If you’re planning a trip to Macau, then this Macau travel guide is for you. The island of Macau is one of the world’s most popular island destinations.
For a small chain of islands located in the South China Sea, Macau culture and history are rich as are things to do in Macau. It’s a special administrative zone of China and is also the world’s most densely populated region.
Among top Macau destinations and activities, you’ll find that this island chain is also known as the ‘Vegas of the East’. And when it comes to larger-than-life casino resorts and all-out entertainment, it gives the City of Lights a run for its money.
Keep reading to learn more about our Macau travel tips and advice, Macau dining and cuisine, things to do in Macau, exploring Macau’s Heritage and Architecture, and more in our Macau travel guide.
Macau Travel Guide
Before we get into Macau travel tips and advice let’s explore Macau culture and history (split between Macau Island, Taipa, and Cotai, along with what you should schedule into your itinerary for the ultimate trip.
A Confluence of Cultures & History
Because Macau is such a tiny chain of islands, it’s been positioned uniquely throughout history. Over thousands of years, a variety of cultures have called Macau home.
For the last few centuries, it’s remained under Chinese control. Portuguese colonists used the islands as colonies and trading posts after stopping over in 1557—but they were only able to do so with the approval and regulation of the Ming dynasty.
To this day, the islands retain a mashup of Eastern and Western influences. You’ll notice that Portuguese remains an official language alongside Cantonese, though it’s officially classified as Macanese Portuguese.
The intersection of these cultures can also be felt in cuisine, architecture, and pastimes. Keep reading to learn more about things to do in Macau.
Things to Do in Macau
And speaking of pastimes in Macau… you’ll find that the island chains aren’t quite like other Chinese destinations. As mentioned above, Macau remains a special economic area—which is a label that remains from its days as a Portuguese trading post.
Today, this unique economy largely revolves around gaming. You’ll quickly find after reading our Macau travel guide that there are many things to do in Macau.
Casinos are highly regulated on the mainland, which is the driving reason why Macau’s islands became a center for gaming. However, it’s not the only thing the island has going on.
Let’s dive into some of the best things to do in Macau.
We’ve already extensively covered Macau as a gaming hub—but it’s still worth exploring this aspect of the islands. Today, the majority of casino players stick to online formats.
Let’s use roulette as an example. Even though the roulette table is one of the most exciting atmospheres to encounter on the casino floor, virtual platforms simplify the process of playing for all those who don’t live near Vegas or Macau.
But that doesn’t mean that virtual players wouldn’t take up the chance to visit a casino floor to play their favorite game. And if this roulette player describes your interest in casino games at all, Macau is worth penciling in as a bucket-list trip.
Just like Vegas, its casinos are larger-than-life, beautiful testaments to architecture and luxury, and incredibly creative.
Let’s cover three top examples. If you have the chance to game in Macau, then target these three spots. First, stop over at the Venetian Macao Casino, which is officially the largest in the world—and you’ll be able to feel this scale inside.
Second, head to the City of Dreams. It has an award-winning luxury mall alongside its casino—and it’s the largest building in the world built on an exoskeleton.
Then finish up your trip with a visit to the Wynn Palace, Cotai’s most extravagant location. Of course, there’s plenty more beyond gaming. Here are some other popular things to do in Macau.
Unsurprisingly, Macau’s main attraction is its roster of casinos. People regularly travel from around Asia for the chance to play roulette in Cotai.
However, those who head to Macau don’t need to spend all their time inside a casino. In fact, there are plenty of interesting tours that explore Macau culture and history.
For example, A-Ma Temple is a callback to the region’s folk hero and first name. ‘A-Ma’ is a term used to describe a protective sea goddess, and is also associated with Macau’s name.
Similarly, there are the Taipa House and Macau Museum. Both shed light on what life was like in the region over the last two hundred years.
Those who want to explore Macau’s Portuguese influence can do so easily. The Ruins of Saint Paul’s are quite popular with tourists, though all that remains of the grand church is a façade.
There’s also the Museum of the Holy House of Mercy of Macau, where important religious relics are kept.
If you’re not interested in playing roulette or exploring Macau’s history, then stick to more interesting attractions. For example, even if you’re not interested in casinos, then you might find their spas worth a visit.
Above, we also mentioned the shopping experiences available at City of Dreams. The location has other entertainment available, as well. If you’re feeling a bit bored on the island, head there first. But don’t go at it on an empty stomach!
Between reading this Macau travel guide and seeing it firsthand, you’ll quickly learn that Macau dining and cuisine are bustling. Keep reading these Macau travel tips and advice to learn more.
Eating Your Way Across the Island
Foodies have probably been thinking about one thing: Macau’s culinary offerings. Typically, areas that experience a lot of cultural influences have a stellar menu that reflects their varied history—and Macau is no exception.
The island is home to dozens of Chinese and Southeast Asian mainstays, along with Portuguese staples and accents. In fact, it was named by UNESCO to be a Creative City of Gastronomy.
Take notes from this part of our Macau travel guide because you’ll want to set aside time to try local foods like the Macau egg tarts and pork chop buns. Cha Gordo and A Petisqueira are both top options for locals, which dish out big-name dishes with flair.
Unsurprisingly, there are more than a few Michelin Star locations on the islands… in fact, there are 53. And keep in mind that these locations run the gambit.
While eating at a five-star restaurant is on everyone’s bucket list, there are a handful of affordable and local places that have been graced with a Michelin Star, including street food like Kika, Ving Kei, Yi Shun, and Chong Shing.
Of course, none of these Macau travel tips and advice are going to be helpful if you don’t have plans for transportation to and from Macau.
Transportation to and From Macau
If you’re absolutely sold on your adventure in Macau, then you may be wondering how to get there. While the island chain might sound like it’s incredibly far away thanks to its coastal location, it’s actually quite easy to reach from other major hubs.
One of the easiest ways to reach Macau is to take a train directly from Hong Kong or Guangdong.
This is a popular option for many tourists, as they want to bundle their trip with other nearby destinations. For those who are traveling from as far as North and South America, it makes sense to create a multi-day itinerary.
However, Macau is also home to the Macau International Airport, which receives travelers from around the world.
If you’re heading to Macau on a budget, then you can also take public bus routes from neighboring areas, along with the popular Taipa Ferry. While it’s difficult to experience Macau’s fancier side on a budget, it’s still worth a visit.
And anyone who has managed a budgeted trip to Vegas will already have a leg up.
You’re already on the right path by reading this Macau travel guide. Doing your research to gain knowledge about Macau travel tips and advice is really important. So you already have the advantage here.
With all that Macau has to offer from its gaming scene to its culture, you’ll find there are plenty of things to do in Macau for just about any kind of traveler.