Ever wanted to visit Macau but had a strict budget? Well here’s a budget friendly way to enjoy one day in Macau—for under 300 Hong Kong dollars!!
Macau is one of the special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China. It consists of the Macau Peninsula, the islands of Taipa and Coloane, and Cotai—the land that connects the two islands. The official languages are Portuguese and Chinese, with Cantonese being most widely spoken. Many people speak English and Mandarin. (For Filipinos—there are lots of Pinoys in Macau 😀 And they were extremely helpful to us cheap tourists!)
March 11, 2010.
We started our day by taking the MTR from Kowloon and walking to the ferry station in Tsim Sha Tsui. From there, we proceeded to the ticketing booths.
The prices for a ferry ticket will seem like they’re all the same in all the ticket booths. Usually, it’s around 308 HKD for a daytime round-trip ticket. A ticket will cost more if you take the ‘night’ return trip (trips after 5:30 pm).
I know what you’re thinking—if the ticket alone costs 308 dollars, how can this article be about a day in Macau for less than 300 dollars?! The secret is this: At the end of the corridor, on the left side of the elevators there’s a stall called China Ferry Terminal. You can get a round trip ticket for only 260 HKD.
In all the other ticket stalls, you have to state the time of departure from Macau so they can give you a corresponding ticket. This stall gives you a coupon to exchange at the Macau Ferry Terminal so you can leave whatever time you please—and yes, there are no extra charges for the “night trips”.
Don’t be afraid of getting a rickety ferry or a boat without seats or anything of the sort. All the ticket booths lead to one dock, where all tickets purchased for a certain time will board the same ferry. So regardless of how much you pay, you get the same accommodations from the FIRST FERRY company. I know this because my group of friends split up that day; the first group got the 308 HKD ticket and left before us. The cheap-o group a.k.a us, hunted for cheap tickets, found them, and were amused when we met our friends at the dock. What’s more, they had to go back to Hong Kong by 5:30 whereas we could stay in Macau until the last ferry ride at 11 PM. Hasty decisions do not make good deals. 😀
From the terminal, there are several hotel shuttles that you can take to get to the hotels. These shuttles are FREE. USE THEM.
This is a map of Macau. I think I should have mentioned that you should have a game plan, or a list of places you want to see, before you set foot in Macau so no time is wasted. Luckily, Rei did and we just followed (not gonna lie, all I wanted to see was the Ruins of St. Paul and then recreate the Bridge Scene in the Venetian Hotel in Boys Over Flowers. HAHA DON’T JUDGE MEEEE)
First stop: Macau Peninsula! This is where you’ll dock. Ride the SANDS Hotel Shuttle. Start walking. 😀 On this side of Macau, you will pass a lot of hotels and other picturesque places, such as The Grand Prix, a great big park I couldn’t find the name of on Google, The Landmark Hotel, Grand Lisboa, and the Wynn Hotel.
We didn’t go in any of the mentioned hotels because we wanted to go to the historic and scenic route (and we started pretty late), but if you have more time, you definitely can! I’m guessing the insides will be pretty gorgeous and you might get lucky with the slot machines.
Finally, after minutes of walking, we reached Largo do Senado which is part of the Historic Centre of Macau, one of the World’s Heritage Sites.
There are a lot of tourist destinations near and inside the Largo, so off we went.
A pretty side street right next to the Museum of the Holy House of Mercy.
This is St. Dominic’s Church. It was founded in 1587 by three Spanish Dominican priests who came to Macau from Mexico. The present yellow-and-white church with green shutters dates from the early 17th century. Its baroque altar, with a statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, is the picture of serenity today, belying an act of violence that occurred in 1644 during Mass: a military officer sympathetic to the Spanish rushed inside to escape a street mob but was murdered at the altar. If you take the stairs at the end of the right corridor, you’ll arrive at the Treasure of the Sacred Heart museum, open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM, with three floors of woodcarvings, vestments, and other religious artifacts (the top floor is especially interesting, since its soaring ceiling allows you to see something of the building’s architecture). Admission is free.
Read more about St. Dominc’s here.
What would a good travel blog be if it doesn’t have FOOD?? Here’s a shot of some of the Macau street food that we passed by.
Further in is Largo da Sé. The square is recently renovated and boasting a big cross at its center, is most famous for the Cathedral (Igreja da Sé), which has stood here in various forms for several centuries. Once serving as the mother church of a diocese that stretched from China and Korea to Japan, it was last rebuilt in 1937 and boasts fine stained-glass windows. If time permits, soak up the local atmosphere from one of the square’s benches, where you have a front-row seat of Macau’s laid-back urban life and the parade of people walking by. Read more here.
I loved the streets there. They were so narrow and busy, and the pavement was old. I felt like I was walking through history.
Try to find this stall when you’re there. I can’t remember how we got there (Rei led us there; this is also apparently the same stall featured in the Korean drama Boys Over Flowers!), but these are the best egg tarts in the world. I am not kidding. See that smile? You’ll be wearing that right after you bite into the amazing treat.
Another picture of the heavenly goodness.
Then we arrived at the Rua de Sao Paulo, a.k.a the street that sold beef jerky and boasts of the Koi Kei store. Koi Kei is a huge shop that has pastries, nuts, cookies, everything you need for pasalubong (pasalubong is a Filipino term for buying things from another place (usually a foreign country) to bring home for your family and friends). Best part? You get to taste the food for free! AND all hot off the oven! 😀 A couple of my friends took advantage of this and tried everything in the store. Result? After the egg tart and the excessive tasting, we got full. (Free shuttle rides and free food, how awesome is Macau?) We bought some boxes to take home, of course. If you buy more boxes, you get a discount. Anyway, on this street, sellers will be outside their shops, holding samples of jerky for people to try out. When our group passed, a Chinese man suddenly called out, “Masarap!” which made us stop, because HE JUST SPOKE TAGALOG (it means ‘delicious’). And since we stopped, they took advantage of our surprise and gave us all pieces of beef jerky to taste. They were trying to get us to taste more flavors, but we told them we’d come back later—a very Filipino way of declining. On that street, the other sellers employed the same tactic, shouting “Masarap!” or “Tikim!” (the Filipino verb for taste).
After shopping at Koi Kei, we finally headed to The Ruins of St. Paul.
The Ruins of St. Paul was constructed in 1602 but was destroyed by a fire in 1835, leaving only its facade punctuated by reliefs and statues. This is Macau’s top tourist attraction. Its facade, with a curious mix of Asian and Western symbols, has been called a “sermon in stone.” Its grounds contain a viewing platform behind the facade, archaeological pits, a crypt containing bones of Japanese and Vietnamese martyrs, and a museum of sacred art. In 2005, this officially enlisted as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Centre of Macau.
Congratulations! You have just spent 260 HKD for an historical whirlwind tour of Macau! (Food and things to send home not included; personally I spent for 1 egg tart and 4 boxes of Koi Kei pastry.)
We walked back the way we came. We headed to the Wynn hotel (took the subway) so we could take a shuttle to the Venetian.
We stopped and sat for a bit to rest. We were going to head over to the Wynn hotel to take a shuttle when Rei realized she forgot her bag. So we headed back over the bench near the bridge, and as Rei was getting her bag, the two men who we passed by there earlier told us about the Wynn Water Show that was going to happen at 8 PM…in Tagalog. Turns out they were Filipinos living in Macau, and were listening to our rambly conversation and watching our tourist-y picture taking acts. 😄
So we thanked them, and crossed the street to the Wynn and waited 10 minutes for the Wynn Water Show.
Inside the Wynn:
After the water show, we headed outside to the shuttles, fully intending to go back to the terminal, then get another shuttle to the Venetian. And here again, our being Filipino made things easier. The guy who was attending to the shuttles noticed we were Filipino and started talking to us in Tagalog, and we thought of asking him which one to take to the terminal because we wanted to go to the Venetian. He told us of an easier way—get into a shuttle that stops at the airport, and ride the Venetian shuttle from the airport. This way saves more time because the ferry terminal was all the way at the end of Macau. So we talked to him a bit more, then we thanked him and boarded the shuttle to the airport.
(Of course, at this point, we realized that we should’ve just taken the shuttle from the Venetian to the airport then to the Wynn hotel earlier and saved us the long walk to Largo de Senado. But the walk was fun, and we wouldn’t have enjoyed passing by all the other hotels and sights if we didn’t walk. But if you’re cramped for time and not up for looking at historical places but want to take a tour of the hotels, this would be a fast way to switch between hotels from the different islands.)
From the airport, we boarded a shuttle to the Venetian.
We had dinner at the food court of the Venetian around 10:00pm.
So there is our obligatory VENETIAN BRIDGE PICTURE.
There is a bill. In the water. Pardon me for being so third-world, but… THERE IS A BILL IN THE WATER, YOU CAN FEED SOMEONE WITH THAT MONEY.
By this time it was pretty late, so we had to run to get to the ferry terminal—which was all the way on the other side of the island. We exchanged our coupons for tickets and boarded the last ferry out.
The ferry back was different—the seats were better :3.
I really enjoyed this trip. I saw a lot of historical sites, enjoyed free shows at the hotels, had a lot of fun walking around being a tourist, ate the best food, and I only spent 381HKD the whole day. If I didn’t buy pasalubong, I’d have only spent 293HKD—for the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui to get to the Ferry Terminal in the afternoon (4HKD), round trip ferry tickets (260HKD), dinner at the Venetian(42HKD shared by 3 people, so it came out to be around 14HKD each), a souvenir (a magnet for 10HKD), and that delicious egg tart (5HKD). It was more than worth it. ♥