Portuguese elite and, as a result, distinctly Portuguese architecture began to spring up. Christianity filtered into China through Macau, too. The city is the site of the Basilica de São Paulo, one of the most important monuments of Christianity in China.

Don't come to Macau expecting a traditional Chinese town, or a skyrise-filled metropolis like Hong Kong – Macau is completely unique among Chinese cities.



Brief History

Macau did not develop as a major settlement until the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century. In 1535, Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macau's harbors and trade. Around 1552–1553, they obtained temporary permission to erect storage sheds onshore in order to dry out goods wettened by sea water; they soon built rudimentary stone houses around the area now called Nam Van. In 1557, the Portuguese established a permanent settlement in Macau, paying an annual rent of 500 taels of silver.

In 1583, the Portuguese in Macau were permitted to form a Senate to handle various issues concerning their social and economic affairs under strict supervision of the Chinese authority. Macau prospered as a port but was the target of repeated failed attempts by the Dutch to conquer it in the 17th century. Following the Opium War (1839–42), Portugal occupied Taipa and Coloane in 1851 and 1864 respectively. In December the 1st, 1887, the Ch'ing and Sino-Portuguese governments signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, under which China ceded the right of "perpetual occupation and government of Macau by Portugal”. In return, the Macau Government would cooperate with Hong Kong's smuggle of Indian opium. Portugal was also obliged "never to alienate Macau without previous agreement with China", therefore ensuring that Macau would not go into other hands. Thus, Macau officially became a Portuguese territory.

In 1928, after the Ch'ing Dynasty had been overthrown, the Kuomintang government officially notified Portugal that it was abrogating the Treaty of Amity and Commerce; the two powers signed a new Sino-Portuguese Friendship and Trade Treaty in place of the abrogated treaty. Making only a few provisions concerning tariff principles and matters relating to business affairs, the new treaty did not alter the sovereignty of Macau and Portuguese government of Macau remained unchanged.

Influenced by the Cultural Revolution in mainland China and by general dissatisfaction with Portuguese government, riots broke out in Macau in 1966. In the most serious, the so-called 12-3 incident, 6 people were killed and more than 200 people were injured. On 28 January 1967, the Portuguese government issued a formal apology.

Shortly after the overthrow of the Salazar dictatorship in 1974 in Lisbon, the new Portuguese government determined it would relinquish all its overseas possessions. In 1976, Lisbon redefined Macau as a "Chinese territory under Portuguese administration" and granted it a large measure of administrative, financial, and economic autonomy. Three years later, Portugal and China agreed to regard Macau as "a Chinese territory under (temporary) Portuguese administration". In 1987 China and Portugal signed a Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration, making Macau a special administrative region of China. The Chinese government assumed formal sovereignty over Macau on 20 December 1999.




Macau is situated 60 kilometers southwest of Hong Kong and 145 kilometers from Guangzhou (Canton). It also has 41 kilometers of coastline, but only 310 meters of land border with Guangdong. It consists of the Macau Peninsula itself and the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are now connected by landfill forming the Cotai Strip. The peninsula is formed by the Pearl River estuary to the east and the Xi Jiang (West River) to the west. It borders the Zhuhai Special Economic Zone in mainland China. The main border crossing between Macau and China is known as the Portas do Cerco (Barrier Gate) on the Macau side, and the Gongbei Port of Entry on the Zhuhai side. Macau Peninsula was originally an island, but a connecting sandbar gradually turned into a narrow isthmus, thus changing Macau into a peninsula. Land reclamation in the 17th century transformed Macau into a peninsula with generally flat terrain, though numerous steep hills still mark the original land mass. Alto de Coloane is the highest point in Macau, with an altitude of 170.6 meters. With a dense urban environment, Macau has no arable land, pastures, forest, or woodland.




  • Macau Peninsula - The northernmost region connected to the Chinese mainland. It is the center of most tourist activity and is densely crowded.
  • Taipa is an island to the south of the peninsula and the site of the airport.
  • Coloane is an island further south.
  • Cotai is an area of reclaimed land that connects Taipa and Coloane.



Sights and Activities

Historic Center of Macau

The Historic Center of Macau is a UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site. This place Macau owes to its numerous historic monuments, including the ruins of Saint Paul's Cathedral, a fortress and a lighthouse as well as colorful colonial buildings and historical streets with some cobblestones. But it also was a strategically located port and of importance in the development of international trade. Macau was a Portuguese colony from the mid-16th century until 1999, when it was returned to China.


Casino Lisboa, Macau

Casino Lisboa, Macau

© Utrecht

Macau has become one of the biggest centers of gambling in the world and it is to be expected that within the near future there will be more casinos than in Las Vegas. Most casinos are in the city of Macau itself, between the historic center and the harbor where most ferries from Hong Kong arrive. The Grand Lisboa probably is the best known but there are many more, all with their own characteristics. One building has an entire golden façade. Many people from China and Hong Kong come here, because officially it is illegal anywhere else.

Southern islands

The main Macau Peninsula (with historical Macau) is connected by three bridges with the island of Taipa. Further south is Coloane. The international airport is on Taipa and this area is developing in a very high speed, with very large new casinos being built as we speak, and some residential areas as well. Further south though at Coloane you can find some older fishing villages, beaches and great hiking and biking. Do not forget to stop once a while and have some fine seafood in one of the restaurants. Coloane is home to a golf course as well.

Other sights and activities



Events and Festivals

  • Macau Grand Prix - a motor street circuit racing event held annually
  • Macau International Fireworks Display - It places at Macau Tower Shorefront from mid-September to 1st October annually. In September/October an international fireworks contest is held in Macau. A must-see, the event is considered the biggest of its kind in the world. About 100 fireworks teams from all over come to compete in the night time extravaganza.
  • Chinese New Year - Timing varies according to the lunar calendar, but generally Chinese New Year takes place in January or February. For many, this is the most important celebration of the year and festivities generally include fireworks, parades and shows. Don’t miss the Chinese dragon dance as touching its face is supposed to give good luck all year round. If you're coming during this period, plan well in advance as hotels book up months prior.
  • Macaj Arts Festival - The Macau Arts Festival is an annual event that brings artists together from all over the world in late May, early June. The theme is "Enjoy Life through Art" and a huge range of performances, art and shows are scheduled in venues throughout Macau and Cotai.
  • Dragon Boat Festival - June sees the amazingly colorful dragon boat races along the shore of the Nam Van Lake. Egged on by drummers on board who keep the beat, rowers (both locals and foreigners), put all their strength into winning the contest.
  • Feast of Hungry Ghosts - Generally held in August, the Feast of Hungry Ghosts is a spiritual festival where people burn effigies to appease their ancestors’ souls. There are a variety of items made from paper like houses, cars and money, which are symbolically set ablaze.
  • Macau Open Golf Tournament - Held in September or October, top golfers flock to the annual Macau Open, hosted at the Macau Golf and Country Club. This tournament is known for giving leading Asian players a chance to compete against the best in the world.
  • Moon Festival - A Chinese Festival to honor the Moon, this event occurs annually according to the lunar calendar. Moon cakes are sold throughout the land and given as gifts to friends and family. Many people head to the Nam Van Lake or Hac-Sa Beach to watch the night sky.
  • Macau Food Festival - Held in November every year, this food festival is a popular event among locals, attracting top chefs from around the globe to showcase their dishes. Visitors can taste all kinds of regional cuisine and there are shows and competitions that take place.




Macau generally has warm to hot weather with relatively high humidity. The worst months are from May/June to September when the temperatures are above 30 °C during the day and at night it doesn't get any cooler than 25 °C. On top of that, the humidity can be overwhelming and it is rainy season with serious downpours and occasional hurricanes (typhoons) which can strike Macau. January and February are dry but cool with temperatures just under 20 °C on average and nights below 10 °C common. October to December is warmer and sunny and is the best time for a visit.

Avg Max17.7 °C17.7 °C20.7 °C24.5 °C28.1 °C30.3 °C31.5 °C31.2 °C30 °C27.4 °C23.4 °C19.6 °C
Avg Min12.2 °C13.1 °C16.2 °C20.2 °C23.6 °C25.7 °C26.3 °C26 °C24.9 °C22.3 °C17.8 °C13.8 °C
Rainfall32.4 mm58.8 mm82.5 mm217.4 mm361.9 mm339.7 mm289.8 mm351.6 mm194.1 mm116.9 mm42.6 mm35.2 mm
Rain Days61012121517161613754



Getting There

By Plane

Air Macau is the national airline of Macau, with flights from Macau International Airport (MFM) to destinations in China and in the wider East Asian region.

Low-cost airline AirAsia serves Macau as well, from its Malaysian hub in Kuala Lumpur.

To/from the airport

  • Bus: Within Macau, there are services with Transmac (Route 26, 36, AP1, MT2 and N2) and T.C.M. (Route 21, 36, AP1, MT1 and N2). Crossboarder coaches go from Macau International Airport to Huadao, Guangzhou, Panyu, Dongguan, Gongbei Border Gate and Hengqin Border.
  • Taxis and rental cars are available as well.

By Car

You can travel by car to/from Macau from two point in mainland China, connecting with Zhuhai. Few travelers get here with their own car or rental car though as traveling to China by car requires a special Chinese driver's license and some bureaucratic hassle. Most people have a driver and you can take a taxi to Macau as well.

The 50-kilometer-long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and tunnel, which opened in October 2018, was likely one of the largest construction projects in the world. This transport link makes it possible to travel quickly across the Pearl River Delta without taking the ferry. Drivers must apply for three separate permits (one from each of the Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland governments) to drive across the bridge from Hong Kong, and you have to park your car and use public transport once you arrive in Macau anyway, so taking a shuttle bus is probably a better choice.

By Bus

Buses travel regularly to Guangzhou and Shenzhen and also to Dongguan, al of them in the Guangdong Provincie in China. It's about 2 hour to Guangzhou, 3 to the others. To Zhuhai from those places is also possible after which you cross into Macau on foot. Accommodation and food is much cheaper in Zhuhai.

For going from Hong Kong to Macau over the new bridge first take the A21 bus (if staying close to Nathan road, one stop after the airport, from several other Hong Kong areas there are also buses to the border control) to the Hong Kong HZMB border control island for HK$33. From there to the Macau HZMB border control island by shuttle bus for HK$65 and then bus 101X to Praca Ferreira Amaral (close to the Casino Lisboa) for 6 Macau Pataca (exact change only, you can use also HK$ but not cent coins and the Octopus card is not valid). From there you can take bus MT1 to the airport, also 6 Macau Pataca. There are also direct buses from Hong Kong to Macau, 160 to 200 HK$, but you have to leave the bus with all your luggage at both border controls. The Octopus card is not valid on Macau buses, but you can pay with HK Dollars (exact change only and no cent coins).

By Boat

Boats connect Macau with Hong Kong. Some boats go to Hong Kong Island, but most go to the Kowloon pier. In Macau, they arrive on the Macau Peninsula, just east of the main casino area. The Turbojet and New World First Ferries are the main operators. There are even several daily connections between Macau and Hong Kong International Airport directly with Turbo Jet Sea Express.

Turbo Jet offers several ferries each day between the Macau Ferry Terminal (Outer Harbor) and the Fu Yong Ferry Terminal near Shenzhen Airport. There are connections to Shenzhen itself (Shekou) from the Inner Harbor as well as the Outer Harbor. Check Yuet Tung Shipping Co (Tel: +853-28574478) or Shenzhen Xunlong Shipping, the latter also has connections from Taipa Temporary Ferry Terminal to Shenzhen. CKS has ferries to/from Jiangmen near Zhuhai, while Yuet Tung also goes to Zhuhai (Wanzai).



Getting Around

By Car

Although several international and local companies offer cars for rent, it is not recommended nor necessary to get around by car, as distances are small and especially in the city itself things can get crowded sometimes. Traffic drives on the left and you need an international driving permit to rent one.

Taxis are cheap and convenient. Taxi ranks are spread around the city but at peak times you will have to wait a bit for a taxi (you can also hail taxis on the street but it is even harder to find them there). As of 2016 taxi fares start at MOP17. Largo do Senado to the border is about MOP50. The longest possible taxi ride (from the Border Post at the extreme north of Macau to Coloane in the south) would be well under MOP200 unless there are extremely bad traffic jams.

It is a good idea to have difficult destinations, such as small hotels, written in Chinese as many taxi drivers only know Cantonese well. Most know enough English to understand the major attractions and destinations and some of them may speak good Mandarin or English, though it is not wise to count on your luck, and almost none speak Portuguese. Most taxi drivers carry with them a list of casinos and other important places, so in case there's a communication gap, just look for it on the sunguard of the front passenger seat. Should you leave from a casino/hotel, a bilingual English/Cantonese speaking employee will generally be there to tell the cab driver where you want to go.

Like in Hong Kong, every bag placed in the boot of the taxi will have an additional surcharge. Many taxi drivers are off duty at Sundays and use their cars privately. Those taxis have a red sign in the front window. Expect some waiting for a free taxi on Sundays.

By Public Transport

Macau and its districts are served by two bus companies - Transportes Urbanos Macau (Transmac) and Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos de Macau (TCM). The bus system in Macau can be difficult to use. It is often difficult to gauge which direction the bus is heading and the routes through the city center are very curvy, often making a long ride out of a short distance. Bus drivers usually only speak Cantonese, very little English or Mandarin and certainly no Portuguese at all. Most bus stops have no English on signs, although you can sometimes figure out the destination from the Portuguese bus stop names. Some bus stops have route maps on a rotating pole at the stop and a small coloured dot indicates the stop (including which direction on the route the stop serves). The ferry terminal is "Terminal Maritimo" while other mentions of "Terminal" indicate the terminus (end) of the route.

Nevertheless, the websites of both companies have good route guides. The TCM site is in Chinese and English, while the Transmac site depicts routes schematically. The tourist information desk at the ferry terminal has free maps with bus routes on them and can provide advice on how to get to a particular destination.

There is a flat fare of MOP3.20 for rides within the Macau Peninsula, MOP4.20 between the Peninsula and Taipa, MOP5 between the Peninsula and Coloane village, and MOP6.40 between the Peninsula and Hác Sá (Coloane). But like the buses in Hong Kong, your fare is according to the bus stop you board, not by the length of the journey. Fares are displayed next to the fare box, at the Macaupass card reader, so get your destinations written in Chinese if you need to tell them where you're going. You should pay the exact fare as drivers do not give change if you overpay. Macaupass, a debit card similar to Hong Kong's Octopus Card system, is now widely used by Macau citizens as it provides discounts on paying bus fare. However, it may be hard to purchase one as the distribution points are limited. Buses accept Hong Kong coins (but not the MOP10 Hong Kong coin).
Update: from the new border control island to Macau it is MOP 6 (HK$6), also from Macau to Taipa. The Octopus card is not valid on Macau buses, but you can pay with HK Dollars (no change given and no cent coins).

If you've got more time than money on your hands, you can travel around Macau for free simply by hopping on and off the complimentary shuttle buses operated by all major casinos and hotels. Virtually all serve the Terminal Maritimo, with buses every 5 to 10 minutes, while the big boys (Venetian, Wynn, City of Dreams, Galaxy etc.) also shuttle to the Border Gates, the Taipa Ferry Terminal and the airport. The buses to Hotel Lisboa, for example, drop you off just a few blocks from Largo do Senado. Most of the casinos and hotels offer totally free shuttle buses, but some of the casinos on the waterfront of Old Macau- including The Lisboa, Wynn, and MGM- require users to first spend money in their casinos before getting the tickets.

Some free shuttle buses also run between the main hotels on the Cotai Strip, and the larger hotels in the old city. For example, a shuttle bus between Hotel Sintra in old Macau and Studio City or City of Dreams on Taipa. The Sands hotel chain also run a similar service between their hotels on the Cotai Strip (The Venetian, the Parisian, Sands Cotai Central) and the original Sands Hotel in the city. These particular shuttles are often very popular but they run frequently, and it's unlikely that you will wait for long at any stop.

By Foot

This is arguably the best way to get around the Macau Peninsula, which is small, compact and full of things to discover. Many roads are also one way so there is quite a chance that it won't be slower than to take road transport which may need to make a long loop to reach the destination. Most streets have a pedestrian sidewalk making walking easy, although you will have to fight the crowds going in all directions. Traffic rules are not very well adhered to, so ensure that you look both ways before crossing and be careful of large vehicles in narrow roadways. In and around the Senado Square, the pavements will be made of hand-laid limestone pieces made into simple designs, something that will surely catch your attention. Macau is also hilly, be prepared to struggle up and down steep lanes and steps.

Especially in the old city, the city streets do not seem to run in any particular pattern and you'll most likely get lost at some stage, which is part of the fun of exploring Macau.

Walking around the Cotai strip used to be inhospitable due to the amount of construction going on, but it is improving as developments are gradually being finished, and proper pedestrian paths are being built in the area. It is now fairly easy to walk between the Galaxy, Venetian and City Dreams casinos, and it is easy to walk between Galaxy and Taipa Village. It is more interesting to take a walk after dark to take a glimpse of the casinos' illuminated façades.

By Bike

Bikes can be rented at Taipa island, but are of no use in the city and can not be taken from Taipa island at all. But you won't miss them in Macau city at all.



Red Tape

Macau has a separate immigration regime from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In fact, all travelers from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and foreign countries have to go through immigration and customs checks on arrival in Macau. Therefore, if you want to reenter the Mainland from Macau, you'll have to apply for another Chinese visa unless your earlier one is a multiple entry visa.

Holders of a Hong Kong permanent identity card or a reentry permit can enter Macau visa-free for up to 1 year without having to present their passport. Holders of a Hong Kong nonpermanent identity card can enter Macau visa-free for up to 30 days and must present their passport.

Chinese citizens from the mainland who are required to obtain a Two-Way Permit (中華人民共和國往來港澳通行證), and are also required to apply for a visa in advance. However, those in transit to foreign countries may enter Macau with their passport for up to 7 days.

Foreign nationals of the following countries/territories can enter Macau visa-free:

For up to 180 days: United Kingdom

For up to 90 days: All European Union member states, plus Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cape Verde, Dominica, Egypt, Ecuador, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland and Tanzania

For up to 30 days: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malaysia, Monaco, Namibia, New Zealand, Philippines, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United States and Uruguay

However, all foreign visitors who intend to enter Macau for less than 48 hours for the purpose of traveling onwards to another destination via Macau International Airport are exempt from having to obtain a visa.

If you require a visa, it can either be obtained from a Chinese embassy or consulate or on arrival in Macau (Macau visas are separate from visas valid for travel to Mainland China). A visa on arrival costs MOP100 (individual), MOP50 (children under 12; per person for groups of 10 or more travelers with a collective travel document) or MOP200 (family passport). A visa issued on arrival is valid for multiple entries within 30 days of the issuing date.

However, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Nigerian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese citizens cannot use the visa on arrival facility (unless they hold a Hong Kong identity card) and must apply for a Macau visa at a Chinese embassy in advance or at the Commissioner's Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong if they live there. The application form for a Macau visa if applying for one at a Chinese embassy or at the Commissioner's Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong is available online and the application fee is USD30 (plus USD20 if the embassy has to refer the application to Macau). The standard service takes 5 working days to process the visa application (if the embassy needs to refer the application to Macau, the application takes 3 weeks). An express service (3 working days) is available for an additional USD20, while an 'extra express' service (same or next working day) is available for an additional USD30 (the express/'extra express' services are not available if the embassy needs to refer the application to Macau). More information is available at this webpage of the Macau SAR Public Security Police Force.

All travelers who enter Macau (regardless of visa-exempt status) may be required to show they have a minimum of MOP5000 to fund their stay and possess a valid return or onward journey ticket. The only exception to the return/onward journey ticket requirements is for residents of Hong Kong or mainland China, but not if they use a Hong Kong SAR or Chinese passport to transit through Macau to a third country/territory. Immigration is generally "no questions asked" but there have been reports of Indian nationals being targeted by immigration officials. It may be wise to be ready with credit cards or access to a bank account with sufficient funds.

Minimum validity of travel documents. For foreign nationals, the maximum limit of stay in Macau is restricted to 30 days before the expiry date of the passport or travel document and the entry or reentry permit. For example, if a New Zealand citizen presents a passport which has a validity of 40 days when she enters Macau, she will only be allowed to stay for up to 10 days, even though in general New Zealanders can stay for up to 30 days in Macau visa-free.

Like Hong Kong, Macau immigration does not stamp passports. Instead, all visitors are issued a landing slip on entry, on which your terms of entry will be stipulated, and your entry and exit will be recorded electronically.

Detailed information about immigration requirements is available from the website of the Macau Public Security Police Force.




See also: Money Matters

The currency of Macau is the Macanese Pataca (MOP). One pataca is divided into 100 avos, called ho (pronounced hoe) in Cantonese.

  • Banknotes: MOP$10, MOP$20, MOP$50, MOP$100, MOP$500, MOP$1000
  • Coins: 10 avos, 20 avos, 50 avos, MOP$1, MOP$2, MOP$5

The pataca is pegged with the Hong Kong dollar at the rate of HKD$100 to MOP$103.20. Hong Kong dollar can also be used in Macau with 1:1 rate.




Non-residents who wish to take up employment in Macau, including those from Portugal or China, need to obtain a valid work permit and are then issued the so-called Blue Card (officially called Non-Resident Worker's Permit). The process takes approximately a month to receive a work permit, at which time employment may begin, and another 1-2 months to receive the Blue Card.

As illegal employment has over the past decades been a problem plaguing Macau, the authorities do crack down severely on any offenders (both worker and employer) caught. Visitors are therefore advised not to engage in illegal employment.




Macau has 12 tertiary education institutions. Besides some smaller and more specialized schools (Security Forces School, Tourism School, European Studies Institute, etc.), the ones of importance are:

  • University of Macau - The oldest and most popular university, established in 1981 (then under the name University of East Asia). Offers degree programs in a wide variety of fields at all levels, including pre-university courses, bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. The majority of degrees are taught in English, except education and law which are taught in a choice of either Chinese (Cantonese) or Portuguese.
  • Macau University of Science and Technology - Established after the 1999 handover of Macau to China, courses are mainly taught in Chinese (Mandarin) by professors from the mainland, and a significant portion of its student population draws from the mainland too.
  • Macau Polytechnic Institute - A spin-off of the former University of East Asia, it was established in 1991 to provide practice-oriented education and training mainly to the local population.
  • Macau Inter-University Institute - Established in 1996, it originally only offered postgraduate education, but since 2005 also offers undergraduate degree courses, and since 2006 pre-university courses, mainly in the humanities.




See also: Portuguese Phrasebook

Macau's official languages are Cantonese and Portuguese. Mandarin is becoming more widely spoken, and most locals are able to comprehend it to some degree. Staff working at major hotels and tourist attractions will usually be reasonably competent in Mandarin.

English is spoken by most front-line staff in the tourism industry. Nearly all museums and casinos have some staff with excellent English, as do many hotels, shops and restaurants, especially the up-market ones. General English comprehension is similar to that of Hong Kong. It is useful to keep your hotel's name card for Taxi drivers.

Speakers of Portuguese won't find it very useful when talking to local residents as it is no longer compulsory in schools, but it helps a lot in understanding place names and signs. As Portuguese continues to be an official language of the SAR, government offices are required by law to have Portuguese-speaking staff on duty.

All official signs in Macau are bilingual in traditional Chinese and Portuguese. Note that under the "one country two systems" policy, Macau continues to use traditional Chinese characters and not the simplified Chinese characters used in Mainland China.




Macau is famous for excellent restaurants, unique cuisine and mellow bars. Above all, the city is famous for two cuisines: Portuguese and Macanese.

Portuguese food (cozinha portuguesa), brought in by its Portuguese colonizers, is hearty, salty, straightforward fare. While many restaurants claim to serve the stuff, fully authentic fare is mostly limited to a few high-end restaurants, especially the cluster at the southwestern tip of the Peninsula. Typical Portuguese dishes include:

  • Pato de cabidela (bloody duck) - a stew of chicken with blood and herbs, served with rice; sounds and looks somewhat scary, but it's excellent when well done
  • Bacalhau (salted cod) - traditionally served with potatoes and veggies
  • Caldo verde - a soup of potato, chopped kale and chouriço sausage
  • Feijoada (kidney-bean stew) - a Brazilian staple common in Macau as well
  • Pastéis de nata (egg tarts) - crispy and flaky on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside

Macanese food (comida de Macau) was created when Portuguese and Chinese influences were mixed together with spices brought from Africa and South-East Asia by traders, and many restaurants advertising "Portuguese" food in fact serve up mostly Macanese dishes. Seafood and barbecue specialist Fernando's on Coloane's Hac Sa Beach is probably the best-known Macanese restaurant.
Typical Macanese dishes include:

  • Almond cookies - Dry Chinese-style cookies flavored with real almonds. Macau's top souvenir, they're compact, durable and hence sold pretty much everywhere.
  • Galinha à africana (African-style chicken) - Barbecued chicken coated in spicy piri-piri sauce.
  • Galinha à portuguesa (Portuguese-style chicken) - Chicken in a coconutty curry; despite the name, this is not a Portuguese dish at all, but a purely Macanese invention.
  • Pork chop bun - The Macanese version of a hamburger, the name pretty much says it all: it's a slice of freshly fried pork (often with a few chunks of bone left) with a dash of pepper placed inside a freshly baked bun.
  • Beef jerky - More moist and fresh than typical jerky, and quite delicious. Easily found on the street leading up to the Ruins of St. Paul, where vendors will push free samples at you as you walk by with great enthusiasm. Be sure to try them all before choosing the one you like best!

All that said, the food of choice in Macau is still pure Cantonese, and a few aficionados even claim that the dim sum and seafood here beat Hong Kong. The streets of central Macau are littered with simple eateries offering rice and noodle dishes for under $30 (although menus are often only in Chinese), while every casino hotel worth its salt has a fancy Cantonese seafood restaurant where you can blow away your gambling winnings on abalone and shark's fin soup.

The greatest concentration of restaurants is in the Peninsula, where they are scattered throughout the district. Taipa is now a major destination for those going for Portuguese and Macanese food and there are many famous restaurants on the island. There are several restaurants in Coloane, which is also home to the famous Lord Stow's Bakery, which popularized the Macanese egg tart.




The bulk of Macau's hotels are on the Peninsula, although there are also many options - including high-end ones - on Taipa and, increasingly, the Cotai Strip, which is challenging the Peninsula to become Macau's premier casino area. Coloane, which offers fewer and much quieter options, has accommodation ranging from the famous Pousada de Coloane to Macau's two beach-side youth hostels.

Hotel rates are most expensive on Friday and Saturday nights, because demand is higher with tourists coming to Macau to gamble over the weekend. Try to make a booking through a travel agent, even if for the same day, as the rates can be substantially lower than walk-in rates. If you are coming from Hong Kong, book through an agent at the Shun Tak ferry pier for the best deals. Getting a package deal including return ferry tickets gives you the best price.

In the Inner Harbor area, many of the pensions and two star hotels are also the place of business for many of the mainland PRC prostitutes that work in Macau, and most hotel "saunas" are in fact thinly disguised brothels.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




Reasonably priced Portuguese wine is widely available. A glass in a restaurant is around $20, while bottles start from under $100, and a crisp glass of vinho verde ("green wine", but actually just a young white) goes very well with salty Macanese food. As elsewhere in China, though, locals tend to prefer cognacs and whiskey. Macau Beer is passable and widely available, as is the Filipino brand San Miguel which has a brewery in Hong Kong. There is also a wine museum in which you can have the opportunity to taste over 50 varieties of wine.




See also: Travel Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Macau. There is one exception though: you need a yellow fever vaccination if you have traveled to a country (7 days or less before entering Macau) where that disease is prevalent.

It's recommended to get your vaccinations in order before traveling to Macau. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and when traveling longer than 2 weeks also typhoid. Vaccination against Tuberculosis as well as hepatitis B are sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.

Only in rare cases is vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis recommended. Malaria does not occurs in Hong Kong, but dengue sometimes does. Just use mosquito repellent and wear long sleeves if you can when it is dark.

Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travelers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.




See also: Travel Safety

It should be pointed out that compared to many other cities in the world, Macau is relatively safe to travel. The standard of living of the local Macau residents is generally good (one of the best in Asia). In addition, as a city geared towards tourism, the Macau government is keen to "clean up" the city and its image. For example, the police in Macau is now seen by the public as more effective than it used to be.

You should beware of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas like tourist attractions and the border stations. Keep your valuables somewhere safe. Pickpockets usually come in a group and use one person to distract people while the others work.

There is a risk of typhoons, mainly between July and September. A system of typhoon warnings is in place that are issued by the Macau Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau and are broadcast widely on television and radio.



Keep Connected


Chinoy Express, Rua dos Mercadores. A cheap and fast internet cafe ($5/hr) right near Rua da Felicidade.


See also: International Telephone Calls

Macau's international dialing prefix is 853.

Macau has excellent mobile phone coverage. Macau has both GSM 900/1800 and 3G 2100 networks. Check with your operator. Phone plans stemming from the Mainland require proper set-up for use outside of the Mainland.



  1. 1 2008 Q1 estimate, Statistics and Census Service (DSEC)

Quick Facts

Macau flag

Map of Macau


Local name
Àomén 澳門
Limited democracy
Macanese, Chinese
543 000[1]
Portuguese, Chinese (Cantonese)
Buddhism, Christianity (Catholic)
Macanese Pataca (MOP)
Calling Code
Time Zone
  • Latitude: 22.201874
  • Longitude: 113.544202


as well as tarangana (14%), Hien (6%), Peter (4%), Herr Bert (4%), Sander (<1%), simony (<1%), UliS (<1%)

Macau Travel Helpers

  • simony

    Always go there

    Ask simony a question about Macau
  • nini

    spent 1 week in macau. enjoyed the feel of this portuguese country. the food is wonderful and the old ruins are a must.

    Ask nini a question about Macau
  • stanzou

    actually i see a helper say its a portuguse country?But its a Chinese sepcial area,i mean Macao belongs to China,so i hope there will not be any voice like that again.Also to Hongkong and Taiwan,i should say,we are all the generations of dragons,we have the same language and culture,we are a family.

    Ask stanzou a question about Macau

Accommodation in Macau

Explore your accommodation options in Macau

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