Macau is a Special Administrative Region of China and is located very close to Hong Kong. It was once a colony of the Portuguese empire, and later was transferred to China. As of now, Macau is Asia’s biggest casino gambling center. Casino gaming is so important to Macau that in the year 2017, the weight of casino gaming in Macau’s economy was as much as 49.1%. During the last few years, Macau has been in the midst of a transformation from a mere gambling town to a complete family tourism destination. The new integrated casino resorts that opened in Taipa Macau, in an area called ‘Cotai Strip’, have helped cement Macau’s claim to family tourism.
Getting To Macau
Hong Kong has an international airport that directly connects to flight services from several cities in China, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia, etc. Additionally, tourists can reach Macau from Hong Kong via a short ferry (one hour) or a bus (one hour 15 minutes) ride. Ferry services are available from Hong Kong International Airport also for going to Macau. Passengers can board a ferry from Hong Kong International Airport without having to clear Hong Kong immigration.
Best Time To Visit
Macau has all the four seasons: fall, winter, spring, and summer with a plenty of rains and sunshine. At times, the weather in Macau can be adverse, such as the times when typhoons hit it, but otherwise, it is year-round destinations. Casinos keep bringing in tourists, no matter what:
Fall and Winter (September to February/March*)
These are the best months to visit Macau with less probability of rains, and other natural disruptions. December and January can be really cold, and hence one will need to carry winter clothing. If you are visiting around the dates of Chinese New Year, expect huge crowds. Make sure to book your flights and hotels well in advance because Chinese New Year is a time for a bumper crowd in Macau.
Spring and Summer (March*/April to August)
Spring months of March*/April to May are all good. But June to August are best avoided because these are the bad months in terms of weather – heavy rains, thunderstorms, typhoons, etc.
Weather changes quickly in Macau, so the forecast that you read may prove to be wrong.
*March is a tricky month. I have seen one March when it was so cold that my winter jacket failed to protect me from the weather. And then there was another March when it was hot enough for a half sleeve shirt. If you are going to Macau in March, go prepared, I mean, carry something to wear for a cold weather.
Official currency of Macau is Pataca (MOP), but the official currency of casinos in Macau is Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). Typical exchange rate of 1 HKD to 1 MOP is 1.03.
Macau has public buses, casino shuttle buses, and taxi cabs. Personally I prefer to use the free casino shuttle buses that connect major casino resorts to transport hubs and tourist attractions.
Starting with the iconic Ruins of St. Paul’s Church that you see at the top of this article, Macau has many historical buildings, temples, churches, old houses, museums, streets, squares, villages, and even casinos that have become tourist attractions. Even though Macau is not a very big destination in terms of area, you may not be able to see everything worth seeing in a period of 3 or 4 days. Typically, people visit Macau for 2 or 3 days at a time, and that much time can be adequate if you plan your itinerary well.
Where To Stay
if you can afford it, the best area to stay in Macau is the Cotai Strip in Taipa, which is the area around Venetian Macau Casino Resort. Cotai Strip has Macau’s finest integrated casino resorts such as Wynn Palace, MGM Cotai, Galaxy Macau, and Studio City. If you want to stay in this area, search for hotels in Taipa Macau. If you are looking for budget hotels, find a hotel in Macau Peninsula, that is the old Macau. Old Macau has Ruins of St. Paul’s and some other famous attractions around it such as Senado Square. Typically, a good hotel in old Macau will cost 50 to 70 USD depending on the day of the week. Taipa hotels cost upwards of 100 USD per night.
Casino Gaming in Macau
Casino gaming is the principal attraction of Macau. There are dozens of casinos, in all sizes and environments. Typically, one can categorize Macau casinos in to American-owned casinos and other casinos. American owned casino groups are Sands/Venetian, MGM, and Wynn. Other major casinos are Studio City, City of Dreams, Galaxy, Lisboa, and StarWorld. Read my Macau Casino Guide for detailed information on Casino Gaming in Macau.