Our Do-It-Yourself Macau Day Tour Experience

           Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. It is a former Portuguese colony and was the last remaining European colony in Asia until it was given back to China in 1999. It is bordered by Guangdong Province, China and the South China Sea. Macau is one of the world’s richest cities and is known for its many striking casinos and hotels. Also found in Macau is the Historic Centre of Macau which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

        Originally, we allotted the third day of our Hong Kong trip to a visit to Hong Kong Ocean Park. However, we wanted to “go to Europe” without leaving Asia. So, we figured that since we were already doing a theme park – Hong Kong Disneyland, might as well let go of Hong Kong Ocean Park and do a Macau day tour instead.

            From Golden Crown Guesthouse, we walked to China Ferry Terminal at Canton Road. We entered China Hong Kong City Mall. This mall is directly connected to China Ferry Terminal. We went up to Level 1/F. On this level, ferry ticketing booths, immigration and boarding gates to the ferries are found. We bought 2 adult and 1 child Turbojet tickets for HKD 164/adult (PHP 935/adult) and HKD 149/child (PHP 850/child). A child ticket is HKD 15 less than an adult ticket.

            We breezed through immigration and proceeded to wait at the assigned boarding gate. The ferry left ten minutes later than scheduled (forty minutes from the time we bought our tickets). It was a one-hour ride from China Ferry Terminal (Kowloon) to Macau Ferry Terminal (aka Terminal Maritimo).

           China Ferry Terminal has ferries to and from Macau that operate from 7:00 am to 23:59 pm. Check travel schedule and fares here: http://www.turbojet.com.hk/en/routing-sailing-schedule/hong-kong-macau/sailing-schedule-fares.aspx  For a more detailed description on how to reach China Ferry Terminal from Golden Grown at Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, please read my Golden Crown Guesthouse review here: http://www.mommykay.com/golden-crown-guesthouse-hong-kong/

turbojet to macau

Inside Turbojet economy class. Drinks and snacks such as sandwiches, crackers and potato chips are sold onboard. We bought a ham and cheese sandwich for about HKD 30. Bottled juices are available at about HKD 25 each while crackers and potato chips are sold for about HKD 15 each.

Turbojet luggage space

There is a designated space for all of the passengers’ luggages.

           It was already 12:10 in the afternoon when Rupert, Zuri and I arrived in Macau. Han chose to remain in Hong Kong because she would be spending the weekend in Macau anyway. There are free shuttles from Macau Ferry Terminal to the different Macau hotels/casinos. The first thing we did was to line up for a free shuttle ride to Wynn Hotel. Preferably, we would have wanted to ride a shuttle to Grand Lisboa because Grand Lisboa is closest to Senado Square/Largo do Senado (a ten-minute walk away). However, the free shuttle to Grand Lisboa does not allow children, so the next best option for us was to get a free ride to Wynn Hotel instead.

          From Wynn Hotel, we walked to Senado Square. It took us about twenty minutes to get there. Senado Square is part of the Historic Centre of Macau. Scattered around Senado Square, within walking distance, are other interesting spots within this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here’s a list:

Historic Centre of Macau Places of Interest

1. A-Ma Temple

2. Moorish Barracks (Koszary Mauretańskie)

3. Mandarin’s House

4. St. Lawrence’s Church

5. St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church

6. Dom Pedro V Theatre

7. Sir Robert Ho Tung Library

8. St. Augustine’s Church

9. Leal Senado Building

10. Sam Kai Vui Kun (also known as Kuan Tai Temple)

11. Holy House of Mercy (Santa Casa da Misericordia)

12. Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady (also known as Igreja da Se)

13. Lou Kau Mansion

14. St. Dominic’s Church

15. St. Paul’s Ruins

16. Na Tcha Temple

17. Section of the Old City Walls

18. Monte Forte (Monte Fortress)

19. St. Anthony’s Church

20. Casa Garden

21. Old Protestant Cemetery

22. Barra Square

23. Lilau Square

24. St. Augustine’s Square

25. Senado Square (also known as Largo do Senado)

26. St. Dominic’s Square (also known as Largo de Sao Domingos)

27. Cathedral Square (also known as Largo da Se)

28. Company of Jesus Square (Largo da Companhia de Jesus)

29. Camoes Square

30. Guia Fortress (Guia Chapel and Guia Lighthouse)

Historic Centre of Macau map

This is a map of the Historic Centre of Macau showing the different sites of interest.

           Due to our limited time, we included in our itinerary only those that are highlighted on the list above. These sites are the ones within easy walking distance from Senado Square.

            On our way from Wynn Hotel to Senado Square, we passed by Grand Lisboa.

Grand Lisboa Macau

Grand Lisboa is a 47-floor hotel. It is the tallest building in Macau.

Grand Lisboa Macau 2

Senado Square (Largo do Senado) is only a 10-minute walk from Grand Lisboa via Av. do Infante Dom Henrique and Av. de Almeida Ribeiro.

grand lisboa to senado square macau.jpg

Senado Square (Largo do Senado) is only a 10-minute walk from Grand Lisboa via Av. do Infante Dom Henrique and Av. de Almeida Ribeiro.

            There were lots of people at Senado Square when we arrived. There were lots of Chinese decorations, too, probably in preparation for the coming Chinese New Year.

Senado Square Macau

This is Senado Square. Notice the cobblestone flooring and the European-inspired architecture. Senado Square is Macau’s urban center and is a popular venue for public celebrations and events.

            On the right side of Senado Square is the Holy House of Mercy.

Holy House of Mercy Macau

This white building is the Holy House of Mercy (Santa Casa Da Misericordia). It was built in 1569 and used to house a medical clinic and other social welfare facilities. Later on, it became an orphanage and a refuge for widows of sailors lost at sea.

           From Senado Square, we entered the first alley on the left called Rua Sul Do Mercado de Sao Domingos to get to Sam Kai Vui Kun (Kuan Tai Temple). One-minute walk.

senado square to kuan tai temple

To get to Sam Kai Vui Kun from Largo do Senado (Senado Square), turn left to the first alley (R. Sul do Mercado de Sao Domingos). Continue walking till you reach Sam Kai Vui Kun (Kuan Tai Temple) on the left. One-minute walk. Notice Holy House of Mercy on the right side of Largo do Senado or Senado Square.

way to Kuan Tai Temple

There are signs like this one all over Historic Centre of Macau that will point you to the right direction. This particular sign post is located at Senado Square corner Rua Sul Do Mercado De Sao Domingos.

bargain shops on the way to Kuan Tai Temple Macau

This alley is R. Sul do Mercado de Sao Domingos. Sam Kai Vui Kun, also known as Kuan Tai Temple, is found on this alley. Bargain shops lined this alley when we were there.

bargain shop macau

Children’s winter clothes are sold at the bargain shops for as low as MOP 20 ( = HKD 20 or PHP 115).

bargain shop macau 2

This shop sells babies’ and kids’ winter clothes.

bargain shopping macau

This kiddie bubble jacket costs MOP 100 ( = HKD 100 or PHP 572). This type of jacket is sold in the malls in Manila for PHP 1,600.

Macau street food

Some street food along R. Sul Do Mercado de Sao Domingos near Sam Kai Vui Kun.

Kuan Tai Temple Macau

This is Sam Kai Vui Kun or Kuan Tai Temple. Kuan Tai is derived from the name Guan Yu. Guan Yu was an important general in Chinese history and is now worshipped in both Taoism and Buddhism. The proximity of Sam Kai Vui Kun to the old Senate building is a testament to the participation of the Chinese community in civic affairs even during colonial times and to the diversity of culture in Macau.

 

             From Sam Kai Vui Kun, we walked back to Senado Square. We walked straight along Senado Square (Largo do Senado) until we reached St. Dominic’s Square (Largo de Sao Domingos) and St. Dominic’s Church. Three-minute walk if without a crowd.

senado square to st. dominic's square

Shown here are Largo do Senado (Senado Square) and Largo de Sao Domingos (St. Dominic’s Square). The two squares are directly connected to each other. St. Dominic’s Square is right in front of St. Dominic’s Church.

St. Dominic Square Macau

This is a picture of St. Dominic’s Square and St. Dominic’s Church. St. Dominic’s Church was established in 1587 through the efforts of three Spanish Dominican priests.

St. Dominic's Church Macau

Inside St. Dominic’s Church; This Baroque-style church serves under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Macau.

St. Dominic's Church Macau altar

The altar inside St. Dominic’s Church; This church has a tinge of violence in its history. A Spanish officer was once murdered at the foot of the altar during Mass at the time when Portugal was no longer allied with Spain through the Iberian Union.

 

           Upon exiting St. Dominic’s Church, we turned left to Rua de Sao Domingos and continued walking. Instead of turning left to Rua da Palha and Rua de Sao Paulo (which lead to the Ruins of St. Paul’s), we continued walking in the direction of R. de Sao Domingos until we saw an alley on the right (Tv. do Bpo.). We turned right and walked up this alley (Tv. do Bpo.) until we reached the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady (Igreja da Se) and Cathedral Square (Largo da Se). Three-minute walk if there’s no crowd.

St. Dominic's Church to Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady

Upon exiting St. Dominic’s Church, facing Largo de Sao Domingos, we turned left and walked in the direction of R. de Sao Domingos till we turned right to an alley (Tv. do Bpo.) to reach Largo da Se (Cathedral Square) and Igreja da Se (Cathedral of the Nativity or Our Lady). 3-minute walk. Note the alley called Tv. da Se. From Largo da Se, we walked to Lou Kau Mansion via Tv. da Se. One-minute walk.

Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady Macau

This is the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady also known as Igreja da Se. This is the current cathedral of the Diocese of Macau.

Cathedral Square Macau

This is a picture of Cathedral Square or Largo da Se. Seen at the back is the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady.

 

              After taking pictures, we walked down another alley (Tv. da Se) which is located right beside Cathedral Square. This led us to Lou Kau Mansion. One-minute walk.

Lou Kau Mansion Macau

This is Lou Kau Mansion. Built in 1889, this was the home of Lou Kau, a prominent Chinese merchant who owned a number of properties around the city.

Lou Kau Mansion Macau 2

Inside Lou Kau Mansion.  Lou Kau Mansion is open Tuesday to Sunday and on Public Holidays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. No admission after 5:30 pm. Closed on Mondays.

Lou Kau Mansion Macau 3

Rupert and Zuri inside Lou Kau Mansion. Entrance to Lou Kau Mansion is free-of-charge.

Lou Kau Mansion Macau 4

Beautiful Chinese furniture inside Lou Kau Mansion

Lou Kau Mansion Macau 5.jpg

intricately designed windows of Lou Kau Mansion

Macau street food 2

Lining Tv. da Se are lots of stores selling yummy Macau eats. These stores are located right in front of Lou Kau Mansion.

Macau street food 3

We tried one of these yummy pork buns. Sold at MOP 18 (= HKD 18 or PHP 103) each at the store with red signage right in front of Lou Kau Mansion.

Macau street food 4

This pork bun is a must-try. Yum!

Macau street food 5

Macau street food sold in front of Lou Kau Mansion at the yellow store that says Kam Wai Beef Offal. Price range MOP 4 – MOP 11. Most are sold for MOP 7 – MOP 9.

 

          By this time, we were already starving so we decided to have late lunch at Boa Mesa Comida Portuguesa. From Lou Kau Mansion, we walked back to the direction of Cathedral Square (Largo da Se). Before reaching Cathedral Square, we turned right to a side alley which leads to Boa Mesa. One-minute walk.

landmark to Boa Mesa Macau

This is the landmark to Boa Mesa coming from Lou Kau Mansion. When you see this, turn right. Walk to the end of the alley till you reach Boa Mesa Comida Portuguesa/Portuguese Food.

lou kau mansion to boa mesa

From Lou Kau Mansion, walk back to the direction of Largo da Se (Cathedral Square). Before reaching Cathedral Square, turn right to an alley that leads to Boa Mesa at Tv. de Sao Domingos. One-minute walk.

Boa Mesa Portuguese food Macau

This is the facade of Boa Mesa.

Boa Mesa Portuguese food Macau 2

Inside Boa Mesa. It was 3:00 pm when we ate there, so there were many empty tables.

Boa Mesa Portuguese food Macau complimentary bread

Complimentary bread and butter. Yummy enough to please our rumbly tummies while waiting for our food.

Boa Mesa Portuguese food Macau traditional steak

This is Portuguese traditional steak. A must-try! I recommended this to Han and she, too, was pleased when she tried it during her Macau trip. The serving is actually huge. Muy delicioso. Value for money for only MOP 115, if I remember correctly.

Boa Mesa Portuguese food Macau duck rice

This is duck rice. Works best with traditional steak. Steak and this is a mouth-watering combination. Mmm..yum!

Boa Mesa Portuguese food Macau codfish in cream

This is codfish in cream. It’s not bad, but unlike traditional steak, it has no wow factor.

Boa Mesa Portuguese food Macau lemonade

Zuri ordered a glass of lemonade. The glass is disappointingly small.

Macanese Coca Cola

Some Macanese Coca Cola to complete our meal. We also tried to order some Portuguese egg tarts but they were not available at the time of our visit. 🙁 Our whole meal amounted to around HKD 500 or almost PHP 3,000. This is actually good for 4 because we had  leftover enough to feed one more adult.

 

             After a hearty Portuguese meal, we continued our tour of the Historic Centre of Macau. From Boa Mesa, we walked back to St. Dominic’s Square (Largo de Sao Domingos) via Tv. de Sao Domingos. From Largo de Sao Domingos, we turned right to R. de Sao Domingos, then left to R. da Palha to reach R. de Sao Paulo. We continued walking along R. de Sao Paulo to reach Company of Jesus Square and St. Paul’s Ruins.

boa mesa to st. dominic's square

From Boa Mesa, we walked along Tv. de Sao Domingos, which led us back to Largo de Sao Domingos (St. Dominic’s Square).

St. dominic's square to r. de sao paulo

Then, from Largo de Sao Domingos (St. Dominic’s Square), we turned right to R. de Sao Domingos, then left to R. da Palha. From R. da Palha, we continued walking to R. de Sao Paulo.

R. de Sao Paulo to St. Paul's Ruins

R. de Sao Paulo leads directly to Company of Jesus Square (square in front of St. Paul’s Ruins) and St. Paul’s Ruins. To get closer to the Ruins, you may either climb the steps or pass through Calcada de Sao Paulo (blue dots). Note that Na Tcha Temple is also very near St. Paul’s Ruins.

St. Paul's Ruins Macau

This is St. Paul’s Ruins. St. Paul’s Ruins is the ruins of the Cathedral of St. Paul, a 17th-century cathedral built by the Jesuits in honor of St. Paul the Apostle. The Cathedral of St. Paul used to be one of the largest cathedrals in Asia. It was destroyed in a fire in 1835.

St. Paul's Ruins Macau 2

Here is Zuri in front of St. Paul’s Ruins.

St. Paul's Ruins 3

A closer view of St. Paul’s Ruins

Company of Jesus Square Macau

This is Company of Jesus Square. It is located in front of St. Paul’s Ruins.

 

             From St. Paul’s Ruins, we walked to Monte Forte/Fortress. Monte Fortress is just beside St. Paul’s Ruins across Calcada de Sao Paulo.

St. Paul's Ruins to Monte Fortress

The green area on this map is part of Monte Fortress. To get to Monte Fortress from St. Paul’s Ruins, we simply crossed Calcada de Sao Paulo.

Monte Fortress Macau steps

These steps lead to the top of Monte Fortress.

Monte Fortress Macau

This is Monte Fortress. This is what greeted us after climbing three flights of stairs. Notice the guns at the top. Monte Fortress was the military center of Macau back when it was still a Portuguese colony.

Monte Fortress Macau 2

Rupert and Zuri striking a pose with one of the cannons at Monte Fortress

Monte Fortress Macau 3

Monte Fortress with the flag of Macau

 

             From Monte Fortress, we walked back to Senado Square by taking this route: Calcada de Sao Paulo -> Company of Jesus Square -> R. de Sao Paulo -> R. da Palha -> R. de Sao Domingos -> Largo de Sao Domingos (St. Dominic’s Square) -> Largo do Senado (Senado Square).

             From Senado Square, we walked for ten minutes to Grand Lisboa via Av. de Almeida Ribeiro and Av. do Infante Dom Henrique. There is a taxi stand in front of Grand Lisboa.  The queue was long but fast-moving. We queued for about 20 minutes. Then, we took a taxi to The Venetian. This cost us MOP 69 (equivalent to HKD 69 or about PHP 400). 1 Macanese Pataca (MOP) is equivalent to 1 Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). In Macau, HKD is accepted. No need to change your money to MOP.

The Venetian Macau

The Venetian. The Venetian Macau is the largest casino in the world.

The Venetian Macau 2

Inside The Venetian at past 7:00 in the evening. The Venetian has an indoor artificial sky that reminds me of the Great Hall in Hogwarts Castle.

             Our main reason for going to The Venetian was to pretend we were in Italy by trying their Gondola Ride. There are three canals that offer gondola rides: Grand Canal, Marco Polo and San Luca. Among the three, San Luca is the shortest. It was already past 7:00 pm when we arrived and the only one still open for rides was Grand Canal. We bought 1 child and 2 adult tickets at MOP 88/child (= HKD 88 or PHP 502) and MOP 118/adult (= HKD 118 or PHP 673).

The Venetian Gondola ride Macau

The Gondola

The Venetian Gondola ride Macau 2

blue and beautiful

The Venetian Gondola ride Macau 3

Zuri and me inside The Venetian

The Venetian gondola ride tickets Macau

Our Gondola Ride tickets

The Venetian gondola ride Grand Canal Macau

Rupert, Zuri and me during our gondola ride with our gondoliere, Andrea

The Venetian gondola ride Italian boatman Macau

Our gondoliere, Andrea, is from Italy. He knows a few Filipino, Chinese and Korean words. He sang us a nice Italian song during our gondola ride.

The Venetian gondola ride Grand Canal Macau 2

Zuri was very curious about the blue water. Good thing she didn’t go over! Our family truly enjoyed our Venetian experience.

Gondola Ride Opening Hours:

Grand Canal 11:00 am – 10:00 pm

Marco Polo 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

San Luca 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Gondola Ride Rates (For All Canals):

Adult (per ride): MOP 118 (HKD 118 or PHP 673)

Kid (per ride): MOP 88 (HKD 88 or PHP 502)

Private Gondola (per ride): MOP 472 (HKD 472 or PHP 2,692)

Payment by cash or credit card

               After the ride, we bought a souvenir set that includes an 8 x 10 in printed photo, a 6 x 8 in printed photo, an 8 x 10 in 2015 photo calendar, a snow globe with photos and two keychains with photos. All for around MOP 550 (= HKD 550 or PHP 3,137).

The Venetian gondola ride souvenir Macau

Our souvenir set

               After our Gondola ride, we ate dinner at the Venetian food court.

The Venetian Macau food court

When we’re too tired to even think about what we want to eat, our fallback is usually burger and fries.

The Venetian food court Macau

Zuri ordered this ice cream shake while Rupert and I shared a glass of soda. Total cost of our meal amounted to around MOP 200 ( = HKD 200 or PHP 1,143).

 

            After dinner, we took a free shuttle ride from The Venetian to Macau Ferry Terminal. At the terminal, we bought 1 child and 2 adult ferry tickets to China Ferry Terminal Kowloon. Ferry rates at night are slightly pricier compared to daytime tickets. Check ferry schedule and fare list here: http://www.turbojet.com.hk/en/routing-sailing-schedule/hong-kong-macau/sailing-schedule-fares.aspx  Immigration was fast. The ferry left on time.

        After an uneventful one-hour ferry ride, we arrived at China Ferry Terminal Kowloon at past 12 midnight. Again, we didn’t have any problems at the immigration counter. We exited through China Hong Kong City Mall and walked to Golden Crown Guesthouse.

Some Useful Tips For a Do-It-Yourself Macau Day Tour:

1. Don’t buy ferry tickets from anyone other than the person behind the ticketing window.

Buy tickets from the ticketing window to make sure the tickets you will get will leave you with enough time to pass through immigration before the ferry leaves. Scalpers will approach you and will try to sell tickets that are more expensive or tickets to ferries that will be leaving so soon you wouldn’t have time to catch your ride. Say no to scalpers.

2. Bring your Passport (with Visa if applicable).

Macau and Hong Kong are two separate Special Administrative Regions. Thus, to leave Hong Kong and enter Macau (and vice versa), you will need to present your passport at immigration counters.  Filipinos do not need a visa to enter Hong Kong and Macau.

3. Bring a stroller and a bottle of water.

If you are traveling with a kid, a stroller is a must. You will be walking the whole day. Keep yourself and your kid hydrated.

4. Arm yourself against the weather.

If you are traveling during the hot season, bring an umbrella and apply sunblock. If you are traveling during the cold season like us (February), bring a winter jacket and a scarf. The temperature was 12 degrees Celsius during our trip to Macau. Apply moisturizing lotion to avoid dry and itchy skin.

5. Hong Kong Dollars is accepted in Macau.

Macanese Pataca is the currency of Macau. 1 Macanese Pataca (MOP) is equivalent to 1 Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). HKD is accepted in Macau so there’s no need to change your money to MOP. However, MOP is not accepted in Hong Kong, so if you have some MOP change, use it up in Macau.

6. Don’t book a tour with strangers at Macau Ferry Terminal.

Some people might approach you upon arrival at Macau Ferry Terminal. They might offer a tour of Macau for so and so price. Refuse them. According to locals, this practice is illegal. These people will give you a tour using the free shuttle service provided by the hotels. Why pay for something that is for free? The person who approached us at the terminal was even a Filipino like us. His asking price was HKD 300 (PHP 1,700). Don’t be fooled.

7. Make use of the free shuttle service provided by the hotels/casinos.

There are free shuttle rides to and from Macau Ferry Terminal provided by hotels/casinos. Free shuttle rides will help you save on cash. Grand Lisboa is closest to Senado Square but doesn’t allow children in their shuttle. Wynn Hotel allows children but is a bit farther compared to Grand Lisboa.

8. Research beforehand about which sites you want to visit and plot them on Google maps.

Study the map and plan your route. Keep the information in your gadget, on a small notebook and in your head.  This way, even if technology fails for whatever reason during your trip, you will still have the information you need for a more convenient do-it-yourself tour. Ask for directions/help when necessary.

9. Take advantage of the free tastes along R. de Sao Paulo.

The road to St. Paul’s Ruins is called R. de Sao Paulo. This road is lined with stores that sell different Macau goodies. They offer free tastes. Sample Macau’s local eats for free. Buy some  yummy Portuguese egg tarts.

10. If you are already too tired, don’t hesitate to ride a taxi.

A taxi ride is not cheap, but it’s also not that expensive. Our taxi ride from Grand Lisboa to The Venetian cost us MOP 69 (= HKD 69 or PHP 400). Macau has designated taxi stands.

That’s our Macau Day Tour experience. We went to Macau on February 5, 2015. For those planning to go to Macau, I hope you found some helpful tips and information from this post. 

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Up Next: Hong Kong – Macau 4-Day Trip Expenses For A Family Of Three

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