Macau – officially the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China – is a fascinating place.
It is the most densely populated area of the world, it is one of the richest regions in the world, and in 2006 it became the world’s largest gambling centre.
Lying 40 miles from Hong Kong, it is easily reached by hydrofoil (approximately a one-hour trip), and there are many pre-organised trips that you can book from Hong Kong – or you can do as we did. We found Aubrey – a local guide (the guides are licenced) – who, for $800.00 HK (around £80) gave us a personal guided tour of the ruins and temples, before dropping us at The Venetian where we experienced Las Vegas in the Far East.
Aubrey was waiting, along with a few other guides, in the very 21st century arrivals hall when we’d disembarked from our ferry. Do remember to bring your passport with you, and the documentation given to you on arrival in Hong Kong (your passport is sadly no longer stamped, but a small piece of paper given to you instead).
He’d recomended a 3-hour tour but we opted for 2 hours as the weather was inclement. Hopping into the back of his immaculate minivan, we were off, andalmost immediately saw all the barriers being erected for the forthcoming F3 event in Macau, effectively a street circuit. Do check hese dates as trafficobviously can’t get around so much during those days – but if you’re a fan of motorcars, it must be a fantastic occasion.
There is plenty to fill more than just a day – the ruins of St Paul’s that, in 2005 were officially listed as part of the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage being just one must-see attraction.
And don’t miss A-Ma Temple – one of three famous temples in Macau – if you have time, obviously do them all, but in the time frame we had this was fine.
After the cultural sightseeing (and shopping if you have time), do visit Macau’s casinos and hotels – the hotels will run you back to the ferry port afterwards free of charge on their shuttle buses, and it is easy and effective.
We opted to go to The Venetian, having seen the original hotel in Las Vegas. The Macau one doesn’t fail to impress – with its impressive ceiling and hallway leading from hotel reception to the casino, you could literally lose yourself for hours. Gambling is a major past time for the Chinese, and Macau hasn’t failed to deliver.