Back in 2007, my kids were just out of the toddler ages, and we were beginning to plan for overseas family holidays. We started in 2006 (when my younger kid was just 3) to Singapore, it was manageable. So in 2007 we decided to go for Hong Kong, with the then newly opened Disneyland one of attractions to visit. But more than that, Hong Kong was a culmination of years and years of watching TVB serials on TV and video. Well, far more for my wife than for me, but when I was small my mom used to watch on the telly, and also borrow the videos every week religiously from the video rental shops.
So that trip, we did all the tourist spots – the Peak, Aberdeen, Disneyland, Ocean Park, Tsim Sha Tsui, Repulse Bay, etc. All those places we had only seen on telly or on those old Chow Yuen Fatt movies. After that trip, we told ourselves, oh lets do Macau next. Macau, although slightly different than Hong Kong, is very much an extension of Hong Kong but with different attractions of its own.
That was in 2007.
Fast forward 9 years later, we still hadn’t gone to Macau. In the interim, we went lots of other places, but somehow Macau never seemed on the cards or had the right timing. But finally, last year I booked ourselves 6 days in Macau for March.
And last week, we finally packed our bags and flew to Macau for another short family holidays. We had six days, but actually had 4 full days only due to our flights. But thanks to AirAsia, we had another day of holiday free of charge (and with insurance money to cover most of our trip! But more on that later).
So after spending almost 7 days in Macau (including a day trip to Hong Kong), here are some quick tips and useful stuff we learnt:
1. Macau is really small. You can see the whole of it in 2 packed days. That’s why most people do Macau as part of a Hong Kong itinerary, or vice versa (as we did). Some people do day trips to Zhuhai (a short bus ride away) or Shenzhen (across the border from HK).
2. You’d think that Macau is basically the few big glitzy casinos, but that where you’re wrong. There are many, many casinos – not just the famous ones. There are more than 30 casinos in total, most of them having been around for decades. There are big casinos, small casinos, old-timey Chinatown casinos, you name it. In the city centre of the peninsula, you can’t walk two streets without seeing a casino with their neon lights.
3. Macau is famous for their food like Pork chop bun and Portuguese egg tarts. But when it comes to dining, its a little tough. Most eateries and cafes close around 7pm, except a few expensive dine in restaurants. if you are on a budget and its late, it tough to find food even in the city centre.
4. I’m sure you’ve heard this, but Macau has free public transport. Well, its not really public transport, its actually the free shuttle bus provide by the major hotels to and from key locations, like the airport, ferry terminal (which doubles as the bus station) and border gate to Zhuhai. Public buses also run the streets, and its cheap and efficient – costs MOP3.20 (within the island / peninsula) and MOP4.20 (if you cross to and from the islands) flat rate and no change is given.
5. There are lots of taxis across the island. Just walk to the nearest major hotel and they’re lining up. But as in HK, they’re expensive. I took a taxi from city centre to the airport and it cost me almost RM70.
6. Speaking of money, their currency is the Macau Pataca (MOP). I couldn’t find any money changer who sold it here in KL even in 1 Utama, due to its unpopularity. You can change RM to MOP in Macau Airport, but the rates are poor. So I changed HK dollars and brought it there, and changed some to MOP at the airport. Across Macau, HKD and China Renminbi is readily acceptable at 1:1 rate. HKD is actually more valuable at 1:1.03, so if you use HKD as Macau currency, you are losing 3% each time. MOP isn’t accepted in HK, so make sure you finish your MOP before going back to HK. However, when I was at the HK ferry terminal coming back to Macau, they actually did accept MOP because I had run out of HKD.
7. Phone signal – I didn’t get any sim package since some hotels give free wifi (most without registration). Across the island at popular tourist spots there is also free wifi provided by a company called CTM.
8. Macau in March was cold! I had expected it to be around 16 degrees (as Internet weather sites predicted) but it was bitterly cold! Some days it went down to 11 degrees in the mornings.
That’s all I can think of now. And I think we’re ready to go off on our itinerary! The following are the posts in the series:
Macau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 1 – Arrival
Macau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 2 – Fisherman’s Wharf
Macau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 3 – Lai Kei Sorvetes & Guia Lighthouse
Macau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 4 – Fine Dining at Escada
Macau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 5 â€“ Senado Square and Ruins of St. Paul
Macau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 6 â€“ Day Trip to HK!
Macau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 7 – Tim Ho Wan & Tai Cheong Bakery
Macau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 8 – Coloane
Macau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 9 â€“ The Venetian & TaipaMacau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 10 – Lung Wah Teahouse
Macau & Hong Kong 2016 : Part 11 – An Extra Day in Macau