Macau for Backpackers


St Pauls Church, Macau

Where is Macau?
Macau is a Chinese territory near Hong Kong, composed of a peninsula and two small islands connected by bridges. It was Portuguese for about 400-years – the first and last foreign colony in China. The only place in China proper-gambling is allowed.

I’ve enjoyed the food, drink and Mediterranean aura there for over 20-years, before the Portuguese handover.

Macau Accommodation
Macau Hotel Backpacker’s accommodation used to be under US$10 a night. Now, finding a budget hotel is akin to getting a cut-price lobster dinner in London.

Since casino revenue exceeded four-times Las Vegas and Chinese mainlanders are allowed in their millions, the cheapest rooms are over US$60. Despite a clamp down on gambling government money.

Nevertheless, real bargains can be had online for plush 4-star hotels’ for around HK$800 off peak – about 1/3 walk in price.

Cheap Rooms
Backpackers have a harder time. With the cheaper rooms less value, grubby, with beds as hard as wooden doors. However, although a little more than Hong Kong’s Chung King Mansions, they’re easy to find in the right area.

Travessa Do Mastro - MacauAt the ferry terminal, collect a map and ask questions at the Tourist Information Office. Then backpackers should take a taxi (about HK$25 – use Hong Kong money) to the main square, called Senado Square, pronounced ‘San Marlo’. Walk five-minutes further down the main road and take a lane on the left called Travessa Do Mastro. Around there are the cheapest lodgings.

Van Va Hotel, Cheap Macau HotelThe backpacker’s favourite is Van Va Hospedaria, up the steps from a doorway along a traditional street, left off Travessa Do Mastro. Bring your own towel or buy a cheap one in a supermarket. There’s a few similar hotels nearby.

Is It Worth It?
If you’re calling on Hong Kong, don’t miss Macau. Its different! Even a day-trip is worthwhile – the ferries are 24/7, taking just over an hour and about HK$175 each way.

You can also do a three-way thing: Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai, mainland China. It’s just a short walk across the border from Macau to Zhuhai and high-speed trains connect to Guangzhou South Station.

Must See
Rua Da Felicidade, MacauGold shops and banks are everywhere, but there’s much heritage to explore. A short walk from the main square brings you to the Ruins of St Paul’s – what’s left of a 17th-century Portuguese cathedral, dramatically perched at the top of so-European steps.

Other sights not to miss are the Fort, built in 1626 – just behind St Paul’s (take the escalators up and walk down), and the 150-year old Guia Fort & Lighthouse.

Macau Food
Alies Curry House, MacauMacau is famous for its egg custard tarts, made from Portuguese pastry and served hot. Intruded by an Englishman, Andrew Stow in 1989 in a Coloane Village, but now available everywhere. A few years ago they were just HK$4 each, but now sell for $9.

Most restaurants serve a combination of Portuguese and Cantonese food. Best bargains are away from the main square. My favourite is Ali Curry House, opposite the tower, Avenida da Republica no 4-K. Great open-air location with fantastic quality Portuguese food and good wine, not just curries.


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One thought on “Macau for Backpackers

  1. Backpacking in Macau is an awesome experience, and very few people are able to fully appreciate this type of activity in such a beautiful city. Suggesting cheap rooms is highly logical as you would want to spend the rest of your resources on food and water as you trek your way through Macau. Thanks for sharing your tips, looking forward to your next post.

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