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Quick Facts
Capital Macau
Government Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
Currency Pataca (MOP), also Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) and Renminbi (RMB) are commonly used
Area total: 28.2 km2
water: 0 km2
land: 28.2 km2 (2005, increasing due to land reclamation)
Population 488,144 (2005/12/31)
Language Portuguese, Chinese (Cantonese)
Religion Buddhist 50%, Roman Catholic 15%, none and other 35% (1997 est.)
Electricity 220 V, 50Hz
Country code +853
Internet TLD .mo
Time Zone UTC+8

Macau (also spelt:Macao) (澳門, Ou3mun4 in Cantonese, Àomén in Mandarin; [1]) is a territory located in southeast China, and was until 1999 administered by Portugal as an overseas province. Like its formerly British neighbour Hong Kong, Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.


Macau is geographically divided into three main regions: a peninsula and two islands.

  • The Macau Peninsula is the northernmost region, connecting to the Chinese mainland. It is the center of most tourist activity and is densely crowded.
  • Taipa (氹仔 - Tamzai in Cantonese) is an island to the south of the peninsula, accessible via three bridges. It is a major residential center and is the location of Macau's International Airport.
  • Coloane (路環 - Lowan in Cantonese) is an island further to the south. It is considerably less developed than the other regions, with beaches, hiking trails and resorts. It is also the location of Macau's only golf course, though a second one is being built on the Cotai landfill.

Cotai can be considered a fourth region. It is an area of reclaimed land joining Taipa and Coloane, making them essentially into a single island. It is being massively developed, with casinos, sports stadiums, a golf course and other facilities being built. It is being billed as the Las Vegas Strip of the East. There is also a bridge that connects Cotai to the Chinbese mainland.


Map of Macau

As the first and last European colony in China, Macau has more visible colonial history than Hong Kong. Walking through the old city you could convince yourself you were in Europe -- if the streets were devoid of people, that is. The Portuguese population continues to maintain a presence, but most of the population is native Chinese.

Besides the city itself, Macau includes the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are connected by bridges and a causeway.


In the 16th Century China gave Portugal the right to establish a colony on Macau in exchange for clearing the area of pirates, and macau was the first European settlement in the Far East. It was also the last, when pursuant to an agreement signed by China and Portugal on 13 April 1987, Macau became the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 20 December 1999, ending over 400 years of Portuguese administration.

China has promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic system will not be practiced in Macau and that Macau will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs.


  • A Macao Narrative by Austin Coates. Great introduction to Macau's colourful history. You can buy this book at the museum in the Fortaleza do Monte which overlooks the Ruins of St. Paul.

Get in

A few years back, the usual way to get to Macau was to fly into Hong Kong and take the boat (see next section). Today, Macau is becoming a low-cost airline hub, so one might fly to Macau to reach Hong Kong.

By boat

Ferries from Hong Kong arrive 24 hours a day. Every half an hour by day and every hour at night. The cheapest one-way ticket from HK is HK$141, and the trip takes one hour.

After arriving in Macau from Hong Kong via ferry, pick up a free bus schedule in the tourist information centre in the Ferry Terminal building. There is a bus stop on the main road to the right as you walk out of the building. Buses 10 and 10A are among the most convenient for day tourists because the route passes by Senado Square, which is where most of the major tourist attractions are. Fares on the peninsula are 2.50 patacas. Many hotels offer free shuttles between the ferry terminal and the hotel's door.

By air

Macau International Airport (MFM) is off the shore of Taipa Island.

No-frills airline AirAsia now has multiple flights daily from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur while Tiger Airways has daily flights from Singapore and Manila.

Other airlines such as Air Macau and Shanghai Air also have flights to Macau.

To reach Taiwan from mainland China, it is usual to fly via either Macau or Hong Kong, since (except for some charters at Spring Festival) there are no direct flights.

To and from the airport: Bus AP1 plies a route between the airport and the Barrier Gate. Its route passes through several points on Taipa Island, then passes Macau Tower, Hotel Lisboa, the Macau Art Museum, the Sands and the Ferry Terminal on the way. It costs 3.30 patacas.

By car

You can enter by road from Gongbei, Zhuhai.

By bus

Travel Warning WARNING: A Chinese visa is required. You shouldn't take the bus to enter or leave Macau without your visa.

You can take the coach in Shenzhen or Guangzhou, the trip takes you about 2 hours and the fare is relatively cheap, around RMB70.

By foot

There is a land border with mainland China at Gongbei, Zhuhai.

It is also easy to get across the border into the neighboring city of Zhuhai, though you will need a Chinese visa for this.

Get around

Largo do Senado

With an area of only a few square kilometers, peninsular Macau is navigable by foot. There are of course buses and taxis as well. The street signage is often poor if not lacking all together so you may find yourself walking a few extra blocks in order to figure out the street you're on. Busses are operated by two companies, Transportes Urbanos Macau (Transmac) and Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos de Macau (TCM). Taxis fares start at 10 patacas for the first 200 meters and another one pataca for the next 200 meters.


Statue in front of Sao Paulo Cathedral

Speakers of Portuguese won't find it very useful when talking to local residents, but it can help in understanding place names and signs. Many local people do understand simple English.

Cantonese is the most commonly spoken language of Macao. Mandarin is also widely spoken, especially by the educated.


  • The ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral (Portuguese: Ruinas de São Paulo; Cantonese: 大三巴 daai saam ba) are the city's most famous landmark.
  • Largo do Senado (Senado Square) is a colorful typical Iberian town square at the heart of the city.
  • The A-Ma Temple is perhaps the most famous Chinese temple in Macau. It's near the southern tip of the peninsula, on the west side.
  • Opposite the A-Ma Temple is the Maritime Museum, with exhibits on Macau's seafaring history. Admission: M$10; half-price on Sundays.
  • From the Macau Tower you have a great view over Macau and Taipa.
  • Other good viewpoints are from Penha Church, providing a bird's eye view across the river into China as well, and Guia Fort, a Portuguese fort.
  • The East India Company Cemetery (also known as the Old Protestant Cemetery) is a lovely little piece of England in Macau. Look out for the grave of the Right Honourable Lord H.I. Spencer Churchill, ancestor of Winston Churchill, and also for the grave of the painter George Chinnery.
  • The Cemeterio de São Miguel Arcanjo (Saint Michael the Archangel Cemetery), a classic example of Sino-Portuguese Culture. A great place for lovers of angel statues.
  • The Kun Iam Tong (觀音堂) is a large, old Buddhist temple to the north of downtown. It's a little out of the way, but is definitely worth a visit if you're into temples.
  • Tucked in the corner of a cobblestone square to the left of the ruins of St. Paul's is the tiny Na-Tcha Temple, dedicated to the Chinese deity Prince Nata.



The Casino Lisboa

Gambling is Macau's biggest industry, and boatloads arrive from Hong Kong on weekends to try their luck. Most casinos are along the waterfront, the most famous being the Casino Lisboa, and the second most famous is Gold Sand Casino which opened in 2004.

  • The Lisboa offers an older world Macau feel on its gaming floors, structured in a labrynth of different clubs and rooms for various levels of play. Tables here play in both MOP and HKD.
  • The Sands offers a more open Las Vegas feel along with a smoke-free gaming room, the Pearl Room. Tables at the Sands play almost exclusivly in HKD. There are ATM machines avaiable at either casino as well as forex facilities to change your money. Gamblers are required to be of 18 years to be allowed to play.

Go Karting

There is a go-kart track on the southern end of Cotai (the landfill between Taipa and Coloane islands). You can reach it via buses 21A and 26A.


Penha Church

The currency of Macau is the pataca, which is divided into 100 avos. There are 7.99 patacas to one US dollar (as of 20 Jan 2006).

Hong Kong dollars, which are almost equal to the pataca in value, are accepted by most businesses on a 1:1 basis, but you may have some trouble with the HK$10 coin, which many businesses do not accept because there have been many forgeries recently. Chinese Yuan (RMB/CNY) are also frequently accepted and can easily be changed for either Hong Kong dollars or patacas.

Getting money is quite easy as there are banks and ATMs on nearly every street. Holders of a debit card on the international networks will have no issues withdrawing money. Holders of Chinese Union Pay cards will not have trouble either withdrawing local currency from their RMB denominated accounts. ATMs usually dispense in MOP (100 and 500 bills) and HKD (100 and 500 as well) and some will also dispense in CNY.


Macau is famous for excellent restaurants, unique cuisine and mellow bars. It is a premier dining and drinking destination in Asia. For five hundred years, Portuguese traders introduced the cuisine of their Brazilian and African colonies to Macau. As a result the city now offers one of the world's most intriguing gastronomic adventures. Look for local specialties such as bacalhau (salted cod) and African chicken.

There are a few interesting departures from standard Cantonese fare that you can try in Macau. Portuguese cuisine is available at a number of restaurants, and for a snack, try the milk pudding at the cafes in Largo do Senado. Street stalls sell tasty strips of barbecued pork as well. For the budget-minded, wander the back alleys and you'll come across plenty of mom-and-pop Chinese eateries. Note that most of these places have menus on the walls that are hand-written in Chinese only.

  • Fernando's, Hac Sa Wan, Coloane. 882531. Delicious food in a homey atmosphere. They have their own way of doing things; credit cards are not accepted, reservations cannot be made (head through to the courtyard bar at the back, give your details and relax with a jug of Sangria); ask for Ketchup if you dare. For two people, the Salad (comes with freshly baked bread), the Prawns and the Chicken (served on a bed of chips) should be sufficient.
  • Clube Militar - dine in surroundings fit for a Portuguese military officer.
  • Nga Tim, Coloane Village, Coloane. What a beautiful outdoor setting! Located in the colonnade on the left as you face St. Francis Xavier Church, the restaurant serves up authentic Portuguese and Chinese fare with views of the church plaza and the waterfront. Popular with tourists and locals, they accept credit cards and are reasonably priced.
  • Lord Stow's Bakery, Coloane Village, Coloane. Famous for cheesecake, fruitcake, sandwiches, and its specialty - Portuguese egg tarts - that are famous throughout Asia.


According to Macau's special style, various types of drinks have became popluar. Macau residents enjoy having beer as entertainment after work. Therefore, clubs and bars are open more frequently. To best fit the Macau-savvy image, coffee should be the first drink to mention since Macau has a strong mutlicultural sense. Drinks to be enjoyed include vinho verde, a Portuguese white wine that complements salty Macanese food, and caipirinha, a delicious Brazilian cocktail.


Hotel rates are most expensive on Friday and Saturday nights.



  • New Central Hotel - Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro no 264e 270 Telephone: (853)373888


  • Emperor Hotel Macau
  • Hotel Beverly Plaza Macau
  • Fu Hua Guangdong Hotel Macau
  • Hotel Grandeur Macau Special
  • Hotel Lisboa Macau
  • Hotel Royal Macau is located at the foot of the historic Guia Light House and facing the Vasco da Gama Park. Nearby business district and tourist attractions are within walking distances.
  • Hotel Ritz Macau[2], Situated amidst the breath-taking Penha Hill overlooking the panoramic view of Praia Grande Bay and Macau Taipa Bridge, Hotel Ritz accomplishes the best location in Macau. It is next door to those popular spots like Penha Church, A-Ma Temple as well as the city centre.
  • Hotel Sintra Macau
  • Hotel Taipa
  • Kingsway Hotel Macau
  • Macau Pharaoh (Macau Landmark Hotel)
  • Metropole Hotel Macau is situated at the Commercial district of Macau, with the Ocean View and Taipa Bridge in sight. It is closing to all destinations ; banks, post office, cinema and shopping arcade, convenient to both business and relaxation.
  • Pousada de Sao Tiago
  • Mandarin Oriental Macau is unique and it is the only resort hotel set in the city center.
  • New Century Hotel[3]- 889, Av. Padre Tomas Pereira, Taipa. Telephone: (853)831111



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