Macau Travel

10 Tips for how you can travel Macau on the cheap

Senado Square Macau

Macau (Macao) is known as China’s gambling mecca and has even surpassed Las Vegas in terms of revenue. But it is also the first and last European colony in China, making Macau a unique testament to the marriage of East and West cultures. Located across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong, it also used to be one of the important trading ports. Its colonial architecture and cultural heritage make it more than just the Las Vegas of the East.

Last July 2015, I had the opportunity of visiting Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China for a day tour from Hong Kong.




Check out these tips for traveling around Macau on the cheap!

1. Casino hopping at the Las Vegas of the East

The biggest casino in the city, The Venetian, is definitely a must-see even for non-gamblers. It was so ostentatious and grandiose with its East meets West architecture. Combined with a myriad of sights and smells, your senses will surely go into overdrive.

The main lobby is inspired by Italian museums with hand-painted frescoes, fountain and statue, and vaulted ceilings. The Grand Colonnade leads the visitors to the casinos.

It’s easy to lose track of time inside the Grand Canal Shoppes of Venetian Macao, with its painted blue sky ceiling.

The façade of Galaxy Macau was also a sight to behold with all those gold and towers!

Wynn Hotel offers four entertainment attractions: Performance Lake, a water, light, and fire show which runs for 3 minutes at 15-minute intervals; Dragon of Fortune show; Tree of Prosperity show; and the Moon Jelly Aquarium.

In their effort to diversify, a slew of non-gambling attractions is set to entice more non-Chinese visitors to come to Macau for Macau 2.0 as reported by CNN. This includes the world’s largest wave pool and rooftop aquatic ride at Galaxy resorts, and Asia’s highest Ferris wheel and a magic house theater among others at Melco Crown’s Studio City.

Casinos in Cotai: The Venetian, Galaxy, Sands Cotai Central, Four Seasons, City of Dreams
Casinos in Macau center: Wynn, MGM, Grand Lisboa

inside Venetian Macau

inside The Venetian Macao

2. Make use of free casino shuttles

Thanks to the big casinos in Macau, one can go around without having to spend a dime on transportation. During our day-tour, we took Venetian and Galaxy’s shuttle buses. To get to Senado Square, you can avail of the free shuttle bus to San Man Lo from Galaxy Macau then walk towards Senado Square.

To get to Macau Tower, the only shuttle bus that goes there is operated by the City of Dreams.

Take a look at the schedules of Galaxy, Venetian, and City of Dreams’ shuttle buses.

Galaxy Macau free shuttle schedule

reference: Galaxy Macau website

Venetian Macau free shuttle bus

reference: The Venetian Macao website

City of Dreams Macau free shuttle

reference: City of Dreams Macau website

3. Visit the Historic Centre of Macau

The Historic Centre of Macau, inscribed as a World Heritage Site on July 15, 2005, is where you can find 25 monuments of historical and architectural importance. These attest to the unique interweaving of Portuguese and Chinese culture.

The Ruins of St. Paul has become one of the most visited sites in Macau. The remaining façade is also one of the most photographed in the city, evidenced by the crowds you will see on the stairs going up the ruins.

Aside from the remains of the former Church of the Mother of God (Mater Dei), visitors can also visit the Crypt below where the relics of the Martyrs of Japan and Vietnam rest. The crypt was quite cold and the solemn music/chanting echoes around the room, which makes goosebumps inevitable.

ruins of st paul macau

one gloomy afternoon at the Ruins of St. Paul

Near the Ruins is Mount Fortress which used to be the city’s principal military defense structure.
West of the Ruins are Na Tcha Temple, Section of the Old City’s Walls, and St. Anthony’s Church.


Largo do Senado (Senado Square), the city’s urban center, is surrounded by mosaic tiled floors and pastel-colored neo-classical buildings which create a European atmosphere. Around the Square is where you can also find the Leal Senado (Loyal Senate) Building, Sam Kai Vui Kum Temple (Kuan Tai), St. Dominic’s Church, Holy House of Mercy, Lou Kau Mansion, and Igreja da Se Cathedral.

TIP: For a small entrance fee of MOP 5, you can have a view overlooking the Square from the second-floor veranda of Holy House of Mercy.

st dominic church macau

St. Dominic’s Church

4. Free taste of jerky and Macau delicacies

Coming from Senado Square, there is a street going to the Ruins of St. Paul where jerky sellers and Macanese delicacies abound. Most of the shops offer a free taste, enticing you to buy more of the tasty and delicious food they are selling. There are also restaurants and souvenir shops along the street.

Must try are Portuguese egg tarts, Tai Lei Loi Kei’s pork chop buns, Koi Kei’s almond cookies and egg rolls.

[RELATED: Hong Kong Foodscapades: Tsui Wah, Cafe de Coral, Delicious Kitchen, and Din Tai Fung]

5. Stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf

fisherman's wharf harborfront

Fisherman’s Wharf, at Macau’s outer harbor, is a ghost town in the morning. But that proved to be an advantage still because we didn’t have to compete with crowds just to take pictures. It is best to go here in the afternoon.

MWF is walking distance from Macau ferry terminal and the entertainment complex is free. Feast your eyes on European-themed buildings around the harbourfront.

Fisherman's Wharf Macau

6. Museum hopping for free

Rich with a cultural and historical past, the small city of Macau also has a plethora of museums to choose from. For those tight on budget, there are a handful of museums with free admission.

This includes Macau Tea Culture House, which will delight tea culture enthusiasts. There is also the Grand Prix Museum, which was opened to commemorate the anniversary of the Macau Grand Prix. The Wine Museum is also free and is certainly a must-see for oenophiles (wine enthusiasts).

Inside St. Dominic’s Church (next to Senado Square) is the Treasure of Sacred Art Museum, which houses around 300 artifacts dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Inside the Ruins of St. Paul, is the Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt. This is where one can find the only work of the ancient St. Paul’s College that survived the fire in 1835 – the 17th-century oil painting of Archangel Michael.

Other museums that are free admission are Museum of the Macau Security Forces, Handover Gifts Museum of Macau, Natural and Agrarian Museum, Fire Services Museum, and Dr. Sun Iat Sen Memorial House in Macau. Some museums are free on certain days. Macau Museum is free on the 15th of each month. Macau Museum of Art, Museum of Taipa and Coloane History, and Taipa Houses Museum are free on Sundays.

Free Maps you can get in the airport or ferry terminal:
Roaming the Museums of Macau
Museums of Macau

Macau Tea Culture House
Address: Lou Lin Ieoc Garden, Avenida do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida, Macau
Operating Hours: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm (closed on Mondays)
Bus Routes: 2, 2A, 5, 9, 9A, 12, 16, 22, 25, 25X, 28C

Grand Prix Museum
Address: Rua Luis Gonzaga Gomes, 431, basement
Operating Hours: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm (closed on Tuesdays)
Bus Routes: 1A, 3, 10, 10B, 10X, 23, 28A, 28B, 2BX, 23C, 32

Wine Museum
Address: Estrada de Coelho do Amaral, no. 2 to 6
Operating Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Bus Routes: 8A, 17, 18, 18A, 19, 26

Treasure of Sacred Art
Address: S. Domingos Square
Operating Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Bus Routes: 2, 3, 3A, 3X, 4, 5, 6A, 7, 8A, 10, 10A, 11, 18, 18A, 19, 21A, 26A, 33

Museum of Sacred Art
Address: St. Paul’s Ruins
Operating Hours: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm (no admission after 5:30 pm, Tuesdays from 9 am to 2 pm)

7. Avail of free WiFiGO

With the aim to promote easier access to the internet for citizens and visitors, Macao SAR Government started providing the Wireless Broadband System “Wifi GO” service in September 2010. Free wireless internet access can be availed at selected government premises, public facilities, and tourist locations.

System Requirements: devices supporting Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 b/g) standard
For a list of the locations, pick-up the free WiFiGO service locations map at the airport or ferry terminal

8. Temple Run

Aside from A-Ma, the oldest temple, in the Historic Centre of Macau, there are other temples around Macau that you can visit. What’s fascinating about the temples in Macau is that a combination of Buddhist, Taoist, and Animist gods are worshiped in them. Their location was also determined based on Feng Shui.

Kun Iam Tong, one of the biggest and wealthiest among Macau temples, is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. It is also one of the Three Ancient Temples of Macau. Lin Fung, one of the largest temples in scale is also one of the Three Ancient Temples of Macau.

It is best to remember that courtesy and respect must be shown on the temple grounds and it is best to ask permission before taking any pictures.

Free maps and guide for your temple hopping: Macau Temple Map and Macau Temples

9. Budget accommodations in Macau

Macau may be known for its luxurious hotels and casinos but that doesn’t mean there aren’t budget accommodations you can choose from.

Two-star hotels are mostly located in the Inner Harbour and some have been recently renovated. There are also Hostels, Guesthouses, and Villas available.

Search for Macau accommodations here.

10. Experience Macau’s Communities Walking Tour Routes

If you’ll be spending more than a day in Macau, I highly suggest that you look for this free guide in the tourist information booth: Step Out, Experience Macau’s Communities Walking Tour Routes (along with the map)

Attractions to explore in each route are listed along with information, pictures, and an easy to read map. The guide highlights 8 walking tour routes to choose from:

  • Footsteps into the Historic Centre
  • An Experiment of Creativity
  • Crossroads of China and Portugal
  • A Legacy of Arts and Culture
  • Enchanting Stories of Our Lady of Fatima Parish
  • The Marriage of East and West in St. Anthony Parish
  • Bygone days of Taipa Village
  • Nostalgia in Coloane




SEE ALSO: Hong Kong 3 Days Itinerary, Guide, and Tips

Quick Guide to Macau

Currency: Macanese Pataca (MOP) is the official currency since 1906. But Hong Kong Dollars are widely accepted. We didn’t have to exchange our HKD to MOP when we were there.

Visa Requirements: Filipinos are not required to apply for Visa. For those that are required to apply for Visa, check out Entry Requirements.

Getting There: Macau is easily reached from Hong Kong via CotaiJET or TurboJet. Travel time can take from 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can also fly directly to Macau via Macau International Airport in Taipa Island.

Languages: Portuguese, Cantonese, English

Area: Macau Peninsula (connected to Mainland China), Taipa, Coloane, COTAI (reclaimed area)

Climate: Best months to visit Macau for pleasant temperatures and little rainfall would be from October to December (Autumn). Tropical climate all year round. The average temperature is 23 C and the average humidity is 79%.

For more information visit the Macao Government Tourism Office website.

Macao Day Tour Sample Itinerary

Entry – Hong Kong

0630 H – MTR to Sheung Wan; clear HK immigrations

0730 H – Macau Ferry Terminal – Hong Kong to Macau via Cotai Water Jet

0830 H – ETA Macau’s Taipa Ferry Terminal; clear Macau immigrations

0900 H – Ride free shuttle to Venetian Macau

0930 H – Explore Venetian Macau and City of Dreams; look for baggage storage (MOP10/piece)

1300 H – Senado Square, Ruins of St Paul, Historic Centre of Macau

1500 H – Wynn Hotel/Casino to Galaxy via free shuttles

1700 H – back to Venetian for free shuttle to airport

2215 H – Flight Macau to Manila (Cebu Pacific Air)


Have you been to Macau? Got any more to add to the list?


LIKE IT? PIN IT!

You Might Also Like

  • JM
    August 22, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Wow this is a very comprehensive post about Macau. I am actually planning to do a sidetrip there on my next business trip to Hong Kong. I have not been there yet and I am excited to see it even just for a short while.

  • Monika
    July 6, 2016 at 2:22 am

    I wonder if the Portuguese egg tarts are like in Portugal where I love them 🙂

  • Christina
    July 6, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Thanks for putting this together Darlene. I can’t believe how much you were able to see on a day trip. Great tip about using the free casino shuttles. I am not a gambler myself but Macau definitely looks like it has more to offer.

  • Anne Klien ( MeAnne)
    July 4, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Been to Hong Kong but hadn’t had rhe chance to cross to Macau im not a gambling fan but maybe one day just to visit.

  • melody pittman
    July 4, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Macau looks fabulous and those casinos…oh they are calling my name! Glad you listed all these great activities to do in the country, much more than I would have thought. The museums looks awesome as well. Great photos!

  • Marge Gavan
    July 4, 2016 at 2:26 am

    I didn’t know there’s so much to do in Macau, I’d love to go museum hopping too, and if it’s for free then all the better. I also want to see their Venice and how it is compared with the one that we have here in Taguig.

    • Darlene
      July 4, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      The Venetian Macao is just for a lack of better term, the embodiment of WOW. you really should see it even just once. Our “Venice” has nothing on it hehe.

  • Alexa Meisler
    July 4, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Great overview. Love the Quick Guide to Macau at the end. Very thorough piece that will be helpful to anyone visiting for the first time!

  • Voyager
    July 3, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    Macau is lovely, we were there towards the end of last year and had a great time, though we were there for only a day. It would be lovely to spend a couple of days in Macau itself. We had stayed in HK and taken the Ferry to and fro to Macau.

  • Scott | At The Drop
    July 3, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Fantastic, detailed insights to a city I’ve frankly been guilty of overlooking. Might have to add time to the next HK visit and get over to Macau. Looks fascinating.

  • Fiona Maclean
    July 3, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Thats a great resource guide. Really comprehensive – so thank you for sharing

  • Andra
    July 3, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    It’s nice to know that Macau can be cheap as I had it on my not-so-friendly-budget destinations. It seems like there are quite a lot of things to see and do. Thanks

  • Johna
    July 3, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Great tips! I’m always looking for ways to save money hehe. I’ve also heard that Macau can be quiet pricey too! 😀

  • Wandering Carol
    July 3, 2016 at 7:41 am

    While I can give the world’s largest wave pool and the rooftop aquatic ride a miss, I’d love to visit Macau for the history and just to see the crazy Vegas of Asia – this is a great guide for someone who wants to go.

  • Howard | Backroad Planet
    July 2, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    What a thoroughly detailed guide you have created for Macau, Darlene! I am not much for gambling, but I love the information about the historical sites, especially the UNESCO Historic Centre of Macau. I have not yet been to Asia, but you have convinced me that when I do travel there, Macau needs to be on my itinerary!

  • Dan
    July 2, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Looks like there are plenty of free things to fill your day with in Macau. The Venecian looks just like the one in Las Vegas too!