Macau, from a first-timer’s perspective (a travel guide)

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Macau holds a special place in my memory. First, it’s because we went there for our honeymoon. And second, Macau is my very first out-of-the-country trip.

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Macau holds a special place in my memory. First, it’s because we went there for our honeymoon. And second, Macau is my very first out-of-the-country trip. 

Macau Travel Guide Ruins of St. Paul's
The iconic Ruins of St. Paul's

Macau, from a first-timer’s perspective (a travel guide)


    I have long wanted to go to Macau because I find its history of being a former Portuguese colony interesting. At the same time, the lure of its modern and cosmopolitan vibe is quite hard to resist. 

    Our trip to Macau is an experience that is truly unforgettable; Macau is a beautiful place filled with incredible sights and tastes. It’s a unique destination that marries the old and the new.  Whatever type of traveler you are, I am sure that you will also find that there are many things to like about Macau.

    How to go to Macau


    To go to Macau, we took a Cebu Pacific flight bound for Macau International Airport. Macau is visa-free for a stay of up to 30 days so that is one less requirement to worry about. 

    Travel time was around two hours; we left NAIA at around 7:00 PM and by 9:00 PM, we were already at Macau. After the usual immigration checks, we were out of Macau International Airport. We booked a taxi going to Pousada Marina Infante Hotel. 

    How to get around Macau


    Getting around Macau is fairly easy. Most hotels offer free shuttle bus rides to the most popular tourist spots in Macau. Since we wanted to save on our pocket money, we opted for the free hotel shuttle buses. 

    On our first day in Macau, we went to Galaxy Hotel and took the bus going to Largo do Senado (Senate Square). We walk around Largo do Senado, looked through several interesting souvenir and food shops. We also walked all the way to the Ruins of St. Paul. Later on, we took the same bus when we returned to our hotel.

    You can also ride a taxi if you do not want to take any of the shuttle services. Walking is also a great option because it lets you enjoy the sceneries around you at your own leisurely pace.

    Macau Travel Guide on our way to the Galaxy Hotel
    On our way to the Galaxy Hotel

    While we were walking at Galaxy Hotel to take a shuttle bus to Largo do Senado, we were awed by the Fortune Diamond. It is like a spectacular fountain and hologram show in the middle of the hotel lobby; the finale of which is the revelation of a giant diamond. The Fortune Diamond supposedly gives luck to casino players. 

    The elaborate and intricate fountain of the Fortune Diamond at Galaxy Hotel in Macau
    The Fortune Diamond, which supposedly gives luck to casino-goers

    A closer look of the details of the Fortune Diamond at Galaxy Hotel in Macau
    Fortune Diamond

    Top things to see and do in Macau


    We did not come up with an itinerary when we went to Macau because we did not want to pressure ourselves to see all of Macau’s tourist destinations. However, we did have a list of the places that we wanted to visit and we were happy to have crossed them off our list. Lastly, we also wanted to enjoy our stay at Venetian Macao, so we had to allot a full day just to explore the hotel. 
    Here are the places that we visited and the things that we tried in Macau:

    1. Visit Largo do Senado


    The historic Largo do Senado or Senate Square, Macau’s former seat of government is one of the very first places that I wanted to visit in Macau. I was inspired by the Macau episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, so I had to see the buildings in Largo do Senado as well as the wave pattern in the pavement.

    Exploring the Largo do Senado in Macau
    At the historic Largo do Senado (Senate Square), a beautiful site dotted with antique European architecture

    A photo in front of the fountain at Largo do Senado in Macau
    I once dreamed of walking here at Largo do Senado

    2. See the Ruins of St. Paul’s


    The Ruins of St. Paul’s is also one of Macau’s most well-known landmarks. It’s the façade of an old church which remained standing after the rest of the structure burned down during a typhoon.

    A photo of the crowd at the stairs going up to the Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau
    Climbing the steps going to the Ruins of St. Paul's

    A photo at the stairs with the Ruins of St. Paul's in the background in Macau
    A souvenir shot in front of the Ruins of St. Paul's

    A picture at the well-known Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau
    It was also my dream to see the Ruins of St. Paul's in person

    The Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau
    Ruins of St Paul's

    3. Explore Fortaleza do Monte


    Fortaleza do Monte or Mount Fortress is located in close proximity to the Ruins of St. Paul’s. It was built as a military defense fortress. Walking at Fortaleza do Monte somehow reminded me of Intramuros with the former’s thick stone walls and cobble stone pavements. Today, it houses the Macau Museum.

    At Fortaleza do Monte's entrance in Macau
    At a gate in Fortaleza do Monte

    A bell hanging on the wall of Fortaleza do Monte in Macau
    An old bell

    Canon balls at Fortaleza do Monte in Macau
    A stack of canon balls

    A picture on top of the wall at Fortaleza do Monte in Macau
    At Fortaleza do Monte, a spot where tourists can have a good view of the Macau cityscape

    4. Take a peek at Macau Tower


    We visited Macau Tower on our third day in Macau. We boarded a bus from City of Dreams and it took us directly to Macau Tower. It is famous as a bungee jumping spot but we were not tempted in any way to try it.

    A couple shot at the lobby of City of Dreams in Macau
    Walking around the lobby of City of Dreams, a hotel that is also famous for its casinos

    Going down to the shuttle bus station of City of Dreams Hotel in Macau
    Making our way down to the shuttle buses

    5. Visit Sto. Domingo Church (St. Dominic’s Church)


    The Sto. Domingo Church or St. Dominic’s Church at Largo de Sao Domingos is a baroque Roman Catholic Church established by Dominican missionaries. It is a small, yellow-colored building that will easily catch your attention because of its attractive design. It is very reminiscent of churches in the Philippines.

    The facade of Sto. Domingo Church (St. Dominic Church) in Macau
    Sto. Domingo Church -- small, simple and elegant

    The illuminated facade of Sto. Domingo Church in Macau
    The Sto. Domingo Church at night

    A picture of a couple traveler and blogger in front of the Sto. Domingo Church in Macau
    In front of Sto. Domingo Church

    A picture of the interiors of the Sto. Domingo Church in Macau
    Inside Sto. Domingo Church

    6. Try the egg tarts


    Egg tarts were brought by Portuguese colonizers to Macau. It is like creme brûlée or even leche flan on a flaky pastry. I like its rich milky-eggy slightly sweet taste. It is good eaten on its own or paired with coffee. Since Macau is famous for egg tarts, you can find it almost anywhere.

    A close up photograph of an egg tart being sold in the streets in Macau
    Macau's famous egg tart

    7. Shop for souvenirs and local delicacies at Largo do Senado


    Largo do Senado is lined with souvenir shops and bake shops. One of the best things to do in any trip is to buy souvenirs as well as local food and products that you can either try during your trip or bring with you back home.

    A souvenir and food store at Largo do Senado in Macau
    A souvenir and food store at Largo do Senado

    8. Take advantage of the amenities and freebies offered by your hotel


    We allotted a full day just to explore the hotel where we stayed at — The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel. Aside from the usual breakfast and lunch inclusions, we also got a free gondola ride with our hotel booking.

    We went around The Royal Venetian Resort Hotel checking out the shops and souvenir stores, the swimming pool area, and watched some games in the casino. 

    A couple traveler and blogger inside a room at The Venetian Hotel Macao
    Enjoying our room at the grand and luxurious The Venetian Hotel Macau

    A couple traveler and blogger exploring The Venetian Hotel Macao
    We took advantage of the opportunity to explore every corner of The Venetian

    We also tried some of the food shops at The Venetian. It was a big food hall with various stores offering both local and international cuisines. We tried a big bowl of noodles with dim sum from one of the stores and a falafel sandwich from another. We were quite satisfied with how large the servings and how tasty the food were. The price was also reasonable given the quantity of the servings.

    A travel blogger eating dumpling noodle soup for lunch at the food hall of The Venetian Hotel Macao
    Eating lunch of dumpling noodle soup at The Venetian

    A travel blogger eating hot noodle soup at the food hall of The Venetian Hotel in Macao
    Lunch at the food hall of The Venetian

    Our room at The Venetian Macao included a breakfast buffet and a lunch buffet that we availed of on two separate days. Buffet lunch was at Bambu Restaurant while the breakfast buffet was at Café Deco. We completely enjoyed our respective meals in the two restaurants as both featured an extensive array of international cuisines.

    A couple travel bloger eating lunch buffet at Bambu Restaurant at The Venetian Hotel Macao
    Lunch buffet at Bambu Restaurant, still at The Venetian Macao

    A couple travel blogger eating breakfast buffet at Cafe Deco at The Venetian Hotel in Macau
    Hearty breakfast buffet at Cafe Deco, also at The Venetian Macao

    Lastly, our room also included a free gondola ride. We were a little apprehensive to avail of it at first because of the long line but we were glad that we took advantage of the gondola ride because it was a fairly enjoyable experience. Too bad that each boat accommodates four people so we had to share it with another couple.

    A couple travel blogger enjoying a gondola ride at The Venetian Hotel Macao
    Gondola ride at The Venetian Macao, one of the freebies offered by the hotel

    A couple travel blogger exploring The Venetian Hotel Macao for their Macau Travel Guide
    One last stroll at The Venetian Macao before our flight back to Manila

    There are actually a lot more famous destinations to visit and activities to do in Macau. We just did not have enough time to do it all but we hope to be back to Macau again to see and try the other things that it has to offer.

    Where to stay in Macau


    There are many hotels to choose from in Macau. If you are on a budget, we do recommend Pousada Infante Marina Hotel. It’s an old hotel but it is clean and well-maintained.

    If you have money to spend, then you can try The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel. It’s beautiful, spacious, and it’s like a city on its own. You will definitely feel that you are getting your money’s worth at The Venetian.



    Conclusion


    Like all other vacations, our Macau adventure has to come to a conclusion. It was such a nice feeling to be able to go to one of my dream destinations. We would have stayed longer in Macau if not for our work. Hopefully, we could go back to Macau someday.

    Anyway, we went back home filled with wonderful memories from our honeymoon in Macau.

    Tips to Remember


    Here are some more tips to make your Macau trip worthwhile:
    1. There are year-round low fare promos. While it was just a gift for us, we were informed that it was on seat sale so it was less than P10,000 for the two of us, round trip.
    2. Since Macau is small, you can tour it in a day. Plan your trip well so you'd have more time to see other attractions and shows.

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    33 comments

    1. Congratulations!! Wow! That place looks amazing. The hotel is out of this world. Thanks for sharing,

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    2. Look like such so interesting place to visit . One day wish to visit Macau

      Thanks for sharing

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    3. I have heard so much about Macau and I am sure it is an absolute fun! It is sort of like Vegas if I am not wrong.

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    4. raisingyourpetsnaturally19 June 2017 at 18:53

      That's a pretty big weekend! How fun to be able to pack so much entertainment into a few days.

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    5. Congratulations! You guys are too cute with the just-married glow and it made me smile. Thank-you for bringing Macau to us through your photos. I loved them all, especially the churches and gondola ride!

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    6. Congratulations on your marriage. Your honeymoon in Macau looked super exciting. The food that you had for lunch in The Venetian looked mouthwatering and there was plenty of it. I loved the photo of both of you in the gondola very romantic.

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    7. Very pretty photos, congratulations! Unfortunately, I boycott the Venetian properties worldwide because their owner was a large Trump political donor. Macau seems like a fun place though.

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    8. It's been a long time I want to visit Macau and your photos makes me want to go even more...the food just looks amazing!

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    9. what a cute post! looks like you had a blast on your honeymoon! a trip like this is always the best way to celebrate :)

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    10. Wow what a fun weekend! It looks like you had such a great time and saw lots of sights! I love a weekend away with my husband, it's always nice to have that time together. xx

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    11. Wow! Look at that hotel!
      Sigh...Another thing to add to the bucket list! Congrats getting married guys :)

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    12. I have not visited Macau but it looks like the prefect romantic getaway destination. I love the ruins, the food and the beautiful terrain. Beautiful!

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    13. Looks like you had such a fun trip. I definitely will have to visit Macau when I get the chance too. It looks so beautiful.

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    14. Yes, it's a charming place. You won't regret it.

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    15. Macau is indeed beautiful. I would always love to go back.

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    16. Yes, travel is always a great way to bond with your spouse.

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    17. Thank you! Yes, it was a blast.

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    18. We'd like to go back as well!

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    19. Thank you! Sad to hear about that. Anyway, there are still lots of other great hotels in Macau.

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    20. Thank you! It was a fun adventure, such a nice experience.

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    21. Thank you for the kind words!

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    22. Yes, it was like Vegas! Full of colors and adventures.

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    23. It was interesting, full of history and art.

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    24. Congratulations! What an awesome place to celebrate. It's been ages since I traveled outside of the U.S. It looks like you had a lot of fun!

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    25. Congratulations! Must be an amazing experience to visit Macau. Your pictures speak for itself!

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    26. You two look really happy, glad to see you have a good time exploring. The city looks amazing, really liked the architecture there.

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    27. Hey your weekend trip sounds amazing. I live in India and we have been planning a trip like forever. But this is an awesome trip that hotels provide free shuttle service. thanks a lot

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