While packing up from my previous office in preparation for a new job, I discovered I had earned enough miles with Philippine Airlines in the last 5 years for a free plane ticket to Singapore, Macau, Taiwan or Hong Kong.
Now I always tell people to take 3 trips in a year – one with family, one with friends, and one by yourself. I chose Macau to be my “Me” trip using this free ticket. And so it was.
I left on a Friday and stayed at a very basic hotel called Ole London (but if you don’t mind spending a little more stay elesewhere) for 3 days and 2 nights. I chose it because it is near the old tourist spots but if you want to see more of the casinos and new shops stay in the Cotai Strip or other nearby places.
Macau has always been said to be a sidetrip to a Hong Kong tour since is it is small and can be toured in a day. This can be true, depending on what the traveler wants to do. I’ve found though that there is enough to do in Macau for an entire weekend.
I started off after arriving at lunchtime by simply walking through the zigazagging streets at the back of my hotel to discover Senado Square with all its tiled glory in less than 10 minutes. A quick walkabout brought me to street after street of great bargain shopping and to a grand cathedral. Sidestreets are full of small charming eateries so it was perfect for lunch (and most accept credit cards). A stroll down a backstreet brought me straight to the Ruins of St. Paul.
After taking a break at an overcrowded Starbucks store near the base of the ruins, I took another short walk down the avenue to the Grand Lisboa hotel and enjoyed trying my hand at the casino slot machines (as expected I did not win anything – a gamble is still a gamble).
After this, I went on to the Macau Tower. The Macau Tower is quite famous for its observatory which is very much like the one in Malaysia (Menara Tower) After enjoying a view of the city from all angles, I ended the day with a sumptuous dinner at the the Singing Bean restaurant at the ground floor (about MOP200 for steak and rice) while watching people scream their hearts out as they did jumps from the top of the tower.
On my second day, on a whim, I spent HK130 on a useless open top bus tour that did not stop at certain places already included in their itinerary and also whizzed so quickly past sights I’d already seen and new sights I was barely able to photograph (it also didn’t help that tree branches would nearly injure the passengers on top of the bus) but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I did get to see the Macau Science Center and the pleasantly smiling Kun lam Statue. Don’t do this at noon though, try this in the later hours when the sun isn’t shining so brightly. I started and ended the open top bus tour at the Sofitel Macau hotel which was one of the pick up points.
What’s nice in Macau is that all the hotels have free bus transport to to other hotels so I just hopped on buses and spent less on cabs than I expected. I thought the Grand Lisboa and Sofitel Macau were already grand but when I went to the Galaxy Macau hotel I was quite amazed with the buildings and structure. A giant fountain with a giant gem rising out of it greeted me at the reception area and in walking about I discovered another entrance hallway with giant wishing stones. And although I did not see it (as I was not checked in there) with my own eyes, I was informed of a man-made white sand beach right smack in the middle of the hotel.
From there, I took another bus to the Venetian Macao and thoroughly enjoyed the Venice-style boats in the middle of the malls.
I did not feel much like visiting temples so I skipped the famous A-ma temple and went to the famed Fisherman’s Wharf. I may have visited a tad too early though as it was deserted but the structures were still charming, with a replica of the Greek coliseum, a pseudo volcano and an underground arcade. Perhaps better for other to people to visit there at night since there were many restaurants and bars that were still closed at the time.
I spent the rest of the time checking Sands hotel (which I think can be skipped if you have less time) then returning to the Venetian Hotel to enjoy dinner at the plaza area beneath a ceiling that looked like the blue sky. My conclusion – There’s just enough to see in Macau for a short weekend getaway after all. And it won’t cost as much as people think. Just remember to buy currency in both MOP and HK$ as you’ll need both (the casinos accept HK$). Be prepared to run into Filipinos just about everywhere in Macau and have fun!