Country: China
Currency: Pataca (MOP)
Peak Season: March-September
Shoulder Season: October-December
Median Temperature: 21.90 C / 71.42 F
Main Languages: Cantonese, Portuguese, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, taxi, car rental, ferry
Recommended Duration of Stay: 2 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $90.00/day
Tourist Passes: Macau Pass
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Macau, the “Vegas of Asia,” is known the world over for its unrestrained, high-stakes gambling industry, accounting for at least half of the region’s GDP. But besides gambling, there’s a wealth of activities to be done here. Shopping, for one, is ideal since the government levies no taxes on local and imported goods, with the clothing industry in the spotlight. And whether you’re an opulent spender or a thrifty bargainer, Macau never leaves out any social class. There are plenty of tourist attractions—from China’s ancestral temples and parks, Portuguese strongholds and cathedrals and the now-modern landscape emanated by skyscrapers that dominate the skyline. A recurring joke has been how the city’s wealthiest families have been always demolishing relatively young skyscrapers to make way for newer ones.

The trade industry is strongly fostered by the city’s diplomatic relations with the mainland, particularly cities in the Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong, where most of its imports are obtained. Getting to Macau is painstakingly easy, as it is always bundled to tours of China’s most illustrious cities—Beijing, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai in the picture. It benefits both ways in its being a special administrative region of China and having its own independent form of government, fast tracking its goals in increased investor interest (being the tax haven that it is) and full administration over its citizens and resources. Macau is the living proof that the East can outdo the West in more ways than one.

Packing List

  • Stylish and breathable clothing for the day and snappy attire for nightly escapades inside casinos and restaurants; an umbrella and cardigan are useful for the changeable (and misty) weather
  • Comfortable walking shoes, a cap, and a cellphone or notebook to jot down the places to remember on your next visit; take a belt bag or satchel with you—they really come in handy
  • Converted currency, credit cards and expandable shopping bags for the all the cheap merchandise; whether it’s authentic or not, the duty free prices will make you buy at least a bag-full of souvenirs
  • A decent camera, zoom lenses, plenty of film/memory and batteries; bring portable media (which can be bought cheaply here) and books to preoccupy yourself if the weather is too gloomy
  • Essential medication and toiletries; on tap water, the Health Department assures that it complies to international standards despite coming from the mainland, but bottled water is still recommended

Things to Do

  • Pilgrimage to the many cathedrals commissioned by Portuguese friars in the late 16th century; the most striking ones include St. Dominic’s, St. Lawrence’s, St. Joseph’s Seminary and Macau Cathedral
  • Entering Fortaleza do Monte, a fortress outpost of the Jesuits against the invading Dutch—it has been decommissioned for a long time, but the cannons are still intact; inside it is Macau Museum
  • Visiting Macau’s oldest memorial hall, Barra Temple; it is dedicated to Ma Zu, a seer known to have helped countless fishermen avoid wrecking tides; the temple is still holds a number of worshipers
  • Walking around Senado Square, distinct for it wavy, Portuguese mosaic pavement design; the square is the preferred venue for public events and celebrations aside from just being a walkway
  • Bungee jumping off Macau Tower, the 1,109 ft structure closely resembling Seattle’s Space Needle; the tower serves various commercial purposes, but is primarily visited for its adrenaline sports

DON'T

  • Splurge inside casinos; Macau is known to be competing directly with Las Vegas in terms of wagers and otherwise illegal games in other countries, so just watch the high-rollers instead of gambling
  • Cause commotion, cheat or fight the guards inside casinos; peace is well-kept inside gambling establishments, and it’s better not to get under the skin of security or be hauled somewhere unsafe
  • Think that everything sold on the streets is authentic, especially jewelry; many unscrupulous merchants proliferate in Macau, and they usually prey on tourists who appear wealthy
  • Linger around too much at night—areas near casinos are deemed unfit without accompaniment; remember that most crooks know the reputation of Macau as a gambling capital, so be wary
  • Display your wealth or communicate in an unintelligible language; additionally, prevent yourself with from being overly intimate with your partner—be tactful, as authorities are hot on tourists