Commonly known (or maybe I just made it up) as the Las Vegas of the East, Macao is nothing short of spectacular and grand, in every sense of the word. This trip to Asia marks my second visit to Hong Kong, which is really the only justifiable home base for me to do a day-trip to gambling wonderland. Maybe one day I'll visit mainland China, but for now, I'll stick to the island that I know and love!
I've never really had a desire to visit Macao, mainly because I don't gamble whatsoever (except when PowerBall hits $1B once in a blue moon), and the comparisons to Vegas weren't appealing enough for me to go. But in honor of the birthday boy (Blake's birthday was yesterday), I will dedicate a whole separate post to one of the places that he was most excited to visit on our trip!
How to Get to Macao
I really LOVE that there is a private helicopter option to jet between Hong Kong and Macao in a matter of 15 minutes, which is really enough time to eat half a don tot (egg tart) and edit a handful of photos. So while I was on our budget 1.5 hour ferry ride over from the Hong Kong island to Macao's Taipa's Terminal...I really wondered what it would be like to be a high-roller heading over to one of the world's drippiest in gold places.
Taking the ferry from Hong Kong Macao Ferry Terminal (located north of Central) is probably the easiest and most cost effective way to get to Macao. There are a few different companies operating from the terminal, and you can show up the day-of and purchase tickets at one of the many booths. One of the most popular options is TurboJET, which runs quite frequently through the day and costs around $40USD round trip per person.
We bought round trip tickets from Sheung Wan (Hong Kong) to Taipa Ferry Terminal in Macao. Once we arrived in Taipa, we followed signs and made our way out to where the buses were parked, and basically just hopped on a free shuttle to get to the main strip. Don't waste your money on a taxi to get there because many of the major hotels (Venetian, Parisian, City of Dreams, etc.) will offer free transportation to get you where they want you (to snatch all your money away mwahahaha).
One word of advice - Don't make the same mistake as us and end up at the Outer Harbour Terminal across the bridge on the way back to Hong Kong. You'd be surprised how much a taxi ride back to the correct terminal costs and how terrible it is to wait for the next ferry with a bunch of eager tourists who are also so ready for bed!
THINGS TO DO
In total, we only spent around 6-7 hours on a Sunday in Macao, so we only had time to visit a few of the large casinos on the famous Cotai strip, and sit down for a few rounds of Blackjack at Studio City. While we walked away at a loss, it was such a cool experience to watch Blake play blackjack and listen in on the Cantonese commentary between the dealer and other players. It's just so out of context and outside of my normal Chinese vocabulary, but also oddly..comfortable?
Whether you like to gamble or not, I do think there is a lot to do here in terms of shopping, eating, and getting lost in the glitzy casinos. If I had the time, I would have loved to venture over the pond to the main city of Macao to do some exploring and get out of the more touristy areas (aka the Cotai strip).
Fun Fact: Did you know that the Venetian Macao is the largest casino in the world? The hotel has 39 floors and is 10,500,000 sq. feet. The casino floor itself is a whopping 550,000 sq. feet!
Macao met my expectations in terms of being grand and opulent, and where the rich go to gamble thousand-dollar hands and then head to the Rolex a few steps away to cash in for a new shiny object. While I don't think casinos will ever really excite me, it was a great experience to visit a place that my grandfather has actually told me stories about him coming to gamble back in the day, when there were much, much fewer casinos around and tourism at a different pace then it is today. For anyone debating whether or not it's worth that trek out, I'd say to do it! You won't find anywhere else like it - the perfect mix of Dubai, Vegas, and of course, China.
Thank you so much for checking out this post and I look forward to sharing my last one, my beloved Hong Kong.