About 60km of water separates Macau from Hong Kong but unlike Hong Kong, which was colonised by the British, more than a hint of Portuguese flavour hangs in the air in Macau. A Portuguese territory until 1999, the Historic Centre of Macao has a collection of 22 World Heritage-listed sites. The fusion of Portuguese and Chinese flavours influences every aspect of Macau today, including architecture, food and culture. So, if you’re visiting Hong Kong – or just passing through – here are some compelling reasons why a Macau day trip should be on your radar.
Macau is a Special Administrative Region of China (SAR) that is easy to explore independently and a self-organised Macau day tour is a fun way to spend the day. Is one day in Macau enough? Most people say it isn’t. Once you’ve seen what Macau has to offer, you’ll probably want least three days in Macau to explore. But if you’re short of time, here are some reasons to take a day trip to Macau.
- 1 10 reasons to plan a Macau day trip
- 1.1 1- Macau is right at Hong Kong’s doorstep
- 1.2 2- Macau is compact and easy to get around
- 1.3 3- Macau is a World Heritage destination
- 1.4 4- Macau is different to Hong Kong
- 1.5 5- New attractions are opening in Macau each year
- 1.6 6- Macanese egg tarts are delicious
- 1.7 7- Festivals in Macau are frequent and fun
- 1.8 8- You won’t need a visa
- 1.9 9- Getting from Hong Kong to Macau is inexpensive
- 1.10 10- The new Hong Kong Macau bridge
- 2 What to do in Macau in one day
- 3 Macau 1 day itinerary
- 3.1 7 am Hong Kong ferry terminal
- 3.2 8 am Arrive at Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal
- 3.3 8.30 am Breakfast at Senado Square
- 3.4 10 am Explore Macau’s top UNESCO World Heritage sites
- 3.5 1 pm A Macanese Lunch
- 3.6 2 pm Climb the steps at A-Ma Temple
- 3.7 3.30 pm Macau Tower
- 3.8 5 pm House of Dancing Water
- 3.9 7 pm Dinner in a Macau
- 3.10 9 pm Explore Cotai Strip
- 3.11 Around midnight Taipa Ferry Terminal
- 4 How to get to Macau from Hong Kong
- 5 Direct flights to Macau
- 6 Resources for your Macau day trip
- 7 Where to stay in Macau
10 reasons to plan a Macau day trip
1- Macau is right at Hong Kong’s doorstep
Macau is closer to Hong Kong than Gosford is to Sydney or from Noosa to Brisbane. If you’re visiting or connecting through Hong Kong International Airport, the Hong Kong to Macau distance of only 60km makes it easy to pop over to Macau to explore.
2- Macau is compact and easy to get around
Being a compact city, with a land area of 115.3 km2, Macau is easy to explore on foot. Many of Macau’s historic buildings, streets and squares are located within a manageable walking distance and you can cover a lot of ground in a few hours, which makes a Macau day trip particularly attractive to explore.
3- Macau is a World Heritage destination
If you love historical places, one day in Macau provides enough time to see Macau’s main World Heritage treasures, which is a unique blend of ancient China flourished alongside colonial Portugal.
4- Macau is different to Hong Kong
Making the time to visit Macau offers another perspective of the region. The fusion of Chinese and Portuguese cultures coexists in a unique way not found anywhere else in the world. For example, you’ll see Chinese shop-house adorned with Portuguese tiles and European-style pavement cafés next to Chinese coffee shops.
5- New attractions are opening in Macau each year
Even if you have visited Macau once or twice before, Macau is growing so fast that a tour of Macau’s new resort developments – from lavish swimming pools to theme park rides – will amaze you, especially if you haven’t visited recently.
6- Macanese egg tarts are delicious
Macau’s egg tarts are famous around the world and some people travel to Macau specifically to go to Lord Stow’s Bakery in Coloane to sample these egg tarts. They’re not the same as the Chinese egg tarts in Hong Kong.
7- Festivals in Macau are frequent and fun
There’s a festival in Macau almost every month. The historic precinct comes alive with light and colour during these festivals, many of which reflect the cultures of China (such as Chinese New Year) or Portugal.
8- You won’t need a visa
Unlike mainland China, visas for Macau are not required for travellers from 74 countries including Australia, New Zealand, USA and UK for stays of less than 30 days.
9- Getting from Hong Kong to Macau is inexpensive
Transport from Hong Kong to Macau is readily available and inexpensive. Hong Kong to Macau ferry prices are reasonable and ferries are fast and comfortable. One-way fares cost from MOP170 (AUD28/USD21).
10- The new Hong Kong Macau bridge
The imminent opening of the new multibillion-dollar bridge connecting Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai, will soon provide another way to travel to Macau. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is about 20 times longer than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
What to do in Macau in one day
If it’s your first time to Macau, the main historic places to visit in Macau in one day are Ruins of St Paul’s, Senado Square, Monte Fort and A-Ma Temple.
The first three are right next to each other and the A-Ma Temple is within walking distance.
The streets around the Ruins of St Paul’s are full of character and there’s plenty to see. For those who are keen on photography, there’s enough time while on a Macau day trip to zip back at night for a night photo of Macau’s most famous landmark.
If you linger, you’ll need more than a day. For a deeper delve into Macau’s history, you could spend a week investigating Macau’s 22 World Heritage-listed buildings, squares, museums and temples and still not have enough time.
If it’s a clear day, include a visit to Macau Tower to your Macau day tour itinerary as it’s the best spot for a view from the sky or to try a bungy jump, if you dare.
The vantage point from the observation gallery is the place to look down and see how this former Portuguese colony has grown.
Another way to see Macau from above is Studio City’s Golden Reel, which is Asia’s first figure eight Ferris wheel.
In recent years, the casino developments of the Cotai Strip have brought an explosion of exciting attractions and plenty of things to do in Macau for kids.
If you love shows, make sure the House of Dancing Water is on your Macau one day itinerary, or you could just spend time exploring the free displays, such as Performance Lake, the Tree of Prosperity and the Dragon of Fortune.
Macau 1 day itinerary
You’d be surprised at how much it’s possible to pack into a day trip. Here’s a sample Macau one day itinerary that provides a balance of historic and new attractions.
7 am Hong Kong ferry terminal
Depart Hong Kong for Macau’s Outer Harbour (there’s a 7 am ferry from Sheung Wan or a 7.05am ferry from Kowloon or a 7.40am ferry from Tuen Mun)
- Distance between Hong Kong and Macau – 60km
- Travel time from Hong Kong to Macau by ferry – about one hour
8 am Arrive at Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal
Take one of the buses from the ferry terminal up Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro to Senado Square.
- Distance from Macau Outer Harbour Terminal to Senado Square – 2.5km
- Driving time from Macau Outer Harbour Terminal to Senado Square – 11 minutes
8.30 am Breakfast at Senado Square
There’s a decent choice of cafes and restaurants around Senado Square. For a local breakfast, look for somewhere that serves Chinese or Macanese food.
For Portuguese egg tarts, try Koh Kei Bakery or Margeret’s Café. A popular place for a Chinese breakfast is Wong Chi Kei.
10 am Explore Macau’s top UNESCO World Heritage sites
Senado Square and the surrounding attractions are clustered in a small area and easy to explore on foot.
- St Dominic’s Cathedral
St Dominic’s Church is a 16th-century Spanish Dominican and the site where the first Portuguese newspaper in China was printed. Climb up to the bell tower and visit the Treasure of Sacred Art Museum.
- Ruins of St Paul’s
The remains of Asia’s most famous 17th century Jesuit church has an impressive Italianate stone façade and a sweeping staircase. It’s the best place for a selfie!
- Monte Fort and Museum of Macau
Monte Fort or Mount Fortress was the fort used to defend Macau for 300 years. Adjacent to Monte Fort and built on part of the fort’s foundations is the Museum of Macau, which has three levels of galleries.
1 pm A Macanese Lunch
Walk down to A Lorcha restaurant for a Macanese lunch. Macanese cuisine is a fusion of flavours from Europe, Africa, India and China. Typical Macanese dishes are African chicken and minchi. Alternatively, Café Sab 8, which is near the Ruins of St Paul’s, dishes up a contemporary twist on traditional Macanese cuisine.
- Distance from Senado Square to A Lorcha – 1.3km
- Walking time from Senado Square to A Lorcha – 17 minutes
- Walking time from Senado Square to Café Sab 8 – 6 minute
2 pm Climb the steps at A-Ma Temple
Dedicated to the Taoist goddess of seafarers, A-Ma Temple’s first pavilions and halls were built by fishermen 800 years ago.
It was one of the first landmarks sighted by Portuguese traders who landed 450 years ago when Macau was a fishing port.
If you have time, near the temple, the Maritime Museum tells the story of Macau’s relationship to the sea, traditions of its fishermen where families lived and worked on boats and the role Macau played in the trade of Chinese silk and Japanese silver during the 17th century.
3.30 pm Macau Tower
A quick visit to Macau Tower will give you a bird’s-eye view of Macau from the sky. But if you want to catch the 5 pm House of Dancing Water show, there’s not quite enough time to squeeze in one of the adventurous activities, such as a bungy jump.
5 pm House of Dancing Water
At the City of Dreams, Macau’s most famous show is an impressive acrobatic extravaganza with amazing special effects and stunts. There’s also an 8 pm show if you prefer.
7 pm Dinner in a Macau
After the show, hit the bars and restaurants on the Cotai Strip.
In the City of Dreams, Macau’s newest and boldest design hotel (Morpheus) is an impressive architectural landmark of contemporary Macau.
Top dining experiences in the City of Dreams are fine French dining at the Tasting Room and two Michelin starred Chinese restaurant Jade Dragon.
9 pm Explore Cotai Strip
After dinner, slip into a casino for a flutter or whip around the Cotai Strip to ogle at the luxury shopping malls and bright lights. All the Cotai resorts have a roster of events, shows and festivals all year round. The top attractions on the Cotai strip are:
- The Venetian Macao canals
- Parisian Macao – Eiffel Tower and Light Show (6.15 pm to midnight, every 15 minutes)
- Wynn Palace – SkyCab, Performance Lake and the Floral Creations display
- Galaxy Macau – Diamond Show (in the foyer every 20 minutes) and China Rouge nightclub
- Studio City – Golden Reel, Batman Dark Flight, Warner Brothers Fun Zone and Pacha Macau (Macau’s coolest nightclub starts rocking at 11 pm)
Around midnight Taipa Ferry Terminal
Catch a resort shuttle to the Taipa Ferry Terminal. The last ferry from Taipa to Sheung Wan leaves at 1 am.
How to get to Macau from Hong Kong
Most major international airlines have flights to Hong Kong International Airport from cities around the world. Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Hong Kong Airlines and Virgin Australia have direct flights to Hong Kong from Australia. Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand and Hong Kong Airlines have direct flights from New Zealand to Hong Kong.
Travel from HongKong to Macau by ferry or helicopter and when the Hong Kong to Macau bridge opens, getting to Macau by road should be even quicker.
Hong Kong to Macau ferry services (1 hour)
The ferry ride from Hong Kong lasts about one hour and there are regular services at 15 to 30-minute intervals.
There are two ferry operators and four ferry terminals in Hong Kong. When choosing a ferry, keep in mind there are also two ferry terminals in Macau.
Turbojet operates services from Hong Kong to both Macau ferry terminals. There are four classes of service: Economy, Super Class, Premier Grand Class and Premier VIP Cabin.
Super Class has more comfortable seating and extras such as complimentary meal, newspapers, priority disembarkation and use of a lounge at the ferry terminals.
Premier Grand Class includes hot meals, wine and beverages during the journey.
VIP cabin offers champagne and more space.
Cotai Water Jet
Cotai Water Jet operates services to Taipa from Sheung Wan, Kowloon and Hong Kong International Airport.
Macau ferry terminals
Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal – This Macau ferry terminal is located on the Macau Peninsula and close to Senado Square, the Ruins of St Paul’s and other historic landmarks.
Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal – The new Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal is a massive modern structure with lots of space and facilities. It’s on Taipa Island, near the Macau International Airport, close to Coloane and the Cotai Strip.
Hong Kong to Macau ferry options
There are four ferry terminals in Hong Kong.
- Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal at Shun Tak Centre in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island. Regular ferries depart from Sheung Wan from to the Macau Outer Harbour 7 am all day every 15 minutes. Premier Jetfoils leave every 30 minutes
- China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
- Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal in New Territories
- Sky Pier at Hong Kong International Airport
Both Turbojet and Cotai Water Jet operate services from Hong Kong International Airport.
If you’re planning on a staying a few days in Macau, connecting with the ferry at HKIA is a good option. Bypass Hong Kong Customs and Immigration queue by buying a ferry ticket at the Air/Sea Transfer desk. Present your baggage tag and your luggage will be transferred to the ferry for you.
If you’re only planning on visiting Macau as a day trip, keep in mind the earliest ferry departures from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau are 11 am (Turbojet) and 10.15am (Cotai Water Jet).
The ferry from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau takes about 70 minutes.
Helicopter to Macau (15 minutes)
Fly from rooftop to rooftop between Hong Kong and Macau. The 15-minute helicopter flight to Macau is the way to arrive in style.
Sky Shuttle Helicopters Limited departs from the rooftop helipad of Shun Tak Centre in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, and lands at the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal on the Macao Peninsula.
Taking a helicopter to Macau will set you back MOP4450 (AUD750)
Direct flights to Macau
Other ways to get to Macau is to combine a visit with a stop in another Asian hub, such as Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Manila.
Xiamen – Xiamen Airlines flies to Macau via Xiamen and offers a 72-hour stopover in Xiamen without a visa. Here are some Xiamen attractions.
Kuala Lumpur – Air Asia flies from Kuala Lumpur to Macau
Singapore – Scoot Airlines flies from Singapore to Macau.
Bangkok – Air Asia Thailand flies from Bangkok to Macau. Here’s what to do in Bangkok.
Manila – Cebu Pacific flies from Manila to Macau. Read this for things to do in Manila.
Macau Airport transfers
There are several options to transfer from Macao Airport to the city.
Free Hotel Shuttles – Free shuttle buses are available for anyone to use, even if you are not staying at that particular hotel.
Free Airport Shuttle – Shuttle buses are available from 11 am to 9 pm (every 15 minutes) in the parking lot near the northern exit.
Public Bus – Bus fares are around MOP5.
Taxi – Catch a taxi if you’re heading to parts of the city that are not on the bus or shuttle routes. The fare from Macau International Airport to Senado Square is approximately MOP100.
Resources for your Macau day trip
- Download the free MacauMap™ (updated in June 2018) for smartphone and tablet. The app has 1247 streets, 68 hotels, 461 restaurants and 121 sightseeing spots in Macau mapped. It’s also useful for bus routes and bus stop.
- Use the Step Out, Macao mobile app for eight popular walking tour routes. Here’s an overview of the tourist spots on those walking routes around Macau.
- Look for free hotel buses at the ferry terminals, such as the Venetian Macau shuttle bus. Many of these hotel buses will be heading to the Cotai Strip, where many of Macau’s glitzy resorts are located. Hotels closer to the historic centre are Sofitel, Mandarin Oriental, Wynn Macau and MGM Macau.
- For Macau tours, tickets and transfers click here.
If you decide you’re having too much fun, Macau has plenty of hotels to choose from.