Macau Tour – How to See China’s Most Atmospheric City in a Day

Many tourists who visit Hong Kong take a day tour to neighboring Macau, and while this history-rich town justifies more than just a day, you can still see its major places of interest on a day-long tour.

This article will guide you how to build an itinerary for a successful Macau tour of only one day…

First and foremost, to ensure your day long Macau tour is truly enjoyable, you have to get up early and catch a ferry that leaves Hong Kong at 7am or even earlier… The ferry-trip takes an hour and there’s absolutely no point for you to start your Macau tour after 8am, if you are planning to return to Hong Kong at the end of the same day…

More details about traveling from Hong Kong to Macau are found in my other article, “How to Get to Macau from Hong Kong”.

Outside Macau Ferry Terminal, there is a bus stop from which you can travel to your first destination: Senado Square (Largo do Senado) – The heart of Macau town and a convenient starting point to the UNESCO’s declared Macau World Heritage Trail.

Just like most of Macau’s old streets, this large piazza is notable for its Portuguese style cobblestone paving, featuring patterns of black-and-white waves. Around the square, there are some nice local caf├ęs, where you can start your morning, as well as a small market, tucked in the small alleys behind the square, where you can buy export surpluses and factory outlet stuff at a steal of a price…

More importantly, however, some of Macau’s most exciting heritage sites are located just a short stroll from Senado Square, including…

  • Museum of Macau is built into a hill and occupies most of what used to be Macau’s strongest fort, hundreds of years ago. It’s not a very big museum by international standards, but it does have some very nice exhibits that tell the story of this charming town in an interesting way…
  • Ruins of St. Paul’s: The only remain of what was once Asia’s largest Catholic church, is an impressive 16th century facade, featuring intricate reliefs and sculptures.
  • Santo Domingo Church is an 1828 Baroque-Filipino style church, housing a tiny museum, where you can see precious historical objects, related to the history of the Roman Catholic church in Asia.
  • Lou Kau Mansion: A beautiful 19th century courtyard-house that used to serve as the residence of one of the city’s richest Chinese merchants.
  • The Cathedral
  • The Holy House of Mercy: Another important historical building, with a small museum in it.

From Senado Square, you can easily walk southwest, along the UNESCO declared Macau World Heritage Trail, passing through some of the city’s most interesting heritage gems, like picturesque Rua da Felicidade, where a famous scene of the movie “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Doom” was shot, St. Augustine’s Square (Largo de Santo Agostinho), where China’s first western style theatre is found, St. Joseph’s Church, with its fabulous baroque architecture, St. Lawrence’s Church (which is one of Macau’s three oldest churches), Lilau Square, where Macau’s only source of freshwater used to be, the Moorish Barracks… and onwards, to A-Ma Temple and Macau Maritime Museum.

There are some great Portuguese-Macanese restaurants around A-Ma Temple and Macau Maritime Museum, like A Lorcha and Restaurante Litoral, so try not to nibble too much on the way…

It will probably be late afternoon by the time you complete your “historic city walk”. From here, you have a few options:

  • You can catch a cab to Macau Tower, one of the world’s tallest free standing towers and a great spot to enjoy a sunset-cocktail while watching how the night slowly covers the city and Macau’s extravagant neon signs glow in a thousand colors…
  • From here, you can drive across the bridge to Taipa Island and onwards, to Cotai, where the world’s largest casino is located, at the Venetian. Visiting this colossal casino is exciting, even if you are not a gambler, and what’s more, you can enjoy some great shopping, dining and gondola riding at the adjacent Venice-themed mall, called the Grand Canal shoppes.
  • Taipa Village, just a short way from the Venetian, is where the original community of Taipa Island started from… Strolling through the stone paved alleys of this old town has its own magical charm, and you can pop into one of the homey restaurants and enjoy a fantastic Portuguese-Macanese feast…

Traveling back to Hong Kong is as easy as ABC. If you wind up your day at the Venetian, simply take one of their free shuttles to Taipa Island’s Temporary Ferry Terminal where you can board the CotaiJet, but if you are around Macau Town (or the tower) traveling via Macau Ferry Terminal is likely to make more sense.

In any case, ferries run between Macau and Hong Kong 24/7 so you can take you time and enjoy Macau’s nightlife without pressure

Priya Harrison

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