I did a poll on my Instagram account a while back to ask if people prefer to read lengthy detailed destination guides or quick tips to read in five minutes. Whilst the result was mixed, 70% voted for quick tips so here is my first in a series of 'top ten travel tips' guides, starting with what you need to know for a day trip to Macau from Hong Kong.
Get there earlyThere is more to do in Macau than you may think. With a mix of the old town with its European influence and casinos to rival those found in Las Vegas, a full day is needed to see everything this charming ex- Portugese colony has to offer. We travelled there by TurboJet ferry and had no problem buying our tickets on the day at the ferry terminal. Whilst you specify your return time, it is possible to get an earlier ferry by joining a standby queue. I would recommend choosing a later time for your return booking as it is not guaranteed that you will be able to join a later ferry on standby, particularly on a weekend.
Use the free shuttles
When you exit the ferry terminal you will see free buses lined up to take you to the various casinos. Please note that there don't tend to be shuttles between the different casinos themselves so you will need to go back to the ferry terminal to get on a different shuttle to another casino. If you want to visit the old town (a must!) then the Grand Lisboa is within walking distance of the old streets so it is worth taking the shuttle there and then walking down as it is a pleasant, easy walk.
Hong Kong Dollars are widely accepted
It's worth noting this as we were worried we would have to withdraw Macanese pataca (their local currency). All the casinos and shops in the old town accepted HKD so you can use the cash you have already withdrawn for your Hong Kong trip. There are also cash points in most of the casinos if you run out.
Minimum bets are quite high
We visited on a weekend which meant this was higher but it was tricky to find blackjack and roulette tables with low minimum bets. The best we found for blackjack was 200 HKD (around £20 at time of writing) but these tables were often too busy to join.
Not all casinos give free alcohol
Chinese gamblers don't tend to drink alcohol whilst they are playing so don't expect every casino to dish out free booze like they would in Vegas. We asked for a drink in a couple and had the choice of tea, coffee, soft drinks or water. The only casino where we successfully got free gin and tonics and vodka and coke was in the MGM Macau. They were very generous with this: just grab a waiter and they will serve you drinks as long as you are spending money!
Try a Portuguese egg tart
If you haven't had the chance to try any in Hong Kong, an egg tart is a must. They are served warm, deliciously creamy and the custard has a stronger egg flavour than those in Portugal. Lord Stow's is popular and has several outlets in Macau.
Visit the Ruins of St. Paul'sThe old town is so pretty and very unique. The streets feel very European but you are surrounded by people from Asia and the smell of Chinese food cooking! Very surreal. I would recommend going to see these beautiful ruins as a priority in your old town visit and on the way you will pass some very pretty, cobbled streets. Trying a Portugese egg tart is a must: you will find plenty of vendors selling these on your way to the ruins.
Find Travessa da PaixãoIf you like colourful houses and photogenic streets you will love this spot in the old town. It's an extra special photo spot as you can capture St. Paul's in the background. It gets very busy so it is best to visit early if you want that perfect Instagram shot.
Walk up to Museu de MacauWhilst we didn't go inside the museum, this was a lovely spot to look out on the city, where old meets new. We went up around sunset time so we could take in the views before walking down to the Wynn Hotel to watch the evening water fountain show. Turn left at the front of the Ruins of St. Paul's and you will see sign posts directing you to the museum, where you can get beautiful open views. Just be warned we felt like celebrities here as one of a very small number of westerners we were asked for selfies with locals constantly!
Watch the light show at the WynnNot as spectacular as the Bellagio in Vegas or the Dubai fountain shows but this was still worth watching. It happens every 15 minutes throughout the day but it is best to watch this at night with the pretty coloured lights and lit up casinos all around you. From here you can walk to MGM to get your free drinks and end your day in Macau in style...
I hope this has helped those planning a day trip to Macau. Please let me know any other tips in the comments!