Macau is a mix between a southern Chinese town and a Portuguese town.
It is more comfortable and laid back than a hectic place like Hong Kong
and has a lot of colonial architecture. It is a very small place, but
you can easily spend three days there without getting bored. Macau has
many casinos, which at night have some very impressive light effects.
Local Macanese are not too fluent in English.
Macau is not exactly a budget destination, although it is possible to
find affordable hotels for less than 400 Patacas. The period I chose
for the visit was immediately before the Macau Formula 1 Grand Prix and
hotel rates were higher than usually. Other expenses such as food and
transportation are moderate in Macau. Buses and taxis are cheap.
I ate mostly at local Chinese restaurants, although apparently Macau
also has a good deal of Portuguese or Portuguese inspired cuisine.
Meals in restaurants are moderately priced: higher than in a developing
country but lower than in a developed country.
Macau has recently added and is still adding hotel capacity, mostly in
modern hotel complexes in Taipa and Coloane. Inexpensive accomodation
up to 300-500 Patacas is available in the historic centre of Macau. If
you are interested in visiting the historic core of Macau it is best to
stay in this area, otherwise you will need to take a bus or taxi to
There are hotel booking counters at the airport, although these
counters will keep a commission.
I arrived to Macau with no advance booking. Tried to book through the
several hotel booking sites, but all these sites reported that Macau
was fully booked. These hotel booking sites do not list the cheap entry
/ Exchange rate (February 2007)
1 Euro = 11.8 Patacas
the Universal Currency
ATMs are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with a
Cirrus/Maestro ATM card. You won't need traveller cheques.
phones and prepaid cards
There are GSM and UMTS networks in Macau with roaming agreements with
European and other operators. Possibly prepaid cards are
available for sale, although I didn't buy one.
I found two Internet cafes in a side road off Largo Senado, charging 4
Patacas/hour. The first one, the Chinoy, does not allow you to connect
your notebook computer, the second one does. Reasonably fast access
Sunny, blue sky during all three days of my stay. Thick layer of haze
limiting the visibility. Warm enough to walk around with a T-shirt
during the day, fresh in the evenings.
None required for Macau.
VISA / Entry
VISA on arrival granted to nationals of developed countries. Speedy
immigration procedure. If you do a day trip to Hong Kong you have to go
four times through immigration: twice in Macau and twice in Hong Kong.
No issues here, I didn't experience any problems. I read somewhere that
Macau is a pretty safe place.
Despite being a small place, Macau has a good bus
network. Tickets are cheap. Taxis are inexpensive as well. Every 15
minutes there is a speedbaot to Hong Kong (24 hour service).
Kou Va, Macau. Somewhere in downtown Macau, very close to Largo do
Senado. 400 Patacas (38 Euro at the current exchange rate) for a room,
clean, basic, not too big. There is a TV, phone, A/C, queen size bed,
cupboard (old), table, chair, attached bath
with shower. No Internet in the room. The room is ok (great location),
but for this price I would get a much better room in Malaysia and a
better room in Japan.
sky in the early morning in KL. Sunny and blue sky in Macau, although
there is a thick layer of haze in and around Macao. During the day it
is warm enough to walk around with shorts and a T-shirt, after sunset
it gets fresh.
I get up at 6:30am, get
ready and check out at 7:20am. Some discussion
in the reception about the taxi. Initially they suggest RM 120 for the
drive to the airport, then they go down to RM80, which is more in line
with the metered taxi fare.
At 7:30am I'm in the taxi
on the way to the AirAsia LCCT airport,
arriving there at 8:25am. At the check in counter my baggage is shown
with a weight of 25.7kg, while yesterday in Osaka it had only 24kg. I
wonder if the scale they use is tuned. There is a excess
baggage charge of RM 150 (10kg x RM15/kg). If on the way back there
will be the same excess baggage charge, the total cost of this flight
will be around RM1000 - not really cheap.
The plane leaves on time
and is about 80% full. I wonder if I will find
accomodation in Macau, because all three hotels I have emailed are
fully booked. The flight proceeds smoothly and before 1pm we land in
Then I go through immigration, retrieve the luggage, go through
customs, withdraw cash from an ATM (both HK$ and Patacas are in use in
Macao) and go to one of the travel agents in the arrivals hall. Does he
have a room?
Initially I speak English, then switch to Mandarin as his
English is not that good. Some discussion, lots of places are full, in
the end he gives me a room at the Kou Va hotel for 400 Patacas
(although on this blackboard the hotel is listed for 280 Patacas -
later I hear that the hotel costs indeed less than 300 Patacas, he
probably pocketed 100+ Patacas of commission).
I take a taxi to downtown Macau (60 Patacas) and check in at the
hotel. Macau has a huge area with large modern buildings, probably a
hotel and casino area. Interesting architecture, there is also a hotel
called The Venetian which looks like a replica of Venice. The centre of
Macau is instead a mix of a southern Chinese town and a Portuguese
town. I wonder if people speak Portuguese here.
After check-in I get out of the hotel and start exploring the area.
There is not too much to see in the historic centre of Macau although
it is interesting to see a mix of a Chinese and Portuguese town.
2:20pm to 6:40pm I walk around the old town. In the Fortaleza do Monte
there is a museum (ticket: 15 Patacas) with some interesting exhibits
which give you an idea of the history and culture of Macau. The
panorama view from the fort reveals that there are not many old
buildings in Macau.
After sunset the view in the casino area is impressive. The neon lights
of the buildings switch on, with some very cool light effects. The
entire building of the Casino de Lisboa is covered with thousands of
coloured light dots and becomes like a huge display, showing
animations, text, graphics and other videos. Very cool sight.
Opposite the Casino de Lisboa there is a hotel with a huge oversize
fountain, with a water and music show (similar to the one in Hangzhou).
Around 7pm I have a dinner in a Chinese restaurant in Largo do Senado.
Good food, I'll get there again tomorrow. My day ends around 8pm.
-> Hong Kong ->
Hotel Kou Va. The reception wakes me up
by phone at 6am with a wake up call I never requested. The shower has
enough water pressure.
Weather: sunny, blue sky.
Warm enough to walk around in a T-shirt, fresh in the evening. Strong
wind in the evening in Hong Kong. No rain.
After a not requested wake-up call at 6am I get up at 9:30am and leave
the hotel after 11am. I first walk to the tourist office where I check
my emails until about 11:40am, then I go to the Chinese restaurant on
Largo Senado for a lunch. What a cold place - outside it's already
fresh enough, and in this place they have switched on the A/C to max.
power. I freeze
for the entire lunch.
The lunch is so-so. The rice is too loose, not sticky & easy to
with the chopsticks as in Japan. The chopsticks themselves are of the
reusable type, with very smooth ends which do not have enough friction
to hold things. In Japan they use everywhere the disposable chopsticks
with which it is easy to grab food.
After lunch I walk to the ruins of Sao Paulo cathedral. Very nice and
photogenic. A Chinese wedding couple is doing a photo session. Then, at
1pm, I walk towards the Guia fortress making stops at the St Michael
cemetery (very nice with monumental tombs) and the Lou Lim Ioc gardens
(kind of nice, peaceful, but not that impressive). The Guia fortress is
actually a lighthouse with a church and some cannons. Sort of
interesting, but very, very small (the area accessible to tourists is
very small). Interesting view of Macau from there.
In the meantime it's already 2:30pm, so I decide to go to the ferry
terminal, which should be quite close and get the ferry to Hong Kong. I
can't find a taxi, so I walk along the road.
I probably take the wrong road, because I make quite a detour. This
road is bordered on both sides by guard-rails, which normally are used
for Formula 1 races. I later find out that in a few days Macau will
host the Macau Grand Prix (15-18 November) and that I'm walking on the
Formula 1 circuit. Is this perhaps the reason why most hotels are fully
Thanks to the detour I'm at the ferry terminal only at 3:05pm, too late
for the 3:15pm ferry (there is a ferry every 15 minutes, ticket price
is 142 HK$; ferry takes one hour; in Hong Kong the ticket price is 172
HK$). The A/C in the ferry is freezing.
At 3:30pm the ferry leaves and arrives in Hong Kong island at 4:35pm.
The terminal is in walking distance from the central pier, from which
the ferry to Kowloon (Tsim Tsa Shui) leaves. I walk fast and at 5:10pm
I'm in Kowloon.
Until 6:30pm I'm on the waterfront taking photos of the skyline of Hong
Kong. Then I have some food and after that I start getting back to
I manage to catch the 7:45pm ferry and am back in Macau at 8:45pm. For
this little excursion to Hong Kong I have needed two visas and got four
additional chops in my passport.
Then I try to take a bus back to the hotel, but the bus driver throws
me out because I don't have the exact amount. Apparently they give no
change and you must pay the exact amount (cheap at 2.50 Patacas). So I
take the next bus with which I get somewhere near the Hotel de Lisboa
and from there I walk back.
By the way, in Macau they drive on the left side, which is absurd
because it is a former Portuguese colony and Portuguese drive on the
right and also in mainland China they drive on the right.
Pension Florida, Macau. 280 Patacas for
an old run-down room, with old furniture, hard beds. not so clean. Very
old toilet, which sucks horribly. Lies in a side street near Largo
Senado. At 280 Patacas this place is probably overpriced by 200%. Have
to move to this place because my room in the Kou Va is messed up, the
Kou Va hotel has no other rooms and all of Macau is fully booked (see
Weather: sunny, blue sky the
whole day. The air today is more clean, i.e. has less haze. No rain,
warm enough to walk around in a T-shirt even at night.
I sleep late until 10am,
then get ready and leave the hotel at 11am. I ask in the reception
where there is an Internet cafe and the lady points to one of the side
streets. And indeed there there are two Internet cafes (4
Patacas/hour): the Chinoy and another one. Both can be reached from
Largo Senado by taking the first street to the west then turning right.
At the Chinoy they don't allow to use your own notebook computer, but
at the second Internet cafe they do.
Until almost 12pm I'm at this Internet cafe, then I go to the KFC
restaurant for some lunch. Then I take a bus to Taipa village, arriving
there at 1:20pm. The centre of Taipa is a peaceful, laid back area with
interesting colonial architecture, Chinese temples and Christian
churches. Along what once used to be a beach (before they merged the
islands of Taipa and Coloane), are a number of early 20th century
colonial houses for the Portuguese. These houses are now a museum.
While I'm there a Chinese wedding couple pops up for a photo shoot.
I'm in Taipa until 2:50pm then look for a bus to Coloane. The only bus
going there from Taipa is Nr. 15 and the next only arrives at 3pm. I'm
finally in Coloane at 3:20pm.
Coloane is even more laid back and peaceful than Taipa. There is some
colonial architecture, some Chinese temples and Christian churches.
Another Chinese wedding couple with a team of photographers arrives for
some photos on the beach. The girls is fully made up and is wearing the
wedding dress. The groom is having a fun time, while the girl is having
a tough time carrying the white wedding dress on the beach. Ha ha ha,
she will be soon carrying a baby inside her belly and fighting to raise
kids... I guess the fun is over for her.
I'm in Coloane until 4pm. There is actually more to see in Coloane, but
not in this spot at the western end of the island where I am at the
moment. The problem is that it seems to be complicated to get to the
A-Ma temple on the mountain or to get to the eastern end of the island.
Since no taxi is showing up I catch the next bus, which is heading
toward Taipa instead of the eastern end of Coloane. So I get off at
this new resort called "The Venetian", which lies in the Cotai strip of
new land between Taipa and Coluane. In this area, near the
airport, lots of construction in ongoing - huge hotels, casinos
etc. This is supposed to become the new Las Vegas of Asia.
The Venetian is essentially a combination of theme park, hotel,
shopping complex and casino. It's a replica of Venice, with a copy of
the San Marco clock tower, the Rialto bridge, Venice buildings and
canals complete with fake gondolas and gondoliers (gondola trip costs
100 Patacas for 12 minutes). The staff wear Gondola rowers uniforms.
This is a version of Venice from a fairy tale book, it reminds me of
the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh (Vietnam), which has been described as
the "most outrageously vulgar building .... built with serious intent".
For somebody who has seen the real thing this is a pompous fairy tale
copy, but it could be a commercial success here in Asia.
It's 4:50pm when I take the taxi to the next place, the Macao
Tower. It costs 80 Patacas to get on the top. A skywalk (walking
outside secured by a rope costs 300+ Patacas, a bungee jump will set
you back by 1080 Patacas. Have fun and enjoy jumping down from a 233m
high tower. The view of Macao could be quite decent if there wasn't so
I'm in the Macao tower until after sunset, then get down, take a bus
and head to the Largo Senado where I have a dinner at 7pm.
When I'm back in the hotel shortly before 8pm the unpleasant surprise
begins. Already in the lobby the guy tells me that some painting was
done on the walls and that I should keep the windows closed. Back in
the room there is a strange chemical smell. After about 10 minutes I
realise that there is a huge stain on the carpet, full of some chemical
The painter must have dropped some paint on the carpet and
tried to clean it with a chemical solvent after that. Now there is a
big stain in the carpet full of chemical solvent. No idea what this is,
but it could be hazardous for health or cause cancer. It's out of
question that I will sleep in this room.
I go down to the reception and
try to explain to the staff, who speaks only Chinese the situation.
Initially they do not unterstand and think that the smell is coming in
from the outside, so after some discussion a girl who speaks some
English follows me to the room.
In the room I show the stain to the girl. More discussion follows. Now
the painter who caused all this shows up. He only speaks Chinese, but I
understand that he insists that this is nothing, that he breathes this
stuff every day or so. Looks like this guy is pretty careless with his
health. I ask to change rooms. Sorry Sir, we are full, there are no
So we go down to the reception. More discussion follows. The hotel
owner or manager shouts some angry things. I say that if they have no
other room I will move out, but want the daily rate refunded. Actually
they should be paying damages to me for causing such a mess.
manager says he wants to take out my stuff soon and rent the room to
somebody else. This guy is really brainless. In the current state
nobody would want to sleep in such a room. It will probably take a few
days until the chemical is gone.
After 10 minutes the manager and I leave the hotel and start looking
for a room in another hotel. We check five or six places in the area.
Except for one for 980 Patacas (most likely way overpriced) every place
is full. In the end the guy calls somebody and finds a room in a run
down, 0.5 star place. Way overpriced at 280 Patacas, but at least there
is no chemical stuff inside.
I pay in advance, then head back to the hotel. With the hotel manager
watching me (doesn't he have anything better to do?), I pack my stuff
and move out. Upon checkout I get 300 Patacas back (I paid 400 at the
airport) and the key deposit of 100 Patacas.
Needless to say, the whole evening is messed up. I wonder what went
wrong. Perhaps in a higher class place such a mess would not have
happened, or perhaps they would have had a spare room available, or
would have removed all traces of the chemical solvent before my return.
After depositing my stuff at the new place, I process the photos of the
day, then head to the Internet cafe where I download my emails.
Hotel Boulevard, KL. RM 315 for a
superior room, which essentially is a standard room, but in-room
Internet access is included (otherwise it would be RM60/day extra or
RM160/week) as well as access to the lounge on floor 26 with American
breakfast in the morning and drinks and snacks in the afternoon +
Weather: in Macau
sunny, blue sky, with a few little clouds. Warm enough to walk around
in a T-shirt. In KL overcast and tropically hot. No rain after 5pm.
I get up at 9:25am, get ready and pack my things. At 10:30am I go to
the Internet cafe, where I download my emails.
Then, after getting some
groceries from 7/11 store I head back to the hotel, check out and take
a taxi to the airport (54 Patacas), arriving there at 11:40am.
At the AirAsia check-in they send me to the ticketing counter to pay
the excess baggage fee (342 Patacas). I lose lots of time queueing up
there, then again time queueing up again at the check-in to get the
boarding pass. This is annoying. This excess baggage fee is increasing
the ticket price by 50%, while with a standard airline I would not have
paid such a fee and I would not have lost so much time.
In the meantime it's 12:10pm and I jump into a taxi, telling the driver
to get to the A-Ma temple and bring me back to the airport. It takes 15
minutes to get to the temple and it is really worth it. The A-Ma temple
is beautiful. You can see that is has been built recently, but the
decorations and the setup are great. I'm back at the airport at 12:50pm
(the taxi trip cost 125 Patacas).
I go through immigration and since there are a few minutes left, have a
noodle soup at a restaurant. The flight leaves with about 15 minutes
delay, because the plane arrived late. The plane is about 80% full. The
dumb women sitting in front of me leans back with her seat, making it a
torture to type text into the notebook computer. She says with
the seat leaned back it's more comfortable for her. Comfortable my ass.
The plane lands at 5:25pm in Kuala Lumpur's LCC terminal, which is a
terminal at KL international airport with no gates and only basic
infrastructure. Outside it's not that hot, but very steamy. Feels like
bathroom after a shower.
Then things proceed smothly and fast. I go through immigration, get my
luggage and purchase a taxi coupon for the Boulevard hotel for RM
61.60. By 5:40pm I'm in a taxi to the hotel. The taxi reaches the
Midvalley shopping complex already at 6:45pm, then needs 15 minutes
to get to the entrance of the Boulevard hotel because of the heavy
traffic jam. It seems that the traffic in Kl is getting worse every
year. In the hotel I join again Shirley and Alissia.